Head and Shoulders Above

The 10 shoulder-training rules followed by 7X Mr. Olympia, Phil Heath.



The Gift no longer makes FST-7 the foundation of his training. Instead, he generally ends his workouts with higher-rep sets. However, sevens (seven sets of an exercise performed with 20–30 seconds rest) remain an arrow in his arsenal. He can fire them of at any time, whether for variety or to up the intensity. If he feels his last shoulder workout was lacking, he may do sevens with side laterals, rear laterals, or shrugs next time.


Phil Heath was never a powerlifter, and he came to bodybuilding relatively late, after playing collegiate basketball. Therefore, he avoided the pit that too many bodybuilders stumble into— obsessing over moving even heavier metal. Such a mindset benefits you when it’s time to deadlift or power clean, but it generally only hinders you on shoulder day. Like Heath, work the muscle, not the weight. Focus on the targeted area from stretch to contraction of every rep of every set. You can miss hitting the deltoids entirely on exercises like side laterals if you allow momentum to propel your arms up. Use a weight you can control in strict form for 10 reps. Then forget about the metal, and focus on only the muscle. That’s the way Heath does it, and he has six Sandows as proof his method works best.


  • Seated Shoulder Press | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10
  • Standing Dumbbell Lateral | SETS: 4 | REPS: 12
  • Dumbbell Front Raise | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10
  • Machine Lying Rear Lateral | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10
  • Reverse Pec-Deck Flye | SETS: 4 | REPS: 15-20