Lifting a weight that’s too heavy without a proper warm up or, workout to reach up to your 1RM is a mistake regardless of the part of the body you’re working, but it can be truly disastrous when performing shoulder exercises.

The shoulders are delicate and complicated joints that are not easy to target, and if you do put them under too much pressure before they’re ready you can end up with injuries that mean you can’t train anything for months!

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

The workout below is broken down into a pair of tri-sets, making six exercises in total, all of which do a sterling job of working all three heads of the shoulder and the trapezius muscle. To get the most out of it make sure you stick to the sets, reps, tempo and rest detailed, and don’t go too heavy with the weight to start with.

If you start to find any of the rep counts too easy, add a little weight. Do this workout twice a week for a month and watch your shoulders turn into boulders.

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Shoulder Workout Routine

1A Overhead press

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 10sec

  • Stand tall with a barbell across the front of your shoulders.
  • Brace your core, then press the bar directly overhead.
  • Lower it slowly back to the start.

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1B Push press

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 20X0 Rest 10sec

  • Using the same weight as in move 1A, bend your knees to create power to press the bar overhead.
  • Then lower it slowly under complete control.

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1C Barbell shrug

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 1111 Rest 90sec

  • Lower the bar to thigh level then, keeping your arms straight, shrug the bar up so that your shoulders reach your ears.
  • Hold this top position for a second, then lower it back to the start.

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2A Seated Arnold press

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2111 Rest 10sec

  • Sit holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing you.
  • Press them up overhead, rotating your wrists as you go, so you end with straight arms and palms facing away.

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2B Seated lateral raise

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2111 Rest 10sec

  • Switch to lighter dumbbells then, leaning forward slightly, raise them to shoulder height, leading with your elbows.
  • Pause at the top, then lower back under control.

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2C Bent-over reverse flye

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2111 Rest 90sec

  • Stand up and, using the same weights as 2B, bend forwards from your hips.
  • Lead with your elbows to raise the weights to shoulder height.
  • Pause, then lower back under control.