How To Get Big Shoulders

November 10, 2021 0 Comments

In this article I will be outlining how to get big shoulders that you can be proud of and turn heads. I will be sharing my own experiences, as my shoulders are one of my strong body parts. Topics that will be discussed include the necessity of shoulder pressing, using bands to make your presses harder and the importance of training your rear delts. Pictured below are my own shoulders. 


my shoulders


The Importance Of Shoulder Pressing

In my opinion shoulder pressing is of paramount importance if you want to build bigger and stronger “boulder” shoulders. When I started training many years ago I did the standing overhead press for a long time to build a base. But since I hurt my back from deadlifting (as I outlined in a previous article) I switched to seated shoulder pressing movements. I actually found seated shoulder pressing movements to be better for building size in the shoulders as it is predominantly the shoulders doing the work. With the standing press you can cheat a lot more by leaning back and using more leg drive as well. One of the drawbacks as well with the standing press is it is easier to tweak your lower back.

My main shoulder pressing movements that I do on a regular basis are the seated plate loaded machine shoulder press in my gym and seated dumbbell shoulder presses. These movements have added a lot of size and strength to my shoulders and I would highly recommend you include at least one of these movements into your training regularly.


Benefits Of Shoulder Pressing Against Bands

This is something that I have been doing for a long time now and I believe it is a big reason for the big gains in strength and size in my shoulders. The big benefit of doing seated shoulder presses against resistance bands is that it makes the movement significantly harder and forces your shoulders to work harder. As you are pressing the weight up the bands kick into full effect and make the rep harder and harder on the way up. By progressively overloading the shoulder press movement with bands over a long period of time it leads to big strength and size gains. In my case there is a plate loaded shoulder press machine in my gym that I use to perform these presses against bands. One day of the week I do the shoulder press against a lighter band (red), another day I do the shoulder press against a much heavier band (purple). I aim to progressively overload each week by adding more straight weight or more reps to both days of pressing. Pictured below is the machine that I use, you can see in the picture how I have applied the bands. In this case, this was the day when I was pressing against the lighter red bands. This is how I set it up initially with a 2.5kg plate on first and then the bands applied. The rest of the weight plates are then put on afterwards.

shoulder press machine


Click Here To See The Heavy Duty Resistance Bands I Use In My Training!


Importance Of Rear Delt Training

The rear delts are a massively overlooked part of shoulder training but incredibly important. When trained properly they can balance out shoulder development and help to give you the overall “3D delts” look. A lot of bodybuilders do a plethora of pressing movements and therefore it is important to do an equal amount of rowing movements as well. Rowing in general does hit the rear delts but it is good to do direct rear delt work. My favourite rear delt movement is band pull aparts using a resistance band. You just do as the name suggests, grab a resistance band and hold it in front of you, then just pull it apart. It is very similar to a rear delt flye machine but superior in my view. In addition you can do face pulls using resistance bands with the bands positioned up high. This again is superior to face pulls using a rope as with the bands the tension progressively increases more as you perform the movement.

Another benefit of rear delt specific training is the fact that it can improve general shoulder health and reduce the likelihood of shoulder injuries down the line. This is very important, I am sure we have all heard of countless people who complain of aches and pains in their shoulders from bench pressing and other pressing movements. 

Adding In Shrugs Or Upright Rows

Shrugs and upright rows can be great ways to end a workout and give you a great pump in the shoulders. My favourite way of performing shrugs is with dumbbells and pausing at the top of each rep for 5 seconds emphasising the peak contraction. This really helps to grow your traps over time. Having big traps really helps to accentuate your shoulders and make you look more intimidating and powerful. Upright rows with a close grip serve a great purpose as well to this effect. However I want to give a warning about upright rows. They are not suitable for everyone and if you find that they hurt you in any way then stop doing them. In my case I prefer to do lighter upright rows using cables for high reps and I don’t go heavy on them. Upright rows are not really supposed to be a power exercise and can be dangerous when performed very heavy. 


In this article I have gone indepth on how to get big shoulders and the movements that I have been doing regularly in my own training to strengthen my shoulders and make them bigger over time. I want to re-iterate again how powerful it is to perform your shoulder presses against bands. It definitely makes your shoulders significantly stronger and bigger. When you then go on to doing dumbbell shoulder presses you will be amazed at how the dumbbells fly up with ease! You can even perform shoulder presses with chains instead of bands for a similar effect but chains are far less common in most gyms. Resistance bands are very inexpensive and they are portable. I have my own set of heavy duty resistance bands which I take with me to the gym for every workout. They have served me incredibly well over the years and I would recommend adding them into your training for better results.

If you have any questions on any of the exercises discussed in this article please feel free to leave a comment. If you already perform some of these movements let me know which ones and how well they have served you over time. All the best.



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