This page contains the best shoulder workouts for every fitness level.

My promise to you is that if you incorporate these shoulder workouts into your routine you will build big 3d boulder shoulders – because each of these workouts targets all 3 heads of the shoulder muscle.

Let’s dive into the first shoulder workout which is highly intense and follows what we call the Balloon Method, to maximize the 3 Scientific ways your body builds muscle.

Shoulder Workout 1 | Advanced Mass Building Delt Workout

If you’re a hard worker who loves to put in the work, then you will absolutely LOVE the results from this shoulder workout.

Now rest assured that this is a tough workout, so you have to bear with me through it.

The end of AVERAGE workouts!

Now, if you’ve searched for “Shoulder workouts” on Google or YouTube, odds are that you came across many, but similar workouts that promise to get you bigger delts.

We’ve seen them too – Some of the workouts have a variety of exercises that target each area of the delts, but for the most part, all of them follow the same pattern.

That is, 3-4 working sets per exercise with eight to ten reps. And that’s it.

While these workouts certainly have been proven to work over the long term, we’re here to give you something extraordinary, that will make you SUPERHUMAN, as humanly fast as possible.

We want to be well-known in the fitness masses for having the most brutal and effective workouts.

So, for this workout, our main goal is to be ABOVE AVERAGE!

This workout will grow you shoulders into boulders in a 3 phase approach:

  • We’re gonna do some pre-activations to pump a ton of blood into the deltoids
  • Then we’ll target the fast-twitch fibers by lifting heavy a*$ weights and maximize our progressive overload strength
  • Then for the cherry on the cake, we will include a ton of drop sets, super sets and time under tension to maximize metabolic stress and shock your deltoids in growth.

If you are an advanced trainee and are lacking some deltoid development – Fear not. This workout is PERFECT for you.

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Let’s dive right into this brutal shoulders workout.

Step 1 | Activation before overload

We are going to start off the workout with something we like to refer to as “Activation before overload”, also known as “Pre-Activation”.

The goal with this is to feel the blood flowing into the muscle and channel that ESSENTIAL mind-muscle connection – essential for maximum hypertrophy.

Activation Phase (Superset)

Exercise #1 – Seated Dumbbell lateral raises Superset with Standing Laterals

lateral raise

Supersets: 2

Repetitions : However many you can do for 30-45 seconds time under tension (TUT) on BOTH sides of the superset.

Rest times between exercisesNone

Rest times between supersets– 45-60 seconds

Note: we’re doing this with a CONTROLLED PACE! No cheating. We want maximum TUT.

To start off the activation phase, we want tunnel vision on the lateral deltoids.

We want to pump as much blood as possible in there and start feeling the muscle contracting.

Exercise execution

  1. Sit down, holding the dumbbells by your sides
  2. Bend over slightly and look forward
  3. Raise the dumbbells laterally with a slight bend in the elbows
  4. Let the dumbbells return down slowly, maintaining control and tension

Right after you’re done with this, we move on to the second exercise of the superset.

Remember, if you want to see all of these exercises in video form you can head over to our Youtube channel.

WATCH NOW: Best Shoulder Workout For Building Boulder Shoulders

Part 2 of the Superset – Standing lateral raises

Weighted lateral raise

Execution

  1. Stand up, holding the plates by your sides
  2. Keep arms straight for the most part, though out of a lockout
  3. Raise the plates laterally, contracting the deltoids
  4. Let them go back down slowly

Again- Keep AS MUCH time under tension as possible and focus on contracting those lateral deltoids! NO REST at the TOP or BOTTOM of the movement.

To be able to do this, you’ll need an appropriate weight!

Now let’s move on to the heavier part of the workout.

Step 2 | The heavy lifts

Exercise #2 – Dumbbell alternating overhead press

alternating dumbbell shoulder press

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 8-10

Rest times between sets: 75-90 seconds

Tired? We’re just starting with the working sets of this workout.

This second movement is our MAIN progressive overload movement, where the main focus is lifting heavy.

And even though we aim for heavy weight, proper exercise execution is a must!

Execution

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand up straight
  2. Lift the dumbbells up to shoulder level with your arms at a 90-degree angle (Initial position)
  3. Stand stably on your feet, keep torso straight
  4. Push one of the dumbbells up explosively in the concentric phase
  5. Let it come back down slowly in the eccentric phase to the initial position
  6. Repeat the same on the opposite side

Important note: Unlike the seated shoulder press, this variation also activates a variety of stabilizing muscles! Not only will you develop MASSIVE shoulders if you overload on this, but your rotator cuff and surrounding musculature, as well as core, will get STRONG!

Increase the weight if you’re doing more than 10 repetitions and decrease it if you’re doing less than 8. The goal for this exercise is to overload in the 8-10 repetition, utilizing the muscle glycogen via the Anaerobic-Lactic energy system.

