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Shoulder Exercises

Shoulder Exercises For Bodybuilding

No body builder can compete in competition without a pair of well-defined shoulders

No body builder can compete in competition without a pair of well-defined shoulders. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a critically acclaimed body builder and actor that made his living sculpting every aspect of his body, including his shoulders. He was so popular they even named a shoulder exercise after this Austrian phenom.

Overdeveloped trapezius muscles give the illusion of having a narrow physique which is undesirable in the body building world.

There are three types of exercises involved in bodybuilding that will achieve the desired shoulder definition: compound, multi-jointed and isolation movements. Compound movements will involve more than one range of motion of the deltoid muscle and may even involve the trapezius. Compound movements with dumbbells and barbells are a good place to start to sculpt the muscle, followed by isolation movements, and then work with machines is usually the rule of thumb to achieve desired results.

Warm Up

While standing, start with arms out to the side at a 90 degree angle perpendicular to the body. In a clockwise motion, slowly move the arms in a circular motion. Repeat in a counter clockwise motion. Perform the exercise in each direction for approximately 10 seconds.

This exercise will warm up the shoulder area.

Arnold DumbBell Press

Hold two weights in front of you with your elbows slightly bent. Slowly raise both arms in unison above your head. Then, slowly release to the starting position. This exercise focuses on the shoulder, as well as, the biceps.

This is an exercise that will be modified throughout the routine.


Exercises emphasizing front and lateral deltoid motion

  • - Dumbbell Shoulder Presses
  • Barbell Shoulder Presses extending arms forward
  • Barbell Shoulder Presses extending arms to the rear
  • Smith Machine Presses

Exercises emphasizing the side and rear deltoids and the trapezius muscles

Dumbbell Upright Rows
Barbell Upright Rows
Cable Upright Rows
Exercises emphasizing rear deltoids and trapezius

Start with your elbow slightly bent and the forearms at your legs. Lift the weight to a perpendicular position to the torso while the forearms are facing downward.

Rear Deltoid Dumbbell Row
Rear Deltoid 90 degree angle Row
Rear Deltoid on T-Bar Row Machine
Cable Rear Deltoid Pulley Rows


Exercises emphasizing front deltoid motion

Front Raises with Dumbbells
Barbell Front Raises
Front Raises with weights
Cable Raises
Exercises emphasizing side and trapezius muscles

Lateral raises are the primary type of isolation exercises

Dumbbell Lateral Raises
Incline Single Arm Dumbbell Lateral Raises
Lying Dumbbell Lateral Raises
Cable one arm Laterals

Exercises emphasizing the Rear Deltoids

90 degree Bent Body Lateral Raises
90 degree Bent Body Lateral Raises Facing Down on An Incline bench
Single Arm 90 degree Bent Body Lateral Raises with Low Cables
Rear Deltoid Machine
Exercises emphasizing the Trapezius Muscles

Dumbbell Shoulder Shrug
Barbell Shoulder Shrug with frontal motion
Barbell Shoulder Shrug with rear motion
Cable Shoulder Shrug
Smith machine Shoulder Shrug

For beginning body builders, a full body routine is recommended and therefore, only a few of the exercises performed will actually involve the shoulder region. Typically, two sets of 10-12 repetitions of each exercise will be performed. A rest between exercises is usually 1 minute.

After four weeks, increase the number of sets by one while continuing with the same number of repetitions and rest.

After 12 weeks, the bodybuilder can progress to an intermediate routine that is more intense.

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I run for my aerobic exercise. You can run, walk, dance; whatever you prefer. Just be certain to do aerobics at least 3 – 4 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes each workout. If you are using HIIT or something on that order, obviously you will be spending less time getting in your aerobics.

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