The 5 Best Shoulder Exercises To Really Destroy Your Delts

Strong shoulders add grace and balance to your physique, and are definitely something to be proud of. Come summer, you’ll be ready to break out those tank tops and flaunt all your hard work if you perform the following shoulder-chiseling moves on the regular.

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Before you begin with the exercises, however, let’s examine anatomy and function of what makes up your shoulder complex.

The shoulder comprises the anterior, lateral, and posterior deltoid muscles, as well as the upper trapezius, and the rotator cuff. The anterior deltoid is responsible for moving your arm forward, in, and rotating it inwards. The lateral deltoid is allows for lifting your arm sideways (laterally), and the posterior deltoid lifts your arm back, and rotates it out. The upper trapezius runs down the back of your neck and helps is lifting the scapula (shoulder blade) upwards. The rotator cuff is made up of deep muscles that help to stabilize your (upper) arm and rotate it.

Though this explanation is brief and has been simplified, it may help you understand how your body moves to perform these shoulder chiseling exercises better.

Now, for the moves: Define those deltoids by incorporating the following shoulder exercises into your routine. Make sure you practice proper form and take care when you lift. Our shoulders are especially vulnerable to injury, so don’t lift heavier than you can manage and always take care to stretch thoroughly after your workout.

Steering Wheels

You will need a barbell plate for this one. Begin by standing straight with the plate in both hands in the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions. Bring the plate up to your chest level, keeping your arms extended out in front of you. This is your starting position. Rotate the plate to one side, as if it were a steering wheel, and then reverse the motion until it is rotated as far as possible in the opposite direction. Instead of counting repetitions, you may want to time yourself as you do these, doing 3 sets of 30-second bouts, for example.

This exercise targets mainly your anterior deltoid, but also requires your forearms to assist the movement.

Arnold Dumbbell Press

You will need set of dumbbells and a bench with back support to perform this exercise. Start by sitting upright on the bench and holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bring your arms up in front of you and bend the elbows so that your palms are facing you and the dumbbells are in front of your shoulders. This is your starting position. Now, raise the dumbbells above your head by bringing your elbows out to your sides while simultaneously rotating your palms until they are facing out (forward) and your arms are fully extended above your body. Exhale as you do this. After a brief pause at the top, return to the starting position by lowering your arms, bringing your elbows back, and rotating your palms in the opposite direction you did while raising them. Inhale as you do this. As you lift, lean slightly forward.

This shoulder chiseling exercise targets the anterior deltoid, but uses other parts of your shoulder complex, trcieps, and back as synergists.

One-Arm Lateral Raise

To perform this exercise you will need a dumbbell and a supporting structure to hold for balance. Start by standing upright, holding a dumbbell in one arm and using the free arm to support yourself against a bench, or any other structure. Grip the dumbbell such that your palm is facing inwards and the dumbbell is in front of your hips. Bend your knees and hips slightly for more balance. This is your starting position. Raise the dumbbell laterally so that your elbows are slightly bent and your arms are perpendicular to your torso and parallel to the floor (elbows at shoulder height). Exhale as you do this and pause at the maximum height your arms can reach. As you inhale, slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position and prepare for the next repetition.

This exercise targets your lateral deltoid and uses other shoulder complex muscles and your back as synergists.

Dumbbell Lying Rear Delt Raise

You will need an elevated bench and a pair of dumbbells for this exercise. Begin by lying chest-down on the bench so that your body is facing the ground. Grasp the dumbbells in each hand with a grip that leaves your palms facing each other and your arms extended in a neutral position. This is your starting position. Raise your arms laterally until your elbows are at shoulder height and your arms are as parallel to the floor as possible. Pause for a second and slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.

This exercise targets your posterior deltoid, as well as uses other parts of the shoulder complex and back as synergists.

Bradford/Rocky Press

You will need a bench with back support for this exercise, as well as a barbell. Start by sitting on the bench and grasping the bar at shoulder level with your palms facing forward/out. Your grip should be slightly wider than shoulder width and your elbows should be pointed out at your sides. This is your starting position. Begin by lifting the barbell over your head by extending your arms and breathing out. Now lower the barbell behind your head instead of the starting position and inhale. Lift the bar again and bring it back to the starting position, exhaling as you lift and inhaling as your lower it. This counts as one repetition.

This exercise targets the deltoid (all aspects) as well as the triceps.