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The Top 6 Best Deltoid Muscle Exercises for Strong Shoulders

When it comes to working out, a lot of people overlook the deltoid muscles. But did you know that working out your deltoids helps you to not only become stronger and be able to lift more but also strengthens your bones and improves stability? Those little muscles perched at the top of your shoulders are a lot more important than you might realize. Next time you’re at the gym, consider some deltoid muscle exercises.

girl doing some shoulder work out

Image from Pixabay

They’re not that hard to do if you’re already working your arms and shoulders. And when you’re working your delts, you’re working a lot of other muscles right along with them. Deltoid muscle exercises can also benefit your traps, biceps, and triceps as well. So if working out your biceps and triceps is already something you do, why not go the extra distance and give your delts some attention as well?

WHAT IS THE DELTOID MUSCLE?

The deltoid muscle is the uppermost area of the arm, above the bicep and tricep. It’s the muscle that connects the arm to the shoulder. The muscle attaches the tendons of the clavicle, humerus, and scapula. It travels up the arm and onto the shoulder.

The deltoid muscle is a useful one. It doesn’t just serve one function or one movement. The anterior muscle contracts and flexes, rotating the arm. The medial rotation of the arm allows you to reach forward; the lateral rotation allows you to move your arm back.

Working one tiny but very complicated muscle might seem like a tricky proposition. But some tried-and-true exercises can help you boost your delts to the next level.

HOW WE REVIEWED

When choosing the best deltoid muscle exercises, we looked at several things. First, we read recommendations from professional trainers and fitness professionals. We also took a look at results and how quickly you might achieve them while exercising.

What do we mean by results? Well, the deltoid muscle is a muscle you may not have even realize you have until it starts getting bigger (or sorer). So, with results comes the muscle mass. The best deltoid muscle exercises will grow your muscle in a shorter amount of time.

As always, be careful while doing these deltoid muscle exercises. If you already suffer from shoulder, arm, neck, or back pain, consult with a doctor and a professional trainer before performing them. The least you can do is have a spotter with you while you do them. Here are our choices for the best deltoid exercises you can do at home today.

THE 6 BEST DELTOID MUSCLE EXERCISES

girl doing deltoid exercises

Image from Pixabay

What are your workout goals? To get bigger deltoids, stronger arms, or greater endurance during workouts? Luckily, there’s a deltoid workout just for you, whatever your goal might be. Some of the workouts lead to building mass while some are entirely about building lean muscle.

The best deltoid muscle exercises should ideally give you the best results of all three. All you’ll need for these is a set of adjustable dumbbells, an adjustable barbell, and enough space to stay safe while you work out.

SAFETY FIRST

Did you know the shoulder is the most unstable joint in the body? You may have already known this if you’re a fan of escape artists. Escape artists often employ this slight flaw in the human body by dislocating the shoulder joint so they can maneuver their arm in ways they normally shouldn’t. That’s because the shoulder joint is a ball joint.

If you’re trying to strengthen the shoulder, the best deltoid muscle exercise for you will focus on protecting the rotator cuff. But be careful, because the rotator cuff is rather small and delicate. Which, of course, is all the more reason to do deltoid muscle exercises.

1. DUMBBELL SHOULDER PRESS

Perform dumbbell shoulder presses sitting down. Start with 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps and a 2-minute rest between sets. Get out your adjustable dumbbells and warm up with some stretching. Start with joint rotations. While you’re standing up straight, flex, extend and rotate your joints, especially your arms and shoulders. You’ll need to sit down for the dumbbell shoulder press, so find a chair or bench to sit on before starting your workout. You’ll need something that has enough back support. Start with a dumbbell in each hand at an upright position on your thighs. One at a time, raise the dumbbells to shoulder height. It’s easier and safer if you lift your thighs to aid in lifting the weight upwards. Your starting position is where your palms are facing forward. Whenever you’re working out, it’s important to breathe. That goes double for lifting weights, as it not only helps you regulate your body and get oxygen to your muscles, but it helps you control your movements more accurately. Now lift the dumbbells over your head, stretching your arms out as far as they’ll go until the dumbbells touch each other. Make sure you exhale as you push upwards and inhale as you bring back down.

The purpose of the dumbbell shoulder press deltoid workout is to build strength. The more strength you build in your shoulder muscles, the more you’ll be able to lift. You’ll also be capable of doing more complex, strenuous workouts that open yourself up to all kinds of new workouts.

2. UPRIGHT BARBELL ROW

You’re going to stand up during this exercise. Start with 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions of upright barbell rows. For this deltoid muscle exercise, you’ll need your barbell handy. It’s a good idea to not load up the barbell with the maximum weight you can lift. It’s important you don’t overexert yourself. Start light and work your way up. To start off, grab the barbell with an overhand grip while it rests on your thighs. Using the sides of your shoulders, lift upwards, bringing your elbows up to your sides and the bar to your chin. Remember to exhale as you lift and keep your back and torso as straight as possible. Lower the barbell slowly to the starting position and repeat.

