Wits & Weights | Nutrition, Lifting, Muscle, Metabolism, & Fat Loss

Quick Wits: Best Exercises for the Shoulders (Lifting for Muscle Series)

January 18, 2024 Philip Pape
Wits & Weights | Nutrition, Lifting, Muscle, Metabolism, & Fat Loss
Quick Wits: Best Exercises for the Shoulders (Lifting for Muscle Series)
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Show Notes Transcript

Your shoulders are a small but critical part of your upper body's anatomy. It's all about the delts and those muscles supporting the rotator cuff.

Philip (@witsandweights) dives into his top 4 exercises for building strong, sculpted shoulders in this special Lifting for Muscle Series of Quick Wits!


“Quick Wits” are short, 3-5 minute episodes between full episodes to give you an actionable strategy or hit of motivation.

These mini-episodes give you practical advice on fitness, training, and mindset based on my everyday experience with clients that you can implement right away.

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Philip Pape:

Shoulders, a small but critical part of your upper body anatomy. In today's episode, I'm diving into my top four exercises for building strong, sculpted shoulders. It's all about the delts and those muscles supporting the rotator cuff, and this is part of the Lifting for Muscle series on QuickWits. Welcome to the Wits and Weights podcast. I'm your host, phillip Pape, and this twice a week podcast is dedicated to helping you achieve physical self-mastery by getting stronger, optimizing your nutrition and upgrading your body composition. We'll uncover science-backed strategies for movement, metabolism, muscle and mindset, with a skeptical eye on the fitness industry, so you can look and feel your absolute best. Let's dive right in. Welcome to another QuickWits, where we break down fitness into digestible, actionable advice. Today's focus is on the shoulders, a crucial area for both strength and aesthetics, and I'm going to share with you four exercises that I swear by for building robust and well-defined shoulders. And I would know I had left rotator cuff surgery not too long ago in 2023, and I'm building those shoulders back stronger and more sculpted than ever.

Philip Pape:

First on the list is, of course, the barbell overhead press. You get a sense of my theme here right. Every single one of these is probably going to start with a barbell movement. They're super effective. You can load them up, you can use most muscle mass and a natural movement, full range of motion, all of the things. It's a great tool. So the overhead press this is a compound movement. It's a powerhouse for shoulder development. It primarily targets the anterior deltoids, but it really doesn't stop there, because it also engages your triceps, your upper chest. You feel it throughout your core. You feel it even in your quads as you tighten those quads to push the load up straight through. The key with the overhead press is get your head out of the way so the bar path remains straight and isn't too far away from your body, and push, drive through to the top and then shrug at the top to get the full range of motion. So that's number one, the overhead press.

Philip Pape:

Number two we have dumbbell and machine presses. I'm lumping these all together, depending on what you have access to. These are awesome for isolating the shoulder muscles and again giving you a greater range of motion than you can. With the barbell press you can come right down kind of to your cheek level with those dumbbells and then press them up and because they're bilateral, each arm gets its own work going for it, its own stabilization and strength development independent of each other. And then, of course, a machine if you have access to in the gym, a press machine which I wish I had access to one can be a really good way to target through that range of motion. But not but let you really hit a higher load without having to stabilize as much. So it's a really good targeted, dealt, focused movement. All right, so that's dumbbell and machine presses.

Philip Pape:

Number three is going to be lateral raises. I think these are one of these underrated. You know. They're these small isolation, direct work type exercises that might seem like kind of a throwaway until you realize how much they they annihilate the middle deltoids effectively. It's kind of a hard spot to hit with almost anything else, and this is really good for the width of your shoulders.

Philip Pape:

When you're thinking of aesthetics, the big thing here is to keep those movements very controlled and to rotate up with the shoulders, and the dumbbells should come up pretty high. The idea here isn't to to swing them out and to use all this momentum and to be bending forward and back. You have to be very controlled. So you might have to go to much lighter weight than you think, much higher reps 10, 15, 20 rep range, but you're going to feel them. These actually could be a great warmup, depending on your focus before overhead press, as long as you don't burn your shoulders out completely.

Philip Pape:

Number that's number three right. So number four, the last one, is anything for the rear delts. You don't want to neglect the posterior deltoids because then you know things aren't as balanced. You could have potential injury if you're kind of neglecting that spot. And it's a beautiful part of the back. When you look at the back and the entire anatomy of it as it all connects together, you get that definition and that shadow in the rear delts. Like I know what I'm talking about. That's just the way I picture it.

Philip Pape:

So exercises like reverse flies, which can be done bent over on a bench, seated down, you could do them with a cable. You could do face pulls way up high, almost above your head, and hold yourself in a split stand so that you don't get pulled forward. But that's how I like to do rope face pulls Bent over lateral raises I mentioned. And then I love the pec deck machine in reverse If you have one that allows you to do reverse flies that way. All of these are excellent for rounding off your shoulder development and giving you that comprehensive strength and stability that we're going for. All right, so those are the four exercises Barbell, overhead press, dumbbell or machine presses, lateral raises and rear delt movements. Oh, one more rear delt movement is a seated cable. Pull wide grip high. That's another way to get it. Anyway, that's it. Those are the four.

Philip Pape:

If you want strong, resilient shoulders, remember again, a balanced approach to shoulder training not only enhances the strength and appearance, but it's really good for your overall shoulder health. So you don't get those rotator cuff tears. You need to stay strong and keep, keep pushing those limits and do it intelligently. Thank you for tuning in to another episode of wits and weights. If you found value in today's episode and know someone else who's looking to level up their wits or weights, please take a moment to share this episode with them and make sure to hit the follow button in your podcast platform right now to catch the next episode. Until then, stay strong.

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