Shoulder Workout Program 1 – The Start
- 3 sets, 12 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Machine Shoulder (Military) Press
- 3 sets, 12 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Side Lateral Raise
- 3 sets, 12 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Front Cable Raise
- 3 sets, 12 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Reverse Machine Flyes
When you are first beginning with shoulder workout (or any other workout), your body needs to get comfortable with that particular exercise. This task is fairly difficult in the case of free weights, as balancing becomes hard. But when it comes to machines, there is a set path and you can easily adjust your body mechanics by working out on machines for a couple of weeks. Although free weights are better for mass-gain and muscle-building, we advise you to focus on your form (using machines). Move to the free weights only when you can easily control and balance the motion.
Shoulder Workout Program 2 – Front Delt
- 4 sets, 8-12 reps (2 minutes rest) of Barbell Shoulder Press
- 4 sets, 8-12 reps (2 minutes rest) of Arnold Dumbbell Press
- 3 sets, 10 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Front Two-Dumbbell Raise
- 3 sets, 10-12 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Front Cable Raise
If you are one of those people who never skip chest day in your shoulder workout routine, then you surely have strong front delts. As mentioned earlier, the front delts are trained during several other shoulder workout programs like the inclined pressing moves for the chest. But if your front delts aren’t strong enough, then it will eventually affect your chest strength and hold you back from building strong chest muscles. This shoulder workout is focused on your front delts. One thing you need to do is to give your body a rest of 48 hours before you start another shoulder workout session, so as to let your delts fully recover.
Shoulder Workout Program 3 – Middle Delt
- 4 sets, 8 reps (2 minutes rest) of Barbell Shoulder Press
- 3 sets, 8-10 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Upright Barbell Row
- 3 sets, 10 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of One-Arm Side Laterals
- 3 sets, 10-12 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Side Lateral Raise
To build a body that resembles a V-shape, you need bigger and broader middle delts. This shoulder workout routine focuses on your middle delts and helps to create an illusion of a smaller waist. Alternate this routine with a more balanced routine (Like the maximum mass routine mentioned below). It’s advised to follow this routine in the beginning of your shoulder workout when your strength is maximum.
Shoulder Workout Program 4 – Maximum Mass
- 4 sets, 6,6,8,10 reps (2 minutes rest) of Dumbbell Shoulder Press
- 3 sets, 8,8,10 reps (2 minutes rest) of Upright Barbell Row
- 3 sets, 8,10,12 reps (1 minute rest) of Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise
- 3 sets, 8,10,12 reps (1 minute rest) of Side Lateral Raise
- 3 sets, 8,10,12 reps (1 minute rest) of Standing Front Barbell Raise Over Head
This shoulder workout routine begins with the most demanding exercise—the multi-joint press. Two multi-joint presses followed by single-joint moves for each of the delt is how we should structure this routine. This routine is rock solid and helps you achieve maximum mass gain. A reverse pyramid scheme is being followed here which helps you do more sets to muscle failure. During the first two sets, aim for fairly heavy weights as the number of reps is low. Decrease about 5 pounds on both the sides, subsequently, during the last two sets and enlist a spotter for minimal help. The rear delts are the weakest, in general, because front delts get worked up during chest days and middle delts are worked upon during the multi-joint moves. So in this routine, we do rear delts before the other two, while you have more energy left. However, if you feel that your rear delts are fairly strong and balanced, in your shoulder workout, with respect to the other two delts then go ahead and keep on rotating the sequence of the three delt workouts.
Shoulder Workout Program 5 – Rear Delt
- 4 sets, 8-10 reps (2 minutes rest) of Standing Barbell Press Behind Neck
- 4 sets, 8-10 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise
- 3 sets, 10 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Cable Rear Delt Fly
- 3 sets, 10-12 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Reverse Machine Flyes
In the previous shoulder workout routines, we took a small step towards working on your rear delts. However, if you feel that your rear delts are still lagging behind, (which is usually the case with beginners and pros alike) then follow this rear delt shoulder workout routine for 4-8 weeks or alternate it with a more balanced routine like the one mentioned above (Maximum Mass). When fully developed, there’s nothing more impressive than a pair of rear delts protruding outwards as if one is wearing shoulder pads for football. Also, rear delts are important for shoulder stability while exercising. Weaker rear delts have adverse effects on other exercises as well and limit you in many ways.
Shoulder Workout Program 6 – Better Shoulder Definition
- 4 sets, 8-12 reps (2 minutes rest) of Seated Barbell Military Press
- Superset – 3 sets, 10-12 reps (no rest) of Side Lateral Raise
- 3 sets, 10-12 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise
- 3 sets, 10-12 reps (no rest) of Front Cable Raise
- 3 sets, 10-12 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Upright Cable Row
- 3 sets, 10-12 reps (no rest) of Reverse Machine Flyes
- 3 sets, 10-12 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Lateral Raise – With Bands
If your goal also includes a better definition of your shoulder, then only lifting heavy weights is not going to help you. In this shoulder workout routine, you will focus on boosting your size and then doing a high volume work. This facilitates an EPOC (or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) which results in burning a higher amount of calories both during and after the workout and you’ll be able to feel the muscle burn. This routine will help you move really fast.
Shoulder Workout Program 7 – Pre-exhaust
- 4 sets, 8-10 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Standing Low-Pulley Deltoid Raise
- 3 sets, 10 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Barbell Front Raise
- 3 sets, 10 reps (60-90 seconds rest) of Reverse Machine Flyes
- 3 sets, 8-10 reps (2 minutes rest) of Machine Shoulder (Military) Press
- 3 sets, 10-12 reps (2 minutes rest) of Upright Barbell Row
In the case of shoulder workouts, the triceps play an important role, especially for the multi-joint exercises. If you feel that your triceps give out even before you have attained muscle failure for shoulders then you need to follow this pre-exhaust routine. Here, we first work on the single-joint movements in order to keep the energy of the triceps intact while exhausting the shoulders. Then, we move on to the multi-joint movements where the shoulder muscles are fairly exhausted and it is easier to attain muscle failure before the triceps.
However, this has a downside too. If you start with the single-joint movements, then although you will be stronger on the single-joint exercises, your multi-joint strength will be the lowest as you will be already exhausted by the time you start doing it. To avoid this, go for lower weights during your single-joint shoulder workout so that you can push maximum weights during multi-joint movements.
Shoulder Workout Program 7 – The Hardcore Routine
- 3 sets, 4 to 6 reps (3 minutes rest) of Seated Barbell Military Press – (80 to 85% of 1RM)
- 3 sets, 4 to 6 reps (3 minutes rest) of Side Lateral Raise – (75 to 80% of 1RM)
- 3 sets, 6 to 8 reps (2 minutes rest) of Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise or Barbell Rear Delt Row
- 3 sets, 8 to 10 reps (60 seconds rest) of Face Pull – (70 to 75% of 1RM)
If you aim to have shoulders that are really strong, then your focus should be on the 4 to 6 or 5 to 7 rep range. If you don’t focus on getting stronger, you can’t continue to get bigger. Progressive overload, i.e., increasing the weight over time is the key to getting stronger and eventually bigger.
In shoulder workouts, it is really tricky to select the best exercises that facilitate progressive overload without causing any impingement or injury. The above routine is designed after several different combinations and frequencies, tested on multiple body builders over time.
You must make a note that with heavier weights, you need more time to recover and it also limits the numbers of sets you can do each week.
There are some common mistakes that most people do while setting up a shoulder workout routine and then wonder why are they unable to see the results that they expect despite putting maximum hours into their shoulder workout regime. You can be smart and avoid the following mistakes to see massive gains!