If you do this exercise correctly, you will annihilate your anterior (front) deltoids.

Now that we’ve smashed this zone of the delts, let’s move on.

Exercise #3 – Dumbbell shoulder raise partials

dumbbell standing lateral raise

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 8-10

Rest time between sets: 75-90 seconds

This next movement was designed to DESTROY our side deltoids.

Note that unlike the conventional lateral raise, we’re NOT using  full range of motion.

Instead, we’re partially lifting a heavy weight to create MAXIMUM overload on the side delts.

And then again, no rest at the top or the bottom, with a controlled pace – TUT!

Execution

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand up straight
  2. Bend elbows slightly
  3. Raise the dumbbells laterally for 1/3 of the entire range of motion
  4. Let the dumbbells down in a controlled manner and repeat with no rest at the bottom

Important note: If you go too high on the movement with a heavy weight, you’ll engage the traps. Don’t do that. We’re looking for maximum tension on the DELTOIDS! Remember – Activation, overload, time under tension.

Now that we’ve isolated the lateral deltoids, let’s move on to blasting the delts with a mixed lateral & anterior (rear) movement.

Exercise #4 – Incline bench shoulder raise

Anterior lateral shoulder raise

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 30 seconds time under tension

Rest time between sets: 60-75 seconds

Unlike the previous heavy lateral movement, here we’re going to decrease weight and increase range of motion.

This exercise allows us to laser focus on the deltoids, as we’re also using a chest support, that will keep us away from using inertial forces to help the weight up.

We’re focusing on a full range of motion slight internal rotation and again, no rest at the bottom or top.

Important note: The internal rotation may not be the best for people with shoulder issues. If that’s the case, pick the appropriate weight, shorten the range of motion slightly and don’t include a prominent internal rotation.

Execution

  1. Set up a high incline bench
  2. Grab a pair of dumbbells
  3. Rest your torso on the bench backrest with a good chest support
  4. Bend elbows slightly and keep that position of the arms static
  5. Look forward and raise the dumbbells up in a controlled manner, slightly rotating internally
  6. Let the dumbbells go back down with no rest at the bottom
  7. Repeat

Exercise #5 – Rear delt superset

Part 1 of the Superset | Rear delt machine fly

(need an image)

Many trainees have lacking rear deltoids. We need to acknowledge that rear delts make up a big part of your shoulders and they are what makes or breaks your deltoid development.

The best way to develop them in our book, is time under tension.

We have a goal here to BLAST those rear delts with a 2-exercise rear delt superset.

Execution steps for rear delt machine flys

  1. Sit down or lean on the seat & back rest of the machine
  2. Keep torso straight and head looking forward
  3. Grab the parallel handles, so that your palms are facing down
  4. Bend elbows very slightly and out of lockout
  5. Open your arms back slowly, contracting the rear deltoids
  6. Return to the initial position, without resting at the bottom+
Important note: We tend to give the standing version an advantage over the seated version, but do as you feel it best. The goal again is optimal TUT

After this, we move on to the next exercise

Part 2 of the Superset | Dumbbell rear delt dumbbell fly

Rear delt dumbbell flys

Execution 

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and sit down on the front part of the bench with your feet close
  2. Bend over and let the dumbbells go below your hamstrings
  3. Look down, bend elbows slightly
  4. Raise the dumbbells up, rotating your wrist as you would if you were to pour a glass of water
  5. Let the dumbbells return down in a controlled manner, keeping tension on the lateral deltoids

Exercise #6 – DB Shoulder drop set with isometrics

Standing dumbbell lateral raises

Drop sets: 3

Repetitions: 8-10

Drop set weight decrease: 25-30% on each drop set

This exercise we use for the dropset, follows a similar pattern to the lateral raise, but we like to call it the “Deltoid shaper”.

Exercise execution

  • Grab the dumbbells and stand up straight
  • Keep the dumbbells in front of you with a hammer grip
  • Raise the dumbbells up and rotate internally, engaging the shoulders and traps
  • Let the dumbbells go back down and in front of you, without banging them together. Keep that TUT

To do this drop set, pick a good, heavy weight initially, that will allow you to do 8-10 repetitions.

Once you’re done with that, decrease the weight 25-30% and do another 8-10 repetitions.

Finally, pick a baby weight (25-30% reduction again) and further squeeze the living hell out of your shoulders.

Rest assured, by the time you are done with this dropset, your delts will be crying.

BUT WE’RE NOT DONE YET!

Deltoid finisher – Isometrics

shoulder isometrics

Isometric hold duration: 20 seconds

To top the delt cake off with a nice cherry, we’ll do isometrics IMMEDIATELY after the dropsets.

