An efficient shoulder workout hits all three heads of the delt: front, medial and rear, to prevent imbalances and create and impressive shape from all angles. This session is a great example of how to get this done in a limited time frame!
The shoulder is an incredibly mobile, small, ball and socket joint. For this reason, it is susceptible to injuries such as bursitis and rotator cuff tears. Make some time for mobility and warm up work before going into heavy presses and raises. There are lots of resources available on YouTube which will walk you through a suitable routine.
This is going to be the focus of the session and a movement that you should look to progress on week by week, whether that means upping weight or just performing a rep more than the session before. A strict overhead press is a challenging compound move which requires engagement of the core and trunk to maintain a strong position. Using a barbell over dumbbells also means that we are able to move much heavier loads than a seated DB press, for maximal muscle tissue gains. Capping top sets of 5-8 reps is advised, any lower may begin placing more strain on the lower back than is necessary. Keep form constant from set to set and rep to rep.
E2: Shoulder press
Machines provide stabilisation that free weights don’t. Having both in your programme covers all grounds, allowing you to isolate the larger target muscles and establish a better mind to muscle connection while also strengthening the smaller, surrounding ones. This is also the best way to prevent injury and identify weaknesses.
E3: Barbell upright row ss/ plate raise
Fight the temptation to put your ego first and sacrifice form on these as they can put the shoulder in a vulnerable position. Instead, slow the movement down a little and avoid lifting the arms any higher than they need to. You want to feel the lateral delts working here, not the traps.
After completing a set in the 8-15 mid range, go straight into front raises with a plate, again controlling the entire movement and feeling the burn in the shoulders.
E4: DB lateral raise ss/ DB rear fly
A go to side delt builder is the DB lateral raise. Like the upright row, don't let your ago take over and use momentum or swinging to move the weight. Upon completing reps, go into a bent over row position and repeat the same movement for the rear delts.
E5: rope face pulls
Another excellent way to hit the rear delts and finish off a session. Experiment with different grips and seat heights to determine what you feel the most connection with.
As the shoulders are comprised of smaller muscles, and the session will likely be all in all less fatiguing and expend less calories than say, a leg day, this is a great chance to fit some ab work in!
We would recommend hitting a shoulder specific workout once a week, although more volume can be acquired on other upper body sessions, for example by finishing a back session with the rear delt fly machine, or picking incline presses over flat on a chest day.