There are many different exercises to work the muscles in and around your shoulders. Due to the shoulder joints huge degree of mobility there are a large number of different angles and directions that your shoulder joint can move. This allows for a great range of exercises to be performed with the arms.
Unfortunately most of the motions that the shoulder joint allows don’t necessarily work the deltoids directly. The deltoids after all are the muscles we are interested in when we talk about training the shoulders. To work the deltoids you will have to raise the upper arms vertically in relation to the body. This rule is only slightly broken for the rear delts where you will have to pull your upper arms back and up to work these muscles properly.
Most shoulder workouts will be based around overhead pressing movements. These heavy compound exercises are the base for building big and strong shoulders. Standing military press, seated dumbbell press, one arm cable press and many others are exercises that will make up a large portion of many peoples shoulder training. I fully condone this as these movements allow you to use a lot of weight, you will strengthen the stabilizer muscles and the synergist muscles used in such heavy lifts and there will be a large hormone response from lifting heavy weights.
There are however other exercises for shoulders that need to be considered when planning a shoulder workout. I will class them all under the group of raises as they don’t require the pressing help of the triceps. These types of exercise are far more shoulder isolating and are very useful for building big shoulders.
The most useful and common raising exercise is the lateral raise:
Lateral raises are a fantastic exercise for isolating the medial deltoid. This is the side delt that will give your shoulder that ‘capped’ look that brings it out wide and makes it look more impressive. Doing lateral raises will put less strain on the joints and synergist muscles as far less weight is used than on pressing movements. Due to the simple physics of the weight being further away from the pivot even a really light weight will give you a really good contraction. The contraction point is at its highest at the top of the rep as well so you can get a fantastic squeeze on the muscle.
If you want to work the anterior deltoid you can do your pressing movements on a barbell to the front with a close grip, but I personally would prefer to do front raises to isolate the front delt a bit more:
Front raises have the same benefits as lateral raises for putting less strain on joints, tendons and synergist muscles so are a great exercise to add in to your training if you need to bring up your front delts.
One muscle that you will really struggle to hit effectively from pressing alone is the rear deltoid. It is a very overlooked muscle as it isn’t one that you can really show off with so unless you are a bodybuilder or someone who has been training a while you may neglect the rear delt. However you cannot have a full looking shoulder from a profile view if you have no rear delt. You can hit them very well by doing rear delt raises or prone flyes:
I strongly urge you to include these in your workouts in order to fully hit all 3 deltoid heads.
So there you go, 3 exercise that I feel need to be included in your weights workouts alongside your pressing exercises.