5 Brutal Shoulder Workout Finishers You Need To Try

Brad Borland
Written By: Brad Borland
June 5th, 2015
Updated: June 13th, 2020
94.1K Reads
Shoulder Exercise Finishers To Build Bigger Shoulders
Not seeing the shoulder gains you're after? Try these 5 shoulder workout finishers that are designed to be brutal, but effective for building massive boulders!

Big, brutal, wide deltoids are sought after by anyone who ever touched a barbell. Whether you’re a bodybuilder looking to grace the posing stage or the recreational lifter who just wants to look and feel better, wide deltoids will instantly set you apart from the pack.

But what about pushing those shoulders to the next level? What about emptying the tank fully before you start to shake that bottle of whey? Below are 5 shoulder finishers guaranteed to make combing your hair virtually impossible by the end; but bigger, more muscular shoulders will be your reward.

1. 3-way lateral raise complex

Lateral raises don’t have to be relegated to the won’t-really-pack-on-the-mass toolkit. Isolation exercises have their place and their advantages. The deltoids can particularly benefit from some isolation work, especially once all of your compound, multi-joint moves such as presses and upright rows are behind you.

Here’s how: Grab a pair of dumbbells and start with dumbbell side lateral raises beginning by your sides instead of in front of you. After muscular failure is achieved with at least 10 reps immediately perform a set of dumbbell bent-over lateral raises for as many reps.

And finally, without rest, perform a set of dumbbell front lateral raises. That will be considered one set – go for 3 or 4 total sets. Be sure to shoot for reps on the high side since you will be trying to shove as much blood into that area as possible.

BPI Sports Supplements

2. Weight plate finisher

Don’t think you can use a simple weight plate to smash your deltoids? When the dumbbell rack is crowded and all benches are occupied, the basic weight plate can be your greatest ally when it comes to convenience and creativity. Of course the best plates are ones with either deep rims at the edges or handles cut out in them for safety and grip. So, how can you use them to your advantage?

Here’s how: You can perform a shoulder finisher with a weight plate several different ways. One way would be to perform full range front raises starting from the weight at thigh level and raising it all the way up over your head. Another way is to raise the plate with both hands as if they were gripping a steering wheel to eye level and turning the “wheel” clockwise and counterclockwise in the upright position.

Lastly, take the plate and rotate it around your head for a certain amount of revolutions (also called around the world) one way and the same amount of revolutions the other way. Whatever you decide, go for 3 to 4 sets total.

3. Run the rack

Another, possibly familiar technique is running the rack (specifically the dumbbell rack). You may have already performed a similar protocol for, say, dumbbell side lateral raises. Of course you will want to make sure the dumbbell rack isn’t too busy and try not to monopolize all of the dumbbells you plan on using.

Here’s how: Instead of performing high reps from the get-go for whatever you decide to do (bent-over, side or front lateral raises) try starting your first set with just one rep – with proper form of course. Next move to the very next set of dumbbells and perform as many reps as possible even if it’s only a few.

Eventually you will start to achieve higher reps but keep going until you’ve exhausted your shoulders to the very last pair of dumbbells. This way you will have hit your deltoids with the entire spectrum of reps possible. Go for one seriously intense set.

Running The Rack With Side Laterals For Shoulder Gains

4. Kettlebell finisher

If you haven’t figured it out yet, a kettlebell workout offers so many unique options when it comes to adding variety to your training. Providing an unbalanced type of load, the kettlebell is basic but worth a try if you’ve never touched one before. Normally reserved for developing power and muscular endurance, the kettlebell can also be used to build some serious muscle mass especially when it comes to putting the final torch to your shoulders.

Here’s how: Performing a kettlebell complex will be similar to a dumbbell version but with an added dose of said unique, unbalanced load. Start with a series of lifts to include side lateral raises and upright rows. Next, finish with front swings all without rest. Aim for 3 to 4 sets of 10 reps or more per set.

5. Isometric/negative finisher

Negative or slow eccentric muscle contraction has been shown to provide superior muscular strength and hypertrophy (muscle mass) benefits. However, this type of training shouldn’t be reserved for the big lifts only such as bench presses and cable pull-downs. Other isolation movements are fully qualified to reap the same rewards without the need of assistance as with those other lifts.

Here’s how: Choose a shoulder movement which works a weak point you may have. For example, if you want wider shoulders choose a move such as dumbbell or kettlebell side lateral raises. Next, choose a relatively light load and bring the weight up to the contracted position. Stop for a count and then lower the weight slowly and under complete control for a count of 10 seconds.

Raise the weight again and attempt another 10 second descent. With each rep you will become slightly weaker so use a little “cheat” to get the weight back up to the starting position. 3 sets of as many reps you can tolerate will toast your delts.

BPI Sports Supplements

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 06/05/2015 - 22:53

I'm here to answer any questions you may have...

Posted on: Sun, 06/07/2015 - 10:50

I found this article to be extremely insightful, as it has shed some light on my own situation. I am currently 170 lbs and 6-7% body fat. I train hard 5-6 days a week, and I always push to failure by drops sets or rest pause. I find myself constantly distracted, irritable and have difficulty sleeping. I monitor my diet very closely, and pay attention to my macros, and I run just above my caloric maintenance to keep that lean physique. That being said, what would you suggest in terms or recovery? Is it more beneficial to change my diet such as run a bulk or alter my exercise regiment? Thanks you

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/08/2015 - 10:12

Hi Bryce, check that you aren't doing too much in the gym. Too many intensity techniques for too long will lead to overtraining. That, in turn, will cause irritability, sleeplessness and other side effects. Also, make sure you are taking in proper macro numbers. Are you consuming enough complex carbs to facilitate recovery? If any of this sounds like you take a week off of training and go do something active but enjoyable. When you come back to training, be sure to start with the basics and not dive back into old overtraining habits.

Posted on: Thu, 06/18/2015 - 11:46

Hey, Bryce. Have you considered taking something like MusclePharm's Z-Core PM? I take it after an evening cardio workout (I lift in the morning) and it knocks me out, my sleep is deeper and I wake up feeling great!

Posted on: Mon, 09/07/2015 - 14:42

Need a video of that work out