Posted on April 07, 2018 by Kate Gordon

In this blog I’m going to be giving you a guide on training your shoulders for both hypertrophy and overall shoulder health. When it comes to the gym community, there tends to be three areas that always seem to get injured, these being; the shoulder, knees and lower back.

I’m going to provide a workout that will offer a high level of growth to your deltoids as well as enabling you to improve your overall shoulder health. I will first outline every exercise and, after the whole workout is listed, I will explain why each exercise is in this workout.

Rather than doing a conventional warm-up before the workout, instead start with a light weight and do around 10% of your one rep max at the beginning of each of the exercises.

The Workout


  • Face pulls with rope – 4 sets, 12 Reps
  • Seated dumbbell shoulder press – 4 sets 10 Reps
  • Seated dumbbell front raises – 4 sets 15 Reps
  • Dumbbell shrugs – 4 sets 12 reps
  • Rear delt pec deck – 4 sets 15 Reps
  • Seated dumbbell side lateral raise – 4 sets 15 reps
  • Neutral grip dumbbell front raises – 4 sets 15 reps


  • Lateral stretch hangs – 30 seconds – 3 sets
  • Dumbbell farmer’s hold – 30 seconds 3 sets

The descriptions

Now that the workout is listed I will proceed to explain why each exercise is done and formatted in the way it is. If you notice in the layout of the workout, it follows a pattern in which each muscle is focused in a particular order, the pattern being; rear delt, middle delt, front delt, and traps, repeat.

The reason that I have laid the workout like this is to ensure that there is balance in the shoulder workout and that no particular muscle is being focused on more than the other. Now onto the specifics…

Face pulls with rope

The reason behind starting with this exercise is because of the fact that due to the culture we live in with the prevalence with phones a lot of people’s posture tends to be lacking and through starting with rear delts, it allows for the shoulders to be rolled back and aid in the workout and overall shoulder health.

Make sure you squeeze the muscles at the peak of the pull so you really feel the muscle activation. As well as this ensure that you have stable footing and make sure your lower back is stable throughout the sets.

Seated dumbbell shoulder press

A staple in shoulder workouts and can only be interchanged with the military press, allows for the person to go heavier which is why it has only 10 reps per set. Just make sure the back is in a straight position so the lower back doesn’t take the brunt of the load. Once again this hits the middle delt and is one of the core strength components of the workout.

Also make sure that the dumbbells come down to come side to side with your ears and push up without locking your elbows; the dumbbell’s should end up roughly above your head without the two dumbbells touching.

Seated dumbbell front raises

This exercise is to target the front deltoid and is done with higher reps; the starting position should be with dumbbells at your side in a pronated grip. Bring your legs together and raise the dumbbells, to just above parallel shoulder height and hold for 1 second at the top. Make sure you control the eccentric phase and allow as little momentum as possible when bringing it back down.

Dumbbell shrugs

Grab two dumbbells at a relatively heavy weight and hold them at your side and begin to shrug them once again controlling the eccentric phase. Make sure during this you tighten your core and stabilise your back because since the weights are expected to be heavy, you don’t want to cause any injuries.

Rear delt pec deck

This exercise is another staple to hit the rear delts; adjust the seat so that your chin in resting on the top of the seat. Grab the handles with a pronated grip and pull it outwards to your sides and hold for 1 second at the top. Focus on bringing it back slowly, make sure that your elbows are not locked and are slightly bent throughout the motion.

Seated dumbbell side lateral raise

This is another middle delt exercise, following the same premise due to the seated shoulder press being a slightly lower rep exercise, we compensate for that here. Sit with back up against the seat and keep your hands at your side in a neutral grip and bring the dumbbell up to just above parallel to your shoulders.

Make sure your elbows are slightly bent and ensure that they remain in line with your hands at all times. To make sure you’re doing it right, at the peak look to see where your elbows are positioned. They should be just above your hands at the top.

Neutral grip dumbbell front raises

This exercise is a very similar variant to the dumbbell seated front raise with pronated grip. However the activation of the muscles is changed simply due to the grip. Due to the way the muscles work, maintaining a neutral grip allows for a more anterior deltoid focus to finish off the workout and can overall allow for a more complete workout.

Make sure your traps don’t rise during each rep and keep the shoulders in a relatively depressed state during the sets.


The cooldowns are relatively straight-forward; their main goal is to bring the shoulder back to a depressed state so it can improve the blood flow around the muscles. This helps to promote hypertrophy and stretch out the shoulders so you prevent any injuries occurring.

To conclude, give this workout a try if you want a brutal and effective shoulder workout while focusing on the health of your shoulders.

Extra tips

Some added questions to answer what you may be thinking. The reasoning behind the higher rep range is because the shoulders as a muscle group are relatively slow twitch meaning that they respond and grow better to more reps and lighter weight rather than doing low reps and higher weight. This is the best way to incite them to grow and promote overall general health.

Another question I may get asked is why there is a large focus on the rear delts. This is due to the fact that almost everyone neglects training them and because of this their shoulders are in pain. Regardless if you’re someone who doesn’t go to the gym or a regular gym goer, you are still prone to getting shoulder injuries, the reasoning being due to lifestyle, such as using phones and slouching.

For gym goers, especially those who emphasise a lot on the bench and pushing movements, they neglect the pulling movements and therefore cause an imbalance in the shoulder leading to a slouched posture and causing more harm than good to their shoulders.

To conclude, give this workout a try and see how you feel about it, and enjoy the gains you will no doubt make with this programme.

By Thomas Camber, Chelsea Creek