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The ultimate shoulder workout The best shoulder exercises for large shoulder muscles

Das ultimative Schultertraining Die besten Schulterübungen für große Schultermuskeln

After taking a look at the anatomy of the shoulder muscles in the first part of the article, looking at the most common mistakes that are responsible for unsatisfactory results in shoulder development and the basics of effective shoulder training, in this second part of this article we will move on to the 8 best shoulder exercises and look at some effective training programs for building impressive shoulder muscles.

The best shoulder exercises

As with most muscle groups, there are a variety of exercises you can choose from for your shoulders, but only a handful of these exercises are really necessary. The following are the exercises I used to dramatically improve my shoulder development. They will help you achieve the same.

1. standing or seated shoulder press

Barbell and dumbbell presses are the most effective way to build your shoulders because even though they focus on the front shoulder muscle head, they also engage the other two shoulder muscle heads and allow you to press a heavy weight without risking shoulder injury.

EMG studies have shown that dumbbell shoulder presses may activate the shoulder muscles slightly more than barbell shoulder presses, but the differences were relatively small and EMG data is not 100% reliable in this regard. From a practical point of view, I wouldn't say that dumbbell shoulder presses are better than barbell presses, or vice versa.

As with the bench press, I have also found that dumbbell and barbell shoulder presses complement each other well, which is why I have been using them both in my shoulder training sessions for some time now. Both require strength and stability and produce good results and I would recommend that you alternate these exercises. What I like to do is train 6 to 8 weeks of heavy barbell shoulder presses, followed by 6 to 8 weeks of heavy dumbbell shoulder presses.

There are two variations of shoulder presses: standing shoulder presses and seated shoulder presses. Try both and you'll quickly find that standing shoulder presses are significantly harder than seated shoulder presses - and harder usually means better.

The aforementioned EMG study supports this. It showed that standing shoulder presses (performed with both a barbell and dumbbell) activate the shoulder muscles slightly more than the seated version. Furthermore, many well-informed fitness experts say that standing barbell shoulder presses are the better choice and I don't disagree. As far as a full body workout is concerned, there is no doubt that standing shoulder presses are superior.

However, standing shoulder presses have three disadvantages that you should be aware of:

  • Your 1RM weight will be lower.
  • You need to be more careful when trying to move heavy weights (80%+ of 1RM weight).
  • You will need more time to learn how to perform standing shoulder presses correctly.

Standing shoulder presses also put more stress on your lower back and core than the seated version, which means you can't move as much weight and the risk of injury is higher if your exercise form is sloppy. These disadvantages apply in particular to standing shoulder presses with dumbbells, which are less suitable for heavy pressing.

This makes standing shoulder presses the better full-body exercise, but if you are trying to overload your shoulders to the max, the seated version will allow you to load your shoulders with heavier weights. My personal preference is seated shoulder presses (barbell or dumbbells) as I feel that my heavy deadlifts and heavy squats are more than enough for my core and back.

2. arnold presses

Arnold Presses are a variation of the traditional dumbbell shoulder press that increases the range of motion.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8f6ikMW_fNk)

3. dumbbell front raises

Dumbbell front raises are an effective exercise for targeting the front shoulder muscles.

4. dumbbell side raises

Dumbbell side raises are one of the most effective exercises for building the lateral shoulder muscle heads, which need targeted training to keep up with the front shoulder muscles. Pressing alone will not be enough.

As your shoulders get stronger, you will find it harder to maintain correct exercise form if you try to move both dumbbells at the same time. An effective way around this problem is the hanging variation of this exercise(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kw5I3MFHU0o)

5. dumbbell side raise bent over

The posterior shoulder muscle head is the smallest and weakest of the three shoulder muscle heads, but it should still not be neglected. If you want three-dimensional shoulders that don't look completely flat from behind, then you need to train your rear shoulder muscles. And bent over side raises - sitting or standing - are an excellent exercise for this.

