Having big and round shoulders are something lots of people are trying to achieve. Simply because it makes your physique more aesthetically pleasing, and it also plays a massive role in bodybuilding competitions.

However, many people neglect training shoulders properly. Some people like to combine it with their leg workout, resulting in not training your shoulders enough to empathize muscle gains.

In this shoulder workout routine, we are focussing on hypertrophy so that you can gain muscle mass.

Shoulder Anatomy

Before we go into the shoulder workout details, it's most vital that you understand how your shoulder muscles work and connect.

The shoulder is also called the deltoid and is divided into three different muscle groups:

  • Front(Anterior) Deltoid
  • Medial(Lateral) Deltoid
  • Rear(Posterior) Deltoid

Therefore a solid shoulder workout consists of exercises targeted all heads of the shoulder.


If you take a look at the image above you will see that the shoulder muscle has a triangular shape. The name deltoid was given by the Greeks because it has the same shape as the letter Delta.

With certain push exercises, you will most likely target the front deltoid a lot. For example, the flat chest press exercise will require a lot of front deltoid work. A recent study even showed that doing the chest press is enough training for the front deltoid.

It's therefore important to target the medial and rear deltoids just as much to create a balanced physique. Both are sometimes heavily neglected in a shoulder workout.

A study also showed that training the rear delts could help with injury prevention and ensuring joint integrity.

The Best Shoulder Excersises

We've put together a list of the best shoulder exercises for gaining muscle mass. Doing these exercises as your shoulder workout will help you with increasing mass and strength in your deltoids.

It's always essential to notice that having a good diet with enough protein is mandatory in the muscle-building process. Just as much as having at least 7-8 hours of sleep a day.

The following exercises will target the whole shoulder and are all very easy and, most importantly, safe to perform.

If you're not quite sure if you can perform these exercises, always make sure to consult a professional healthcare taker.

1. Shoulder Press

We will start the workout with a shoulder press, which is also known as the military press. This exercise will target the anterior deltoid for the most part, but also some rear delt, triceps, and serratus.

You can do this exercise with either a barbell or dumbells, seated or standing. A study showed that doing the seated barbell press was the best in terms of muscle activation.


However, the other variations are also excellent. I personally like to do this exercise standing with a barbell because it's easier to unrack the barbell and load up more weights.


When performing the shoulder press, it's essential to lower the barbell or dumbbell to your chin and then pull from your shoulders as for as you can.

When using a barbell, it's crucial not to take a wide grip because this can seriously damage your rotate cuffs.

A heady reminder is to place your hands on the barbell at the same height as your own shoulders.

Since this is the first exercise, we will go heavier and stay in the 8-12 rep range.

Sets Repetitions
3 8-12



2. Dumbbell Side Raises

The second exercise of this shoulder workout is the dumbbell side raises, which targets the medial deltoid the most and the rear deltoid and traps.

As seen in the image below, you will also use some trapezius. When performing this exercise, you will notice that when you go too heavy, you will target the traps more than the delts.

That's why we advise not to ego lift on this exercise. Try doing this exercise with 10 lbs dumbells for 15 reps, and you will understand what I am talking about.


If you would like to focus on the side delts, even more, you can internally rotate your shoulder. The only thing you have to do is to remember to end up with your pinky higher than your thumb.

There are many different variants of the side raises. For example, you can use a cable instead of a dumbbell, or you lay on an incline bench with your chest to focus even more on the side deltoid.


We will stay in the 10-12 rep range for this exercise and will perform it for three reps.

Sets Repetitions
3 10-12


3. Reverse Pec Deck

The third exercise is the reverse pec deck, which is focussed on the rear deltoid. When performing this exercise, you will also have some trapezius and infraspinatus activation.

Suppose you're not able to perform this exercise because you do not have a pec deck machine. No worries, you can also use dumbells and an incline bench to achieve almost the same movement.

