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How to Build Muscle – Massive Shoulders


I wanted to show you a quick exercise that I’ve used over the years to not only build muscle but to strengthen the shoulder complex. You have to see this!

Full Range Front Raises

How to Execute:

  1. Grab a barbell with a double overhand grip
  2. Raise the barbell from the start position to a position locked overhead.


  • Building the shoulder through a complete range of motion (ROM)
  • Improves decelerative extension strength

Recommendations: For those with shoulder issues, perform this exercise by grabbing the outside of an Olympic plate.  This will allow you to keep your hands in a neutral position with is an easier position for the shoulder (less irritation to any pre-existing rotator cuff issues).


Try this killer Upper Body Workout this weekend, focusing on building massive shoulder muscle.

1)  Barbell Military Press, 4×8

2a)  Barbell Full Front Raises, 4×10

2b)  Barbell Shrugs, 4×20

3a)  Pull-ups, 3×10

3b) Posterior Flyes, 3×12

Leave a comment with your favorite shoulder exercises!

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22 Responses to “How to Build Muscle – Massive Shoulders”

  1. rmg Says:

    Best shoulder exercise, one I can feel on all three heads is the arnold press. 3 – 4 – 10.

  2. Michael Whities Says:

    Great work out. My left shoulder has been hurting quite a bit. I’ll do a few of these tonight and get my wife to record a video. I bet this will help for rehab.

  3. Jerry Shreck Says:

    I love training the shoulders with old school manual resistance. There are 4 manual resistance exercises that I use and they each work well. When doing manual resistance; the exercise will only be as good as the individual providing the resistance. Communication is also a key factor.

  4. Jim Smith Says:

    I talk a lot about manual resistance in my Chaos Training manual. It is an amazing supplemental training.

    I actually have a post coming up next week showing some manual resistance in our back workout!

  5. Jim Smith Says:

    Michael don’t forget about this page brother:

  6. pharaohs army Says:

    My favorite shoulder exercise is handstand pushups.

  7. Coach mike Says:

    A physical therapist and I were talking rehab on my shoulder. He told me that photo you posted of Arny pressing behind the neck was what paid for his bmw. I said why? He responded “name me one sport you push up or pull down behind your neck”! He claimed for him it was no big deal but the average guys shoulders would not take that range of motion for long. I can now press the 106 kettlebell no problem and do 20 pullups at 43 and have not press or pull behind my neck in 2 decades. Just food for thought.

  8. Adam L Says:

    Handstand push-ups. I have to use a wall or buddy because I am not that coordinated with my balance, but definitely my favorite. Mentally I feel like I am accomplishing a lot because I am moving 195-205lbs, just like when I do 20+ pull-ups. Love body weight exercises!

  9. Jim Smith Says:

    Definitely. Just thought it was a cool pic of Arnold doing shoulders.

    We don’t recommend this exercise either.

  10. Jim Smith Says:

    Handstand push-ups are killer! We also prescribe a modified version off of a bench in a piked position.

  11. Jared Says:

    Man that looks like a good excercise. I bet it probably helps witht the Olympic lifts to

  12. Dimitris Says:

    nice excercises,keep it up

  13. Coach mike Says:

    Ya I will give you that. The first time I saw that photo in pumping iron I was stunned!

  14. Smitty Says:

    I definitely wasn’t stunned, that’s just how they did it back in the day. It is still a very popular exercise in most gyms.

  15. dixon Says:

    hi smitty, the front raises with plate is excellant! i have another idea–do dumbell front raises in the inclined will hit the delts in its stretched position. pls give ur comment on that.

  16. Al in Vancouver Says:

    For shoulder stability and mobility I have to go with the old classic – Turkish get-up. The Tea-cup drill from baqua that Steve Cotter demonstrates is cool too.

  17. YYK Says:

    Jim, why do you always favor high reps ?
    What about maximal strength building ?

  18. yaya Says:

    what’s the view these days on upright rows? are they not recommended due to too much shoulder impingement? I always thought they were a good mass builder. help me, oh wise one.

  19. Chris Says:

    Handstand pushups with a weight vest. Ultimate Killer.

  20. Jim Smith Says:

    This is just one example of a workout. We do periodize maximal efforts into our training.

  21. Mickey Says:

    If I could only go back 15 years and not do up right rows, shoulder press behind the neck and lat pulldowns behing the neck, I think my soulders would be in better shape, Anyhow, it is what it is. There are always alternative excesises that manage to get the job done. Just need to keep the intensity right.
    Fitness at the WhiskyTrench

  22. benz Says:

    very effective shoulder routines.. i tried those already..

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