6. barbell rows bent over for the rear shoulder muscles

Barbell rows for the rear shoulder muscles is another great exercise to target the rear shoulder muscles. This exercise is similar to bent-over rowing, but you are focusing on a maximum, conscious contraction of the rear shoulder muscles.

7. face pulls

Face pulls are an excellent exercise for strengthening the posterior shoulder muscles and the rotator cuff. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiRAi2KOfRQ)

8. barbell flat bench press and incline bench press

Barbell bench presses are usually thought of as a chest exercise, but research shows that this exercise and its variations are also very effective for building the shoulder muscles (13).

Remember that progression is the key to muscle growth

So much for the exercises. Of the dozens of exercises you can use, these eight are the only ones you really need to build strong, full and functional shoulders. However, the key to impressive shoulders is not simply performing the exercises described above - the key is progression in these exercises. This means increasing the weight you use in these exercises over time.

Always remember that as a natural exerciser who wants to become more muscular, you need to focus on getting stronger.

The 3 best shoulder training programs

The following shoulder training programs cover all aspects of effective shoulder training:

  1. They use multi-joint exercises and isolation exercises to work all three shoulder muscle heads equally.
  2. They include a lot of heavy training.
  3. They focus on progressive overload.

Before we get to the training programs themselves, I want to make an important point:

Since all pressing exercises train the shoulders, you need to consider your chest training when planning your shoulder workouts. For example, if you train your chest (and therefore your shoulders) twice a week, two additional shoulder training sessions per week would be too much.

For this reason, I consider all training sessions with pressure exercises as shoulder training sessions from a training planning perspective and then plan my dedicated shoulder training sessions accordingly. So if you already train your shoulders twice a week, then you shouldn't plan more than one additional shoulder training session per week.

On the other hand, if you only train your chest once a week and really want to focus on growing your shoulders, then you can probably get away with two additional shoulder training sessions per week.

Keep things simple though. The workout programs I'm going to outline below will train your chest and your shoulders (with special emphasis on the shoulders). Depending on how often you train your chest in addition to these workouts, you can choose a shoulder training program with one, two or three shoulder workouts per week.

If you choose the two or three day training program, you should make sure that there are at least one or two days between the training sessions (either non-training days or training days for other muscle groups).

Here are the workouts:

1 x per week shoulder training program

Training session 1

  • Dumbbell or barbell shoulder press sitting or standing: warm-up and 3 heavy sets of 4 to 6 repetitions with 80% of the 1RM
  • Barbell incline bench press: 3 heavy sets of 4 to 6 repetitions with 80% of 1RM
  • Dumbbell incline bench press: 3 heavy sets of 4 to 6 repetitions with 80% of the 1RM
  • Dumbbell side raise bent over: 3 heavy sets of 4 to 6 repetitions with 80% of the 1RM

2 x per week shoulder training program

Training session 1

  • Barbell flat bench press: Warm-up and 3 heavy sets of 4 to 6 repetitions with 80% of 1RM
  • Dumbbell shoulder press sitting: 3 heavy sets of 4 to 6 repetitions with 80% of 1RM
  • Dumbbell side raises: 3 heavy sets of 8 to 10 repetitions with 70% of the 1RM
  • Face pulls: 3 heavy sets of 8 to 10 repetitions with 70% of the 1RM

Training session 2

  • Standing or seated shoulder presses: warm-up and 3 heavy sets of 4 to 6 repetitions with 80% of the 1RM
  • Arnold presses: 3 heavy sets of 4 to 6 repetitions with 80% of the 1RM
  • Barbell rows for the rear shoulder muscles: 3 heavy sets of 8 to 10 repetitions with 70% of the 1RM
  • (Optional) Dumbbell front raises: 3 heavy sets of 8 to 10 repetitions with 70% of the 1RM

