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Brickhouse Gym Training Series: Building Boulder Shoulders

If there was one single body part that stands out as a characteristic of someone who has spent a lot of time training in the gym, it would have to be the deltoid complex. Fully capped off, rounded out boulder shoulders are a sure sign of a bodybuilder and at the very least, someone who knows the benefit of moving around some serious weight. If you look around, it really is a standout feature on a physique because no one else looks the part. There are lots of people out there with good arms, good calves and maybe even a decently thick chest without even really doing a whole lot to have them.

However, fully developed shoulders are an entirely different animal and unless you have specifically trained to acquire them, you don’t have them. For this reason, I encourage you to consider the following training suggestions for building boulder shoulders as you make your way towards becoming a standout by being head and shoulders above the rest.

The Power of Pressing

There will be no other type of movement within your shoulder training exercise selection that will allow you to handle more weight than the overhead press. In all of its forms, the most stress that you will ever be able to apply to your shoulders will be via an overhead pressing movement. Whether you decide to employ the rigours of utilizing free weight movements to achieve this or you’re going to stick to all of the amazing shoulder pressing machines that can be found here at Brickhouse Gym, all that matters is you make overhead pressing a priority.

Prior to engaging full-blown into this concept, be sure to thoroughly warm up the area first. The shoulder joint is a delicate one, therefore, needs to be approached with care and consideration before applying significant stress to them. Once you’re ready, get to work with a minimum of two overhead pressing exercises embedded within your training program. (note: it would be wise to choose a weight that you can handle on your own without the assistance of a training partner. Forced reps within an overhead press can sometimes be a real bad idea).

Width Woes

Typically speaking, the front head of the deltoid is never a problem area for most lifters. Through all of the pressing that has occurred while training chest, as a by-product, the front delt gets lots of stimulation and therefore grows in conjunction with the pecs. Needless to say, that leads to an underdevelopment of the medial head of the deltoid by comparison and a lack of width or roundness overall. So to deal with that, you have a couple of options here. First, you can include a multitude of lateral movements such as dumbbell lateral raises, machine lateral raises and some cable work into your programs and simply destroy your side delts.

Or if your available time in the gym doesn’t permit you to do that, you simply prioritize that area of the shoulder and train it first in the workout when energy levels are high and motivation through the roof. You’ll be able to smash your side delts right off the get-go so that you ensure sufficient energy and the right amount of intensity was employed and applied to that area for new growth to occur. Either way you approach this, for your boulder shoulders to improve, you have to make lateral movements a high priority.

The 3-D Effect

Finally and perhaps most importantly, to really give your boulder shoulders that rounded off look, you have to develop the muscle that might be the most neglected of all upper body muscles; the rear deltoid. For some reason or another, training this area of the physique becomes an afterthought if ever thought of at all. It blows my mind that there are people out there that just skip right over this muscle as it is the sole reason deltoids take on a 3-D look. When viewed from the side or the rear, which by the way is two-thirds of your presentation when on stage, the rear delt is what gives you the rounded look you want to start training them. In fact, there are many of us who train this area first in a shoulder session because of how important it is in the overall balance of the shoulder structure. My advice is to start loving movements like rear delt dumbbell flys, reverse pec deck and cable face pulls. Doing so will most likely be the reason you take your shoulder development to the next level.

If you want to look different from everyone else and chances are that you do, then building up a sufficient amount of muscle onto your deltoids should be at the top of your priority list of things to do. Your boulder shoulders can be seen whether you are wearing a hoodie, a t-shirt or a tank top so much attention must be given to that area of your physique. Again, be careful in your approach as you need your shoulders for just about every upper body exercise you’ll do for all of the other body parts and you don’t want a nagging injury in that area holding you back. Make overhead pressing, lateral movements and rear delt exercises a mainstay in your training programs and enjoy the view from above the rest.

Author: Dana Bushell
Gym Star Team Member