If you were to pick just one muscle group to grow the best which would result in you looking muscular, what would it be? Pretty sure a lot of you would pick the biceps. But if I were to pick one, it would be the shoulders any given day.Why is that?
Shoulders are the muscles that give your upper body the illusion of being big and the much desired V-taper. The V-taper is what the golden era glorified. People found the taper aesthetic and beautiful, all for a reason.
A lot of you may be doing front raises and dumbbell overhead presses but do not see any good changes in your shoulder. The main reason for this is that you are not training your shoulder for all its functions. Let's understand the functions and look at the exercises you should start incorporating if you want to build those 3D shoulders.
Your shoulder muscle is made up of three different muscle fibres
1. Anterior deltoid or front delt
2. Lateral deltoid or side delt
3. Posterior deltoid or rear delt
These muscle fibres have distinctive functions or movement patterns. For example:
1. The anterior deltoid enables you to perform shoulder flexion, i.e. raising your shoulders in the front of your body.
2. The lateral deltoid allows you to perform shoulder abduction, i.e. taking the shoulder away from the body at the side.
3. The posterior deltoid enables you to perform horizontal shoulder abduction, i.e. moving your shoulder away in a horizontal position.
To build those 3D delts, you need to create a mechanical tension and overload it with time for all the muscle fibres that make up the shoulder.
Do you get it why doing a hundred sets of front raises have not yet built your shoulders?
Here are the exercises you should do to build 3D shoulders:1. A Vertical Press
The vertical pressing has to be the bread and butter of your shoulder workout. You could pick an overhead barbell press or overhead shoulder press to activate the front delts. Data has shown that any vertical press in an incline from 30 degrees to 90 degrees activates the front delts. If you find overhead pressing difficult, you could use a high-incline dumbbell or barbell press as well.
Front raises is not a good option to include in my opinion, as a lot of people simply ego lift here. Due to internal rotation during the movement, there are chances of shoulder impingement.2. A Lateral Raise
The function of your side delt is to lift your shoulder to the side. Lateral raises are your best bet when it comes to building the side delts. You can pick any method that suits you better and that you enjoy.
For example, you could pick any of the following:
a. Lateral dumbbell raises
b. Lateral cable raises
c. Lateral kettlebell raises3. A Rear Pull
© Scott Herman Fitness
Isolation exercises beat compounds when it comes to your rear delts.
The exercises that help you engage your rear delts the most are:
a. Rear flyes on a machine
b. Face Pulls
Coming to the volume and frequency to build 3D shoulders, here's what the data says:
a. A minimum frequency of 2x per week
b. 8 to 20 sets per muscle or 80 to 210 reps per muscle group. I would suggest including shoulders in a push-pull-legs or an upper-lower fashion and incorporating exercises for all the three muscle fibres to build 3D shoulders.
Pratik Thakkar is the co-founder and director of GetSetGo Fitness, an online fitness company and the founder of Mars Nutrition, a nutrition supplement company. Both his companies are geared towards providing you with the right information and products without any false or fake claims. You can reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Instagram.