It doesn’t matter if you are a female or male, powerful looking shoulders will have a great impact on your appearance. Because of broad shoulders your waist looks smaller and you’ll get that V-taper look.
Broad shoulders are what turns boys into men and girls into athletic looking women.
The shoulders are an interesting and complex muscle group. They are not a large muscle group, but an incredibly important part of your lean muscle for life strategy. You need to know how to work them properly and effectively, and learn what the best shoulder exercises for mass are to save you time and effort in the gym.
This article will look at the best shoulder workouts and the best deltoid exercises to help you with building lean muscle mass in a safe way.
The joint itself is prone to injuries so you need to focus on the form when doing shoulder exercises. Ask people that have been going to a gym for a longer period of time and you will often hear that they have a shoulder injury or irritation. It is the most common upper body muscle training injury. Getting the right approach and advice can minimize your injury risk. There are a number of reasons why the shoulders are prone to injury, but in basic terms it gets down to training too heavy too quickly, putting your muscles through an extended range of motion, poor technique, and over training them.
- Train through a deliberate range of controlled motion. Always control the weight – do not let it control you.
- Ensure you muscles are fully rested before training shoulders to minimize any injury with over training.
- I strongly recommend a day off inbetween upper body workouts due the the work shoulders do on all of your upper body exercises.
- Use a lighter weight. Try to keep your repetition range up above 8 strict repetitions. This minimizes injury.
Your shoulder is made out of the larger deltoid muscles: anterior(front), lateral(middle), posterior(back) and from smaller rotator cuff muscles. The key to having good looking and strong shoulders is to develop all three heads.
Standing Dumbbell Press
If I had to pick just one exercise to work out my shoulders, standing dumbbell press probably would be it. There are many different variations of this exercise, with different grips and some variations are done with a barbell. In my opinion, standing dumbbell press is the best overhead press variation there is.
Using dumbbells and standing requires more stability from your shoulders and therefore activates your muscles more than doing with a barbell while seated. Dumbbells also ensures a smooth range of motion is carried out for each arm. This is important because dumbbells allow that natural range – barbells usually don’t.
This exercise should be done in a strict range of motion. You simply do not need to lower your arms any more than your upper arms being parallel to the floor at the lowest point. Any lower than that and you start putting unnecessary pressure on the shoulder joint.
I also recommend trying to try seated dumbbell press with different upper positions settings. Why? This will hit your deltoids in different ways – the more incline, the more frontal deltoid and upper chest.
Alternating dumbbell front raises
Classic shoulder exercise that isolates shoulder flexion and targets the anterior deltoid. Front raises are a good alternative if you are having problems with your shoulders or you are experiencing shoulder pain. But, if you are using too much weight when performing front raises, you are forced to use bad or even dangerous form. Keep it light for the beginning and use proper form.
Side lateral raise
Side lateral raise targets the lateral head of your deltoid muscle which is the most important of the three, when it comes to overall delt width and thickness. This exercise isolates the lateral head of the deltoid and can really create wideness to your shoulders. Some key points how to perform the exercise the right way:
- Have a slight forward lean rather than being completely upright.
- Don’t go higher than your elbows.
- There is a balance with this exercise – you can go too light and you can definitely go too heavy.
Prone reverse fly
For your posterior head, you need to be doing exercises that takes your arm into horizontal abduction (overhand rows) or extends the arm behind your body. You can perform reverse fly in a machine but with free weights and a bench allows you to get the optimal hand position and requires some stabilization from your shoulders.
The rotator cuff is a group of different muscles and their tendons that provide stability to the shoulder, therefore important. The rotator cuff is made up of four different muscles: teres minor, infraspinatus, supraspinatus and subscapularis. To a complete shoulder workout and development, the rotator cuff is not any less important.
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that most bodybuilders will probably injure at some point of their life, and it’s very vulnerable becoming injured if you don’t train right. The only way to train the rotator cuff muscles is to externally and internally rotate your arm. Keep it light and don’t over fatigue your rotator cuff.
Lying external rotation
This is a popular warm-up and prehabilitation exercise for the external rotators of the shoulder. It’s for improving your strengths and stability throughout the shoulder but targets specifically the rotator cuff. Externally rotate the arm with light weight and use full range of motion.
Lying internal rotation
This is just the opposite of the external rotation and involves rotating the hand toward the body. I know I just said it, but remember to keep it light weight. The muscles are small and by using too much weight you can do some damage.
The above movements are what I consider to be the best deltoid exercises for building lean muscle and shoulder strength and functionality But it doesn’t stop there because there is something you need to know about shoulders that I touched on earlier in the article. I’m talking about the over training consideration, and the inevitable side benefits that shoulders can get when working other muscle groups.
What do I mean by this? Let’s keep it simple. Shoulders are worked all the time – this is why they are prone to injury. Every time you workout your back muscles you workout your deltoids. Every time you workout chest muscles you do the same.
It’s important you see the benefits of the exercises, and the over training and injury potential here. Again, in simple terms, when working out your back for example, you place more emphasis on the rear deltoids. A good back workout is like a good rear deltoid workout – particularly if there is a lot of rowing movements in your routine.
When training chest you are placing incredible emphasis at times on your frontal deltoids – particularly with any pressing movements.
What the above means is that a really good chest and back workout can have considerable impact and benefit on your shoulder development. This is why I strongly recommend working out on alternate days and giving your shoulders plenty of time to rest, recover and grow.
The best shoulder exercises for mass mentioned above, will give you excellent results. Remember too, the importance of your chest and back workouts, and how they can positively and indirectly impact your shoulder development. The best shoulder workouts and the best deltoid exercises are all to be done with strict form, through a tight controlled range, and backed up with plenty of rest in-between workouts.
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