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What would you say if I told you that there were only two shoulder exercises you need to do? In this video, I am going to show you the two shoulder exercises that should make up the bare minimum of your shoulder workouts. Not only are these two exercises great for building big shoulders, but they are the two exercises that hit cover all 3 heads of the shoulders.
Some might tell you that you only need two exercises total in order to build a muscle group. I disagree. I don’t think anyone should be limited to picking just two exercises for a muscle group because each one often has multiple muscle head as well as multiple functions that can be targeted individually through exercise selection.
The chest is a great example of this; it has three heads as well as two separate functions. Some might tell you that all you need is a flat bench press and incline bench press. You are only hitting two of the three heads of the chest with this election and while you are pressing, you are not getting any adduction – another major function of the chest.
In the case of the shoulders, you have the ability to hit all three heads of the delts given the proper exercise selection. Pressing and lateral raises are the basis of your shoulder training and being able to choose one of each is a great way to build big shoulders. This means that one exercise should be a pressing movement and the other should be a lateral raise movement.
However, when trying to build big shoulders, this is simply the foundation of your what your shoulder training should include. Not every shoulder workout needs to include both of these exercises, but a complete training plan will at least build off or include them at some point.
The first exercise up is the overhead press. Now, this doesn’t have to be a barbell overhead press, but it needs to be some variation of the press. This can come in multiple options such as the barbell press, a modified Bradford press, the z-press, or a dumbbell overhead press (standing or seated without pressing your back into the bench).
The thing is that dumbbell press is limited by the weight you can clean up to your shoulders to press overhead. I like to perform this exercise with a single dumbbell as it allows you to clean the weight up with two hands and it allows for stacking of the wrist over elbow over shoulder to help with orthopedic issues.
The next exercise is some form of a lateral raise; this can be cheat lateral or a strict lateral performed normally or with an intensity technique such as 1.5 reps. However, my choice is the cable lateral raise because it allows you to hit the middle and rear delts in the same movement. Not only are you raising the weight to hit the middle delts, you are getting the elbow behind your body top get a contraction on the rear delt.
This exercise is also interesting because it allows you to put the middle and rear delts on stretch, which is normally ignored on traditional lateral raise exercises. In order to build bigger shoulders, you need an exercise selection that not only gets a good contraction, but a good stretch as well.
If you don't have access to a cable machine to perform this cable side lateral raise for your shoulders you can always grab a pair of dumbbells. One of the most powerful dumbbell shoulder exercises you can do is something called the cheat lateral raise. This is used with heavier weights than you would normally use on a strict lateral raise.
You lean forward at the torso a bit which will not only help you generate some of the momentum used to bring the weight up and position it for the slow eccentric lowering, but it will put the rear delts into position to drive the arm back behind the body into extension as you raise into abduction. It's a powerful variation of the lateral raise that will hit both the rear and middle delts without needing to have access to a cable machine.
Now, if you want to take your shoulder training to the next level that hits every head of the shoulders from different angle, there are many exercises to choose from. I don’t think we should ever be limited to just two exercises for a muscle group, the delts included. But you should at least start with these two exercises to build the foundation of your shoulder growth.
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