Best Shoulder Exercises to Build Muscle Fast

The key for a complete set of shoulder exercises is that a good shoulder workout should always hit the three heads of your deltoids. Shoulder muscles are composed of:

  • Anterior deltoid (front raises, shoulder presses)
  • Lateral deltoid (lateral raises)
  • Rear deltoid (bent over raises, pec deck)
Shoulder Muscles

We can safely say that the anterior deltoid is often involved in chest workouts, while the rear deltoid is often involved in back workouts.

This is a great advantage of doing compound exercises, because even though you don't work out your shoulders as primary muscle you can make big muscle gains anyway.

Which Compound Movements Help Me Work Out My Shoulders?

There is one basic tip I can give you.

Beside specific shoulder exercises...

Every Time You Push You Work Out Your Anterior Deltoid

If you have good memory, or if you have read what the best chest exercises to build muscle fast are, you remember that this is true also for triceps. Every push involves triceps...

...and...

Every Time You Pull You Work Out Your Rear Deltoid

Again, the same principle applies to biceps.

But let's see which compound exercises are as important as shoulder exercises for your anterior and posterior deltoids.

Anterior Deltoid:


Posterior Deltoid:


Generally speaking, you can assume that chest exercises are good for anterior deltoid workout, while back exercises are good for rear deltoid workout.

What about lateral deltoid?

Nope, the only way to work out lateral deltoids is doing isolation exercises like lateral raises.

Isolation Exercises for Shoulders

Although shoulder muscles aren't that big, my opinion is that you shouldn't ignore any of the three heads of deltoids.

Shoulders look good when they have a nice rounded shape, and you can't obtain that you don't work out all the three single head of the muscle.

There are some specific exercises like shoulder presses that are great for a global shoulder workout, and then there are some more isolation exercises that focus the work only on one specific head of the deltoid.

Full shoulder workout:


Anterior deltoid:

  • Barbell front raises
  • Dumbbell front raises
  • Cable front raises


Lateral deltoid:

  • Dumbbell lateral raises (seated/standing)
  • Cable lateral raises
  • Deltoid machine raises
  • Incline bench lateral raises on one side
Deltoid Machine

Posterior deltoid:

  • Bent over dumbbell lateral raises
  • Inlcine bench lateral raises
  • Pec deck machine reverse flyes
  • Rear cable crossovers

I strongly suggest to work out the three heads of your deltoids if you want to have good looking shoulders and fill your t-shirts. If you are a beginner or if you want to make some important muscle gains you should really start with compound exercises and full shoulder exercises.

It's not a secret that big shoulders are a symbol of a strong man...

Best Shoulder Exercises

Dumbbell Shoulder Press for Shoulder Workout

Seated Barbell Military Press for Shoulder Workout

Dumbbell Lateral Raises for Shoulder Workout

Pec Deck Machine for Shoulder Workout



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