Shoulder workout

shoulder workout

Shoulder workout: What makes up the shoulder muscles?

Before going into a shoulder workout, its important to know what muscles are being used in shoulder exercises.

Deltoid heads shoulder workout


The main muscle we are targeting in a shoulder workout is typically the deltoid. The deltoid is a rounded triangular muscle that is separated into three parts. There is the anterior, the lateral, and the posterior sides that make up the the deltoid.

The anterior part of the deltoid is located on the lateral side of the clavicle. Its function is to allow medial rotation of the arm by pulling the humerus (upper arm) toward the clavicle (upper chest). The anterior delt also controls the medial rotation of the arm as it moves anteriorly (reaching forward). The lateral part of the deltoid is located at the acromion (bony point of the scapular that hooks over your shoulder). The lateral deltoids function is abduction (outward and away from the body) which will pull the humerus toward the acromion. Example would be a lateral raise or reaching out to the side. Lastly, there is the posterior deltoid which is located at the spine of the scapula. Its function is to laterally rotate the arm by pulling it toward the spine of the scapula. Example would be to reach backwards or doing rear delt fly.

Now you have a better understanding of what the deltoid is and how it works, lets dive into this shoulder workout with a few exercises to start building those boulder shoulders. This includes a good warm up exercise, followed by 2 exercises for each part of the deltoid muscle!


T.Y.I’s get the name from the position of each movement. You arms will essentially make a T, a Y, and a I. This is a great exercise to warm up for a shoulder workout, because is activates all parts of the deltoid. Start by laying on a incline bench with your stomach on the bench and your arms hanging freely. The first movement is the T, which will requires your to raise your arms up and slightly back. This movement will mainly engage the posterior delt and creating the T shape with your arms. For the second movement, raise your arms up and slightly anterior, creating a Y shape with your arms. This will mainly target the lateral delt. Lastly, raise your arms in front of you and close to your head, creating the I shape. This will engage the anterior delt.

Anterior deltoid

The anterior delts are normally the most developed because the are recruited in every chest press action, Therefor typically the strongest of the three heads. Here are the two most popular exercise for the anterior deltoid.

  • Cable front raises
    Place a strait, EZ, or single grip attachment on a cable machine, at the bottom position. If using a EZ bar or strait bar, step over the attachment, so that its between your legs and your back is facing the machine.  If using a single attachment, step to either side of the attachment with your back facing the machine. Grab your attachment with your palms facing down, and begin to raise your arms, make sure that your arms are strait ant not bent. The top of the motion should be at your chin height.
  • Arnold presses
    Grab a seated bench and dumbbells for this movement. you will hold the dumbbells up by your chest with your hands supinated, so that your palms are facing your body. You will then press the weight up, while pronating your wrist. At the top of the movement, your palms will facing away from the body, then lower the weight back down to the start position and repeat.

Front raises shoulder workout

Lateral deltoid

The lateral head of the deltoid is typically the second most developed because its engaged in every shoulder exercise. Its also favored in looks, as it gives you the rounded cap or the “pumpkin” striated look.

  • Dumbbell lateral raises
    Lateral raises can be performed seated or standing. Grab a set of dumbbells and hang them at your sides, with your palms facing your body. From here, begin to raise your arms outwards and stopping at shoulder height, then return back down and repeat. If you keep the position of the dumbbells slightly behind your medial line, you will engage more of the lateral and less of the anterior head of the deltoid.
  • Lying side raises
    Using either a incline or flat bench, lay down and balance yourself on your side. Grab a dumbbell and lay it on your outer side (the side not on the bench). From here begin to raise your up and away from the body. This should be a slower and controlled movement and will require lighter weight than you normally would use.

lateral raise shoulder workout

Posterior deltoid

The posterior deltoid is typically the most under developed head because its not typically targeted correctly. the posterior head plays a huge roll in back strength and also correct posture as it will pull your shoulder back so that you don’t look like a hunchback due to over developed anterior delts.

  • Standing cable reverse flies
    Using a double cable machine, cross grip two single handle attachment. With the cables crossed and in front of you, begin a back fly, angling slightly upwards or downward depending on the position of the machine. Pronate your wrist as you go through the movement to put focus on the rear delt.
  • Incline dumbbell lateral raise
    Grab a set of dumbbells and lay down on a incline bench with your stomach on the bench. With your arms hanging freely, pronate your wrist so that your palms are facing behind you. From here you will raise the weight, keeping your hands locked int he pronated position. This will put focus on the rear delts the entire movement.

 rear delt fly shoulder workout

Check out some more shoulder workouts by team Body Spartan! videos and links below.

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