8 Best Shoulder Exercises for Skinny Hardgainers to Build Muscular, Ripped Shoulders

Your shoulder muscles {also called as deltoids} are the face of your body. They are the first thing to be noticed both dressed and naked. Here are 8 most effective shoulder muscle exercises to build strong, muscular, ripped shoulders to show off at the gym or on the beach.

I had real small shoulders. My small skeletal frame and low muscle mass was the worst combination you could possibly imagine. It makes skinny guys look weak and small {no chance at sports they say!}

All that changed when I discovered 3 things:

  1. There are many shoulder exercises but only 6 are worth doing
  2. Proper shoulder training strategies can make a big difference
  3. Weak link training can boost shoulder lifts instantly

When I combined the 3 facts into one simple workout, my results took off.

In this article I am going to show how i changed all that in 15 weeks.

Inside This Article:

Why Big Shoulders are Your Key to Great Looks

Strong, Muscular, Ripped Shoulders

Ever wondered why rugby players wear shoulder pads? Why business suits have shoulder pads in them?

Because broad, muscular shoulders denote power, both for the people who see them and for the one who has got them.

Girls dig guys with powerful, muscular shoulders and such ripped shoulders make other guys jealous too. If you doubt just look at the movie stars!

And this article will show you how to build muscular, broad shoulders in shortest time possible.

But before you build them know this. Big shoulders are just a part of sexy upper body. nothing looks bad than big shoulders and a weak chest/back region. Building a perfect upper body is all about balanced development.

This guide is about building the perfect balanced alpha physique most men crave for.

Ready? Lets first see the shoulder muscle anatomy and functions so that you can laser target them for fast gains.

Shoulder Muscle Anatomy and Functions

Your shoulder joint is Unique. It is:

  • a ball and socket joint
  • has the highest range of mobility of all body joints and
  • has low stability making it vulnerable

Highly mobile: It can move your arms in any angle you can possible imagine, be in upwards, downwards, sidewards or even towards midline.

Low Stability: It is just supported by muscles tendons and ligaments inferiorly instead of skeletal system and hence weak inferiorly.

But shoulder muscles are one of the biggest and strongest muscle groups and hence have max muscle building potential.

2 Unique Muscles:

To build shoulders you need to know the basic anatomy of 2 muscles: your deltoid muscles and the rotator cuff muscles.

1. The deltoids: It is made of 3 separate heads - the front, the side and the back/rear head. The 3 separate heads join and become one tendon to be inserted into your arm bone.

Main Functions:

  1. Your front deltoid raises the arm forwards called shoulder flexion
  2. Your lateral/side deltoid raises the arm outwards to the side called shoulder abduction
  3. The posterior/rear deltoid moves the arm backwards called shoulder extension.

Most guys concentrate on front and side deltoids only leaving the rear head weak and small. let that not be you.

2. Rotator Cuff Muscles: These 4 in 1 muscles forms a protective shield around your shoulder joint and make it stable. Although they are barely visible, under-work them and your shoulder lifts will suffer at best or might cause injury at worst.

Main function: Stabilise the shoulder joint in various movements.

Bottomline: To build perfect round, muscular and ripped shoulder muscles, you need exercises that target the deltoids every week and rotator cuff muscles once every 4 weeks.

How do you do that?

By using best shoulder exercises + best training strategies. Any exercise is as good as the technique you do it with. That brings me to...

6 Critical Shoulder Training Tips for all exercises

Imbalanced Vs Balanced Shoulder Development

I am writing this before I reveal the 8 best shoulder exercises because these 6 tips will make your training super-effective.

Here are the critical shoulder training secrets:

  1. Compound moves are the best shoulder muscle mass gainers. Pick free weights for best gains.
  2. Isolation exercises like front raises are a waste of time because chest exercises like bench press target the front deltoids too. Instead spend more time on side and rear delts.
  3. To build the melon-like deltoids you need to train each head separately 
  4. Deltoids are made up of mostly fast twitch muscle fibers, so train them with medium reps {6 to 9 reps}, good rep speed on concentric and slow eccentrics {don’t worry if you don’t need these terms, the specific exercises will show the right technique}
  5. Rotator cuff exercises help your shoulder lifts. let others ignore them but not you.
  6. A combination of moderate and low rep training is best for total shoulder muscle development. 

Bonus tip: Develop excellent shoulder muscle-mind connection. Initiate with the target muscle, feel the muscle througoutthe muscle, keep muscle tension constant and lift under control. 

With these lets meet the 8 best shoulder exercises for mass...

8 Best Shoulder Muscle Building Exercises

Want to build muscular ripped shoulder which are as strong as they look and injury-free? Then develop all the muscles in the shoulder region. Here are the exercises.

4 Best Shoulder Exercises

2 Assistance Shoulder Exercises

2 Worst Shoulder Exercises to be avoided

1. Barbell or Dumbbell Shoulder Press

The grand-daddy of all shoulder exercises, the shoulder press needs no introduction. Your goal is to max out the shoulder press with at least 50% of your bodyweight.

