Building Killer Deltoid Muscles: Step-by-Step Guide

exercise for deltoid muscles

IG: @lindoverstas

Today we’ll talk about exercises for the deltoid muscles, the technique of exercises, and how it affects the final result, and usually, it is muscle hypertrophy. There are different approaches to this issue. But first, let’s recall the basics.

What is meant under the deltoid muscle

In the formation of the shoulder, one main muscle is involved – the deltoid muscle, in addition, the trapezius muscle forms the back of the shoulder.

The deltoid muscle consists of three bundles/heads:

  • front/anterior or clavicle;
  • middle/lateral/outer/side or acromial part;
  • posterior/rear or spinous part;

Functions of delts

deltoid muscles
IG: @lindoverstas

The front head of the deltoid muscle is responsible for bringing the arm forward and extending the arms above the head. For their development, basic exercises will give an excellent result; moreover, they can include not only bench presses for shoulders, but also any basic bench press exercises performed from all angles: for the chest and even triceps.


The lateral bundle is involved in the lateral abduction of the shoulder – that is, to make the middle delt work for real and get a full trauma, forcing the muscle fibers to subsequently recover and grow, you need to take your arms out to the sides. This has to be done in exercises such as upright row with a wide grip, lateral raises with dumbbells.


The posterior head takes part in the horizontal abduction, that is, take your arms back when they are raised to the sides (with elbows close to the body, abduction will be done due to the greater participation of the latissimus dorsi). For the back head, arm rows through the sides while standing or lying on the belly on a horizontal bench will work, raises in which the elbows are spread apart, Lee Haney’s upright row. With the shoulder presses and bent-over rowing or pull-ups, when your elbows are laid apart, the back delt cannot be developed.

Deltoid muscles in bodybuilding

Most professional bodybuilders pay special attention to training their shoulders, as this not only increases their width but also emphasizes biceps and triceps, making the arm more prominent. Thus, not only professionals but all athletes as a whole need to work on their shoulders.

Another important reason that dictates the need for shoulder training is the high frequency of injuries to the shoulder joint. Many bodybuilders face this problem, since the shoulder joint is involved in many exercises, so damage to the latter is common and can be a serious obstacle to good results. Proper workout for deltoid muscles allows you to strengthen the ligaments and stabilize the joint, thereby protecting it from injury. In addition, to prevent injury, you must strictly follow the exercise technique.

Features of shoulder training

exercises for the deltoid muscles

Due to its structure, in fact, there is no one exercise that could load the shoulder evenly and completely. Shoulder training should include various exercises aimed at different muscle heads, while the position of the body is important. Exercises on the delts anatomically are vertical overhead presses.

Deltoid muscles workout consists of basic and isolating exercises. Basic exercises involve more than one head of delts and may include trapeziums. Isolated exercises are directed, as a rule, to separate heads. Based on this, all beginners are recommended to use basic exercises, as one of the bundles lags, you can add isolating exercises. After you feel more confident in basic movements, you can build the training more flexibly.

This is hard to believe, but according to the results of electromyographic studies, at least seven groups of fibers that function independently of each other can be distinguished in the deltoid muscle. Therefore, every movement that we perform, training the delts gives its growth in completely different areas.

That is, if more or less decent pectoral muscles can be inflated by performing, say, only the bench presses of heavy dumbbells or barbells on an inclined bench press, slightly changing the grip and angle of the bench, then there is no single basic movement for delts. To develop all the heads of the deltoid muscle, it is not enough to carry out the same exercise from training to training, even if you regularly increase working weights. It turns out that your shoulders grow in one place, and in another, they don’t develop at all, no matter how many discs you put on the bar.

A vivid example of the one-sided development of deltoids is powerlifters, the training program of which includes almost the same basic exercises: bench presses, squats, and standing presses with large weights, basic deadlifts. At the same time, the vast majority of champions in powerlifting and weightlifting do not even have such delts as a regular fitness enthusiast who trained his deltoid muscles for only one year but did the exercises for each individual head in the correct sequence. Training shoulder press and “pumping” round and beautiful shoulders – these are two completely different ways.

List of the best exercises for the deltoid muscles

deltoid muscles workout
  • Overhead Press With a Barbell
  • Overhead Dumbbell Press
  • Military Press
  • Arnold Press
  • One Arm Press
  • Alternating Overhead Press
  • Band Overhead Press
  • Front Raise
  • Incline Front Raise
  • Lateral Raise
  • Bent Arm Lateral Raise
  • One Arm Lateral Raise on the Ball
  • Reverse Fly
  • One Arm Band Rear Fly
  • Crossover Rear Delt Fly With Band
  • Incline Rear Fly on the Ball
  • Band Rear Delt Squeeze
  • External Shoulder Rotation With Band
  • Internal Shoulder Rotation With Bands
  • Upright Rows
  • Shoulder Pushup

Secrets on how to build killer deltoids

As we mentioned in the first paragraph, there are 2 approaches:

  1. The first – the technique should be impeccable, but taking into account individual anatomical features.
  2. The second – says that the flaws in technique and muscle coordination can be compensated for by the large weight of the projectile.

Adherents of the second approach say: “Yes, you are purely getting into the target muscle group, and you are approaching with a weight of 10 kg, and I am with 20 kg and cheating from the first repetition, in the end, I get the same or even more stress. (Speech, of course, is about isolating exercises.) “With shoulders, this approach does not work.

The most difficult of the three delts is the middle one, which takes the arm to the side. The main exercise for the development of the middle head is the abduction of the arms to the sides with dumbbells (raises).

What are the individual characteristics, and why should they be taken into account?

People with sloping shoulders have advantages in trapezius hypertrophy and complexity in the middle head of the deltoid muscle. Owners of sloping delts, due to the high mobility of the scapula, make raises with an actively assisting trapezoid. People with upturned shoulders do not have such mobility of the scapula, and, accordingly, almost all the load falls on the target muscle group.

So, is it bad? No, you just need to learn how to fix the scapula. For this, you need to involve lats and, somehow, put your hands on the big round muscles and do lateral raises without turning the scapula outward from the spine.

That is how to learn this – take a towel into the cylinder, hold it under the armpit and ask the partner to hold it behind. Squeeze the latissimus dorsi and begin to raise your arms to the sides, feeling the towel under your armpit, that is, without raising your shoulders and not including the trapezius muscle.

Or, before performing the raises, make a series of several sets of pulldowns with a wide grip so that the large round muscle of the back, which is full of blood, gives a feeling of contact with the inside of the hands.

In this embodiment, the abduction will be carried out exclusively due to the middle delt. By learning to do this, you will no longer have problems getting into the middle head. Forget about lateral raises with 20 kg dumbells. We see fans of such projectiles with inexpressive deltoids every day.

Additionally, see how to cut body fat with a scientific approach.

What is more, find out how strength workout harms kids’ health.