There are a lot of different ways to work your shoulders, and we’ve collected 5 of the greatest here. All to help you build your deltoids, traps, rotator cuffs, and all of the muscles in between. Keep reading for bigger, better, bolder shoulders.
Cable Reverse Flys
Attach D-handles to the upper pulley of a cable machine. Now grasp the left-side handle in your right hand, then step over and get the right-side handle in your left before stepping to the center, equidistant from each stack. Straighten your elbows without locking them out, your palms in a neutral grip. From here, keeping your arms elevated at the level of your shoulders and elbows fixed, open your arms out to your sides, pulling each handle across to the other side by engaging your rear delts. When you reach a point at which your arms are outstretched in a “open hug” pose, reverse the motion to bring the handles back to the start position. Know that one hand will cross over the other when in front — it doesn’t matter which is high and which is low, although you can switch from set to set if you prefer.
Wide-Grip Smith-Machine Upright Row
With your feet hip-width apart, stand upright, holding the bar of a Smith machine in front of your thighs with an overhand grip a few inches outside shoulder width. Twist the bar to release it from the safety latches and let your arms hang straight, maintaining a slight bend in your knees and a tight core. Flex your shoulders to pull the bar straight up toward your chin, keeping the bar close to your body throughout. In the top position, your elbows will be high and pointing out to your sides. Hold that spot for a second before slowly lowering to the start position.
To get into position, either clean a loaded barbell from the floor to shoulder level or take it off pins in a power rack. Hold the bar with an overhand grip, palms up and elbows pointed forward, your upper arms near parallel with the floor as the bar rests at a point atop your upper chest. From a standing position, lower your hips and bend your knees to dip down into a quarter squat. Now recoil to explosively drive upward with your legs as you extend your arms and lift the bar overhead to full elbow extension. Hold the bar there briefly, then lower it back to its resting position on your upper-chest area and descend into the next rep.
One-Arm Cable Lateral Raise
Stand sideways to a low cable pulley with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a D-handle in the hand opposite the pulley. Your nonworking arm can be on your hips or braced on the pulley structure. Keep your abs tight, chest up and shoulders back and, without engaging momentum, raise the cable out to your side in a wide arc, keeping your elbow and hand moving together in the same plane. When your arm reaches a point just above shoulder level, hold it momentarily as you contract the delt, then slowly lower down along the same path, stopping before the weight stack touches down. Finish all reps on that side before switching to the other.
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Sit on a low-back bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand above shoulder level with a pronated grip (palms facing forward). Keep your head straight, spine aligned and eyes focused forward with your shoulders shifted back as you press the dumbbells overhead in an arc toward each other — but don’t let them touch at the top. After a squeeze, reverse the motion under control to the start position and repeat.