The Six Best Exercises For Boulder Shoulders

You need to develop your shoulders if you want any chance of being seen as a man. Since your manhood is at stake here, you should be desperate for methods to shock your shoulders into looking like a pair of Geodudes. However, there is no secret method for shoulder growth; it’s hard work and heavy volume with basic exercises.

“What exercises?” you might ask. These. Listed in no particular order. For your lifting pleasure. Press on.

1. Behind-the-Neck Press

press behind the neck

Before you attack me about prescribing an exercise that “ruins shoulders faster than Hiliary Clinton lies,” read this article. The behind-the-neck press is bar nonethe best shoulder developer known to man, and unless you have the shoulder flexibility of a tree, it wont damage your shoulder joint.


Having said that, you shouldn’t throw 225 on and let the bar bounce off your traps at the bottom of each rep. Use a reasonable weight and don’t let the bar go past your ears. This exercise is supremely effective because it hits all three heads of the delt. In contrast, the military and dumbbell press focus the majority of their focus on the front delt, which helps contribute to poor posture.

2. Face Pull

 Face Pull

Also known as “pull the rope to your face” or “kiss the rope,” the face pull targets the rear delts. It’s important to hit the rear delts, because they are often the weakest point on most lifters’ shoulders. This is caused by the massive amount of pressing people do, which overdevelops the front delts.

All this front delt work is why most gym folk walk around like apes, with their shoulders pulled forward. Throwing in face pulls will help counteract this and give your shoulders much-needed shape from behind. Weak rear delts will make your back double bicep pose look like an under weight scarecrow trying to scratch behind its ears.

Use a rope or towel when preforming this exercise as it allows more range of motion and is easier on your wrists. Higher reps should be used, somewhere between eight to 20 depending on where the exercise is located in your workout (lower reps at the beginning, higher reps at the end). Contract the rear delts hard at the end of the rep.

3. Lateral Raise

Lateral Raises Picture

This exercise is the king of building broad shoulders. Nothing puts width on your shoulders like high volume lateral raises. The medial delt (or the side delt in bro speak) is targeted by this exercise. Being an isolation exercise, it is best used after some heavy pressing via the military or behind-the-neck press.

Like all isolation exercises, high reps are mandatory, so shoot for the moon. Try and mix up this exercise every other workout, switching between cables, bands and dumbbells. This will keep your shoulders guessing and allow you to increase the difficulty without needing to increase the weight.

4. Arnold Press

The Arnold press is a dumbbell shoulder press with a twist. Literally. This twist greatly extends the range of motion, and therefore the time under tension. You will feel the burn on these—trust us. The twist at the beginning also uses the side and rear delts more than a normal shoulder press, giving it more bang for its buck.


Use moderate reps for this exercise, somewhere between six and 10. It is a great second exercise, coming after some heavy sets of military press or behind-the-neck press. When done right, these will burn like California in the summer.

5. Military Press

Standing Military Press

Once an Olympic lift, the military press has fallen out of favor for today’s glorified “standing incline press,” with the lifters’ back arching enough to build a bridge with. This arching makes the exercise chest dominant, and robs the delts of any involvement. The correct form for a military press is strict, with the lifters body remaining rigid and static for the whole lift.

This exercise is a great alternative to the behind-the-neck press, as it hits all three heads of the delt. The bar path for this exercise is in front of the body, and as a result, the military press is more front delt focused. This is not ideal, because most people already have great front delts from bench pressing, so supplement it with rear and side delt work.

6. Front Raise

Alternating dumbbell front raise exercise

This exercise is conditional. Like we’ve been saying throughout this article, most people have great front delts from all the bench pressing they do. There is no need to isolate a muscle that’s already overshadowing the other muscles in its group.

For whatever reason you can’t press (elbow issues, pectoral tears etc.), or you’re a genetic freak and you have weak front delts, the front raise can be your saving grace. It’s the perfect exercise for isolating your front delt and it doesn’t call into play your possibly injured elbow or pec.

When doing the exercise, keep the dumbbell from going over eye level, as raising it that high causes your traps to come into play, robbing your front delts of the work.

Put These Exercises Into Action

If your shoulders are puny, you should specialize them and hit them twice a week. The first workout should be heavy and focused on compound lifts, while the second should be focused on pumping blood to the muscle.

Workout 1:



Military Press 3×5– Make them 3 heavy sets

Arnold Press 4×8– Burn baby, BURN

Face Pull 4×8– Keep the reps slow and clean, try and focus on flexing your rear delts

Workout 2:

Behind The Neck Press 5×8– Moderately heavy reps

Lateral Raise 5×12– Try cables for more resistance throughout the entire range of movment

Face pull 5×12 /w Arnold Press 5×12– Pump as much blood into your shoulders as possible