Shoulder Exercises

Superhero Shoulders!

Defeat the villain and get the girl with this super-tough yet super-effective shoulder routine

Superhero Shoulders!

What’s one thing all good superheroes have in common? Besides a cool name, a tragic back story and what on anyone without superheroic powers would be considered socially inappropriate wardrobe, that is. Big, broad shoulders, of course! 

Doorway-wide delts have the dual advantage of allowing you to lift very heavy things (like supervillains) overhead and looking intimidating. A goal worth shooting for, regardless of your backstory.


Want to scare off the bad guys? Want to get the girl? Then you need superhero shoulders, but quick. Check out our Superhero Shoulders Routine below and get started on the path to looking the part of the hero you already are.



What we refer to as the deltoid is actually three bunches of muscles which share points of origin and insertion. The deltoid group begins three-fourths the way down the clavicle and ends about three-fourths up the humerus. It caps a complex joint, a ball and socket structure, which provides more movement than any other in the body. It’s this very mobility that results in being athletes’ most frequently injured joint.


The three heads of the deltoid are titled anterior, medial and posterior and each has related, but distinct, functions. The primary function of the anterior head is to push the arm away from the front of the body, and to raise it to the front. The medial head’s function is to lift the arm to the side as well as to raise it overhead. The posterior head is responsible for pulling the arm behind the body.


In devising a shoulder-training program it is important to include exercises that target all three heads to ensure maximum delt development.



This is a simple, but very effective, program for building super wide, super thick and super deep shoulders, just the way female news reporters like them. We break these down into three categories: those that target the medial head (wide), those for the anterior (thick), and those for the posterior head (deep). Keep in mind that no exercise completely excludes ancillary involvement, not just from the other heads, but from other muscle groups. So we highlight primary movers and secondary movers for each.

SUPER WIDE: The Medial Head


Seated Dumbbell Press

Sidekick Muscles: Anterior delt, triceps, pectoralis major

Special Powers: If you can do only one pressing movement, this should be the one. First off, by using dumbbells you greatly minimize the chance of injury caused by being locked into a specific range of motion, as with a barbell. Secondly, dumbbells allow you to keep tension specifically on your delts throughout the full range of motion whereas the barbell, by locking your hands into a fixed position, provides for varying levels of stress throughout.

Nemesis: Lazy hands. 

Do not let the dumbbells fall together at the top of the movement, which is indicated by a clanking sound. This is a telltale sign of a boy blunder. Superheroes know better.

Alter Egos: Seated barbell press, Seated machine press.


Start: Either with the help of a sidekick or solo, raise a pair of dumbbells to your shoulders.  At the start position of the exercise you want to have your palms facing front. 

Positive: Push the dumbbells straight up until just short of lockout. There should be about a 10º bend to the elbows at the top position and the dumbbells should be about as far apart from one another as when starting the movement. Why?  Because the lateral head of the delt will remain under continuous tension this way. When you let the dumbbells come together at the top you are shifting most of the stress from the shoulders to the triceps.

Negative: Lower the dumbbells along the same path as in the positive portion of the movement only this time stop when the dumbbell handles reach the center of your ears. This also helps to keep stress on the delts. Imagine your arms to be powerful pistons, which they are.


Immediately go into…



Lateral Hold/Pump

Grab a light pair of dumbbells and raise them to your sides with a slight (5º) bend to your elbows. Hold the dumbbells at a 90º angle to your body for 20 seconds.  Let the dumbbells come down to your sides and then knock out 6 quick reps of laterals before putting them back in the rack.


Performance: Perform 1 warmup set of 20 reps with a light weight. Then move into four progressive working sets of 15 reps, 12 reps, 10 reps, 8 reps, each supersetted with a lateral hold/pump. Rest no more than 30 seconds between sets.