Isometric exercise -An exercise involving the static contraction of a muscle without any movement in the joint.

In other words, we’ll be FLEXING and holding those contractions.

There are a variety of bodybuilding poses that get a good contraction of the deltoids:

  1. Back double biceps
  2. Side chest
  3. Most muscular

We want to pay specific attention to the most muscular pose, as it engages the ENTIRE deltoid, given that you manage to flex your traps correctly!

Note that implementing this principle in your training will MASSIVELY improve your mind-muscle connection!

Conclusion

You see, this is NOT your regular 8 sets of 8-10 repetitions workout.

The more you progress, the more the law of diminishing returns kicks in.

And so, at one point or another, you will need a SUPERHUMAN workout to get you out of the plateau.

While we don not recommend this tough workout to beginners, you can definitely give it a shot if you already have a couple of years of experience in the gym.

Let us know how you like it and how it has worked for you!

Shoulder Workout 2 | 15 Minute Shoulder Workout For 3D Shoulders (Intermediate Level)

This next shoulder workout has less overall volume but it will still shock your shoulders into growth and you can knock it out in only 15 minutes.

Try this Full Shoulder Workout for Boulder Shoulders – in only 15 Minutes!

I want you guys to do this workout 2-3 times per week for maximum results!

Full Shoulder Workout Routine For Massive Delts

This workout utilizes 2 training principles from the Balloon Training method.

  • T45 Sets – This is done by performing the exercise given for 45 seconds with constant time under tension
  • Anabolic Drop Sets – Choose a weight that will allow you to reach failure in the 8-10 Rep range, then drop the weight by 30% and perform another 8-10 Reps.

Exercise #1 – Rear Delt Seated Row

This is one of my favorite shoulder workouts and is great for hitting that rear delt I just noted so many guys are lagging in. This exercise should have you focusing on pulling in and pulling out at the same time. This is what will get you that rear delt and lateral delt activation at the same time.

Rear Delt Seated Row

It’s a variation on the Cable Face Pulls exercise, which has been rated as one of the best shoulder activation exercises, so this is a perfect variation to effectively work your shoulders.

Perform 2 Total Sets with 60 Seconds rest in between sets, and make use of the Anabolic Drop set training method during this exercise.

Total sets: 3

Repetitions: 30 Seconds time under tension

Rest Time: 60 Seconds

Exercise #2 – Rear Delt Fly

This exercise should be added to your shoulder workouts regularly and you’ll be doing just a single all-out set here, resting for 60 seconds after before going on to the next exercise to perform.

Rear Delt Fly Exercise

The biggest mistake I so often see guys making on this one is resting at the top and bottom of the movement. Do this and you are taking the tension completely off the muscles. You want to keep that tension in place as this is what creates that metabolic stress and that is the biggest driver of growth.

This exercise is great because it effectively isolates your rear delts and allows you to keep that tension. I like to lean forward into the machine a bit more as I feel like this helps me establish that mind-muscle connection best, but play around with it yourself and see what you prefer.

Make use of the T45 training principle for this one, ensuring that you keep your Rear delts under tension throughout the exercise for a FULL 45 seconds. Because it is just a single set, hold nothing back on this one.

The pump you will get from this is insane, as keeping a muscle under 45 seconds of constant tension is a lot harder than it sounds.

Total sets: 2

Repetitions: 45 Seconds time under tension

Rest Time: 60 Seconds

Exercise #3 – Rear Delt Lat Raise

This is a good variation toward the standard Side Lateral Raises. By doing this variation you will be able to target the Side delt like a normal lateral raise would, but at the same time, you are also going to destroy your Rear Deltoids as well.

Rear Delt Lat Raise Exercise

For this exercise, you’ll be doing a mirror rep drop set, doing two sets to failure. The big difference between the regular delt raise and the rear delt lat raise is the palm position. For this one, you want your palms to face outward, which is going to work those lateral delt muscles to a much greater degree.

Remember for this one you alternate back into doing your Anabolic Drop sets. Don’t pick extremely heavy weights because you are going to start bringing in a lot of trap activation once your shoulders start to fatigue. So choose a weight in which can perform your 8-10 Reps and then again decrease by 20-30% and perform another 8-10 Reps. Perform a total of 2 Sets of Anabolic Drop sets.

Total sets: 2

Repetitions: 8-10 reps until failure, drop weight 30% and do another 8-10 reps

Rest time: 75 seconds

Exercise #4 – Seated Delt Row

For this exercise, you’re going to focus on using a heavier weight and doing another mirror rep drop set, meaning you’ll do your set for 10 reps, drop the weight 30% and then do another set for 10 reps. If you can get to 15-20 reps, great, but do keep in mind this is primarily a strength-based movement.

