Shoulder Exercises

The Level Up Series: Build Bigger Shoulders

Take your training up a notch with this upgrade of our popular Straight Up Series.

The Level Up Series: Shoulders
Duration 40 min
Exercises 5
Equipment Yes

We debuted the “Straight Up” training series in August 2012 as a way to help readers develop individual muscles without getting too fancy or cute. Feedback from you, the lifter, was positive and told us that the workouts allowed you to develop a bigger, more chiseled physique from traps to calves and everything in between.

But you’ve advanced, so it’s time to “Level Up.” Each month, we’ll showcase the original workouts from “Straight Up” and give them a facelift to keep the results coming. Most of the underlying principles will remain intact: an emphasis on compound movements, appreciable volume, high intensity, and a continued aversion to cuteness. But key changes will promote variety and spur new growth. Let’s start with shoulders.

SEE ALSO: The Best Leg-Building Workout Program

The small tweaks in our new Level Up Series can be more than enough to help you prevent a plateau and training boredom.

STANDING DUMBBELL LATERAL RAISE

LEVEL UP DIFFERENCE: The subtle technique change from the original workout is that you’re now standing, taking a break from the seated position we spend too much time in. Also, the number of sets drops to two. Lateral raises in this workout are intended purely as a warmup, not a pre-exhaust. Keep the weight light.

BENTOVER DUMBBELL REAR-DELT RAISE

LEVEL UP DIFFERENCE: This version engages the core and lower back more than the machine version while still targeting the rear delts.

STANDING BARBELL OVERHEAD PRESS

LEVEL UP DIFFERENCE: Aka the standing military press, it’s a serious strength builder that engages the core to a large degree.


Back to Level Up 2017>>

Straight Up Shoulders

Exercise 1

Seated Lateral Raise You'll need: Dumbbells, Bench How to
Seated Lateral Raise thumbnail
4 sets
20, 17, 14, 11 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

Seated Front Raise
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
14, 12, 10 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Rear-Delt Hammer Strength Flye
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
16, 14, 12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press
Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press thumbnail
3 sets
14, 12, 10, 8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 5

Dumbbell Front Raise You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Front Raise thumbnail
2 sets
to failure reps
-- rest
*Static hold

Level Up Shoulders

Exercise 1

Dumbbell Lateral Raise You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Lateral Raise thumbnail
2 sets
15, 12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

Standing Overhead Press
exercise image placeholder
4 sets
10, 8, 6, 6 reps
-- rest
Increase weight every set, but only go to failure on the last one or two sets. Start out light, somewhere around a weight you can do for 12 reps.

Exercise 3A

Barbell Upright Row You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Upright Row thumbnail
4 sets
14, 12, 10, 10 reps
-- rest
Increase weight every set. If you miss the prescribed rep count on the last set before reaching failure, do a rest-pause set. Upon reaching failure, rest 10–20 seconds and continue repping out with the same weight until prescribed rep count is complete.

Exercise 3B

Bentover Rear-Delt Raise
exercise image placeholder
2 sets
to failure reps
-- rest
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