If your weight is 150 lbs, your goal is to perform barbell shoulder press with 75 lbs plates or dumbbell shoulder press with 30 lb dumbbells each side.

3 Cool tips:

  • Keep your body tight
  • Press as if moving weight away from you towards the ceiling
  • Pull on the way down {to store elastic energy for next rep}

Always lower the weights to the front of your neck. Behind the neck presses {see below} have been shown to cause shoulder impingement, especially if you have low shoulder flexibility.

2. Dumbbell lateral and Bent-over Raises

Looking to widen your shoulder {add girth} and avoid shoulder imbalance like shown above? Then perform lateral raises and bent over lateral raises to develop your lateral and posterior deltoid muscle heads.

Our focus on mirror muscles in the front of the body creates a posture and muscle imbalances early in life. And what most people with painful shoulders do? They drop their shoulder training altogether or train with low weights, both useless efforts in building shoulders.

Don't be one of them. Build balanced body and work on your posterior chain muscles too.

3. Dumbbell/Barbell Clean and Press { C & P exercise}

I learned this from an old timer Sig Klein who recommended Clean and Press Exercise for a dozen reps. My deltoids were taking off but this exercise was a real challenge and the results were excellent.

I prefer to do this with heavy dumbbells to add a greater range of motion {remember the shoulder joint being so mobile, why restrict it with machines?}.

Why it works?

A big problem with shoulder presses is staying tight. Very often you lose tension midway through the exercise. But not with C and Ps. 

When you clean {get off the floor} the dumbbells off the floor and take it to shoulder level, you will feel unusual tightening in shoulder and back muscles. This helps you lift even better.

Clean N Press is a total body exercise, producing a slew of anabolic hormone release. All this means more muscle growth!

Old timers used it extensively to build their muscular bodies. Modern bodybuilders love machines and drugs. Choose your idols carefully!

4. Arnold Dumbbell Press

The big guy sure knew the something about shoulder training when he devised the Arnold Press exercise. This effective and extremely shoulder friendly exercise was part of all his shoulder workouts.

The great deltoid stretch you get makes it a powerful deltoid muscle builder. I use it as a finisher exercises and use 3 powerful training techniques as described in the NNMB Muscle Building program.

This is the last exercise you need for complete shoulder training.

5. Rotator Cuff Exercises for Strong, stable Shoulders

The rotator cuff consists of 4 muscles which act together to stabilise your shoulder joint in the many movements it performs.

They are the Subscapularis, infraspinatus, Teres minor and Supraspinatus muscles.

Their main function: Stabilise the humerus head {upper arm bone} in the glenoid cavity when you extend your arms using shoulder joints.

Beginner and Dumbbell trainers need not perform these exercise in the first year of training. But advanced trainers especially those who have been using machines or fixed weights NEED to perform the rotator cuff exercises for few minutes every week.

6. Triceps Building Exercises

Ever tried shoulder presses after triceps training? Your lifts will suffer drastically. Why?

Triceps are the primary movers in last half of pressing movements. And guess what happens when you train shoulders with weak triceps? You will never tire shoulder muscles completely because your triceps will not let you.

So prioritise triceps work with Dips Exercise. And since triceps respond best to heavy training, use the best exercises like compound dips and close grip bench press to max them out.

Your shoulder workouts will instantly improve.

One tip: In the dips exercise described, do not lean forward as doing so targets your chest. Keep a smooth up and down move without forward bend.

7. Upright Rows

Avoid It!

Upright rows work both the trapezius and deltoid muscles but doesn't target either of them optimally. Besides many people roll shoulders during upright rows making their shoulders injury prone.

You got better exercises for trapezius like shrugs. Deltoids are best trained with the 4 exercise above. Don't bother with upright rows.

8. Behind the Neck Presses

Avoid It!

There are 2 problems with behind the neck presses.

1. Majority of the people do not have the required flexibility to do heavy presses behind the neck

2. Repeated pressing behind the neck impinges the shoulder joint and causes repetitive stress injuries.

Instead lower barbell up to front of the neck. Lower dumbbells to the sides up to your ear level.

3 Shoulder Workouts for Mass and Width

You have learnt 6 shoulder training strategies and 6 best + 2 worst shoulder exercises. Lets put them into a workout to build shoulder muscles.

Here are 3 shoulder workouts for Bigger, Muscular Shoulder Muscles:

  1. Beginner Shoulder Muscle Building Workout 
  2. Intermediate Shoulder Muscle Building Workout
  3. Advanced Shoulder Muscle Building Workout

The Best Muscle Building Program 

Why build only shoulder when you can build a muscular, ripped, sexy body in weeks. Watch the video below to learn how Vince added 41 pound son rock solid muscle mass in only 24 short weeks.

Summary and Action Points

BIG, Muscular shoulders shows that you train. It sends a subconscious message of strength, muscle and pride.

Use the 8 most effective shoulder muscle building exercises to build shoulder muscles that you can be proud of.

› Best Shoulder Muscle Building Exercises

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