Seated Delt Row Exercise

This exercise may look a little like a typical lateral raise only it’s slightly different as you’ll be bent over and will be getting a much better stress being placed on the rear delt. You’ll also be pulling the weight back rather than to the side.

Total sets: 3

Repetitions: 8-10 reps until failure, drop weight 30% and do another 8-10 reps

Rest Time: 60 Seconds

Exercise #5 – Overhead Presses

Moving on we come to another metabolic stress exercise where you’ll be doing a T45 set. Meaning, you’re putting that muscle under tension for 45 seconds and training to complete and utter exhaustion.

Overhead Presses Exercises

This exercise will be a bit dependent on what equipment you have available in your gym, however, if you can get into a seated delt machine and focus on placing the palms in on the handlebars, you’ll find you get a really good burn in the front and lateral delts. Because this is so intense, you’ll be doing just the single set.

Total sets: 2

Repetitions: 45 Seconds time under tension

Rest Time: 60 Seconds

Exercise #6 – Farmers Walk With A Delt Focus

While a conventional farmers walk is going to focus on the traps and forearms, this one is going to focus primarily on the delts. In order to get this focus, you’ll want to flare out your shoulders a tiny big while holding a heavy set of dumbbells, preferably with straps on so that you aren’t putting any stress on the forearm muscles either.

 For more in-depth advice on this exercise, watch my Balloon Training Method Shoulder Workout for Massive Delts!

best shoulder workouts - farmers walk with a delt focus

Now walk around the gym for 30 seconds like this and be prepared to feel your delts screaming. Rest for 30 seconds once you’re finished and then do another 30 seconds to finish things off.

Total sets: 2

Repetitions: 30 Seconds time under tension

Rest Time: 60 Seconds

That will wrap up the delt workout and ensure that you are seeing massive results with a minimal amount of time. In fact, this workout should only take approximately 15 minutes total – even less if you’re really pushing it, so it’s not a huge time-intensive session. You can even toss it in after say a leg workout or another session where your shoulders haven’t been indirectly hit (for instance, don’t attempt it after a chest workout).

Aim to do it at least two times per week and up to three times if you really want to see size gains and always allow for that day of rest in between.

3 Shoulder Workout Tips To Grow Your Lagging Deltoids

If there is one muscle group you should be focused on if you really want to make your physique stand out above the rest is your shoulders…A.K.A your Delts!

That’s because if you have balanced massive shoulders it will give you that 3D shape to your physique which will, in turn, make you look a lot bigger and more aesthetic. Which is the goal right?

In order to fully understand how to go build shoulder workouts for mass it is important to understand the basic anatomy of your shoulders:

The shoulders are split into 3 parts. Namely:

  • Front Deltoids
  • Side/Lateral Deltoids
  • Rear Deltoids

The great thing is that through performing specific exercises you can directly target the part of the deltoid you wish to build.

But when it comes to shoulder workouts for mass training, I have noticed that people only really tend to focus mainly on their Front delts. This is largely due to the fact that the Front delts are stimulated on other exercises that are being performed throughout the week, such as the Bench press – and the constant stimulation of the muscle ends up leading to an overdeveloped Front Deltoid and little to no development on the Side & Rear Deltoids.

In order to aesthetically balance your shoulders, you need to ensure that enough focus is then also being applied through your workouts on your Side & Rear Delts.

Let’s dive into 3 Tips for Training Shoulders!

Shoulder Workout for Mass – Tip #1 – Compound & Isolation

You need to be doing both a combination of compound & isolation exercises if you want the best shoulder development. Work your overall shoulder size & strength by doing those heavier more compounded exercises, and then work on the finer details by isolating each specific muscle group through targeted isolation exercises.

Shoulder Workout for Mass – Tip #2 – Rest Up!

Your shoulder’s deserve some rest, especially if you want optimal growth from it. Remember your muscles are growing when they are resting & recovering. So if you are stimulating your shoulders through any pressing exercises such as those in doing Chest, it would then not be a smart idea to be training shoulders the day before/after.

The reason is they then not getting enough time to rest before they are being torched again. Rest up and let your shoulders recover if you want those Big Daddy Delts!

Shoulder Workout for Mass – Tip #3 – Go Heavy!

I don’t recommend training heavy every day, but when it comes to doing your presses to work your front deltoid, the best way to go about achieving maximum growth will come through heavy presses. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger recommends doing heavy press work for greater Shoulder growth, and I mean who is to argue with him?

Your shoulders don’t need a whole 2-hour workout in order to be properly stimulated.

Do remember that no matter how hard you work though unless your nutrition is in line, you won’t grow so be sure to take care of what you’re doing in the kitchen along with these shoulder workouts to maximize your progress.

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