Updated: Jul 4, 2019
When I was younger, the difficulty of developing muscular shoulders was a daunting task. Narrow, internally rotated deltoids were not the look I was seeking, but I continued to see these features when I looked into the mirror. I do not need to remind everyone how old I am, but the internet was not around in the '80s. However, Muscle & Fitness was (my fellow Gen X'ers should be laughing now).
In other words, I was stuck with weak shoulders for years. Not until my late 20's did I start seeing any noticeable differences. I backed off the pressing movements and started to train back more frequently in combination with training my medial/rear delts. Furthermore, because of this modification in training, my traps finally started to grow.
Not just from what I experienced, but working with thousands of adults and teenagers over the years, shoulders are probably one of the most stubborn muscle groups. From professional athletes to recreational lifters, there is a belief the overhead press will cure any type of deltoid deficiency, whether it be in strength or structure. Nothing could be further from the truth. All I ask from my clients is to use common sense. Do you really believe a press is going to cure this guy's structural issues and weaknesses? No, almost any type of a press, including bench press is going to make matters worse.
With the exception of Eric Cressey, who I consider the most knowledgeable coach in this area, shoulders rarely get the attention they deserve. In all reality, your shoulders are one of the key factors in developing strength for the majority of lifts, and to add to that, performing the correct shoulder movements will prevent injuries. Perform the wrong ones, you will be adding fuel to the fire and make issues even worse.
For the sake of this article, I would like to show four movements for your shoulders and save back for another day. Let me emphasize you have to train back correctly according to your body structure. I will go into more detail about this in an upcoming article. Let's dive into it and get you on the right path for those "boulder shoulders" you have been seeking out.
I can't say I created these movements, but I can tell you how they are structured into your workout makes an impact of how effective they are and should be adjusted to your level of development. Just for safety purposes alone, they should be done after warming up. As always, TECHNIQUE IS EVERYTHING.
1. Face Pulls (seated on the lat pull down)
2. Rear Delt Swing (super set)
3. Incline Reverse Fly/Lateral Raise (super set; laying on your side)
4. Bulgarian Rows
Any questions or comments. Please contact me. Gareth@hcpbarbell.com