Building Shoulders: The Top 3 Shoulder Exercises

Top 3 Shoulder Exercises
22 Aug

What are the Top 3 Shoulder Exercises? Developing strong and well-defined shoulders not only enhances your overall physique but also contributes to improved upper body strength and posture. To effectively target the shoulder muscles, it is crucial to incorporate exercises that focus on all three heads of the deltoids—the anterior (front), medial (middle), and posterior (rear) deltoids. This article highlights the top three exercises known for their effectiveness in building shoulder muscles and provides insights into proper form and technique.

1. Overhead Press (Barbell or Dumbbell)

The overhead press, also known as the shoulder press, is a compound exercise that primarily targets the entire shoulder complex, including the front, middle, and rear deltoids, as well as the trapezius muscles and triceps.


  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell or dumbbells at shoulder level with an overhand grip.
  2. Engage your core, keep your back straight, and press the weight(s) directly overhead until your arms are fully extended.
  3. Lower the weight(s) back to the starting position slowly and with control.


  • Maintain a neutral spine and avoid excessive arching of the lower back.
  • Keep your elbows slightly in front of your body during the movement.
  • Gradually increase the weight as your strength improves, but focus on maintaining proper form throughout.

2. Lateral Raise

The lateral raise specifically targets the medial deltoids, which contribute to the width and roundness of the shoulders.


  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or sit on a bench, holding dumbbells at your sides with a neutral grip.
  2. Keep a slight bend in your elbows and raise the dumbbells out to the sides until they are parallel to the floor, forming a T shape with your body.
  3. Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position in a controlled manner.


  • Avoid using momentum or swinging the weights. Focus on a slow and controlled movement.
  • Keep your core engaged and maintain a slight bend in your elbows throughout the exercise.
  • Start with lighter weights and gradually increase the load as you gain strength and stability.

3. Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise

The bent-over rear delt raise targets the posterior deltoids, which are often underdeveloped compared to the front and middle deltoids. Strengthening the rear delts contributes to a well-rounded and balanced shoulder appearance.


  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells in both hands.
  2. Hinge forward at the hips, maintaining a slight bend in your knees, and keep your back straight.
  3. With your palms facing each other, raise the dumbbells out to the sides, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  4. Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position in a controlled manner.


  • Focus on using your shoulder muscles to lift the weights, rather than relying on your lower back.
  • Keep your neck in a neutral position, looking towards the floor, to avoid straining your neck.
  • Start with lighter weights and gradually increase the load as your rear deltoids strengthen.

Incorporating the overhead press, lateral raise, and bent-over rear delt raise into your shoulder workout routine can effectively target all three heads of the deltoids, leading to well-rounded and developed shoulder muscles. Remember to focus on maintaining proper form, gradually increasing the weight load, and listening to your body to avoid injury. Consistency, progressive overload, and a balanced approach to training will contribute to noticeable improvements in shoulder strength and muscle development over time.

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“The Overhead Press: Ultimate Guide + How to Master the Lift,” StrongLifts,

“Shoulder Exercises: Dumbbell Lateral Raise,” ACE Fitness,

“Bent-Over Dumbbell Rear Delt Raise Exercise Guide,” Muscle & Fitness,


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