This Advanced Upper-Body Workout Will Sculpt Your Shoulders

If your shoulder strength has plateaued, use these advance tips and sample workout to keep making gains in this crucial area.

As you get stronger and develop your physique, the simple tips you started with won't be enough to help you progress. This is especially true when it comes to shoulder training. The shoulders are so important in all athletics, they should be a priority as you improve. These tips and advanced shoulder workout can help you do just that.

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Rotators Come First

As your shoulders get stronger, your rotator cuffs can become weaker if you don't focus on them. They could also be more susceptible to injury. Performing external and interntal rotation movements with a band or light dumbbells at the beginning of the workout can help warm up your shoulders and focus on the rotators, which are so essential for proper shoulder function.

Don't Lock Out on Presses

As you press a weight, your triceps can take over the movement when you're close to locking out your elbows. Press the weight until you can feel your triceps taking over the movement, then lower the weight back down. This applies to barbell, dumbbell, and machine presses.

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Keep Raises Parallel

When you perform any of the major shoulder raise movements to the front, side or rear, you might feel your traps becoming involved as you raise your hands above shoulder level. You want the emphasis to be on your delts, not your traps. Stop raising when your arms are parallel with the floor and your hands are even with your shoulders.

Thumbs Down, Pinkies Up on Laterals

When you perform Lateral Raises, twist the dumbbells so that your pinky fingers are higher than your thumbs. Imagine that you have pitchers in your hands and you're pouring water out. This places more emphasis on the lateral head of the deltoid, which can help improve the width of your shoulders.

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Prioritize Weaknesses

If you notice you're strong on Presses but struggle with rear delt movements like Rear Lateral Raises, shift your order of exercises so that your rear delt movements come first, when you have more energy. You can also add more exercises to target your weaker areas first and make them a priority over other movements.

Contraction Quality Comes Before Weights

It can be really easy to let your ego take over and add more weight or grab heavier dumbbells, but remember: your goal as an athlete is to control the weight, not let the weight control you. If you can control how you lift and lower 20-pound dumbbells but must use momentum with 30-pound dumbbells, use the 20s and keep your form controlled. You'll be less likely to get injured and can train more effectively.

Stretch Often

Although building muscle is the goal, you need to maintain or even improve flexibility, so stretch before and after your workouts as well as between sets. This will not only allow more blood to get to your muscles, it will also maximize the range of motion and ability to use your shoulders effectively.

Advanced Shoulder Routine

  • External Rotation with Band - 2x15
  • Internal Rotation with Band - 2x15
  • Rear Lateral Raise with Dumbbells - 3x10-12
  • Wide Grip Upright Row - 3x12
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise with Pinky Twist - 3x10
  • One-Arm Cable Lateral Raise - 3x12
  • Seated Machine Press - 3x15

Rest 60 seconds between sets.

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