The Best Full Shoulder Workout Routine

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Just about every Muscle & Fitness reader knows that to build cannonball delts, you need to start with heavy presses followed by an isolation exercise for each of the three deltoid heads. Astute readers even cycle the order in which they train each deltoid head from one workout to the next, knowing that the move that comes first will be trained harder as energy levels and focus are higher earlier in the workout.

This workout takes that training philosophy one step further for hardcore gains. After a pair of compound moves, you’’ll do two shoulder exercises back-to-back for the targeted deltoid head (Shoulder Workout No. 1 focuses on the front head, Workout No. 2 the middle and Workout No. 3 the rear delt head). The first of the “focused delt” moves is done just slightly heavier than what you may be accustomed to for three sets of eight reps, followed by a machine move where you just have to push a weight, not balance it,— for that same delt head. You’’ll also be doing drop sets on each set of the machine move.

Finish off with exercises for each of the remaining delt heads done for straight sets, and don’’t forget to rotate workouts next time you train shoulders. Pretty soon, we’’ll have to start writing even more advanced programs for you. Trust us, we will!

 WORKOUT Front Delt

EXERCISE 1

SMITH MACHINE OVERHEAD PRESS

You’ll need: Smith Machine, Bench How to

Smith Machine Overhead Press thumbnail
3sets
15, 10, 6reps
rest
Includes 1-2 warm-up sets, but do as many as you need.

EXERCISE 2

DUMBBELL UPRIGHT ROW

You’ll need: Dumbbells How to

Dumbbell Upright Row thumbnail
3sets
10reps
rest

EXERCISE 3

DUMBBELL FRONT RAISE

You’ll need: Dumbbells How to

Front Raise thumbnail
3sets
8reps
rest

EXERCISE 4

ONE-ARM MACHINE FRONT RAISE

exercise image placeholder
3sets
10/8reps
rest
Train the second move for the targeted delt head with drop sets. After reaching muscle failure, quickly reduce the weight.

EXERCISE 5

SEATED LATERAL RAISE

You’ll need: Dumbbells, Bench How to

Seated Lateral Raise thumbnail
2sets
10reps
rest

EXERCISE 6

SINGLE-ARM STANDING CABLE REVERSE FLYEYou’ll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, D-Handle Attachment How to

Single-Arm Standing Cable Reverse Flye thumbnail
2sets
10reps
rest

WORKOUT 2Middle Delt

EXERCISE 1

SEATED DUMBBELL SHOULDER PRESS

You’ll need: Dumbbells, Bench How to

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press thumbnail
3sets
15, 10, 6reps
rest
Includes 1-2 warm-up sets, but do as many as you need.

EXERCISE 2

SMITH MACHINE OVERHEAD PRESS

You’ll need: Smith Machine, Bench How to

Smith Machine Overhead Press thumbnail
3sets
10reps
rest

EXERCISE 3

DUMBBELL LATERAL RAISE

You’ll need: Dumbbells How to

Dumbbell Lateral Raise thumbnail
3sets
8reps
rest

EXERCISE 4

MACHINE LATERAL RAISE

exercise image placeholder
3sets
10/8reps
rest
Train the second move for the targeted delt head with drop sets. After reaching muscle failure, quickly reduce the weight.

EXERCISE 5

BENT-OVER CABLE LATERAL RAISE

exercise image placeholder
2sets
10reps
rest

EXERCISE 6

DUMBBELL FRONT RAISE

You’ll need: Dumbbells How to

Front Raise thumbnail
2sets
10reps
rest

WORKOUT 3Rear Delt

EXERCISE 1

DUMBBELL FRONT RAISE

You’ll need: Dumbbells How to

Front Raise thumbnail
3sets
15, 10, 6reps
rest
Includes 1-2 warm-up sets, but do as many as you need.

EXERCISE 2

ARNOLD PRESS

You’ll need: Dumbbells How to

Arnold Press thumbnail
3sets
10reps
rest

EXERCISE 3

BENT-OVER LATERAL RAISE

You’ll need: Dumbbells How to

Bent-Over Lateral Raise thumbnail
3sets
8reps
rest

EXERCISE 4

REVERSE PEC DECK FLYE

exercise image placeholder
3sets
10/8reps
rest
Train the second move for the targeted delt head with drop sets. After reaching muscle failure, quickly reduce the weight.

EXERCISE 5

FRONT CABLE RAISE

exercise image placeholder

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The Best Full Shoulder Workout Routine

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