Building deltoids that pop out of a tank top doesn’t require you to get cute or creative in the gym. The tried-and-true recipe of an overhead press, an upright row, and one or two lateral raise variations is still a sure-fire template for building wider, thicker shoulders. So why fix what’s not broken? The Level Up workout isn’t that much different from the Straight Up delt routine that ran back in April 2013. We’ve switched the overhead press from seated to standing to challenge your core more, subbed in a Smith machine for upright rows, added a double dropset, and finished things off with a rear/side lateral superset—slightly different mechanisms, but the same basic movements to widen your V-taper.

Straight Up workout (From April 2013)

Seated dumbbell overhead press: 4 sets of 15, 10, 8, and 6 reps

Upright row: 4 sets of 15, 12, 10, and 8 reps

Standing dumbbell lateral raise (thumbs down): 3 sets of 10, 8, and 8 reps

Dumbbell “delt archers:” 3 sets of 12, 10, and 10 reps

Level Up workout

Standing dumbbell overhead press: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6 and 6 reps*

Smith machine wide-grip upright row: 3 sets of 8-10 reps**

Bentover dumbbell lateral raise: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Superset with seated dumbbell lateral raise: 3 sets to failure

*Pyramid up in weight every set.
**Perform a double dropset after the final set.