Shoulders can be an extremely enjoyable area of the body to work. They are relatively easy to tone and effectively connect the upper pectorals with the bicep to give both the arms and chest an even and masculine appearance. The following intermediate/advanced workout is a balanced exercise regimen which includes exercises for the front, rear, and outside head of the deltoid as well as mass building in the traps and toning for the entire muscle composition of the shoulder.
After a brief warm-up, begin with:
Bent-over (or prone) dumbbell laterals for the rear deltoid
With light to moderate weight, complete 2 set of 20 reps each, slightly increase the weight and finish with 2 sets of 12-15 reps.
Rather than a static weight of 3 sets, increasing weight with 4 sets helps to build mass in the rear deltoids. This becomes feasible for many people who find their rear deltoids a weak-spot and this can be common as the front deltoids as opposed to the rear deltoids are often used in other various power exercises including bench presses and heavy upright rows.
Seated front dumbbell raises for the front deltoids and traps
With light to moderate weight, complete 2 sets of 20 reps, slightly increase the weight and finish with 2 sets of 12-15 reps.
It’s the same play for the front dumbbell raises as the bent-over laterals. After completing 4 sets on both posterior and anterior sides of the shoulder, a nice even shoulder pump should follow. Completing high reps allows for a degree of toning so the striations in the shoulder become visible. Increasing the weight and completing a total of 4 sets allows for an increase in endurance and strength.
One-arm cross cable laterals for the outside head of the deltoid
With a light to moderate resistance setting, complete 4 sets of 15 reps with a static weight. If a cable machine is unavailable, substitute seated lateral raises with 4 sets of 15 reps with a static weight.
A static weight is used for this last component of the deltoids for two reasons. One, because the front and rear deltoids are secondarily used in the exercise and two, it gives the entire deltoid muscle group a bit of change/rest period before beginning the power exercise part of the work out.
Upright rows for the front deltoids and trapezius
With a moderate weight, complete 3 sets of 15 reps. Ensure that the movement is strictly performed.
This exercise can be done with a heavy weight, but it is not recommended in this work out as it is essentially a warm-up exercise for the heavy upright rows which will follow the next exercise. Strict form is crucial at this time as the upcoming heavy upright rows will consist of a degree of cheating.
Arnold presses for the entire deltoid muscle group
With a moderate weight, complete 2 sets of 15 reps, increase the weight, and complete 2 sets of 12 reps.
This exercise can be extremely effective and is quite taxing on the shoulders. It is considered the second heaviest exercise in this sample work out.
Heavy upright rows for the entire shoulder girdle and trapezius
With a heavy weight, complete 1 set of 12 reps, 1 set of 10 reps, slightly increase the weight and complete 1 set of set of 8 reps, and one set of 8 reps. An optional fifth set of 6-8 reps is recommended if possible.
This is the pinnacle of the shoulder work out and is meant to increase mass and strength. Cheating is encouraged and strict technique can be diminished for the purpose of this exercise. The deltoids should be completely exhausted at this point and that is a good thing because the traps have just been warmed up and it is time to switch to isolated trap exercises.
Dumbbell Shrugs for the trapezius muscles
With a moderate to heavy weight, complete 2 sets of 25, increase the weight and complete 2 sets of 20 reps, increase the weight a final time and complete 2 sets of 15 reps.
Wrist straps are a good idea as the hands can be extremely tired at this point in time. It is undesirable to have a weakened grip undermine a good set of shrugs. Additionally, as the weight simply hangs down, straps won’t detract from the work out at all. Also, some prefer to work each side of the trapezius separately – shrugging with one arm and then the other. This can yield a greater range of motion, give the opposing hand a rest, and is preferred, but not mandatory.
Spend 5 minutes doing isometric flexing or repeat 1-2 sets of the first three exercises to give the deltoids a final shock. Also, the front deltoid has been extensively worked throughout this work out. Therefore, completing a few bent-over laterals or cross cable laterals at this time is not a bad idea to even out the work out.
Congratulations! Time for a protein shake if it is still possible to reach up and get the milk. Completing this work out every 4-6 days should yield impressive results. Monitor mass gains and adjust the exercises accordingly to combat weak-spots.