Workout Routines

Build Bigger, Badder Shoulders Workout

Work your shoulders to exhaustion with these delt-blasting moves.

Straight up Delts
Duration 45 min
Equipment Yes

The gym is your playground. Use everything it has to offer—free weights, machines, cables — to build size, strength, and balanced symmetry. Excluding any one piece of equipment as “nonfunctional” is being close-minded to all the benefits that can be reaped from doing an exercise you’ve never tried or haven’t done in years.

The following delt workout is nearly as diverse as the shoulder joint itself. It utilizes four distinct pieces of equipment—a barbell, a Smith machine, a pec deck, and a cable station—to develop strength, hypertrophy, and a healthy dose of detail-oriented isolation work. There’s something here for every deltoid head (middle, anterior, posterior), and the exercise variety will keep even the most ADD-challenged person from getting bored. But, hey, if the Smith machine isn’t “functional” enough for you, go ahead and let someone else build bigger shoulders on it.

Workout Designed by Jim Ryno

SEE ALSO: 8 Great Tips for a Better, Stronger Bench Press

Exercise 1

Overhead Barbell Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Overhead Barbell Press thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
2 min rest
The focus on this big lift is the shoulders and upper-body pressing strength, but be mindful of your core to minimize undue strain on the lower back. Keep your abs tight throughout and your chest facing straight ahead, not angled upward.

Exercise 2

Smith Machine Upright Row You'll need: Smith Machine How to
Smith Machine Upright Row thumbnail
3 sets
12 reps
1 min rest
With the machine doing much of the stabilizing work for you, go as heavy as possible on this move (while still minimizing cheating) to maximize muscle overload. Space your hands around shoulder-width apart to reduce biceps involvement.

Exercise 3

Pec Deck
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
15 reps
45 sec rest
*Should be reverse pec dec. This is a pure isolation movement designed to target the often neglected rear deltoids. If your gym doesn’t have a pec deck, you can substitute with bentover rear-delt flyes.

Exercise 4

One-Arm Cable Lateral Raise You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, D-Handle Attachment How to
One-Arm Cable Lateral Raise thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
45 sec rest
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