The Best Exercises For Shoulders: A Hierarchy Of Effective Exercises

Exercise hierarchy for shoulders

In this Post. You’re going to learn about and how to perform the best exercises for your shoulders. Above all, the ones that you should. And shouldn’t be prioritising.

Firstly well developed shoulders can make or break a great physique.

Secondly Broad shoulders and a narrow waist give you the golden ratio.

To illustrate what the golden ratio looks like here is a picture of Steve Reeves.

Furthermore the golden ratio Is the hip to shoulder ratio that gives the v shape look.

Thus developing your shoulders, Can help you get that v shape.

Furthermore to understand the best shoulder exercises. You should know the anatomy of the shoulders.

There are many different small muscles in the shoulders.

But to develop your shoulders.

You don’t need to know much.

Most importantly You need to focus on getting stronger deltoids.

Your deltoids are broken into 3 different parts.

Anterior/ front deltoids.

Medial/ side deltoids.

Posterior/ rear deltoids.

Now let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of shoulder training.

The best exercises.

Starting at the bottom of the pyramid.

1. The Overhead Press/ Seated And Standing. The Best Exercises For Your Shoulders

Above all this exercise is great for developing sheer upper body strength. And can really carry over to your bench press strength.

The overhead press. Is the king of shoulder exercises. Targeting your entire deltoids. Developing complete shoulder strength.

Due to that reason you want to be prioritising this movement.

And what works best for me. And will for you too.

Is to start your shoulder workout, with this exercise. Thus getting as strong as possible at it.

When you’re fresh.

And then dedicating your training to getting as strong as you possibly can at it.

For Instructions on how to complete this exercise. Look below.

  1. Firstly Sit/ stand with a neutral back.
  2. Secondly take a deep breath, brace your core and push the bar up, Some people describe this as putting your head through the hole.
  3. Lock the bar out.
  4. Bring the bar back down to your clavicle.
  5. Repeat.

The overhead press exercise form.

The seated overhead press exercise form.

2. The Dumbbell Overhead Press. Seated And Standing. The Best Exercises For Shoulders.

Firstly this exercise is just as effective as the barbell overhead press.

Although there are 2 differences.

  1. There is more range of motion with the dumbbell shoulder press due to individual dumbbells. Thus focusing more on controlling each one.
  2. Lastly your not as strong on your working sets because of picking the weights up. Thus prematurely using that strength that could of been used for your work sets.

The barbell/ dumbbell press are both effective movements for developing bigger, stronger shoulders.

Due to that reason you should include them both in your training.

You’re going to be able to lift the most weight. With the seated dumbbell press. While you sit on the bench.

Compared to the standing shoulder press.

But they both have their benefits. So I include them both in my training and you should too.

The form is below.

The standing dumbbell shoulder press form.

The standing barbell/ dumbbell press is more of a full body exercise. Because it engages your core/body to a greater extent than the seated version.

Lastly to understand the amazing benefits of the press : read Mark Rippetoe’s enlightening article below.

2. The Seated Arnold Press – The Best Exercises For Your Shoulders

Similarly to the press. The seated Arnold press is good for working your anterior deltoids. It also targets the clavicular head of your pectoralis major ( which is the highest point up on your chest), And trapezius.

Similarly you should know that these shoulder exercises all work the trapezius to an extent.

Furthermore, the role of the trapezius is to hold the dumbbells/ bar in the press at lockout. For instance the more weight you can press.

The bigger/ stronger your traps and deltoids will be to support the weight.

Form is below.

3.Machine Shoulder Press/ Smith Machine Shoulder Press

Firstly the machine shoulder press/ smith machine shoulder press work the same muscles as the press.

But less effectively

Because the machines work at a fixed range of motion.

Doing this is easier and less functional than using free weights.

Form is below.

4. Dumbbell Side Lateral Raises. Face Pulls & Rear Delt Flys

Firstly side lateral raises strengthen your medial/side deltoids.

But If you only did heavy overhead pressing. You would still develop bigger and stronger shoulders. But it would just take longer.

Due to that reason that’s why I’ve put this exercise 4th. Because It can definitely be useful. But after your heavy pressing.

Above all you shouldn’t prioritise this exercise over heavy pressing.

Form is below.

Secondly face pulls are performed on the cable machine. Similarly to lateral raises they are are an isolation exercise. But they target your posterior deltoids.

Similarly to other isolation exercises. They can be a useful exercise after heavy pressing.

Form is below.

Similarly to face pulls rear delt flys are a great exercise to strengthen your posterior deltoids. In contrast with the anterior/ medial deltoids. The rear deltoids are harder to target. Partly because you can’t see them. But with enough overhead pressing. And incorporating these exercises into your workouts. You will develop all round strength and size in your shoulders.

Form below.

5. Front Raises

Front raises target your anterior deltoids.

The reason why I’ve put them last. Is because your heavy shoulder pressing, incline pressing and bench pressing will target your anterior deltoids enough.

I would spend little time on this isolation exercise.

But It can still be useful.

I put these at the end of my workout after my lateral raises.

But often I don’t include them in my workout.

Form below.

Putting This All Together – The Best Exercises For Shoulders

Eric Helms states in the muscle and strength pyramids. You should perform 10-20 sets per muscle group. Here is what a shoulder day looks like. With the previous information.

Barbell overhead press 3 sets of 3-5 reps

Seated dumbbell press 3 sets of 3-5 reps

Side lateral raise 3 sets of 6-8 reps

Face pulls 3 sets of 8-10 reps

If you focus on getting stronger at this workout. Over time you will develop stronger and bigger shoulders.

As long as your in a 10-15% calorie surplus. Getting enough sleep. And recovering properly.

Conclusion On The Best Exercises For Shoulders

  1. Firstly Prioritise Heavy barbell and dumbbell shoulder pressing.
  2. Secondly do isolation exercises like side lateral raises/ face pulls to strengthen and build bigger medial and posterior deltoids.
  3. Finally don’t spend too much time on front raises. Heavy pressing will suffice.

Finally thanks for reading.

Furthermore to download my free fat loss ebook and beginner strength routine. Click below.

Published by henrypaget

Hi, I'm Henry and it's my mission to help you succeed with your fitness & health.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: