Shoulder Workout For Women: 4 Exercises To Try Today!

Let me start by saying, I LOVE nice round shoulders…. especially on women! And I’ve been working on my shoulders since TIIIIIME!

About a decade ago, When I started training, women’s bodybuilding was still very much “in”.  My first coach and manager were a guy named Frank Gorge. He was in his late 30s and had been bodybuilding for some time and had helped one of our gym’s trainers do her first show.

One of the first things he (and other trainers) pointed out was that my shoulders were well, nonexistent. And I would be getting nowhere without nice rounded shoulders…. so I got to WORK. I distinctly remember the exact moment…. I was a newly hired trainer at Complete Fitness (now Fitness Connection) in Richmond Hill and it was perhaps my second week at work.

I distinctly remember the exact moment…. I was a newly hired trainer at Complete Fitness (now Fitness Connection) in Richmond Hill and it was perhaps my second week at work. I was about to start my workout and the convo about how much my shoulders sucked gave me enough vigor and determination to build some nice rounded shoulders.

These days, I am a proud owner of two round delts! So how did I build them? Here is my exact protocol (… and some extra tips!)

Lesson one: Lift heavy and Lift Often

Shoulders are pesky little things… they are made of three distinct muscles, namely the front (anterior), mid and rear (posterior) deltoids. Our deltoid muscles originate from the clavicle and insert underneath our biceps.

The trick to getting those pesky little delts to grow and look pretty is to lift heavy and lift heavy. In my first three years of training, I would routinely do HEAVY machine, military and Arnold presses. And by heavy, I mean HEAVY. I would load the stack to 50 to 70lbs on each side and with a help of a spotter crank out as many reps as I could. My aim was to increase the load by 5lbs each week… and I was pretty successful at that! By my 3rd or 4th year training, I could push through a 70lbs machine press and 40lbs dumbbell military press…. and I would do this often! Even with lateral flys and rear delts, I would always go as heavy as I could manage and use a spotter to push through plateaus.

Lesson Two – Use Variety

I dedicated one full day per week to just working on my shoulders. I no longer do this. I find that these days my shoulders are well maintained as long as I do a few “delt” focused exercises per week.

As far as shoulder exercises go my selection is wide and varied. Due to the structure and the many muscles that make up our shoulders, we need a variety of exercises to train them well. Ideally, you want to complete 2 to 4 exercises for each the front, mid and rear delt. And you want to vary these every few weeks.

Below are four shoulder exercises that are a part of my routine. In the description, you will find my set and rep range to give you an idea of exactly how I train my delts!

Military Shoulder Press (Front Delts)

I do these both using machines and with dumbells. I only do a SEATED press as I can lift heavier and focus on engaging my core …. and not throw out my back! (side note: a standing version of these is a great exercise but can put pressure on the lower bacK)

I typically use 20 to 30lbs and go for 3 to 4 sets to fatigue!

Upright Rows (front and mid delts)

I personally like to do these on a cable station over barbells. Below I only have 10lbs loaded on each side… I find that 30 to 50 lbs in total does the trick. Please note this exercise may be HORRIBLE for those with previous shoulder injuries so steer away if that is you! Again, typically I work in 3 sets to fatigue.

Inverted Rows (Upper Back, Biceps, and Rear Delts)

This is just one awesome, kick ass exercise! Super hard but one of my faves! You should have your hands wider than shoulder width… think push up position but inverted. Keeping legs straight makes it harder than with legs bent.

I typically do 3 sets to fatigue! (… notice a theme here? LOVE training to fatigue!)

Cable Delt Cross Overs (mid delts)

Great alternative to dumbbell laterals… I do 4 sets of 15 reps. 5lbs to 7.5 lbs… believe me, that’s enough to BUTCHER your delts!

Try to keep your arms pretty straight without locking elbows. Focus on keeping your wrists parallel to the ground as you move… think lift the weights up NOT out and back!

I hope the above gives you a few ideas on how to train your shoulders. As mentioned, the trick with shoulders is to train them heavy, train them often and using a variety of very targeted exercises.

It took me a couple of years to get some rounded shoulders…. but once there, they’ve stayed!

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xoxox, Rubes.