Broad shoulders are the staple to a classic V-tapered look that so many men in the gym strive for. Shoulders are a stubborn body part to grow. This is because we use them in so many of our everyday movements. Literally any movement of your arms involves the use of your shoulders. If you are serious about getting wide up top, get prepared to push yourself. This is the best shoulder workout for mass which will get you closer to the boulder shoulders you have always wanted!
Power-Building Shoulder Routine
If you have read some of my other posts, you know that I am all about establishing the middle ground between power lifting and bodybuilding, especially when it comes to putting on size. Power Lifting (low reps with heavy weight) works your body to become more efficient at recruiting motor units to lift the weight. This, in turn, allows your nervous system to adapt to lifting heavier weight overtime. Bodybuilding (8-12 reps with relatively lighter weight) works your body to recruit more muscle fibers to lift the weight. This leads to hypertrophy, i.e. enlargement of the muscle overtime. Although Power Lifting can lead to hypertrophy as well, it is not the body’s priority. Recruiting motor units is more efficient at dealing with the heavy weight for low reps. This is where Power-Building comes in to bring you the best of both worlds!
Standing Overhead Press: Warm up and 5 sets of 5 reps
Side Lateral Raises: 4 sets of 12 reps, run the rack on last set
Seated Shoulder Press & Front Dumbbell Raises: 4 supersets of 12
Reverse Dumbbell Press: 4 sets of 12 reps
Pushups: 4 sets to failure
The importance of warming up is often overlooked. Getting some blood into your shoulders will get your rotator cuff ready and lower your chances of injury. I have embedded a tutorial video of some stretches that you can incorporate into your warm up.
Exercise#1: Overhead Press – 5 sets of 5
This is the powerlifting portion of the workout. Perform the overhead press in a standing position. This will work towards developing your core strength and stability. You can use dumbbells or a barbell. Push the weight up explosively and bring it down slowly. Take 3 minutes of rest in between sets. After finishing the 5 sets, take a 5 minute break before starting the next exercise. Trust me, you’ll need it.
Exercise#2: Side Lateral Raises – 4 sets of 12, run the rack on last set
There are too many people who do side laterals by throwing the weight around and using momentum to get it up. If done correctly and in a controlled manner, side lateral raises can be very effective. Do these sitting on a bench to bring further focus onto the shoulders. Bring the weight up in a controlled manner, hold at the top for a second, and bring the weight back to the starting position slowly. At the top position make sure your elbows are slightly above your hands. After your last set, drop the weight by 5 lbs on each dumbbell and do as many reps as you can. Keep dropping the weight until you get to the lightest weight. You will feel a CRAZY burn. Maximum 30 second break in between sets.
Remember the rule of “quality over quantity”. Range of motion and contraction is way more important than the amount of weight you lift.
Exercise#3: Seated Shoulder Press + Front Dumbbell Raise – 4 sets of 12, super sets
Do a set of seated shoulder press on a 90 degree bench immediately followed by front dumbbell raises. This means to keep your dumbbells for the front raises ready. These super sets will make you feel like your arms are about to fall off. I have come to love this feeling. Once you learn to embrace the pain is when you will really start to grow!
Exercise#4: Reverse Cable Crossover – 4 sets of 12
If you want fully developed shoulders, you will have to train your rear delts. The rear delts add to the shape behind your shoulder. Once again, really focus on the contraction.
Exercise#5: Reverse Dumbbell Press – 4 sets of 12
I learned about this exercise through Jeff Cavaliere over at AthleanX. He is a physiotherapist and I have come to learn many unique exercises from him. The reverse dumbbell press focuses on a part of the shoulder muscle that is often overlooked. This exercise will further enhance the definition of your shoulders. I’ll let Jeff go into more detail.
Finisher: Pushups – 4 sets to failure
Pushups are generally known as a chest exercise, but you will definitely feel the burn. If you really pushed yourself in the previous exercises, you will have a hard time doing pushups. Pushups are a good finisher because they don’t use that much of your shoulder muscle, but enough to for you to add that final kick. This is your last exercise so aim to do 4 sets of as MANY push ups as you can. Don’t sell yourself short.