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Shoulders 101 | Exercises For Anterior, Medial & Posterior Deltoid Growth

Writer and expert8 years ago
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joe pitts

One of the most masculine features a man can possess on his physique, are capped shoulders to help in giving that 3d look. The truth is some men are pre-dispositioned with narrower shoulders and smaller muscle structure, and some men naturally have larger shoulders, with noting this, all men can build better shoulders.

The muscle bellies that comprise the deltoid group are split into three major areas –

deltoid anatomy

1) The anterior (front) deltoid

2) The medial (side) deltoid

3) The posterior (rear) deltoid.

A balance across the 3 deltoids will help to increase strength, proportions and help to really emphasises your V-taper by broadening your upper body.

The most common problems many people have is they neglect the training of the front and the rear, thinking that they will get enough of a workout on chest and back day, which isn’t the best approach to complete shoulders.

Shoulder Training |

Common Mistakes

The three biggest mistakes I see most guys make when building training shoulders are:

1) Not using enough variation

I see people come to the gym and do the same workout week in week out. Apart from being very boring, the human body is very adaptive and will become accustomed to a training method very quickly. This is why even in powerlifting there are phased approaches. The body needs to be shocked into growth and variation in movement which is a great way to do just that.

2) Neglecting rear deltoids

By focusing on so much press they are either too tired at the end of the session to do rear Delt work or put in a half arsed effort. This can lead to an over development of your chest and front deltoids and an underdeveloped back and rear deltoids which will pull your shoulders forward (not the look you want).

3) Lifting for the sake of lifting

This is by far the most common mistake, each press, raise or basically any movement needs to have a thought behind it.

"Why am I lifting this weight?""Is my form correct?""What area am I trying to focus on during the movement?""Ensuring there is a contraction on the muscle?""Is my tempo right?"...Which may lead to injury in many cases

There is a lot to think about not just moving the object from A to B, if you're not doing any of the things I’ve listed, this is more than likely to be the biggest stumbling block in the gym and building muscle for any muscle group.

The Safe Way To Build Lean, Muscular Delts 


The Answer?

? Higher volume

? Lots of time under tension and sueezing through contraction points.

? But the big tip is variety, hitting them at all angles.

Typically we start a shoulder workout with heavy compound pressing movement, like standing or seated military presses, Arnold presses, or machine presses. Since it’s a compound movement, most people attack this first exercise trying to lift as heavy as possible as they are fresh, in most cases this is ego lifting and bound to lead to an injury.

So after you’ve left your ego at the front of the gym, instead of loading up the weight, think about decreasing the weight, up the volume and concentrate on every rep, ensure your tempo and form are on point.

You’ll find this just as hard, if not harder then trying for the big lifts, not to mention you’ll reap the rewards in the long run with muscle & joint longevity long after your gains.

4 Tips For Broad, Muscular, Powerful and Athletic shoulders!


1) Fluctuate your repetitions.

I mean really fluctuate your reps when training shoulders. Neil Hills Y3T training is perfect for this ensuring a split between tempo, rep range and set size. There is no one set of rules that says you have to do 3 sets of 10 Reps, that’s bull shit. Sticking to the same reps and sets is a sure way to halt your training progression, mix it up but keep the intensity high.

2) Build a thicker chest and back

Having broad shoulders often depends on the development of our chest and our lats development. Our back muscles help to pull our shoulders back. Strong back = better posture, which will assist to lift your chest to make it look fuller and broader also

Our shoulders also ‘sit’ on your lats, and partially on our chest as well. By building thick lats and back muscles, but also a thick and broad chest you’re actually building wider, more confident-looking shoulders.

3) Build thicker, fuller traps.

Thicker traps = wider looking shoulders. Your (Trapies) or traps are the muscles that connect the neck with the top of the shoulders. It’s important to have a good balance between rounded deltoids and thick traps.

4) Getting extra sessions

Focusing on one area more than the others can be a great way to see results faster. If you’re doing a body-part split, add in some rear delts sets on your chest day into your routine. This will go along way to bring up your rear delts if they are lagging.

3 Sample Shoulder Workouts 

shoulder workout
Shoulder Workout #1 Sets & Reps
Side lateral dumbbell raises 4 X 15-20
Arnold press 4 X 15-20
Front dumbbell raises 4 X 15-20
Partial side lateral dumbbell raises 4 X 15-20
Single-Arm Dumbbell Upright Row SS >> 4 X 12
Reverse Cable Flye 4 X 15
Shoulder Workout #2 Sets & Reps
Smith Machine Military press 4 X 12
Bent-Over Rear Lateral Raise 4 X 20
Barbell Upright Row 4 X 12
Seated Pyramids 3 sets of the below with same weight. >>> Pause as needed
*Seated Lateral DB raises x 5 > Seated front DB raises x 1 Pause as needed
Seated Lateral DB raises x 4 > Seated front DB raises x 2 Pause as needed
Seated Lateral DB raises x 3 > Seated front DB raises x 3 Pause as needed
Seated Lateral DB raises x 2 > Seated front DB raises x 4 Pause as needed
Seated Lateral DB raises x 1 > Seated front DB raises x 5 Pause as needed
Shoulder Workout #3 Sets & Reps
Press Push Press 6 x 10
Cable Lateral Raise 4 X 15
Kettlebell Front Swing 3 X 20
Cable Rear Lateral Raise 4 X 15
Seated Machine Military Press 3 to Failure triple drop set
Seated rear delt machine 4 X 12
Rest times 90sec (1min 30sec) no more than 120sec (2mins)

Take Home Message

Implemented these tips and exercises into your current training routine to see delt growth soar!

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

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