When performing the reverse pec deck, it's essential to lift your elbows up so that they almost are on the same height as your shoulders. This will make sure that you target the rear delt and not your infraspinatus as much.


As you can see in the image above, you have two ways you can hold the handle. A study showed that it doesn't really show much of a difference between the 2.

If you're using way to big weights, you will notice that you will focus more on the traps and back instead of your delts. Use a weight that will give you at least 12 reps and go from there.

The reverse pec deck is often used in a back and bicep workout routine. However, in this workout, we are focussing on the shoulders.

We will stay in the 10-12 rep range with three sets.

Sets Repetitions
3 10-12



4. Front Raises

We will finish off the workout with a front raise exercise. You can either do this with a dumbbell or barbell since it's essentially the same movement.

When performing the front raise with a dumbbell, you will focus more on the side delts, and when performing with the barbell, you will focus more on the front deltoid.

I personally like to rotate every week between them. That way, my body isn't getting used to one movement.


It's best to stop this movement on the same level as your chin. When coming up to over your head, your shoulder is more prone to injuries.


I really like to do this exercise as a finisher, because you can really burn out and hit every muscle fiber in your shoulder.

You will most likely also hit some upper chest with it, but try to focus on your shoulders as much as possible.

A tip is to try to hold the barbell at the top for 1 second and really squeeze your shoulder

Sets Repetitions
3 10-12

The Best Shoulder Workout Routine

Now we showed you the best shoulder exercises. We've put together a straightforward and simple shoulder workout. Below you will find all the exercises and the number of repetitions and working sets.

This shoulder workout is designed for gaining mass and strength. You will most likely notice that you will get stronger in other lifts as well.

Always make sure to have your diet, sleep, and training in check. If you need help with calculating your daily macros, please use our macro calculator.

Exercise Reps Sets
Shoulder press (Dumbbells/Barbell) 8-12 3
Side Raises (Dumbbells/Cable) 10-12 4
Reverse Pec Deck 10-12 3
Front Raises (Dumbell/Barbell) 12-15 4

As you can see, we are doing four exercises that are targeting all the deltoid parts. More importantly, is that this workout will make sure that you are overloading your shoulders, which leads to muscle growth.

An essential thing to notice is to properly warm-up your shoulders before going heavy on the weights. The shoulders are probably the most injury sensitive muscle groups you have, so please take care of them.



When to do shoulder workout?

It's always best to train your shoulders on a particular day instead of combining it with another body part. However, for some people, this is impossible because they train 3-4 days a week.

If you're someone that trains three times a week, I would not recommend training it after you did your chest and tricep workout. You could combine it with your leg day. So for example

Monday: Chest + Triceps
Wednesday: Back + Biceps
Friday: Legs + Shoulders

Suppose you're someone that can train 4-5 days a week. I would definitely recommend training shoulders on a particular day, for example:

Monday: Chest + Triceps
Tuesday: Legs + Calves
Thursday: Back + Biceps
Friday: Shoulders

What to pair shoulder workout with?

It all depends on how many times a week you train. However, shoulders are great to combine with triceps since you're already activating your triceps in some movement.

However, if you only have three times a week to train, I would recommend combining it with your leg workout.

Is a shoulder workout really necessary?

First of all, it's nothing is necessary to train unless you want it. You're not going to gain muscle with doing nothing.

If you want to gain muscle mass in the shoulders than a shoulder workout is necessary. It's not possible to get that 3D look you see with a lot of bodybuilders.

If you are a powerlifter than a shoulder workout isn't really necessary in terms of deadlifts of bench press. 

How to do a shoulder workout at home?

Shoulders can be trained at home without weights. However, it's not easy and requires you to think outside the box. If you're not able to train in the gym, I would highly recommend investing in some dumbbells, since you can train the whole shoulder with dumbbells.

I recommend taking a look at the following video. It will show you step by step how to perform every exercise

I hope you liked our shoulder workout for mass. Make sure to check out our other training guides:

What's you're favorite shoulder workout? Leave a comment below.

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