3 x per week shoulder training program

Training session 1

  • Barbell flat bench press: Warm-up and 3 heavy sets of 4 to 6 repetitions with 80% of 1RM
  • Dumbbell shoulder press sitting: 3 heavy sets of 4 to 6 repetitions with 80% of the 1RM
  • Dumbbell side raise bent over: 3 heavy sets of 8 to 10 repetitions with 70% of the 1RM
  • (Optional) Face pulls: 3 heavy sets of 8 to 10 repetitions with 70% of the 1RM

Training session 2

  • Standing or seated shoulder presses: warm-up and 3 heavy sets of 4 to 6 repetitions with 80% of the 1RM
  • Arnold Presses: 3 heavy sets of 4 to 6 repetitions with 80% of the 1RM
  • Dumbbell side raises: 3 heavy sets of 8 to 10 repetitions with 70% of the 1RM
  • (Optional) Dumbbell front lift: 3 heavy sets of 8 to 10 repetitions with 70% of the 1RM

Training session 3

  • Dumbbell incline bench press: Warm up and 3 heavy sets of 4 to 6 reps with 80% of 1RM
  • Flat bench press: 3 heavy sets of 4 to 6 repetitions with 80% of the 1RM
  • Dumbbell side raises bent over: 3 heavy sets of 8 to 10 repetitions with 70% of 1RM
  • (Optional) Dumbbell rowing for the rear shoulder muscles: 3 heavy sets of 8 to 10 repetitions with 70% of the 1RM

If you have just started strength training, then the shoulder training program with one training session per week is an excellent start. However, if you want to get your shoulders growing as quickly as possible or already have some training experience, then you should give the programs with two or three shoulder training sessions per week a chance.

Here are a few things to keep in mind with these workouts:

1. once you reach the upper limit of the repetition range, increase the weight

This is known as double progression and is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you progressively overload your muscles. For example, if you can do 6 reps of shoulder presses with 60 kilos, then increase the weight on the bar by 5 kilos on the next set. If you can do at least 4 repetitions with 65 kilos on the next set, then that is the new weight you work with until you can do 6 repetitions again and increase the weight, and so on.

If, on the other hand, you only manage 3 repetitions, then reduce the weight by 2.5 kilos and see how the next set goes. If you can still only do 3 repetitions or less, reduce the weight back to the starting weight with which you did 6 repetitions and continue training with this weight until you can do 2 sets of 6 repetitions before increasing the weight.

2. rest 2 minutes between sets

It is important that you recover as much as possible between sets so that you can give your best in the next set. Yes, this will feel like a lot of standing around, but getting enough rest is an important part of a heavy workout. This is the time during which your muscles regain their strength so that you can give your maximum on each set.

The bottom line on the best shoulder training program

If you want to look muscular and toned, then you need big, strong and defined shoulder muscles - and this is especially true if you want to look impressive in clothes.

Most exercisers know this but still fail because they make one or more of the following mistakes:

  1. They focus on the wrong shoulder exercises
  2. They focus on training with high repetitions
  3. They neglect progressive overload

On the other hand, you can achieve good results by taking exactly the opposite approach:

  1. Focus on multi-joint exercises and supplement your training with isolation exercises
  2. Do a lot of training with heavy weights
  3. Make sure you increase your weights over time

If you follow these principles, you can't go far wrong, especially if you use the following exercises most of the time:

  1. Standing or seated shoulder presses
  2. Arnold presses
  3. Dumbbell front raises
  4. Dumbbell side raises
  5. Dumbbell side raises bent over
  6. Barbell rows for the rear shoulder muscles
  7. Face pulls
  8. Barbell flat and incline bench presses

And remember, the key to impressive shoulders is not just using these exercises, but also continually increasing the reps and weights used.

References:

  1. http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2011/08/suppversity-emg-series-m-deltoideus-m.html
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25853914
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20847704
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20512064
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25799093
  6. https://www.miotec.com.br/pdf/Pinto_et_al_2013_Med_Sport.pdf
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28834797/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29470825
  9. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02640414.2018.1555906?journalCode=rjsp20&
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17326698
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16287373
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23096062
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25799093

Source: https://www.muscleforlife.com/best-shoulder-workout/

By Michael Matthews

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