This shoulder workout will help develop each of the three deltoid heads, and the traps

June 15, 2018

The Trap and Deltoid Muscles provide much of the framework for a great upper physique. Developing the right balance of muscle mass and definition is key for symmetry and getting the right proportions.

Your shoulders are one of the most versatile muscles of the body. Think about the range of movement they allow, especially at the shoulder joint, as well as practically assisting in all upper body movements. Having weak or under-developed shoulder muscles can really hold you back from your true potential, and make a big difference on both your aesthetic appearance and functional performance.

shoulder and traps workout by rob riches

← Have You Seen This?

In need of an extra boost to your training? Check out my free complete training guide and daily meal planner for support.

Give Your Weak Areas Priority

Before you start your journey towards improving your physique, first take a real and honest look at your shoulders (have a friend take pictures from all angles), and see where you feel the weakest area is. This should be your priority and what you focus on first within your workout. I’ve started the program below with a focus on the rear deltoids at the back of the shoulders, as this was a weakness for me, like with so many others, mainly because they are often under-used compared to the middle and front deltoids.



Lead With The Elbows

It can be tough to focus on contracting the deltoid muscles as your lifting up a weight at arms length. It becomes all to easy to focus on lifting the weight up, which often means the arm position changes (into something resembling a seagull wing), which takes the effort off of the deltoid. Next time you are performing a front, side, or rear deltoid raise, keep your attention on how the muscle is being worked and try to consciously squeeze it throughout the movement, especially at the top of the rep. If you think about leading with the elbows (as if someone is pushing your elbows back towards your body and you are resisting it), then it keeps your arm in a more focused position that involves the deltoid muscles a lot more. The arm should be fully extended but with a slight bend kept in the elbow at all times. Your wrist, elbow, and top of the shoulders, should also be within the same plane, meaning if you drew a straight line from your shoulder to your wrist, it should also pass across your elbow without dipping.

Shrugs and Raises

Dumbbell, Barbell, and Machine Shrugs are all great exercises to work and develop the trap muscles – a postural and active movement muscle, used to tilt and turn the head and neck, shrug, steady the shoulders, and twist the arms. Keep your arms straight without bending the elbow much during each rep. Focus on driving your shoulders up towards your ears and pausing for a split second. You may feel yourself pulling some interesting looks on your face as you do, but at least you’ll be on your way to developing an impressive set of Trap muscles.


Vary Your Exercises From Workout To Workout

The routine below is just one version in which all of these exercises can be performed. Each of the deltoid-type raises can often be performed either standing, seated, with dumbbells, cables, or machines, as well as both arms together or performed one arm at a time. Make use of these variations each time you perform this workout. They don’t all have to change each time, but try modifying at least 1-2 exercises. Not only will it keep the body from adjusting to the same exercises each time (which can lead to plateaus and halt progress), but it will also challenge you to a wider spectrum of movements.

shoulder shrugs rob riches workout

Exercise 1

4 sets of 15,12,10,8 reps

Exercise 2

4 sets of 12,10,10,8 reps

Exercise 3

3 sets of 12,10,8 reps

Exercise 4

3 sets of 12,12,10 reps

Exercise 5

3 sets of 12,10,10 reps

Exercise 6

3 sets of 12,10,10 reps