There’s nothing like a pair of wide, hulking shoulders that shows off just how powerful you are.
In terms of other body parts, I think a pair of shoulders really shows everyone else around you, how strong you really without having to do a thing.
Shoulders are often associated with power and broad shoulders are often associated ith “manliness”. I’m not too sure what all of this means but what I do know is that when I see someone with hard, massive, sculpted shoulders, it screams discipline.
Quiet often, when I see someone with impressive shoulders that look as if they can move trucks, they often can. In other words, huge shoulders are generally very, very strong.
Strong shoulders are going to be big shoulders… If you want to get massive shoulders, you need to get strong. Your main goal is not to actually try and build huge shoulders but to get them strong. You really want to concentrate on your compound exercises.
Those exercises are basically, the seated front shoulder press and seated dumbbell press. Once you start to get strong in these two exercises, your shoulders will start to grow shortly thereafter. The remaining exercises are meant to flood the area with blood and pump the muscle up.
In order to attain high quality shoulder mass, you need to train them in such a fashion that gives them plenty of heavy work, but as well as pumping them up. With that in mind, I want to pass on a mass shoulder workout that will provide you with plenty of both – Hard and heavy training as well as mind blowing pumps. Before we begin, I want to stress the importance of properly warming up your shoulder cuffs and supporting tissues.
Because mass shoulder workouts use heavy weights and compound exercises, it places a tremendous amounts of stress on the shoulder joints and rotator cuffs. Trust me, a rotator cuff injury is no fun and if you do get one, you’ll be out from training for at least two months. Before you attempt this workout, I want you to perform these rotator cuff exercise here.
I recommend that you do exercise 2 and 3 for 2 sets of 12 each.
The first exercise we will do is the standing side dumbbell lateral. Consider this exercise a warm up (no need to go heavy).
2 sets of 12 repetitions
Use only light weight and keep the exercise smooth. Don’t swing the weight up or do the exercise in a fast past. The main purpose of this exercise is to warm up the muscle and get some activity going on in the connective tissues. This is very, very important and one that can help stave off shoulder injuries. Try resting about 25 seconds in between each set. Remember, this is a warm up so you shouldn’t be breaking too much of a sweat.
Try stretching your shoulders and triceps in between sets.
Our second exercise in this mass shoulder workout is the seated front shoulder press, often called the military press. Click the player below to see a quick video of how to perform this shoulder exercise.
This exercise is a must in any mass shoulder workout. This will be your main compound movement for your shoulders and will be the staple of your shoulder mass workout. You want to pyramid the weight up from sets one to four.
Here’s what I like to do. I use the first workout to assess my 1 rep max. I don’t really do a one rep max because it leaves you too open for injuries. I’ll do the following sets (Below) and estimate what I can do for a one rep max. So, if I can get 6 repetitions using 185 pounds, my one rep max will be about 225 pounds. My goal will be to get at least a 15% increase in strength over the next 12 weeks.
Therefore, after 12 weeks, I am looking to shoulder press 210 pounds for 6 reps. I should be able to press 185 pounds for at least 10 reps by week 12. This is a 15% increase in strength – More is always welcome. Use the following page to assess your one rep max:
Warm up sets:
For sets one and two, keep the weight moderate. For your first set, you should be using about 50% of your max. So, if your max seated front barbell press is 150 pounds, you should be using 75 pounds. Remember, this is a warm up to get used to the exercise and get your muscles working for the exercise.
For your second set, you should be using about 60% of your max. If you’re able to do 150 pounds for your max, you should be using 90 to 95 pounds. You should be able to do the prescribed repetitions in easy fashion.
Rest about 60 seconds in between each set.
For set three, you should be at about 75% of your max. If you’re max is 150 pounds, you should be using about 115 pounds for 6 repetitions. If you can’t get 6 repetitions, lighten the weight and get 6 unassisted repetitions.
For the last set, you should be able to barely get 6 repetitions with 80% to 85% of your max. So, if your max is 150 pounds, you should be just barely getting 6 repetitions with 125 pounds or so. Remember, if you can only get about 4 repetitions, you need to lighten the load so that you get 6 repetitions.
