The 'ABC Guide To Big Shoulders!'

In week 3 of our ‘ABC guide to Big. . . .’ we are going to be discussing shoulder training. What does it take to build a set of boulder shoulders? How can you develop delts which sit prominently on the side of your clavicles and make people go ‘WOW!’? Well my friend these are questions we are going to have to answer for you to today so that you cannot complain ever again you don’t know how to train shoulders properly.

The deltoids are made of three head, anterior (front), lateral (middle) and posterior (rear). Combined they form a cannonball like shape and it takes a range of exercises to hit all heads effectively.

Shoulder training falls into two categories for a lot of people. Category one love to train shoulders, they are very strong on pressing movements and it massages their ballooned egos like a Thai masseuse on double pay! Category two hates shoulder workouts because they cannot lift much, they don’t really know what to do and they do a bit of shoulder work here and there just to tickle them. Neither extreme are preferable simply because neither fulfil the fundamentals of a proper shoulder workout.

By now you know the drill, we are going to run through a fool proof guide of do’s and don’ts so you simply cannot make any silly mistakes during your shoulder workouts.


1 – Warm your shoulder joints up thoroughly for at least 5 minutes before your shoulder workout, WHY?

Your shoulder joints are probably the most vulnerable to injury because they handle a great deal of the weight transfer of any upper body workout. By warming the shoulder joint up comprehensively you increase the blood flow into the area which should help lubricate the joint as well as load the area with nutrient and oxygen enriched blood. The best way to warm your shoulder joints up is to use very light dumbbells and perform several variations of lateral raises.

2 – Isolate each deltoid head every workout, WHY?

This is a no-brainer. If you neglect certain heads of your shoulders then obviously the development is more likely to lack. The posterior (rear) head is the most neglected muscle in the shoulder muscle group by a marathon mile! Seated and bent over rear dumbbell raises are both excellent exercises to hit this area of your deltoids!

3 – Use a diverse range of repetitions, WHY?

You probably think I say this about every muscle group and you are right, however, shoulders respond particularly well to high repetition training. By doing a diverse range of repetitions you are more likely to force higher levels of blood into the area. As I said before, the shoulder joint is very vulnerable to injury. Limiting low repetition heavy duty training and opting for higher repetition training will certainly give the joints a break.


1 – Just shoulder press, WHY?

Of course you need to use compound pressing movements most of your shoulder workouts but don’t just do these kind of exercises. Dumbbell raises are an excellent way to help chisel new lines and definition into your deltoids and they are also far less stressful on your connective tissues.

2 – Use a full range of motion, WHY?

Normally it is good to use a full range of motion, however with shoulder pressing I suggest you don’t!!! Like chest pressing, if you lockout at the top the weight transfer goes on to your triceps and at the very bottom of the repetition your shoulder joint bears a lot of the pressure opposed to the muscle. This is why I don’t like 100% full range of motion on shoulder pressing, instead about 90% will do, 5% each end of the repetition!

3 – Just use barbells, WHY?

Barbells are restrictive on shoulder movement and they can also place additional strain on the connective tissues with no added benefit. Dumbbells allow for a much better range of movement and they are less destructive to the health of your joint. This goes for Smith machines as well!

OK guys there you go a list of rules for you to follow. All you need now is a simple workout plan to follow over a three week period to give your deltoids a good going over.

Workout 1 –

4 X dumbbell press 8-12 repetitions

4 X behind the neck Smith machine press 8-12 repetitions

3 X side lateral single arm cable raise 8-12 repetitions

Workout 2 –

3 X Arnold press 12-16 repetitions

3 X dumbbell press 12-16 repetitions

3 X side lateral dumbbell raises 12-18 repetitions

3 X bent over rear dumbbell raises 12-18 repetitions

Workout 3 –

Superset X 2-

Side lateral dumbbell raises 20+ repetitions

20KG plate steering wheels 20+ repetitions

Rear cable raises 20+ repetitions

Superset X 2 –

Dumbbell press 15-20 repetitions

Wide grip upright rows 15-20 repetitions

Partial side lateral dumbbell raises 30+ repetitions


There is just about everything you need to know in order to start building a strapping set of deltoids!

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