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“As lifters know, pain is weakness leaving the body. I’m not talking about bad joint pain or pain from that herniated disk. I’m talking about good old-fashioned muscle burning like that of a furnace.”

Shoulders. Delts like cannon balls. Traps like oranges stuffed under your skin. Rear delts that look like they hurt because they are so pumped up. That’s what Animals want: huge freaky shoulders that add strength to all lifts and width to that v-taper. All things considered, shoulders may be one of the meanest looking muscle groups on the human body. You’re not going to get those huge delts by sitting on your ass looking at the weights. You gotta move iron, eat right, and train your balls off. Heavy compound movements make the difference between being a pup and a mean bulldog.

As lifters know, pain is weakness leaving the body. I’m not talking about bad joint pain or pain from that herniated disk. I’m talking about good old-fashioned muscle burning like that of a furnace. I’m talking about that muscle fascia-expanding pump, the kind that hurts so bad that you need to do it again just so that when you look at yourself in the mirror, you know you’re not a punk. Hard shoulder training can burn the shit out of those shoulders and make some grown men cry like a newborn.

If you are a crier, stop reading and get out of articles on Instead, go check out this month’s edition of Ladies Home Journal. There may be a shoulder routine in there that may work for you. Work is the key word. Hard work is what it’s going to take to get those shoulders looking freaky. By using heavy compound movements and training properly, time is the only thing holding you back. Today’s preparation determines tomorrow’s achievement. So work hard, put your time in, lift intelligently and freaky shoulders will be yours.

Doing heavy compound movements does not mean putting all the weights in the gym on the bar and trying to press it. It also doesn’t mean swinging the weight all over the place in an effort to move it. What it does mean is leaving your ego at the door and using weights that you can handle with good, safe, strict form. You may be thinking that doesn’t sound like the way an animal would train. Well guess what? Most animals walk on all fours and lick their ass. To be a true bad ass and make real injury-free gains you have to take it on the chin like a man and move a weight you can handle using correct form. Believe me, it’s much easier to cheat and swing the weight then it is to stay focused and use correct strict form.

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One of the keys to achieving freakish size is time in the gym along with consistency. Having injuries from poor form will always interfere with time and consistency. So all of you “know it alls” out there, do it your way and when you get hurt, remember that I told you so. Look man, I’ll be the first to admit when I was younger I did not always have great form. I even had trouble leaving my ego at the door. After having one minor injury and seeing it keep me out of the gym, I only use good form today. I hope you will learn from my mistake because when you’re pushing yourself to the limit day in and day out, your body has to endure the stress of the weights. In the off-season, I believe in doing a lot of heavy presses. By “heavy” I mean weights that you have to struggle for the last few reps in the 6 to 14 rep range. By “struggle” I mean you should completely fail on the last rep or two and need a spot to finish the set.

Barbell Press
One of my favorite pressing movements is good old-fashioned standing front barbell press. If you have ever seen “Pumping Iron”, you know what I am talking about when I say old-fashioned. This movement is great because you are forced to use the entire body to complete the movement. The delts are the main muscle being used, but since you have so many other muscle groups working, the movement can cause muscle growth all over your body. Make sure to stagger your stance when performing this movement. That means keep your stance at shoulder width and drop one leg back to keep the lower back in a safe position. By keeping your feet together you place a hell of a lot of stress on the lower back. Not to mention it’s an awkward position for the lower back when you feet are together.

Side Laterals
My next favorite mass gainer for shoulders is the side lateral raise. Again, be a man and use proper form. With this movement, it’s easy to use shitty form and possibly injure yourself. There are a million variations on the side lateral, but we are talking about standing side laterals here. While standing straight up, you want to bring your arms up with dumbbells in hand as if you were pouring out two big pitchers of water. That means that as you have your arms slightly bent. Lead with your elbows and make sure that the stress stays on the side head of the delts. As you bring the weights up, turn your arms as if you were dumping water out of two pitchers. At the top of the movement your pinky should be up almost towards the ceiling and the thumb should be almost facing the floor. I’m talking about a 90 degree angle.

Rear Laterals
Next on the list would be rear laterals. While in the standing position, keep your upper body perpendicular to the floor and raise the dumbbells up on each side, straight out from the body. While bringing the dumbbells up, be sure to squeeze the hell out of the rear delts at the top of the movement. Getting a full contraction makes all the difference in the world. So like I said earlier, take it on the chin and do it right from the start. The heavy weight will come with time and consistency.

Barbell Upright Rows
I like to finish my off-season routine with barbell upright rows. I vary my grip taking a narrow grip to incorporate more trap involvement in the movement. A wide grip involves less traps and more delt involvement.

Barbell Shrugs
Lastly, I turn to the heavy barbell shrugs. Again, vary your grip to supply more stimulus to the traps. Remember slow and steady wins the race. With that being said you still have to attack the weights hard, day in and day out. Making sure that form is number one because longevity is everything to putting on freakish size and strength.

Here are a few examples of shoulder routines that I would use:

Exercise - Sets - Reps

Workout #1

  1. Standing barbell press 4 6-14
  2. Standing side laterals 4 6-14
  3. Bent-over rear dumbbell laterals 4 6-14
  4. Barbell upright rows 4 6-14
  5. Barbell shrugs 5 6-16

Workout #2

  1. Standing Arnold press 5 6-14
  2. Bent barbell rows (to the throat) 4 6-12
  3. One-arm side laterals 4 6-12
  4. Dumbbell upright rows 4 6-12
  5. Dumbbell shrugs 5 6-16

Workout #3

  1. Seated side laterals 4 6-12
  2. Front lateral raises 4 6-12
  3. Rear delt machine 4 6-12
  4. Seated military press 4 6-12
  5. Barbell shrugs 4 6-16

Tags: Shoulders

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