Whether you want them for blocking on the field, gaining position in the paint, improving function of the muscles, or just to be bigger and stronger, having bigger shoulders is a must. If you want to succeed, you must take shoulder training seriously. That means focusing on the rotator cuffs as well as all three heads of the deltoid (anterior, lateral, posterior) every time you train your shoulders. Incorporate this dumbbell program into your weightlifting routine for eight weeks, and you'll see improvements in size, strength and performance. If you don't have access to dumbbells, each of these movements can be performed with fitness resistance bands.
External Rotation for the Rotator Cuffs
Regardless of the sport you play or your fitness level, you need to take this aspect of your training seriously. As your delts gain size and strength, your rotators actually become more vulnerable and susceptible to injury.
- Take a light dumbbell and hold it in front of you with your arm bent and your upper arm pressed into your side.
- Keeping your upper arm pressed to your side, slowly move the dumbbell and your forearm out to the side.
- Once you've turned it out as far as you can, slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
Sets/Reps: 2x20 per arm with one minute rest between sets.
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Seated Dumbbell Press for the Anterior Delts
The anterior delt is the front head of the shoulder. You can target this area most effectively by either raising weight directly in front of you or by pressing overhead while standing or seated as close to upright as possible. Have you ever noticed that most shoulder press machines have the seat at a high incline position instead of completely upright? That's because they focus on the anterior delt without letting pressure be applied to the lower back like it could with an upright seat. Check out the video player above for another Dumbbell Press variation from NFL running back Trent Richardson.
- Either have dumbbells handed to you or pick them up and boost them up to shoulder level with your palms facing away from you.
- Press them overhead until your arms are just short of locking out. This keeps tension on the muscles and off of the joints.
- Slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position and repeat.
Sets/Reps: 3x10-12 with one minute rest between sets.
One-Arm Lateral Raise for the Lateral Head
The lateral head of the deltoid is engaged when your arm is moved up to your side. Focusing on each shoulder individually helps prevent momentum from dominating the exercise and keeps one side from helping the other.
- Hold a dumbbell at your side at arm's length.
- While maintaining a slight bend in the elbow, lift the weight out to the side until your arm is parallel to the floor.
- Hold for a second before lowering the weight to the starting position and repeat.
- After finishing with one arm, do the same with the other. For stability, brace yourself by holding on to a machine or stable apparatus.
Sets/Reps: 3x12-15 per arm with one minute between sets.
Bent-Over Lateral Raise for the Posterior Head
The function of the posterior head is external rotation. It's also responsible for assisting in pulling the arms into the body.
- Bend over at a 90-degree angle holding a pair of dumbbells at arm's length toward the floor.
- Maintaining the bent-over position, raise your arms and the weights out to your sides until they are parallel to the floor.
- Slowly return the weights to the starting position and repeat.
Sets/Reps: 3x12-15 with one minute rest between sets.
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