3 Shoulder Exercises You MUST TRY To Force Muscle Growth!


By Scott Herman Published 

I wouldn’t say shoulders have been a “weak point” for me, but I know the struggle of trying to get that well rounded look from the side as a natural athlete.  So today, we’ll cover three exercises to help you force more shoulder growth. 

Now, remember that the CORE of your shoulder workouts should include exercises like the Barbell Shoulder Press, Lateral Raises, Rear Raises and Face Pulls. These exercises will always be your ticket to more growth and I’ll cover them in detail in my “SHOULDERS - COMPLETE STRATEGY” video, coming soon.

Having said that, the exercises I’m going to cover today are going to help you push through your current muscle building or strength plateau and make your workout a bit less stale.

Exercise #1 – The Arnold Press

Arnold definitely had the right idea when he came up with this exercise and what separates it from the traditional shoulder press is the additional time-under-tension due to having to rotate the dumbbells from front to back as you perform your reps.

This rotation also creates more stimulation across all three heads of the deltoid as well as the surrounding stabilizer muscles, which overtime, will help draw back the shoulders for a more upright posture.

This will also result in an increase in your overall upper body strength, facilitating other movements such as chin-ups, deadlifts, and even rows.

Now, I wouldn’t say this “replaces” the barbell shoulder press in your workout, but if you could only hit TWO exercises for shoulders, heavy Barbell Presses followed up by Arnold Presses would make for a killer workout.

Exercise #2 – Super Heavy Bent-Over Raise

Why the emphasis on “HEAVY” bent-over raises as opposed to just a standard DB bent-over raise? Fair question!

Well, the reason is because most of you never go passed 25lbs dumbbells when performing your reps. Sure, we don’t want sloppy form, but because we’re bent-over and supported by our core quite well, you can grab a pair of 40 to 50lbs dumbbells and still maintain a great deal of control during your reps.

Yes, you might use a little momentum during the concentric phase, but we’re still in the ideal position to control the eccentric quite well, even if a bit overloaded with weight.

Personally, my rear delts were lagging a few years back because I was always so strict with my form. It wasn’t until I started experimenting with my “Cheat & Recover” training that I was able to spark growth and even out my delts. So, don’t be afraid to overload with heavier weights. 

Exercise #3 – The Upright Row

I know, I know, this exercise is bad for the shoulders…Well, ANY EXERCISE you do wrong… is BAD. Period. I’ve been doing upright rows for 23 years and my shoulders are healthy and strong.

So if you look like THIS when doing upright rows…

...just stop and give me 2 minutes of your time to help you fix your form.

The goal with this exercise is to drag the barbell up your torso, then over your chest and you end the movement by pulling the barbell BACK toward your neck. So, maintain an outside-shoulder-width grip and keep your elbows above your wrists until you reach your chest.

At this point, you’re going to pull the barbell to your neck so your elbows will dip down and THAT is proper form.

And with proper form you’ll be able to activate all three deltoid heads as well as a bit of your upper traps. You can use dumbbells as well for this exercise, but personally I always aim for the barbell variation.

So how should you incorporate these exercises into Your Next Shoulder Workout?

Well, as I said earlier there ARE staple exercises that should STAY in your workout and one of them is the Shoulder Press. It’s going to give you the most bang for your buck, so never take it out. 

Then after that, depending on what your current split looks like, you can switch out 1 or 2 movements.  But for a complete shoulder day, this is what I would do.

Exercise 1: Barbell Shoulder Press (4 sets: 6 – 8 reps) HEAVY

Exercise 2: Arnold Press (4 sets: 8 – 10 reps)

Exercise 3: Bent-Over Raise (3 sets: 6 – 8 reps)

Exercise 4: Upright Row (3 sets: 12 – 15 reps) (treat this exercise more as a finisher to empty your tank and tear up whatever’s left over from the first three exercises)

Now, I know you’re going to ask about Lateral Raises.

Well, we’re getting plenty of middle deltoid activation with the other exercises already and I know for most of you it’s going to be the REAR deltoids that are lagging. So, let’s keep more focus there for now.

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