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How to Build Shoulder Muscles: Top 5 Exercises

how to build shoulder muscles

It's absolutely essential to schedule some shoulder-specific exercises into your routine because without it, you’re going to come up short when attempting all sorts of other lifts, especially when training your chest and back.

With so many muscles to work, no one exercise will cover everything, which is why we've put together our top 5 shoulder shredding exercises that target different muscles.

The bent-over plate rear delt fly is an exercise targeting the rear heads of the shoulders, or deltoids. You'll need some type of one-handed resistance workout equipment like our Mighty Grip plates for instance, but you can also use dumbbells, resistance bands, kettlebells, etc.

Gym Hack: If you put your barbell up just below your hip crease, you can lean over to support your body. This technique will allow you to focus on targeting your shoulders. For safety measures, make sure that you're leaning on the barbell towards the rack and not outside the J-cups.

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, one plate in each hand with your hand palms facing each other or palms facing back.
  2. Hinge at the waist until your back is nearly parallel to the floor.
  3. With your arms slightly bent, contract your rear delts to bring the weight up and out to your sides.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the rep.
  5. Slowly bring your arms back down to the starting position and maintain tightness in your core and repeat.

The rear delt barbell row is a great way to build your shoulder muscles. The wide hand-grip on the barbell emphasizes the benefits on the rear delts and back. Its also works the anterior, lateral, and posterior deltoids making it an awesome shoulder-building exercise that produces serious "gainz".

We recommend using the Mighty Grip plates with the Barenaked Power Bar, and if this is too long for you, you can opt for the EZ Curl bar.

  1. Start with the barbell set on the floor just in front of your feet and stand in a neutral position with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Grasp the bar with a wide overhand grip.
  3. Bending over at the hips and keeping your back straight. Let the bar hang down in front of you.
  4. Pull the barbell in to your upper chest in a controlled manner, focusing on contracting your rear delts.
  5. Repeat for reps.

The over and back press or also known as Bradford press, is an effective shoulder muscle building exercise that can help you improve overall shoulder strength while also working your triceps. By combining two popular workouts into one (military press and behind the neck press), you'll increase your gainz by really working on overall delt development, improving strength, size, and shape.

  1. Set up your rack using the Barenaked Power bar in front of your shoulders with an overhand grip and your hands wider than shoulder width.
  2. ​​Lift the bar just high enough to clear your head and bring it up front about chin level.
  3. Lower the bar down to the back of the head up until your ears and elbow forms a right angle.
  4. Reverse the movement to bring the bar back to the front. Stay on your feet, keep your glutes and core nice and tight.
  5. Repeat for reps.

Upright rows can be done with a range of equipment: a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebell, or an EZ curl bar. You can also use our Bells Of Steel Mighty Grip Plates to keep things simple and challenging for this exercise.

An upright row is an effective workout to increase shoulder and upper back strength. It targets the traps, which span the upper to mid-back, and the deltoids wrap around your shoulder.

  1. Stand with your feet between hip and shoulder-width apart, grab the top two handles and keep your shoulders pulled back.
  2. With a tight core and neutral spine, draw your elbows up and continue to lift the plate until it nearly touches your chin. Pause for a second at the top of the movement.
  3. Lower the plate back down slowly to the starting position and repeat the exercise.

You may have done front raises at the gym since they are simple, quick, and effective. That's why we're taking it a step further by including a "steering wheel" movement to ramp up the burn.

The steering wheel is a free weights exercise that works the shoulders, forearms, and traps all at the same time. It may be done with almost any plate, although a gym plate like the Mighty Grip Plate is an excellent choice as they are extremely ergonomic.

  1. Stand up straight with your feet hip width apart and hold a plate like a steering wheel with both hands in front of you.
  2. Keep a soft bend in your elbows, shoulders pulled back, and posture is nice and tight.
  3. Rotate the plate to one side as if it were a steering wheel.
  4. Reverse the motion until it is rotated as far as possible in the opposite direction.

Having strong shoulders does wonder for your posture, but that's not the only benefit. Strong shoulders make most arm movements easier and allows you to lift heavier weights for chest and back exercises.

So whether you’re new to exercise or more advanced, try out these five shoulder building exercises that you can do with very minimal equipment. Strong shoulders, here you come!