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Add Power And Size To Your Shoulders

A routine sure to bulk you up!

By Heather Neff, CPT


Want bolder, stronger shoulders with better definition? You came to the right place. Why? With the following workout, you will not only add size and definition to your shoulder muscles, you’ll also be afforded the luxury of having more power within all of your upper body workouts, keeping you challenged and advancing in every way possible.


Why So Much Of A Shoulder Focus?

The most obvious reason to put so much work into your shoulders is because it just looks awesome to have well-built and strong shoulders. Imagine you’ve developed every other muscle in your body, but your shoulders are lacking or even rounded. That’s just depressing, so you’re going to have to work them hard!

Mirror aside, another reason you should want a strong set of shoulders is because shoulder strength and development is the basis of all of your major lifts. It’ll improve every upper body workout you do. How? By giving you more power, better performance and even enhancing your form while performing various exercises.

Whether you lift for gains, strength or athleticism, it’s going to benefit you tremendously to focus on your shoulders. In sports, strong shoulders really count. Whether you’re throwing a right hook or a football, the power behind it will equal success. Strong and powerful shoulders also benefit your everyday life. From mowing the lawn to hauling bags of cement mix, you need a good set of shoulders.


The Exercises

Bench Press – Begin lying on a bench with your feet on the floor and place your hands just outside of the knurling (about shoulder-width apart). Engage the muscles in your arms, back, chest and shoulders, and grip the bar tightly as you unrack it with straight arms. Drive your chest upward and pull your shoulder blades back as you move the bar right over your chest. Take a deep breath, plant your feet, squeeze your glutes, tighten your hips and lower the bar to your chest while keeping everything in line and your chest puffed out. Return the bar to lock out to repeat one rep.

Standing Military Barbell Press – Grab the bar with your palms facing down and shoulder-width apart then bring it just above your collarbone. Soften your knees, inhale and press the bar overhead to lock out your elbows. Return the bar to the starting position. That’s one rep.

Bent Over Barbell Row – Start with the weight on the floor then hinge at your hips and push them back as far as you can. Soften your knees and keep pushing your hips back till you can grab the bar. Keep your chest at a 45-degree angle. Grab the bar with a palms-down, shoulder-width apart grip. Pull the barbell just a couple of inches off the floor and let it hover then pull the bar up towards your chest by moving your elbows back in the direction of your hips and squeezing your shoulder blades together. From there, you should return to the starting position. Make sure you fully extend your arms after each pull.

Farmer’s Walk – Grab a heavy dumbbell, barbell or kettlebell in each hand. Your palms should be facing your body. Stand up straight, chest out, shoulders tight and make sure your back and hip are inline. Take small steps forward, then turn and go back to your starting point.

Hang Clean and Press – Stand up straight and hold a barbell at waist level with a palms-down grip. Slightly bend at your knees and use the power of your legs to explode the bar upward, flip your wrist and rest the bar on the front of your shoulders with your elbows facing outward. From this point, soften your knees and use the power from your legs once again to explode the barbell overhead to lock out your elbows.


The Workout

With these power moves, you’re going to be lifting heavy for three to five reps with each set. You might have to play around a little with the weight to find your sweet spot. If you find you can easily lift the weight more than five times, it’s too light. If you can’t quite make five reps with good form, then you have too much weight on the bar. Be sure to rest for one to three minutes after each set of an exercise.

Start with a few light warm-up reps. That’ll improve your lifts and ready your muscles for the exercises. Don’t forget: You never want to jump into a heavy lift with cold muscles. Warming them up first makes them more pliable and will increase your range of motion for each exercise.

The exercises chosen for this workout are all compound movements. This means that they’ll be working more than one muscle group at a time. Why not isolate the shoulders for a shoulder workout? To build power and muscle, you need to be using heavy compound movements bringing your whole body into these lifts. It cannot be done with isolation exercises. Those types of movements don’t allow for the heaviest of lifts.



Bench Press 5 Sets X 3-5 Reps 

Typically thought of as a chest exercise (and it is), the bench press is also going to target your anterior deltoids, triceps and back.


Standing Military Barbell Press 5 Sets X 3-5 Reps

This will directly target your deltoids, along with your triceps. By standing while pressing, you are also going to be engaging your core muscles and legs. They’ll act as stabilizer muscles.


Bent Over Barbell Row 5 Sets X 3-5 Reps

You’ll not only be bringing your back, triceps and biceps into this move, but also targeting your rear delts. That’s the part many people forget to work on, as they tend to do a lot of pushing instead of pulling exercises. This will give you all-around big and defined shoulders.


Farmer’s Carry – Walk as far as you can, rest and repeat 4 more times

This may look like a simple exercise, but when you pack on the weight, you are going to really feel every muscle in your shoulders burning in a good way. The farmer’s walk also incorporates your upper back muscles, and uses your core and legs for stabilizers.


Hang Clean and Press 5 Sets X 3-5 Reps

This is literally a full-body movement that incorporates every muscle from the ground up, but places much of the focus on the delts. With this three-step move, you’ll be sure to work your shoulders to the max.

After you’ve finished this shoulder-busting workout, be sure to cool yourself down and stretch your shoulders out. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. Stretching will increase your range of motion during these types of exercises, which makes them that much more effective.

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