Shoulders are an essential part of a well-developed physique. They are the key to having that V-tapered, aesthetic look that many people strive for in their fitness goals. Strong shoulders not only enhance your overall physique, but they also provide the necessary support for your upper body to perform various exercises such as bench press, push-ups, pull-ups, and overhead presses.
Increasing the size of your deltoid muscles will make you look much wider and bigger as they are already almost always the widest points on your body.
The shoulder consists of three main muscles, namely the anterior deltoid, the lateral or medial deltoid, and the posterior deltoid. Each of these muscles plays a significant role in the overall function and appearance of the shoulder. In this article, we will explore some of the best exercises for massive delts, targeting each of these three muscles.
I have been training for 17 years. I am a trained P.T and have been researching muscle building for my whole life – I am going to save you hours, weeks and months of research and give you this information for free.
When targeting the shoulders you are really trying to hit the three different heads that make up the deltoid muscle group. The anterior deltoid is at the front, the lateral deltoid is at the side, and the posterior is also known as the rear delt. These muscles control all movements where you
We have put together a list of great exercises to target each head in the most efficient way for maximum muscle growth.
Check them out below and let us know what you think in the comments
The overhead press is one of the most effective exercises for building massive delts. This compound exercise works all three heads of the shoulder muscles, as well as the triceps and upper back muscles. It involves pressing a barbell or dumbbell overhead, starting from the shoulders and extending the arms fully.
To perform the overhead press, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell or dumbbells at shoulder height. Press the weight overhead while keeping your core tight and maintaining a neutral spine. Lower the weight back down to your shoulders and repeat for the desired number of reps.
Arnold press is a variation of the overhead press that targets all three heads of the delt muscles, as well as the biceps and triceps. This exercise was popularized by bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger, who used it to sculpt his massive shoulders.
To perform the Arnold press, sit on a bench with a pair of dumbbells held in front of your shoulders. Rotate your palms inward, so that they face your body, then press the weights overhead. As you press up, twist your wrists so that your palms face forward at the top of the movement. Reverse the motion as you lower the weights back down to your shoulders and repeat for the desired number of reps.
Handstand push-ups are an advanced exercise that targets the shoulders, triceps, and upper back muscles. They involve performing a push-up while in a handstand position, using the wall for support.
To perform handstand push-ups, start by getting into a handstand position with your feet against the wall. Lower your head down to the ground, then press back up to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Lateral raises are a classic isolation exercise that targets the lateral deltoid, the muscle responsible for the width of the shoulder. This exercise involves lifting dumbbells out to the sides, keeping the arms straight and the elbows slightly bent.
To perform lateral raises, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Raise your arms out to the sides, keeping them straight and stopping when they reach shoulder level. Lower the weights back down to your sides and repeat for the desired number of reps.
Advanced tip: At the top of the movement turn your hands slightly inwards.
Cable lateral raises are a variation of the classic lateral raise exercise, using a cable machine to provide constant tension throughout the movement. This exercise targets the lateral deltoid, helping to build width and definition in the shoulders.
To perform cable lateral raises, stand facing sideways on to a cable machine with the handle set at waist height. Hold the handle in one hand and raise your arm out to the side, keeping it straight and stopping when it reaches shoulder level. Lower the handle back down to your side and repeat for the desired number of reps. Repeat the exercise on the other side. If you are confused, the below image will allow you to visualise this.
Rear delt flyes target the posterior deltoid, as well as the upper back muscles. This exercise involves lying face down on a bench and lifting dumbbells out to the sides, keeping the arms straight and the elbows slightly bent.
To perform rear delt flyes, lie face down on a bench, with your head poking over the top holding a dumbbell in each hand. This can be done on a flat bench or on an incline. Lift your arms out to the sides, stopping when they reach shoulder level. Lower the weights back down to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of reps.
Front raises target the anterior deltoid, the muscle responsible for the front of the shoulder. This exercise involves lifting dumbbells in front of the body, keeping the arms straight and the elbows slightly bent.
To perform front raises, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Raise your arms in front of your body, keeping them straight and stopping when they reach shoulder level. Lower the weights back down to your sides and repeat for the desired number of reps.
Try to keep your legs and body as still and stable as possible, rocking back and forth is cheating, you are better off doing a lower weight, for proper reps than doing a heavy weight but swinging your whole body in order to lift – This is known as ego lifting and is not only completely pointless, but it can also result in injuries.
Try this for the last exercise of your workout to absolutely blitz and really force your muscles to adapt and grow.
The overhead bar front raise is an absolutely brutal exercise and it is going to be made all the more brutal because you are going to do one set of as many reps as phsyically possible.
Start out with a barbell that you can comfortably do at least 15 reps with, this is important, don’t go too heavy.
Often gyms will have smaller preloaded barbells that go from 7.5kg all the way up to a heavier 30kg or more.
Start with the barbell down by your legs, holding it with your palms facing your body, hands around shoulder width apart. Feet should be shoulder width and keep a slight bend in your arms so that you aren’t overextending or locking out your elbow.
Lift the weight, keeping your arms with a slight bend, until the bar is directly above your head. The bar will follow a curved trajectory in front of you almost like you are doing a mexican wave. Keep the rest of your body straight, and stiff though.
Return the bar to the original position, following the same movement in reverse.
Do as many repetitions as possible as this is your last set.
Take a look at this video, if you need to be able to visualise how this exercise looks.
These exercises are some of the best for building massive delts and sculpting a well-rounded, aesthetic physique.
Incorporate them into your shoulder workouts for maximum results, you don’t have to do all of them, but pick and choose your favourites, making sure you hit all 3 deltoid heads.
Remember to start with lighter weights and focus on proper form before progressing to heavier weights. Feel free to check out our other articles if you want more information on the finer aspects of building muscle in general, or articles about nutrition, and training. If you have any questions or want to discuss any of this, drop a message on the forum
My name is Gary and I run All About The Gains.
I am a qualified PT and have been training for 17 years. I have been involved in lots of disciplines from bodybuilding to boxing, functional training to kettlebells, running, Jiu Jitsu and H.I.I.T. I am currently a member of GB top team - an M.M.A gym in south London.
I have spent the last 15 years extensively researching topics on diet and supplements, muscle building, exercise and biomechanics and I write these articles so that the normal person can understand the topic, without having to visit 10+ sites. Each article I write is researched with reference to properly conducted studies. I link to all of these studies so that you can look into it yourself if needed.