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The 9 Best Shoulder Exercises of All Time

#7. Face pull

Intro: This baddass move might be the single most underutilized lifting exercise of all times. Although powerlifters swear by it, it’s pretty rare to see the average lifter regularly performing face pulls as a part of a shoulder workout. And even then, they are rarely performed properly. Anyhow, the face pull is an incredibly multifunctional lift that can serve both as a highly efficient muscle building exercise and as a movement for restoring and improving shoulder health. It can help crush lifting plateaus while powerfully conditioning the delts, rhombs and external rotators, and best of all, it can help prevent internal rotation of the shoulder joint, which is a problem many dedicated lifters face. That being said, the face pull has a very unique ability to sculpt your rear delts like no other exercise while simultaneously activating the middle traps to support the movement. Finally, the fact that it allows you to handle more weight overall directly leads to maximum gains.

Targeted muscles: Rear deltoids, middle trapezius muscles.


How to: Set a rope attachment up around head-height on a pull-down station and select a relatively heavy weight. Facing the pulley, grasp each end of the rope with an overhand grip and lift your elbows up to shoulder level to both sides. Place one foot on the kneepad to better anchor yourself and lean back slightly. Keeping your elbows elevated, retract your scapula and pull the rope directly towards your face, separating your hands as you do so, until your hands are alongside your ears. Keep your chin tucked and don’t allow your neck to reach forward, and remember that your elbows must be elevated and in-line with your shoulders throughout the entire movement. Pause for a second and squeeze hard, then reverse the motion to lower the weight down without letting it touch down. It’s crucial to keep your elbows elevated throughout the entire movement.

#8. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Intro: The barbell shoulder press is a highly effective upper body exercise that can be used to increase strength and size in the shoulder area, and when performed in the seated position it isolates the shoulders even better by limiting the involvement of other muscles. When it comes to proper deltoid development, the shoulder press is an absolute must – it’s challenging, intense and has an insane carryover to other lifts. Also, being a multi-joint exercise, the barbell shoulder press allows you go really heavy and overload your muscles without risking your safety, which means more muscle built in the long term. And since it activates all three heads of the delts, the shoulder press has a superior ability to help you pack on maximum mass and strength in the entire shoulder area, while also working the traps and upper chest to a certain degree.

Targeted muscles: Anterior, middle and rear deltoids.


Find a low-back bench inside a power rack and position the dumbbells at a height that is just above your head. Sit straight with your feet flat on the floor, maintaining a slight arch in your lower back, and grasp the dumbbells firmly outside of shoulder width with a pronated grip, elbows pointing down and outward. Unrack the bar and bring it at about shoulder level. This will be your starting position. Using a slow, controlled motion, press the dumbbells straight up to just short of elbow lockout as you inhale and squeeze the working muscles hard. Lower the bar under control back to the starting position as you exhale and repeat. Avoid flaring the elbows and keep your back straight throughout the movement. Also, make sure to use a full range of motion.

READ: Eliminate Back Fat and Underarm Flab With 4 Quick Exercises

#9. Dumbbell lateral raise

Intro: Lateral raises work great for building your shoulders and increasing shoulder mobility, while also strengthening the muscles that support and stabilize the shoulders. And if you make sure to brace your core correctly while you lift, you can reap some decent core stability gains as well. The main reason why the dumbbell lateral raise is so powerful at sculpting great shoulders is that it helps make your shoulders appear wider, thereby creating favorable size contrasts between your shoulders, waist and hips. However, it’s a fact that his exercises is one of the most abused ones at the gym, with too many guys relying solely on dumbbell lateral raises to build their shoulders. It’s also a fact that this exercise makes cheating via momentum a bit too easy. That being said, the lateral raise is still a crucial movement for building wide, massive shoulders that enables you to place a great amount of tension on the middle delts, so if you want to score optimal growth, make sure to do it right and tight.

Targeted muscles: Middle deltoids


How to: Stand with your feet at shoulder width apart, keeping your abs tight and shoulders back and holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip. If you adjust your grip so that your thumb side is a little lower than your pinkie side, you can engage the middle head even more. While maintaining the torso in a stationary position (to avoid using momentum), raise the dumbbells out to your side in an arc with a slight bend in the elbows and hands slightly tilted forward. The elbows and the hands should be moving together in the same plane. Raise the dumbbells just above shoulder level and pause for a second at the top portion, then reverse the motion and slowly lower the weight down.

Written by Valentin Bosioc

Valentin Bosioc - wellness specialist, certified personal trainer, certified fitness instructor, celebrity trainer, Musclemania Champion, Ninja Warrior Semifinalist, world wide motivator!

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