Delt Exercises: Best Shoulder Exercises

best shoulder exercises

Bro, you gotta train shoulders. In addition to increasing your bench press, shoulders are a body part that can help take your physique to the next level. Using the best delt exercises can help you build front delts to increase pressing power, build side delts to give you the V-shape upper body, and build rear delts to balance your physique and keep your shoulders healthy.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • This is one of the secret tricks that bodybuilding coaches employ to help their clients make massive changes – fast. Here’s why.
  • We’ll talk about a super simple shoulder warm up to keep you healthy
  • I’m going to show the best shoulder exercises to build your delts. We’ll talk about the best front delt, side delt, rear delt, overhead shoulder, and row type exercises.

Best Shoulder Exercises: Why use these?

Coaches have been helping clients get great results for years by adding in these shoulder exercises to take their clients bodies to the next level. The reason for that is because if I can help a client gain a half in their should measurement, while losing a half inch in the waist, that client will look like they lost an inch in the waist and gained an inch in the shoulders.

If I ever have just a short period of time to get a guy beach or summer ready, we focus a lot on shoulders and lats to develop the V-physique that everyone wants.

What is the Best Shoulder Warm-Up?

Grab a band. We’re doing the following exercises for 2 round

Band pull Aparts x 50 reps

A warm up staple, these pump a lot of blood into the shoulders, upper back, and rotator cuff, which will keep you healthy and stable during your workout

Shoulder Dislocations x 15 reps

Unlike what the name suggests, these actually build range of motion, and help keep the upper arm (humerus) tracking smoothly through the shoulder (glenohumeral joint). Consider this an investment if you plan on training for longer than 6 months.

Band Face Pulls x 30 reps

A nice high row to cement solid posture and activate the rear delts

A good warmup for the shoulders will leave your shoulders feeling pumped and well…warm. A good test if you’re warmed up enough if getting down and knocking out a few pushups. They should feel smooth and easier than normal after a good warmup.

What are the Best Front Delt Exercises?

Arnold Press – A commonly butchered exercise, the Arnold press is done by holding two dumbbells in front of your face with your palms toward your face and elbows 6-8 inches apart.

In this position, press up and overhead, only rotating your palms and elbows out when you can’t press straight up anymore. By pressing up with this reverse grip, you isolate the front delt before bringing in middle delt to help finish the move.

Plus, you can’t really go wrong with a move named after the Austrian Oak himself.

Truck Drivers – Another move with a great name, truck drivers are done by grabbing a weight plate with your hands at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock (10 and 2 if you’re a beast).

Now, start by making truck noises with your mouth. This is very important.

Once everyone in the gym is paying attention to you, put your Nascar face on and rotate the plate to the left, then the right like you’re driving a big rig on Ice Road Truckers. It’s way more anabolic if you actually pretend to drive around the gym. Trust me, I’m a trainer.

What are the Best Side Delt Exercises?

Side delts get hit when you do overhead pressing as well, but I prefer to really hammer these with isolation moves before moving to a bigger compound move. That way you can use a little less weight while still getting a great training effect.

Lean Away Side Raises – With a light dumbbell in one hand, find a solid surface that wont move if you grab it, like a squat rack or cable machine.

Put your feet close to the base of the structure, grab the side with your free hand and lean away until your body is at a 60-75 degree angle. Now raise the dumbbell to shoulder height, which you’ll now realize is much higher than a normal shoulder raise to parallel with the ground.

Repeat on both sides.

Side Cable Raises with Relaxed Wrist – By using the band, you get tension through the full range of motion, as opposed to dumbbells, which get hard about halfway through the movement due to our friend gravity.

By relaxing the wrist (so your knuckles touch your legs first at the bottom) you avoid letting the forearm flexors do any of the work at the bottom, which increases side delt activation, and allows you to use less weight more effectively. ( a good thing when dealing with smaller muscle groups)

best shoulder exercise best side

What are the Best Rear Delt Exercises?

Seated Rear Dumbbell Raises – Grab 2 dumbbells and sit on a bench. Lean forward with your dumbbells behind your shins.

Raise the dumbbells out to the side with your thumbs pointed at the ground. Think about getting the dumbbells as far apart as possible with only a very slight bend in your elbows. If you need to bend your elbows more than slightly, you’re going to heavy and you’re working mid back.

Most guys go too heavy on these. Take some weight off, focus on the form, and pausing for a full second at the top.

best shoulder exercise rear delt

Cable Rope Face Pulls – Same form as in the warm up. Set the cable mid to high, grab the rope in such a way that your fists are pointing at eachother as if you’re about to do a self fist-bump (go ahead, you’ve earned it).

Now take a knee, or sit down. Pull the shoulders back first, the bring your fists to the side of your head. Hold for a 2 count, release and repeat.

What are the Best Overhead Shoulder Exercises?

Military Press – If you want to be a beast, look no further than the standing military press. Requiring full body strength and stability, I like to save this one for after some of the isolation movements. This allows me to go lighter, saving myself from potential shoulder issues, while being able to feel the muscle more.

It’s cool to go super heavy, but you know what’s cooler? Pain free jacked shoulders.

Alternating Seated Dumbbell Press – Just like the name suggests, get two dumbbells, and sit down.

Press them both overhead, then lower the right one to your shoulder. Press back up. Now lower the left. Repeat.

What are the Best Pulling Shoulder Exercises?

Mid Chest Upright Row with Forward Lean – hmmmm, not the sexiest name for this one. But it is a great exercise because it targets all three heads of the delt without putting your shoulder in an impinged position, which is something you get if you do a ‘normal’ upright row.

Grab an ez bar, lean forward 15 degrees, and then row that bar up to your chest and nipple line. Make sure your elbows are coming up, but the shoulders are staying low. Keep the traps and shoulders away from your ears! That’s important!

best shoulder exercise best pulling

Hold for a second at the top, and repeat.


There you have it, a list of some of the best shoulder exercises to build a great physique while keeping your body healthy and preventing pain before it starts.

With the isolation movements, do sets of 10-20 reps, but with the compound movements like the military press and upright row, work in the 5-12 rep range.

Good luck, enjoy the delt gains.





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