Most lifters aren't genetically blessed with big shoulders. It takes hours of work and countless reps. But if you're smart about how you train your delts, use effective exercises, and focus on maximizing the training effect of each rep, you can shorten the process to some extent.
The tri-set below will build your delts and give you the biggest shoulder pump of your life. Rest just long enough between each exercise to set up for the next one.
Exercise 1: Seated Rope Front Raise
- Before your first rep, retract your shoulders, lock down your scapula, and keep it there for the entire set.
- Start each rep by keeping your arms straight and flexing your shoulder girdle.
- Fight like hell to keep the handles of the rope apart throughout the entire range of motion.
- Flex and hold the peak contraction for 1-2 seconds on each rep.
- Control the eccentric or negative, and keep your scapula locked down as you lower the weight.
- Do about 8 reps.
Exercise 2: Overhead Dumbbell Lateral Raise
- Starting with the dumbbells down by your side, alternate between leading one rep with your thumbs, then the next rep with your pinkies.
- For roughly the first half of the set, keep your form strict, then allow it to loosen as your shoulders fatigue to keep the weight moving.
- Aside from a quick flex in the peak contraction, there's no pausing whatsoever during the set. The purpose here is to maintain an obscene amount of tension in your delts and drive large amounts of blood in your shoulders.
- An even, methodical tempo is best for overhead dumbbell laterals.
- Do about 10 reps.
Exercise 3: Incline Prone Cuban Press
- Fair warning: You won't need much weight here, especially on the heels of the previous two exercises.
- Lay face down on a 45-60 degree incline. Lock down your shoulder blades, and keep them there.
- Press the dumbbells out and "up" forming a rough "Y" shape.
- Your arms are going to want to internally rotate and collapse, so fight to get as much external rotation happening as you can.
- Do about 6-8 reps.
Programming and Sets
Depending on how many rounds you do, this tri-set can be used as a stand-alone shoulder workout, or it can be added to the beginning or end of a chest or back session.
If you're treating it as its own workout, once a few feeler sets are out of the way, aim for 5-7 rounds, with 90 seconds rest between each round. Try to use the same weight throughout.
If you're adding this onto the beginning or end of a back, chest, or arm day, aim for 3-4 rounds, stopping when loads and rep performance drops off.