Six Shocking Approaches to Shoulder Training

Re-energize your shoulder training and revitalize your growth.

Six Shocking Approaches to Shoulder Training

 4. GIANT SETS    

When doing giant sets, perform one exercise after another with minimum rest. This technique works well with shoulders, because there are four distinct areas: front delts, side delts, rear delts and trapezius, and you can therefore do one exercise for each in rotation. Complete three or four rotations of a giant-set shoulder workout.


  • Barbell Presses | SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 10-12
  • Dumbbell Laterals | SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 10-12
  • Bent Rear Laterals | SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 10-12
  • Upright Rows | SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 10-12


When most people think of shoulders, they think of width. Your shoulder width is largely dependent on the length of your clavicles, and that is determined by your luck in the gene-pool lottery. The one way you can widen your shoulders is by expanding your side delts. Therefore, as opposed to focusing first and foremost on your anterior delts with overhead presses, place a special emphasis on your medial delts. Our side-focus workout trains the medial delts first, pre-exhausting them with an isolation lift before a compound lift.


  • Seated Dumbbell Side Laterals | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10-12
  • Wide-Grip Upright Rows | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10-12
  • Machine Rear Laterals | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10-12
  • Barbell Presses | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8-10 


Break out of your overreliance on barbell presses and dumbbell laterals. Odds are most, if not all, of our four unique exercises will be new to you, and they can be performed in most gyms. Add one or two to your shoulder training, or try a workout consisting entirely of unique lifts.

Wide-Grip Upright Rows: This exercise is included in two other shoulder workouts in this article. It deserves extra attention because it is such an effective and yet neglected lift. Unlike a typical upright row performed with a close grip, this exercise focuses more on the side deltoids and less on the trapezius. Take a shoulder-width or slightly wider overhand grip on a barbell. Keeping the bar close to your body, raise it to upper-chest level. You can also perform these with a low cable or in a Smith machine. 

W Presses: To visualize this unique lift, imagine yourself going from the contraction of a wide-grip pulldown and then clapping your hands high over your head. Now, follow that same arc with two dumbbells. 

Start by holding dumbbells at shoulder height, with your palms facing each other and your elbows in line with your shoulders (your arms and torso will form an elongated W). Then, press the dumbbells overhead while pulling them together. It’s a shoulder press combined with an overhead flye, and it works both your front and side deltoid heads. 

Decline Front Raises: Try doing dumbbell front raises while lying face-down on an incline bench set at a 45-degree angle. Momentum is minimized, and you place more emphasis on the top half of the movement. 

Behind-the-Back Upright Rows: Doing upright rows behind your back creates an intense contraction in the rear deltoids and inner trapezius. Grasp a barbell behind your butt with a shoulder-width grip and with your hands facing away from your torso. Raise the bar as high as possible; the range of motion is limited. Hold and contract at the top of each rep. These can be performed with a barbell or a Smith machine.


  • Wide-Grip Upright Rows | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10-12
  • W Presses | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10-12
  • Decline Front Raises | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10-12
  • Behind-the-Back Upright Rows | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10-12


If your shoulders aren’t responding the way you want, don’t continue slogging away at the same routine. Our sextet of fresh approaches will force your delts and traps to expand again. Use the exercises and suggestions here for a temporary workout jolt or as a replacement to your current unsuccessful ways, and shoulder on toward new gains.



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