Last Updated on March 4, 2022 by Jack Saxon
Why Big Shoulders Matter
The Importance Of Wide Shoulders
Welcome back Piit fans. In this article, we’re focusing on one of, if not the most important muscle groups to attain a wide and aesthetic V taper physique. Which is the shoulder, more specifically the Deltoid.
Building Death Star Deltoids (shoulders) should be a priority within your training program if you’re weightlifting for reasons of aesthetics (looking good).
Big shoulders if trained correctly, are the widest part of your physique. So, it’s of the utmost importance that you select the best shoulder exercises for attaining wide and broad shoulders.
The Anatomy Of The Deltoid (Shoulder Muscle)
The Deltoid muscle in your shoulder is the outer muscle that can be trained to grow for an aesthetic appeal. As well as the aesthetics, training your shoulders properly will result in lifelong shoulder health.
Although, there are other muscles such as the Rotator Cuff which are important in terms of shoulder health. Today I’ll mainly focus on the Deltoid muscle.
The Deltoid muscle has 3 individual parts that can be trained to target each specific part of the muscle.
To begin with, and probably the most overworked part of your shoulder is the Anterior Deltoid or the front part of your shoulder muscle. This muscle is often overtrained unintentionally through performing any type of push motion, such as the Bench Press.
This is the case due to being in the ‘pushing’ chain of motion. With this in mind, high volume direct training is in my opinion unnecessary.
Developing large anterior deltoids will provide you with front-facing width, but it’s not the be-all, end-all to building large shoulders. Often, if your Anterior delts are over-developed compared to the other parts of your delts, you may hunch over slightly.
The Lateral deltoid is arguably the most important part of the deltoid for aesthetics. This part of the muscle is targetted through lateral motions such as the lateral raise.
Growing well-developed lateral delts is of the utmost importance for the width of your physique. When trained correctly, shoulders are the widest part of your body and the tips of your V taper.
The Posterior deltoid is the rear part of the deltoid muscle and is often the most forgotten part of the shoulder muscle in question. But, when trained correctly it can benefit your physique tremendously.
Developing high-quality posterior delts will provide you with the ‘3D’ look, and really pop out your shoulders. You’ll also look great in a T-shirt from behind.
It’s not only important to select the best shoulder exercises, but it’s also important to train your shoulders with high enough frequency. I go into more detail about training frequency in my beginner workout article.
Personally, I like to train my shoulders 2x per week. This allows for proper activation, muscle targeting and volume for your Deltoid muscle.
Depending on your training program, you may be training your delts more or less than twice per week. But as a general rule, twice per week is a good starting point.
Jumping Into It
Now the importance of why you should be prioritising shoulders has been covered, as well as the anatomy of the shoulder and training frequency. I’ll jump straight into the 5 best shoulder exercises for building Death Star delts.
The 5 Best Shoulder Exercises
1. Dumbbell Lateral Raise
The Dumbbell lateral raise is the first exercise within the best shoulder exercises list for a reason. This exercise is your main avenue for wide shoulders and should be prioritised.
This can be a difficult exercise to get the hang of. I suggest starting off with lightweight and finding the range of motion for your shoulder (as we’re all different). Lastly, it’s important to focus on finding the mind-muscle connection.
During your working set, aim for 3-4 sets in a higher rep range of around 30. Your delts are mainly slow-twitch muscle fibres, which mean they respond better to higher volume rather than higher weight.
2. Machine Reverse Fly
The machine reverse fly is one of my favourite shoulder building exercises. It’s not only an excellent posterior delt builder but, it’s also a very enjoyable exercise as you’ll progress quickly.
Most of the time, this exercise is performed sitting down. I prefer to stand up, and place my forehead on the horizontal armbar. This way I find there’s a better range of motion and mind-muscle connection.
Similar to the lateral raise you should aim for 3-4 sets but with a slightly low rep range of around 20 per set. As mentioned, you’ll notice your rear delts developing fast from this exercise.
3. Machine Lateral Raise
The machine lateral raise is one of the best shoulder exercises. It allows you to directly target your lateral delts without any interference from other muscles, which can sometimes happen with Dumbbell lateral raises.
It’s also a great afterburner for your lateral delts after performing the Dumbbell variant. I suggest performing these straight after the Dumbbell lateral raise, or at most 1 exercise after. This way you can truly burn out your side delts.
Aim to perform 3-4 sets within a higher rep range of around 25-35 reps with a lower weight, focusing on the mind-muscle connection.
4. Cable Reverse Fly
This is one of the most overlooked rear shoulder muscle-building exercises. This exercise is excellent at targeting the posterior delts due to the squeeze and range of motion of the exercise.
Not only is this one of the best shoulder exercises for building muscle but also for your shoulder health and posture. It will help you hold proper posture throughout the day.
Once again aim for 3-4 sets within a higher rep range of 25-35. Focus on proper form, the squeeze at the end of the motion and the mind-muscle connection.
5. Dumbbell Overhead Press
This is the first and last best shoulder exercise in this list that focuses mainly on the front shoulder. As mentioned it’s likely that your anterior delts are getting enough volume through performing other heavy pushing motions.
However, if you do not perform other heavy push motions, or you’d like to grow your front shoulders further. This is the best shoulder exercise to go for, it’s also a great compound movement if you’d like to target more than just the shoulder at one time.
Unlike the other exercises on this list, you should go heavier with this motion. Aim for 3-4 sets within the 8-12 rep range. Remember to incorporate a warm-up set of at least 40% of your working set weight.
As I briefly mentioned at the beginning of this article, the main muscles you’ll be targeting are the 3 heads of the Delts. But, it’s also important to take care of your shoulders’ health for longevity reasons.
This can be done by training and strengthening your Rotator Cuff with a Rotator cuff extension. The Rotator Cuff is the group of muscles and tendons responsible for connecting your arm and shoulder.
One of the most common injuries among bodybuilders and athletes is a tear to the rotator cuff which can be a long-lasting injury.
To avoid this, the best should exercise you can perform is 2 lightweight sets of Dumbbell Rotator Cuff extensions before your shoulder workout. This will help keep injury at bay.
Conclusion – The Best Shoulder Exercises
In this article, I’ve outlined why it’s important to prioritise your Deltoid training. As it’s one of the best muscle groups for an aesthetic physique.
As always, remember to focus on form overweight and to attain that important mind-muscle connection for optimal gains.
I hope this article has been helpful to you, and I wish you the best of gains Piit fans.