Developing the three heads of your shoulders will let everyone know you mean business

June 15, 2018

The chase for strength and size may have been what first got you started, but the real game begins when you fine tune your vision to have every muscle head clearly separated and prominently developed.

Gaining new found muscle is a joy and celebration all on its own, but after a few years of solid training, you realize it’s becoming increasingly tougher to keep adding size and gaining strength, or if you’re like me, you reach a size that you’re happy and content with, and wish to start developing each muscle head. This requires a deeper level of focus and knowledge. No longer can you just get by with lifting heavy weights and consuming enough calories. You need to really know which exercises and training methods can and should be used to ensure proper development of specific muscles – and still keep them in balance and harmony with the rest of your physique. I find that this type of training really does separate those who enjoy working out towards their goal, and those who are passionate about building the best body that they can possibly achieve.

rob riches 3 deltoid head workout

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Be Brutally Honest & Specific

Early on in your training, you probably found yourself performing a couple of shoulder press movements and 1 or 2 lateral-type raises, and that was it as far as shoulder training. Perfect the technique, continue increasing the weight, and over time you’ll have gained more muscle mass and strength. You’ve built a strong foundation, but if you really want to develop an awe-inspiring, complete physique, it’s now time to be a little more specific about your routines.

The first thing to do is take a long and honest look at you.r physique and identify where your weaknesses are. I recommend taking some full-length photos – relaxed and posed, and looking closely at which areas you really want to improve. Don’t just think everything, but get really specific. Write things like: The back of shoulders don’t look as thick or pronounced as the do when viewed at front. Build a long and detailed list of every specific muscle group you want to work on and improve. The more details you can include, the greater the vision will be working towards it.

You can even ask close friends (ask them to be honest with you), and any sports and fitness coaches you may know who can give you a professional eye on areas they think would help give you greater balance and symmetry on the whole.


Attention To Detail

Keep this list of specific changes you’re committed to working towards, and look at it every day. Keep a copy of it in your training journal and/or gym bag, and each time you’re at the gym, take a glance at it and remind yourself what it is your working on today. If you’re goal is to increase the size at the back of the shoulders, why spend most of your workout performing overhead presses and front bar raises – especially if you’ve identified the front of your shoulders as being more prominent. As hard as it may be at times, be true to your list and constantly be working towards it. It will be well worth it rather than continue to improve your strengths and ignore the weaknesses. The sooner you start this, the better.

Compound First, Isolation Second

I’ve got an old-school approach to training (probably from growing up training with a lot of older bodybuilders as my mentors and inspiration), which is to warm up the muscles and joints first, followed by getting the biggest, heaviest exercises over and done with when you’ve got the most energy, then proceed to the more specific exercises that typically isolate and target a particular muscle more so than any other.

You can see in the program below that the first exercise is a seated dumbbell press with a dumbbell rotation during the press (inward facing grip by the chest, rotated outwards as you continue pressing upwards), often referred to as ‘Arnold Presses’. This is multi-joint / compound movement, that works multiple muscles across more than one joint (the elbow and shoulder joint in this case). After that there are three exercises that target the rear deltoid and middle deltoid.

Notice that there isn’t one that specifically targets the front deltoid muscle. This is simply because the anterior (front) muscle gets heavily used in many chest and shoulder press-type movements (including within the first exercise), so I’ve left that out to allow the rear and middle muscles to get a little more attention. If you really do wish to isolate the front of the shoulders more, you can omit exercise 2 or 3 from the program (or keep them in, and simply add in a front dumbbell/barbell, or cable raise, for the same amount of desired sets and reps.


3 shoulder muscles rob riches workout

Exercise 1

4 sets of 12,10,10,8 reps

Exercise 2

3 sets of 12,10,10, reps

Exercise 3

3 sets of 12,10,10 reps

Exercise 4

3 sets of 12,12,10 reps

*(Perform as a superset with the next exercise)