The Boulder Shoulders Workout

Brandon Hahn October 3, 2012 Training Articles

Nothing sets shows off an impressive taper like a set of capped delts. The shoulders are near melon sized and the dude looks JACKED! Shoulders are a unique muscle group because they are involved in most upper body exercises. This makes them an easy culprit to overtrain. By overtraining, you end up with a ton of wasted effort. It’s time to make those shoulders like boulders!

Shoulder Anatomy 101

The shoulder is comprised of 3 main muscles attached around the shoulder area.
The Big 3 Shoulder Muscles

  • The front (aka anterior) delt attaches to the clavicle and humerus
  • The side (aka lateral) delt attaches to the scapula and humerus
  • The rear (aka posterior) delt attaches to scapula and humerus

Muscle Involvement

Front Delt

The front delt receives brutal torture due to crossover stimulation. It is involved during most chest, triceps, and (of course) shoulder exercises. The front delt is easy to target due to its’ attachment at the clavicle.

Side Delt

This is the “coveted” head. It is the one people are truly trying to grow to get that massive round delt appearance. It is involved in several exercises, but most misdirect their focus when working the side delt. They use too much weight and even more momentum.

Rear Delt

This head is involved in several exercises that target your lats. It is easy to target, but hard to isolate. People will try to position themselves in various ways to isolate it for growth.

The Exercises for Boulder Shoulders

  • Seated Military Press – eliminates momentum due to seated position.
  • Upright Row – Wider grip involves more of the side delt and less trap (trapezius) muscle.
  • 3/4 Side Laterals – Stop just shy (about 3-4 inches) of your sides to keep tension on the muscle
  • 1/4 Heavy Side Laterals – This allows you to overload the muscle, but requires extreme focus. You want to really squeeze the side delt without rocking to create momentum. Only do the first quarter of a side lateral, and the weight you choose should only allow you to achieve 1/4 of the lift (without cheating).
  • Incline Bench Rear Laterals – Face forward on an incline bench set to 35-45 degrees. With the weights dangling directly below your shoulders, create an imaginary space that doesn’t allow your hands to come within 16 inches of each other. Depending on your size, this is the width of your chest from the left of the chest to the right of the chest, with a straight line. You are welcome to use a tape measure, but they key here is constant tension on your rear delts. Perform the exercise as normal, with the small tweak from above.

Boulder Shoulder Workout

Seated Military Press
2 Sets
6-8 Reps

Upright Row
2 Sets
6-8 Reps

3/4 Side Laterals
2 Sets
6-8 Reps

1/4 Heavy Side Laterals
1 Sets
6-8 Reps

Incline Bench Rear Laterals
2 Sets
6-8 Reps

The sets may appear brief, but it is up to you to make each one count. Workouts should focus more on achieving muscle failure, and less on muscle pump. Pumps go away and they do little in terms of muscle growth. Hit each set with the proper weight for the given rep range. Try to rest 2 minutes after each set. As always, extreme focus is key. Now, let’s make those shoulders like boulders. Ready? GO!

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About The Author

Brandon has been in the fitness industry for over seven years and has trained over 1,000 clients. He has competed in several bodybuilding competitions and continues to improve his physique with hardwork and dedication. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science, Brandon has the knowledge and skills to get you on the fast track to fitness.

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