6 Best Shoulder Isolation Exercises for Men to Get Bigger Deltoids

Want to build great deltoids? Try these six effective shoulder exercises. (Image via Unsplash /Morrow Solutions)
Shoulder exercises for deltoids (Image via Unsplash/Morrow Solutions)

When it comes to adding upper body size, nothing beats building the deltoids. While much of the focus gets placed on chest exercises and the pecs, you should spend time isolating the shoulders to get more defined delts.

Deltoids are a complex muscle group that consists of three main parts: the anterior, medial, and posterior portions. The main functions of the delts include shoulder adduction, flexion, extension, and abduction movements.

That makes them very useful in a variety of exercises. In fact, you will find the delts involved in most upper body movements.

Best Deltoid Shoulder Exercises for Men

If you want to build great deltoids, try these six exercises for men:

1) Barbell Shoulder Press

The barbell shoulder press works the front, side, and rear heads of the deltoid muscles, focusing most on the anterior or front head.

You can do this exercise while sitting or standing. You can also use a Smith machine to do shoulder presses.


Here's how you do this exercise:

  • Grip the barbell with your hands spaced about shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold the bar so that your elbows are below your hands, and keep your shoulders down and back while you brace your abs.
  • Lift the barbell straight overhead, keeping it close to your upper chest. Lower it, and repeat.

2) Barbell Push Press

This exercise is great for building strength. It also provides a way to overload the lowering or eccentric part of an exercise, making it useful for building strength when using low reps with heavy weights.


How to do it?

  • Grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull your shoulders down, back and tighten your abdominal muscles.
  • Bend your legs and squat to about a quarter of the way down.
  • Drive up explosively, and use that momentum to help you lift the weight above your head.
  • Lower it down slowly and smoothly before squatting again.

3) Barbell High Pull

This shoulder exercise is different from most compound movements, as it simultaneously works the deltoids and biceps.


Here's how you do this workout:

  • Grab a barbell with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and push your hips back.
  • Bend your knees, and lower the bar down to just above or below knee height.
  • Stand up explosively using this momentum to help you pull the bar up the front of your body to about mid-chest height. Your elbows should be above your hands.
  • Lower the bar, and repeat.

4) Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Some people like using dumbbells instead of barbells, as they allow to identify and fix strength imbalance. They also allow the limbs to move independently and more naturally.

If shoulder pressing exercises hurt your joints, try dumbbells as an alternate option.


How to do it?

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells, and hold them at shoulder level, with your palms forward, thumbs pointing inward, and abs braced.
  • Press the weights overhead so that the weights meet in front of you.
  • Lower the weights back to shoulder level, and repeat.
  • You can perform this exercise sitting or standing, using a palms-in, neutral grip, or just one dumbbell at a time.

5) Dumbbell Seated Clean and Press

This exercise is easy to learn but tough to perform. It targets all three heads of the deltoids and upper traps. If you can't find time for a long shoulder workout, this is the exercise you should do.


Here's how you do this exercise:

  • Use a flat exercise bench, and hold two dumbbells in each hand.
  • Plant your feet firmly on the floor. Sit up without rounding your lower back, and push yourself explosively off the bench to help raise the weights to shoulder-height.
  • As you do that, flip the weights so that they land in your palms, with your elbows directly below your hands.
  • Slowly lift them up above your head, and slowly lower them back down to shoulder height before repeating.

6) Arnold Press

This exercise is named after the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger and helped him build his amazing deltoids. It hits all three deltoid heads, making it a very time-efficient shoulder exercise.


To do an Arnold press:

  • Hold a pair of weights at your shoulders, with your arms bent and the palms of the hands facing forward.
  • Bring your arms in front of you so that they're almost touching.
  • Open them up again, and raise the weights above your head. Lower them again, and repeat.


No one exercise will automatically add size to your shoulders overnight. However, the aforementioned exercises, combined with proper training and nutrition, should help you get bigger deltoids.

In fact, you will likely find these basic and beginner exercises helpful as you continue to perfect your technique and gain strength. So add these workouts to your training programme, and notice the difference they can make in the appearance of your shoulders.

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Edited by Bhargav