One reason some guys can't build delts is because they're limited by nagging pain. Sound familiar? That pain is inevitable if your shoulder training is nothing but barbell overhead presses and dumbbell lateral raises.
There's nothing wrong with these lifts. They're important. But if these are the ONLY shoulder exercises you're doing, you're limiting your potential and risking overuse injuries. The delts can do so much more than just press a fixed bar overhead and raise the arms to parallel.
Here are two joint-friendly exercises that'll help mobilize the shoulder complex, strengthen it, and give you a skin-splitting pump.
The Banded Bradford Press
Despite what you've heard, behind-the-neck variations are great. They can train all the heads of the delts. Problem is, most people can't do them because they simply lack control when pressing behind the neck.
That's where the banded Bradford press comes in. It'll give you some pretty deep muscle contractions during the entire rep while sparing your joints of stress.
This version is also much safer than a traditional barbell Bradford press, so you can go to true failure without risk of injury.
Pull the band apart as you get into a standard overhead pressing position. Press back and forth without letting the band pull your arms inwards. Go until the burning tension and metabolite buildup makes you feel like crying. To progress, use a stronger band or simply fold a lighter band in half.
Chest-Supported Shoulder Stability Complex
It sounds complicated but it's not. And the good news is, it'll increase stability and strength in many patterns the typical bro isn't used to.
Be sure to use very light weight. I've had a 200 pound-plus overhead presser crumble after just a few reps with 10-pound dumbbells during this complex.
The tension will be surprisingly high and you'll feel it throughout your delts, particularly in the commonly undertrained lateral and rear delts.
Get in a chest-supported position with a pair of light dumbbells. Start with the dumbbells out to the side. Rotate your shoulders internally and externally, then raise your arms overhead. Bring it back to the starting position and repeat until your shoulders are burnt to a crisp.
Pain-Free Training That Makes You Better
These two exercises are not only great for training while your delts are achy, but they'll fill the holes in your program that'll allow your shoulders to control and tolerate riskier movements in the future.
I like to program these toward the end of a workout for higher reps and taken to failure. Some people also like them as a warm-up before heavy overhead pressing.