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Dynamic Delts: Build Great Shoulders Articles Database Articles by Writer Articles Written by Matt Canning Dynamic Delts: Build Great Shoulders

Dynamic Delts: Build Great Shoulders

Photo © Ron Avidan of

IFBB professional bodybuilder, Gunter Schlierkamp hits a most muscular!


Shoulders are among the most attractive of muscles that people can develop by applying bodybuilding principles. Below are some exercises and tips to help you develop 3-D delts.


Dumbbell Presses

(1) Hold one dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height, elbows out to the sides, and palms facing forward.

(2) Lift the dumbbells straight up until they touch each other at the top.

(3) Lower the dumbbells as far as possible.


(1) Use less weight than you would for normal barbell military press.

Seated Front Presses

Regular Military

(1) From a sitting or standing position, grasp a barbell with an overhand grip and hold it at shoulder level, palms underneath for support, hands outside your shoulders, elbows tucked in and under.

(2) From a position about even with the collarbone, lift the bar straight up overhead until your arms are locked out.

(3) Lower the weight back to the starting position.

Behind the Neck

(1) Lift the barbell off the barbell rack, either seated or standing.

(2) Press the weight straight up, and then lower it.

(3) Repeat the movement.


Machines lock you into one narrow movement path, which will not allow for a really full development of the shoulders or any other muscle or muscle groups used. Just remember to use machines to add variety to your workouts, but not as a replacement.

Seated Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raises

(1) Sit on the end of a bench, knees together, and take a dumbbell in each hand. Bend forward from the waist and bring the dumbbells together behind your calves. Turn your hands so that your palms face one another.

(2) Keeping your body steady, lift the weights out to either side, turning your wrists so that the thumbs are lower than the little fingers.

(3) With your arms slightly bent, lift the dumbbells to a point just higher than your head, then lower them again slowly to behind your calves. Tips:

(1) Be careful not to lift up your body as your lift the weights.

(2) Resist the motion through the entire downward range of motion.

(3) Keep this movement strict throughout the entire range of motion.

(4) Lift straight out to either side. Do not let the weights drift back behind your shoulders.

Rear Delt Machine

The rear delt machine (or reverse pec deck) hits the rear deltoid head. While seated, face the pec deck machine. Then pull the handle back until you feel a tight muscle contraction in the rear delts. You can also use cables for the same motion.


Shrugs will work your trapezius muscles. Use either a machine, dumbbells, or a barbell. For dumbbell shrugs, grab two dumbbells and shrug your shoulders, letting your traps lift the weight and not your arms, ie, keep your elbows locked and your arms straight. For barbell or machine shrugs, do not face the barbell or the machine; grip the barbell so that the barbell is touching your back, and face away from the machine for the same reason - since your trapezius muscles are located on the back, it only makes sense that the stress should come from the back. Bodybuilding champion Lee Haney commented on this in his training video "Lee Haney's Mr. Olympia Workout", and just look at the traps and shoulders he built for himself!


Additional Tips

To develop your delts, you may benefit from employing one or more of the Weider Training Intensity Principles. Include the following if you are looking to shock your delts into new growth:

Descending Sets:

When performing lateral raises, do as many reps as possible, then reduce the weight you are using and continue the exercise. Keep doing this until you are using very light weights to achieve temporary muscular failure.

Quality Training:

By taking less rest between sets, you will increase training intensity. Use this to shock your delts every now and then - shocking techniques do not need to be used frequently in order to be effective. This principle is most appropriate for bodybuilders who are very close to competition.

Instinctive Principle

Listen to Your Body. Through a process of trial and error, find out what works for you and do it. Use sources such as this article, advice from friends and fellow athletes, but in the end, make the decision for yourself by responding to your body's response to your training by adjusting your workouts accordingly.

Take care,

Matt Canning

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