Remember to stretch your shoulder in between each set.
Once you are able to get 6 repetitions unassisted, try adding about 10 pounds to the barbell for the next workout. Remember, always use a spotter for this exercise.
Some weight trainers will argue that this exercise is almost the same exercise as the seated shoulder press but I disagree – Up to a point. Dumbbells add a whole new angle to your training and feel totally different than a barbell. By using dumbbells, you ensure that each muscle is trained with the same weight and improve your overall “weight balance”, which will help improve your barbell press strength.
Warm up sets:
I recommend you use a weight that you can get 8 comfortable repetitions. For the first set, try using about 60% of your max. For your second set, try using about 70% of your max. For example, if your max is 60 pound dumbbells, you should be using about 35 pounds for your first set, and 40 pounds for your second set.
Rest for about 60 seconds in between each set.
For this set, you should get at least 6 repetitions but no more than 8. You should be using about 80% of you max. If you can press 60 pound dumbbells for one rep, you should be using about 45 pound dumbbells.
I’m throwing in one set of drop sets for added intensity. Your shoulders will be on fire once you complete this set and pumped to the max. Here’s what you’re going to do. After you’ve completed your third set for this exercise (seated dumbbell press), rest for about one minute and get three pairs of dumbbells.
The first pair of dumbbells should be 70% of your max. So if you’re max dumbbell press is 60 pounds, you should have the 40 pounders. Your second pair of dumbbells should be about 55% of your max. If you’re max is 60 pounds, you should have the 30 pounders out as well. For your third pair of dumbbells, you should be using 40% of your max. If your max is 60 pounds, than you should have the 25 pounders out.
Grab the dumbbells and put them around your seated bench. For your first set, do a set of 8 reps (using your heavy dumbbell). Drop the dumbbells, and get the second pair of dumbbells (second heaviest), and do a set of 10 repetitions. Drop the dumbbells and immediately grab the light dumbbells and do a set of 12 repetitions. For a challenge, try going until you can’t do another rep.
Once you’ve finished the last set, take a short breather and put your dumbbells away.
3 sets of 12 repetitions
What you want to do here is give your rear deltoids some work. However, you don’t have to go super heavy in this exercise because in order for this exercise to work, you need perfect technique. Take a look at the image below. Use a pair of dumbbells that will allow you to do 12 repetitions in perfect form.
I’ve saved the best for last 🙂 This fantastic combination is a perfect fit for this mass shoulder workout routine.
I’ve used this combination in the past and it will pump your shoulders and traps up to monster size. The first thing you want to do is get a 25 pound plate and set it beside where you want to do your shrugs. You will want to grab a pair of dumbbells that will allow you to comfortably do 12 reps. If you know your rep ranges, you should be ok. However, if you have no clue what your rep range is, grab a pair of 20 pound dumbbells and try using those. If you can easily get 12 reps with little effort, you will want to grab the 30 pounders. Remember, you want to pick a weight that you have a hard time completing 12 repetitions.
First, pick up the 25 pound plate and hold it by it’s sides so it’s resting on your thighs. While keeping your arms straight, raise the plate in front of you until it’s just about parallel to your chin. Slowly lower the plate back to it’s starting position. Do that 12 more times.
As soon as you’ve put the plate back down, pick up a pair of dumbbells and do 12 sets of shrugs.
There you have it, a mass shoulder routine that will totally blast your shoulders into growth. I recommend you follow this routine for at least 4 weeks to assess it’s effectiveness. If you find it’s working, by all means, keep doing it. If you feel it’s not challenging enough, try adding a little more weight.
Please remember, your shoulders should be very sore the next day so give them at least 3 to 4 days of rest before you attempt this workout again. No sooner than that!
I have to re-iterate the fact that no shoulder workout in the world is going to work if you don’t have a solid nutritional plan in place. This workout will do nothing for you if you’re nutritional plan is poor. To truly get the most from this mass shoulder workout, go to the following page and read the whole article:
All the best,
Blake has been weight lifting for about 28 years now. He's 45 years of age and started seriously training when he was 18 years old.
Blake is the founder of Building-Muscle101.com, a successful fitness website that has been around for more than 15 years.