9 Tips For Growing Your Shoulders Into Small Melons

Maik Wiedenbach
Written By: Maik Wiedenbach
October 21st, 2013
Updated: June 13th, 2020
96.7K Reads
Think you've heard it all when it comes to shoulder training? Think again! This article from Maik Weidenbach contains 9 delt destroying tips you may never have seen before.

Bigger shoulders... everyone wants them, but hardly anyone knows how to train for them. The result: overdeveloped front delts, slopped physiques and tendonitis.

Although I was somewhat blessed in that department, I still learned a few things over the years that had a tremendous impact on my shoulder development.

Tip #1 - It's ok to train shoulders with a lot of volume

Shoulders can handle volume, and I mean lots of it. I believe that part of my quality shoulder development has to do with being a swimmer until the age of 25.

Doing thousands of reps every single day gave me a good base with regards to capillarization and blood flow. When I started lifting weights my shoulders grew immediately.

That being said, if shoulders are a focus of yours, you can definitely train them twice a week, You can also work them once a week as a separate muscle group and then combine rear delts with back workouts, and medial and front delts with chest for a second session.

Tip #2 - Add the clean and press to your training

Learn the clean and press. If you have somebody qualified to teach you, the clean and press is a great tool that will stimulate the nervous system.

Doing a couple sets at the start of your shoulder workout will greatly improve the effectiveness of the actual hypertrophy work. There is no need to go heavy. Try 4 sets of 8 at 60%.

Side lateral raise

Tip #3 - Apply inward pressure when pressing

Bend the bar together. All to often, the shoulder press becomes a triceps press. This isn't wrong, but it's not what you are trying to accomplish.

If you are working with a barbell, always apply inward pressure as if you were bending the bar together. If you use dumbbells, always keep the thumb lower than the rest of the hand.

Tip #4 - Slow your shoulder reps down

Slow it down. That goes for any exercise, but shoulder training in particular is often done in a sloppy and rushed fashion. This leads to inflamed shoulders, overdeveloped traps and general discontent.

If you initiate the positive phase through momentum or inertia the body does not get a chance to activate the muscle fibers properly. Always create tension on the part of the shoulder you are trying to train before even starting the motion.

Tip #5 - Shorten and tuck your abs

Tuck the abs in. If you watch the majority of people doing seated dumbbell presses from the side you will notice that their lower back is far away from the chair. In fact, they are always in an incline bench position. This is great for chest, but not so great for training shoulders.

Slide all the way back and shorten your abs. This will provide stability and proper shoulder recruitment.

Tip #6 - Initiate medial delt exercises with the elbow

Move the elbow. The elbow, not the wrist, should be the one initiating any exercises targeting the medial delt. 

Most trainees think of moving the wrist first. This leads to an insolvent of the traps. The body always registers intention, so if the first muscle moved is not your target muscle, your set is pretty much done (this goes for all exercises).

Instead of ripping up the wrists, imagine having strings at your elbows, pulling them toward the ceiling.

Tip #7 - For side raises, tip your dumbbells

Turn the wrist. The medial delt works best when the dumbbells are angled slightly downward.

So when you start any type of side raise have the dumbbells pointing at one o'clock/eleven o'clock respectively.

Tip #8 - Toss upright rows aside

Do not do barbell upright rows. I know, I know...." I know this dude he is huge and does upright barbell rows, and besides, bodybuilders have always done barbell upright rows." True, but by that logic we would still travel in horse carriages.

Upright barbell rows are tough on the wrist and shoulder (especially when trainees pull above chest level). Also, they do not allow for the downward angle described in point 7.

Instead try v-pulls. Stand in a stagger step, slightly leaning forward, dumbbells in front you with he palms facing back. Start moving the elbows up and out outward so that the dumbbells follow a V pattern. Drop the thumbs going upward.

Tip #9 - Work your upper back

Do not neglect the upper back. The majority of shoulder injuries comes from overload of the frontal part of the torso through pressing while not creating a properly balanced back. Reverse shrugs, face pulls, j-pulls and wall slides should be done before any upper body workout.

That should do it, give these tips a go and let me know how you do!

Dan Turner
Posted on: Sun, 05/17/2015 - 16:01

Can you explain what a reverse shrug and a face pull is? Thank you for the info.

Posted on: Wed, 10/23/2013 - 17:44

I like training shoulders I try to hit all three heads of the shoulder when I train. But I notice that I develop faster when training the rear head of the shoulder. Its difficult as well to train them consistantly. Especially during the winter season. as the cold sets in my recovery isnt as swift.

Posted on: Tue, 10/22/2013 - 13:09

John, you can do about 4 exercises per shoulder day. I do 6 at times but my recovery is high. Or do a giant set aka Arnolds, regular presses ,parallel presses, clean and press, partials, v pulls , reverse flyes, rows, you ll be burned in 20 minutes:)
111 you can use kettlebells at least it is easier on the wrist. do not pull too high though.

Posted on: Mon, 10/21/2013 - 23:52

I'm guilty of #8 just because it feels like such a natural movement for me. Does your rule apply to both barbell and kettlebells?

Posted on: Mon, 10/21/2013 - 20:08

good article, didn't know some of these things

Posted on: Mon, 10/21/2013 - 18:39

Sir, can you formulate/design a sample program for us? With due respect, thanks 4 d article; i actually need this because my shoulders do not go any stronger..

Posted on: Mon, 10/21/2013 - 18:22

I'm training shoulders using a guided scotch shoulder press 3 x 10 - 8-8) and different types of cables ( alternate cable press, side raise and upright row) in total of 4 exercises, and it's working very well. I didn't know about the upright row, I will change it for another one that uses barbells, for ex. How many exercises do you recommend for a well done shoulder day? Can I do upper back in the day after a only lower back workout? Thanks