How to build big shoulders. A question that rests on the minds of many young and enthusiastic gym-goers.
If you are chasing a V-taper, your priority going to the gym should be to hit shoulders with all you’ve got. Huge shoulders are the base of a defined V-taper and help give the illusion of a narrow waist. Shoulders can be the hardest body part to build since shoulder strength takes some time to gain.
Gaining mass on your shoulders can get harder if you aren’t training them correctly. Presses and shrugs alone won’t cut it. You ought to be hitting them from every possible angle, and you need to make sure you’re hitting every single muscle fibre in your shoulders.
Here are seven little-known exercises you should be doing if you’re looking to sculpt huge shoulders:
1. Standing Single Arm Dumbbell Overhead Press
Do this exercise at the end of your workout. Mike Rashid likes to call them the fatality sets. Pick up a dumbbell that is 60% of your one-rep max. Start with one side and complete 12 reps. Switch to the other side and complete the set. Now, without any rest start over and do as many reps (aim for 12) as you can on each side. Repeat until you can’t do any more sets.
After this, your shoulders will be on fire and crying for mercy. You should be searching for a place to rest your arms after this exercise. Another good thing about this exercise is it builds up endurance. Over time, you’ll be able to do more reps and sets before building up in weight and starting the process over again.
2. Leaning Cable Lateral Raise
Nothing will get you muscle striations like this exercise. For this, stand with a cable pulley in one hand and use your other hand to lean away from the cable, standing with your feet anchored at the base. Do lateral raises as you would with a dumbbell, while keeping the reps slow and controlled.
Pro Tip: You can stand on an aerobic step while performing this exercise for added tension. This will keep the tension on your delts even when you’re resting. Do anywhere between 12-15 reps for three sets to get a massive pump. Once this gets easy, start standing at a distance from the crossover machine for greater tension.
3. Standing Weight Plate Press
All the dumbbell and barbell presses will eventually (if not already) bring you to a plateau. The only way to make progress would be to use heavier weights, which can put you in danger of injury. That is where this exercise comes to play. Hold the plates from the grips and press them to failure.
Here, you can either use a weight plate in each hand and balance them vertically, or simply use one heavier plate and balance it above your head horizontally.
Since you’ve been accustomed to doing presses with dumbbells and barbells, this exercise will bring in the core and stabilizers. It’ll hit the muscle fibers you didn’t even know existed. You’re lucky if your gym has plates heavier than 45 lbs. We guarantee you’ll be sore as hell the next morning.
4. Cuban Press
This is one of the most unforgiving shoulder exercises you’ll ever do, and Neil Hill swears by them. Hold the dumbbells in front of your quads. Start the movement with an upright row, when you reach the top of the movement convert the movement into a shoulder press. Then lower the weight back to your shoulders, into the upright row and back in front of your quads in the resting position.
You’ll curse yourself for even trying this. After you complete this exercise, you’ll understand the secret of Flex Lewis’ huge shoulders. Cuban presses will take everything out of you, and your delts, traps, and rear delts will be feeling the squeeze.
5. Arnold Press
Talking about huge shoulders and not mentioning Arnold Schwarzenegger can never happen. The Austrian Oak knew the secret to huge shoulders better than anyone else, and it’s no surprise he has a shoulder exercise named after him. Start by holding the dumbbells in front of your shoulders with your wrists facing inwards. Press the dumbbells upwards while turning your wrists to the outside. Your wrists should be facing outwards while at the top of the movement and in the same position as in the dumbbell shoulder press.
Some people use extremely light weights when performing this exercise. However, this should be no excuse to go quite so low. Strive for as heavy as a weight as you can while maintaining proper form and an agreeable rep range (six and above if possible). Always remember you can never build huge shoulders by using small weights alone.
6. Single Arm Barbell Landmine Press
Incorporate as many unilateral exercises as you can for building boulder shoulders. Just make sure you are performing an even number of repetitions on both the sides. Fix one side of the barbell in a corner or in a hinge so it doesn’t move during your set. Load the other side with appropriate weight and hold the barbell from the same side while leaning into it slightly.
This exercise is especially useful for people who suffer from shoulder pain since you’re holding the barbell at an angle and not directly over your head. If you’re performing dumbbell or barbell presses, do this exercise afterward. Otherwise, incorporate this as a substitute for them.
7. Incline Real Delt Raise
Rear delts are the most overlooked muscle group while training shoulders. Your mind-to-muscle connection needs to be really adept to train rear delts properly. For this, set the incline bench on an 80-degree angle. Lie with your chest on the bench and hold the dumbbells so your wrists are facing each other. Now perform an inverse chest fly.
Performing this movement on an incline bench as opposed to seated isolates the real delts. Keep your elbows straight and go as far back as you can while keeping the tension on your rear delts. If you are having trouble making the mind-to-muscle connection, ask your training partner to tap your rear delts while you’re performing the movement. This will help you establish the much-needed synchronization.