Here, we’ve put together a brief shoulder tutorial, a list of the best exercises to build muscle mass, as well as some tips to avoid injury.
When people talk about shoulders, typically they are referring to the group of muscles known as the deltoids—or “delts”—and the rotator cuff group. The deltoids are the muscles most visible, and are composed of three areas—the Anterior, Lateral, and Posterior. The delts are a common target of any man wanting to broader, strengthen and define his shoulders.
However, the rotator cuff group, which is located within the joint itself and controls range of motion and stability is an injury-prone area. Therefore, it is prudent to pay attention to this muscle group in order to stave off injury.
Great for targeting the Anterior Deltoid, this exercise is performed standing and involves pressing the arms directly overhead until straight. Perform 1-3 sets, of 6-12 reps each.
This exercise is best performed using a cable machine for the constant tension it provides, but free weights can be used as well. With arms by your side and knuckles facing forwards, keep arms straight and lift to shoulder height.
This is another exercise that specifically targets the Anterior Delts. Perform 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps each.
Another exercise best done with a cable to keep constant tension on the Lateral Deltoid, dumbbells can be used as well. Stand with targeted arm by opposite hip, knuckles forward, and raise arm in sweeping motion out to the side of the body, stopping at shoulder height. Aim for 4-6 sets of 6-15 reps apiece.
The Posterior Deltoids are targeted in this exercise, as well as the trapezius muscle to some degree. Using a cable machine with a rope or bar attachment, set cable at the height of your collar bone while standing.
Exhale and pull straight back, keeping elbows in line with your shoulder. Repeat for a series of 3-5 sets, and 6-12 reps.
This exercise targets the Posterior Deltoids, and the unilateral approach will prevent imbalances to the each side. Standing with arms crossed in an “X” at shoulder height in front of you, exhale while bringing each arm to the side.
This exercise can be done with free weights or a cable machine for superior tension, and repeated for 1-3 sets of 6-12 reps.
Great for working the Posterior Deltoids, this exercise also works the external rotators within the shoulder joint, which are often an area of weakness.
Using the same methodology as in the High Row, set the cable bar at forehead height instead, or if using free weights, begin with arms raised in front of you at face height, bringing elbows back to just below ears to complete the movement. Aim for 3-5 sets of 6-15 reps.
When beginning a training routine for your shoulders, special attention should be paid to the Lateral and Posterior Deltoids. The Anterior Deltoids are often involved in exercises for the chest and upper arms, so may be overused inadvertently.
Without this focus on the other two groups in your shoulder workout, these areas in particular can be disproportionately underdeveloped, leading to injury.