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Top 3 Best Shoulder Workouts for Mass

Top 3 Best Shoulder Workouts for Mass

Obviously it is important to focus on your chest, biceps and triceps. But narrow shoulders, also called deltoids, are the key to looking tall, broad and powerful. Just look at some of the Olympic caliber swimmers out there. They have wide backs with muscular shoulders that give them an amazing look!

Everyone needs to train their shoulders. Your shoulders are an ancillary muscle group recruited in many other exercises. Stronger shoulders will help you in many other exercises from bench press to pull ups. The shoulder muscles, especially the rotator cuff, allow for a more stable motion and help prevent injuries from sports and heavy lifting.

Anatomy of the Shoulders

The shoulders are a ball and socket joint with a very large range of motion. Your shoulder socket is called the glenoid, while the ball of the joint is the head of the humerus, the upper arm bone.

just for reference.

The shoulders are pretty complicated.  So, I’m not going to go much further than that when it comes to anatomy. The most crucial thing for you to understand is that the shoulder consists of three muscles, or heads.

Anterior Head

The front head of the shoulders flexes and rotates the arm inward. It plays a role in bench pressing and other chest, bicep and tricep exercises. Due to its use in other muscle group exercises, the anterior head is usually overdeveloped and leads to postural distortions.

Medial Head

The side head of the shoulders abducts (bring away from the midline of the body) the arms. They are trained by using isolation exercises that involve abduction movements, such as dumbbell side raises.

Posterior Head

The rear head of the shoulders extends and rotates the arm outward. This muscle is typically recruited during back exercises such as rows, chin ups and pull ups.

Okay, now that you know the three angles from which you need to train your shoulders, let’s get to the top 3 shoulder workouts for putting on mass. I will recommend compound movements, but it is always a good idea to incorporate some isolation exercises that target the medial and posterior heads.


#1 Best Shoulder Workout for Mass: Standing Overhead Press (or Military Press)

This is the ultimate compound pressing workout for your shoulders. In my opinion, you should consider it mandatory to perform overhead presses if you want to put on mass.

How to Perform Standing Overhead Press

  1. Grasp barbell from rack or clean barbell from floor with overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder width.
  2. Position bar in front of neck.
  3. Press bar upward until arms are extended overhead.
  4. Lower to front of neck
  5. Repeat the motion.


Do not bounce, use your legs or your hips to get the weight up. This is a completely different exercise, which is also great, called a push press.  When doing a push press, use a quarter squat and ankle extension to generate momentum to get the bar past the midpoint. This is a great Olympic workout that is used to develop power and quickness.

Variations: Standing, seated, dumbbell


#2 Best Shoulder Workout for Mass: Dumbbell Shoulder Press

There are three variations of the dumbbell shoulder press that are important in different scenarios.

1. Standing One Arm Dumbbell Press

Allows you to lift more, due to the alternating sides component of this shoulder workout.

How to Perform Standing One Arm Dumbbel Press

  1. Clean both dumbbells to shoulder level or have someone hand them to you.
  2. Lift one dumbbell while resting the other at shoulder level.
  3. As the first dumbbell is lowered, begin to raise the second dumbbell.
  4. Repeat this motion without any breaks inbetween.

2. Seated Dumbbell Press

Drive with your legs and press against the bench to  increase stability and lift more weight.

How to Perform Seated Dumbbell Presses

  1. Rest the dumbbells on your knee.
  2. Use your legs to pop the dumbbells to your shoulders.
  3. Keep legs flat on the floor and press both dumbbells up at the same time.  Stop just short of a full lockout.
  4. Return the dumbbells slowly back to shoulder level
  5. Repeat the motion

3. Seated Arnold Shoulder Press

This is a great shoulder workout since it targets both the anterior and medial heads of your deltoids. However, use a lower weight due to the added difficulty of incorporating the twisting motion.

How to Perform Seated Arnold Shoulder Presses

  1. Rest the dumbbells on your knee.
  2. Use your legs to pop the dumbbells to your shoulders.
  3. Start with the dumbbells in front of your face with your palms facing towards you.
  4. Press the dumbbells up while rotating at a speed so that by the time you reach full extension your palms will be facing out away from you.
  5. Lower the dumbbells back to shoulder level while rotating your palms back towards you.
  6. Repeat the motion

#3 Best Shoulder Workout for Mass: Upright Barbell Rows

Upright barbell rows are great at targeting the medial head of the shoulders But, be careful to not bring the bar higher than shoulder level. This can be a little tough on the rotator cuffs.


Two arm, one arm, wide/close/medium grip

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