The upright barbell row is one of the easiest and one of the most effective deltoid muscle exercises. So if you’re a beginner, you can start with this one to get a feel for how much you can handle. This exercise is meant for strength building as well and can be completed easily by anyone who owns a barbell.

3. SEATED BENT-OVER REAR DELT RAISE

A seated bent-over rear delt raise requires you to, you guessed it, sit down. Start with 3 sets with 8, then 10, then 12 reps. It is another one of the deltoid muscle exercises that requires you to sit down. With that, you must make sure that you have a healthy posture and that your back and body remain straight while you flex and breathe. As you sit, lean forward so that your upper body is straight, forming an acute angle. Hold the dumbbells down by your legs facing forward. Now lift the dumbbells in a butterfly formation, keeping the palms of your hand facing in at all times. When you lift, keep your arms in a stationary position for a second or two before you lower them.

The seated dumbbell press or raise is one of the best deltoid muscle exercises for muscle mass. If you’re looking to really let your deltoid muscles show, try starting out with this one. It’s an intermediate workout you’ll find relatively easy to include in your regular workout.

4. SIDE LATERAL RAISE

For side lateral raises, you’ll be on your feet. Start this exercise with 3 sets of 8, 10, and 12 reps. To do lat raises, you just need enough space to stand up and spread your arms out in the butterfly position. Keep your torso straight and hold the dumbbells by your side. Make sure you flex your abs as you do the exercise to keep your body straight and stiff. That maximizes the results of the exercise. Slightly bend the elbows as you exhale and lift the dumbbells up to your side. The hands should be slightly tilted forward as you lift, almost as if you are pouring a pitcher of water. Your arms should be in a ‘T’ shape and parallel with the floor in the final position. Hold this position for a second and then inhale as you slowly bring them back down.

The side lateral raise is one of the best deltoid exercises for both mass and strength since it really involves the medial head of the muscle with minimal effort from the anterior and lateral parts. If you want to isolate this muscle, lean forward a little bit further to emphasize the bulk you want. This exercise can be executed well with a dumbbell or even cables if you own a machine. Remember to keep your muscles tight and your body straight to maximize the amount of mass you gain.

5. STANDING FRONT BARBELL RAISE OVERHEAD

Stand during front barbell raises overhead. Begin with 3 sets, of 8, 10, and 12 repetitions. This intermediate deltoid muscle exercise involves a barbell and enough space to lift upward. Start with the barbell in your hands, letting your arms hang as you’re about to lift it. Hold the bar with each hand and foot shoulder width apart from each other. Let your elbows slightly bend a little bit. Exhale as you lift the bar above your head while you continue to keep your elbows bent a little bit. As soon as you start to feel the burn, lower the bar as you breath in. It is one of the best deltoid muscle exercises for building shoulder strength. As an added bonus, this workout also targets your traps. The traps, or trapezius, is the muscle that sits at the top of your shoulders and connects to your neck, shoulders, and back. It extends the width of your shoulders, and its main purpose is for support and stability of your shoulders.

You may also try this with dumbbells for similar results. Just make sure you grip them as instructed above and lift them the same way at the same time. If you want different results, hold the dumbbells at different widths. It will have a different outcome because you are using another part of your muscle.

6. SEATED BARBELL MILITARY RAISE

While sitting, begin barbell military raises with 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. This move is one of the best deltoid muscle exercises for building mass and strength, but it’s also an intermediate exercise. Even so, you shouldn’t have any trouble completing it as a beginner. All you’ll need is your barbell and a stable place to sit down. Remember your posture: Keep your back straight, if not ever so slightly arched while your feet are flat on the ground and your legs at a 90-degree angle on each side of the bench. For this workout, it’s best to have a spotter help you out for safety reasons. If you lift the bar over your head and are unable to keep it there safely, it can be very dangerous. Grip the barbell at a width wider than your shoulder width. Carefully pick it up with your palms facing forward and forming a 90-degree angle with your arms. Once you’re comfortable, lift the bar to your head to begin. Hold it at shoulder level, just slightly in front of your face. Now lift the bar over your head while exhaling. Lower it back down in front of your head while inhaling.

Some people do these deltoid muscle exercises while standing up, but if you suffer from back problems, it may not be a good idea. Also, if you suffer from neck or shoulder pains, stick to the one we detailed above and not the “behind-the-head” variation. That could potentially cause more aches and pains.

SCULPT YOUR SHOULDERS WITH THE BEST DELTOID MUSCLE EXERCISES

These deltoid muscle exercises should be very effective if done right. If you currently go to the gym or are coming up with a plan to go, remember how important the deltoids are. Whether you’re building muscle strength or mass, your deltoids are not muscles you should overlook. So, throw these exercises in with your arm workouts. They’re easy, the sets are short, and they’re guaranteed to give you results.

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