Build Thicker and Strong Shoulders

Make your body bigger with these three shoulder exercises.

 

If you want to improve your shoulder width, prioritize this workout, swapping it for your regular shoulder sessions every third deltoid workout. Or, depending on present development, do it every other workout as needed. Use the sequence of exercises prescribed here: Their purpose is for progressive prioritization, from heavy weight for strength and muscle-group size to higher reps for isolated muscle size and deltoid striations that draw the onlooker’s eye to those points located at the maximum width of the shoulder girdle.

Dumbbell Overhead
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Targets:
The entire shoulder girdle, including overall width and all three deltoid heads.

Setup:
Brace your back against an upright, seated bench, feet planted firmly for pressing power. Hold a heavy dumbbell on top of each deltoid, palms facing forward, dumbbells level (not tilted in either direction) and elbows out to the sides in lateral alignment with your shoulders.

Action:
Maintaining the above position, press the dumbbells overhead at arm’s length. Resist the weight on the negative movement, tightening your shoulders, grip and body to generate potential energy for the next repetition.

Progression:
Your first working set should be difficult for eight reps but not to failure. Pyramid the weight upward through two more sets, the last to failure at six reps.

Cambered Bar Upright Row

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Targets:
Anterior and posterior deltoid heads, lower middle head mass, trapezius and shoulder thickness.

Setup:
Stand upright and hold a cambered bar at arm’s length in front of your thighs. Use a medium grip so that your hands are at chest width. Tighten your abs to stabilize your torso.

Action:
Pull the bar upward to chin level, keeping it close to your body, elbows pointed straight out to the sides (not angled upward or to the rear). At the top, your elbows and hands should be at the same level. Lower slowly. Do not arch backward, drop the weight or jerk it upward.

Progression:
Your first working set should be difficult but not to failure for 10 reps. Pyramid the weight upward through two more sets, the last to failure at eight reps.

Cable Laterial Raise

Targets:
 Medial deltoid head, lower medial head mass and upper deltoid cap.

Setup: Stand between the cable stacks of a crossover apparatus with the front of your body just behind the plane connecting them (so your body doesn’t get in the way of the cables crossing each other). Cross your arms, each one grabbing the opposite stirrup handle attached to its floor-pulley cable (your hands should face the respective stack). Stand erect, chest high and head aligned with your body (not crooked forward or backward). Hold your shoulders low—don’t shrug.

Action:
Keep your arms almost straight and elbows not quite locked. Raise the handles straight out to the sides and upward to only a couple of degrees above shoulder level without rotating your hands (do not pronate or supinate). Palms should face downward throughout the move. Leading with your elbows, lift only with your deltoid muscles, not with your traps or upper back. Resist during the descent to the starting position. Make sure that the movement is controlled and consistent from the beginning to the end of the set.

Progression:
Do three sets with the same weight, all to failure. This is a burnout exercise, which means that you must keep the reps going through the pain until your eyes water, your teeth crack from your grimace, you whimper pathetically and your arms no longer twitch. Now you’re good.

 

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