Four (4) Exercises for Mountainous Shoulders

Four (4) Exercises for Mountainous Shoulders

Previously I have blogged about the four exercises for awesome arms, so today after my massive shoulder workout, it’s time to bring you the four (4) exercises for mountainous shoulders / delts.

Again, this list is not all-inclusive and the post is designed for your comments to argue against, argue for, or add to my list of delt / shoulder exercises.

The difficult and exciting thing about training shoulders is that there are so many different faces of the deltoid muscle group: there is the front, the cap, the side, and the rear. In addition, many people throw in shoulder shrugs on shoulder day as well, but I like to save those for back as they are geared more towards the traps.

I like to try to hit all faces (or heads, if you will) of the delts at least once per week: so at least four different movements are needed. These do not have to all be performed in the same workout. In fact, you can train one or two of them intensely and then move on and train the other two again in a couple of days: it all depends on your split.

So, without further delay, I bring you my four training movements for bolderous shoulders:

overhead dumbbell press
1) Overhead dumbbell press.

This is likely the most well-known of all the shoulder exercises. If you were to see another shoulder training article, you would most likely see a picture of a man seated whilst pressing upwards with either a barbell or a dumbbell.

This move is simply a standing or seated press above the head with two dumbbells. We are not using a barbell here because we do not intend on destroying our lower back (seated is fine with a barbell).

For simplicity, let’s choose standing dumbbell raises: I believe this to be the most effective and compound method of all of them, and it effectively gets the job done. Actually here are the exact dumbbells I use:

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Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells (Pair)

One thing here I am going to strongly suggest is that you pick a weight that is about 1/2 of your standard heavy overhead press. This will feel light at first, but as you increase your rep range and your workload (movement over a given time period), the burn will be insatiable.

I credit this technique to Joe Donnelly Fitness. Joe is a little over the top and vulgar for my taste, but that does not mean the guy doesn’t know what he is talking about. Joe’s techniques are some of the best I’ve seen: and I utilize them myself.

So, go light, go dumbbells, go standing, go overhead: viola!

side lateral raises

2) Side lateral raises (cables or dumbbells).

Side lateral raises, in my opinion: BURN. They are no fun, but they are necessary for building nice rounded-out caps on the deltoid muscles.

These can be performed in a variety of ways: with dumbbells, with cables, one arm at a time, or both arms at a time. I always lean towards both arms at a time for the same reason as in my Awesome Arms post: it gets the job done in half of the time AND it keeps the tension on the movement at ALL times instead of resting between sides.

So, let’s choose cables for this one, cross them in the rack, and squeeze those delts.

front dumbbell raise lateral
Image Source:

3) Front lateral raises (cables or dumbbells).

Everybody loves a good front lateral raise: I think…I believe this is my favorite of all the shoulder exercises because it burns like crazy, but it actually feels good. What I mean is that the burn that you get from front lateral raises is one of the few enjoyable burns in weight training.

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That’s my opinion at least.

I recommend dumbbells for this exercise; and again, both at the same time. Start with the dumbbells out in front of your thighs and slowly raise them forward until you are at least at a 90-degree angle. Squeeze your delts and then slowly lower the dumbbells back down: pure burn bliss.

rear delt cable flyes
Source: Wiki Wand

4) Rear deltoid flyes (cables or dumbbells).

Last but not least: rear delts. Now, just like shoulder shrugs, many people like to reserve the rear delt raises for back day…and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is probably a more proper way of rear delt placement than on shoulder day. I like to keep it on shoulder day to hit all three faces and allow for other movements on my back day. These things however, are completely up to you

I recommend seated rear raises using the cables. This seems to place the best tension on the muscle and also give it the best squeeze at the peak of the exercise.

Start with your hands gripping the cables out in front of you. Slowly move your arms backward and upward at the same time in the motion of a rear fly. See the picture above for reference. Squeeze at the top of the movement and then lower the cables back down to the starting position.


There you have it: four exercises for some mammoth shoulders over time. Again, I know this list is NOT all-inclusive; and I welcome all of your comments and your tips to further enhance shoulder day for the entire community.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing what YOU have to say.

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