Shoulder Exercises Using Barbell and Dumbbells

I hate to say this – being a big advocate of ensuring all body parts are up to spec – but the average non-competing guy having some slightly less impressive body parts than others could still pass in the eyes of average people as having a great body.

I mean, it’s hard to imagine the untrained eye looking at a guy with huge biceps and triceps, and stating with no uncertainty that the guys chest is lagging. But… there simply is no way on Gods green earth to hide lagging shoulders. It’s noticeable by everyone, not just bodybuilding judges.

Let me tell you, great shoulders look great from all angles. From the front and back, they make you look as wide as a barn door. From the side, they look thick and round. Girls love powerful shoulders so will notice them on guys, and, if you’ve ever noticed a guy who ‘looked’ strong before, it’s usually the shoulders which scream ‘power’ the loudest.

Right, enough rambling… just grasp the point that shoulder development is critical, and you need it. Now how to get it…

The shoulders are made up of the deltoid muscles, which have 3 heads. The anterior (front) head, medial (middle) head, and the posterior (rear) head. While many exercises work maybe 2 of those heads, no single exercise can hit all 3 heads at once, so you’ll need to use a variety of exercises to target each head for the fullest shoulder development.

Military Press to hit the front (anterior) head:

Either standing or seated, with hands at shoulder width apart or slightly wider, grasp the barbell from the rack with an overhand grip, and hold it just below the chin, elbows and forearms vertical. Now, facing forward, push the barbell upward until it is overhead, locking out the elbows, before slowly lowering to the starting position.

Upright Row to hit the middle (medial) head:

Standing, with an overhand grip on the barbell of shoulder width or slightly wider, use the shoulders to lift the barbell up to the nipples, and slowly lower.

Traditionally this exercise is done with a narrow grip, but this is notoriously bad for the rotator cuff in the shoulder and shouldn’t be done this way any more.

Rear Dumbbell Lateral Raise to hit the rear (posterior) head:

With the knees bent slightly, back locked out but bent over to 90 degrees at the hip so you torso is parallel with the floor, hold the dumbbells together in front of you, palms facing inwards, arms slightly bent. Now, maintaining this position as good as possible, lift the dumbbells up to the side, almost in a flapping motion, twisting the pinkie finger outward as you do so, so the back of the dumbbells are higher than the front. Because of the slight bend in the arms, the elbows should also be slightly higher than the actual dumbbells. Now, reverse the motion so the dumbbells are once more together in front of you with the palms facing inwards.

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