Unlike most muscle groups which respond best to heavy, compound lifts, the shoulders often require a rather unique approach. Because the shoulder is made up of three small muscle groups, they generally don’t require a huge amount of volume to grow. You can do heavy overhead shoulder presses until you are blue in the face, but you won’t build wide, bulging boulder shoulders until you sacrifice ego lifting for lighter weights and isolation exercises which really target each head of the deltoids.


As mentioned, the three heads of the deltoids are very small muscle groups so it does not take a lot to recruit every fiber. Instead of using heavy weight which often lead to improper form and the recruitment of various other muscle groups to help complete the lift, rather swop out the heavy weight for a slightly lighter weight which allows you to perform the movement with proper form, at a slow tempo and without utilising any other muscle groups.


While the overhead shoulder press is a must in any shoulder workout to help build strength and to pre-fatigue all three heads, it is the isolation work which focusses on one head at a time that is going to promote growth and correct any muscular imbalances.

Side lateral raises are a great way to add width to your shoulders while front and rear delts raises help to develop thickness from the side profile. Because most chest exercises recruit the front delts, the group often doesn’t need much additional work so 3 sets of front raises should be sufficient to build this muscle group. The rear delt on the other hand is often underdeveloped in most individuals so it may require a fair amount of volume to encourage growth. Keep it light and rather opt for higher rep ranges with this section of the shoulder.


As mentioned in Tip 1, when training shoulders it is imperative to train with slow, controlled movements and with proper form. Concentrate on the mind-muscle connection with each rep and really make sure to squeeze at the top of every lift. Try to train with a slow tempo throughout the movement with roughly 2 seconds on the concentric movement and 2-3 seconds on the eccentric movement. The shoulder muscles fatigue very quickly and this style of training will ensure you utilise more muscle fiber and cause maximum myofibrillar damage.


One of the best training techniques to use for shoulders is drop sets. Because most shoulder isolation exercises are either performed with dumbbells or on a cable machine, it is easy to slip seamlessly between weights.

Drop sets allow you to push past the point of momentary failure and to perform more volume. Start off by performing a normal set with the weight you typically use and as soon as you can no longer do any more reps, drop the weight, grab a lighter set and continue to do more reps. Drops can be done for as many sets as you like but for shoulders, you may find that just one to two drops will be sufficient to really set your shoulders on fire. By your last drop, you will probably be battling to complete just a few reps with a 4kg weight.


In the extended, or bottom, position of the lift, the tension is often taken off of the shoulder. Instead of right down with the weights so they are just “hanging” in your hands, stop the lowering movement at about 10 degrees from the bottom so that you are still using your shoulders to keep the weight up. By doing so, you will ensure that your muscle fibers are continually being placed under stress and you will eliminate the chance of using momentum to lift the weight.

Apply these 5 delt-destroying tips to your workout and watch those shoulders start to shape and grow.

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