Boulder shoulders, 3D-delts, cannonballs… 

Whatever you want to call them, having some wide and powerful shoulders is a signal of dominance, and today we’re going to break down EXACTLY how to beef up YOUR shoulders.

We’ll be talking about the exercises to target each of your shoulder heads with the utmost intensity, as well as insider tips and tricks to get the MOST of said exercises than anyone else!

So, if you’re ready to build some 3D-delts, let’s waste no time and jump right in!

The Basics Of Building 3D-Delts

When you go about trying to sculpt an aesthetic physique, learning how to develop 3D-delts is a MUST!

Put simply, 3D-delts is when your shoulders stand out or “POP” whether people are looking the front, side, or back of you…

This is accomplished first by understanding that your shoulders are made up of 3 heads:

  • Anterior Head
  • Posterior Head
  • Lateral Head

Most people are VERY aware of the lateral head, as many a gym bro understands that in order to get wider shoulders you need to spam lateral raises.

While this is obviously a good start, developing your lateral head is quite literally only one-third of the equation!

Even more so, the guys I know who spam lateral raises and nothing else are often lost as to why their shoulders aren’t as developed as they KNOW they can be!

What they’re missing out on that you will learn today, is training ALL heads effectively so that you build not only WIDE delts but damn near 4D delts as well!

Lastly, if you’re skeptical about losing shoulder width, don’t be afraid, as not only will we look at the best exercises and tips for the lateral head but I’m also gonna let you in on a little secret…

The anterior and posterior heads of the shoulder both tie into the lateral head, meaning that if you want to develop the MAXIMUM amount of shoulder width, then you need to hit those heads as well, otherwise you’re leaving a SIGNIFICANT amount of shoulder gains on the table.

First off however, lets talk about the most important exercise for building overall shoulder MASS.

Elite Shoulder Press Tip For Mass

mike mentzer workout

Various raises (lateral raises, front raises, etc.) will only take you so far, as the weight you can use with these exercises is abysmally small compared to that of the shoulder press.

There’s no way around it, if you want MASSIVE shoulders, then look no further than doing perfect-form shoulder press!

Now, we emphasize “perfect-form” shoulder press because unfortunately most people were never taught good form and end up using a LOT of traps in their movements… This will NOT be you.

Whether you choose to do a barbell or dumbbell shoulder press, the tip I will present you will apply nonetheless.

When doing a shoulder press movement, pull your traps down and keep them there.

You can do this by ironically shrugging your shoulders right before a shoulder press and telling yourself “This is what NOT to do”, and then pulling your traps down and keeping them there the remainder of the exercise.

What this will do is take a HUGE amount of effort off the traps and instead allow the shoulders to be hyper-targeted by the shoulder press exercise.

This may mean your overall strength in the shoulder press will go down, but your shoulder GAINS will go through the roof, as they will be properly trained with a heavy compound movement.

Now, we’re going to move on to how to target each head individually, starting with the anterior head, but this shoulder tip applies to ALL shoulder exercises and should not be forgotten!

So, to recap: Starting today, on all shoulder exercises pull your traps down and keep them there for maximum shoulder gains.

Developing The Anterior Head For 3D-Delts

Starting with the anterior head, let’s make one thing clear…

Due to the anterior head being trained whilst doing other exercises like bench press, shoulder press, pushups, etc. we don’t need to train them AS hard as say the lateral or rear delt.

That said, if you want to get some truly 3D delts, then you certainly want to add one of these exercises:

  • Front Plate Raises
  • Arnold Press

With front plate raises, you’re going to grab a weight plate on the sides like a steering wheel, or even slightly under so that your palms are raised slightly upward.

Be sure to supplement with creatine to fast track your gains!

When your palms are faced slightly upward it allows you to target the front delt with much more precision than doing dumbbell front raises with your palms faced down, which unfortunately many people do.

The Arnold press is another great exercise for the anterior delt, due to it’s ability to really stretch that front delt and take it through its entire range of motion for the exercise.

Remember that with both of these exercises, you’re going to want to make sure you follow the tip from earlier and make sure you’re minimizing trap involvement for maximum shoulder gains.

Building The Lateral Head For Width

Moving onto most people’s favorite part of the shoulder to train… I’m going to show you how to get some WIDE delts.

This is one head where it’s important to apply the shoulder tip from earlier, as many people use weight that is WAY TOO HEAVY for their lateral head, and end up using a lot of assistance from their traps.

Think about it… The lateral head is a VERY small muscle compared to others on your body, and yet, you’ll see people lateral raising forty, fifty, sixty pounds and up!

The truth is, if you’re targeting the lateral head with 100% precision, it will be very hard to get past a 30-pound dumbbell on lateral raises.

Assuming you’re applying the master tip however, these are the 3 greatest exercises for the lateral head:

  • Dumbbell Lateral Raises
  • Cable Lateral Raises
  • Upright Row

Everyone is familiar with lateral raises, and using the shoulder tip from earlier, you’ll add rocket fuel to your shoulder gains.

Cable lateral raises allow you to place the MOST amount of tension on your lateral head when it’s in its contracted state, leading to some seriously wide delts.

Lastly, the upright row allows you to really contract the lateral head inward, causing the lateral head to be more compact lead to the ever-sought-after “boulder shoulders”

Targeting The Posterior Head For 3D-Delts

I’d say for about 80% of gym goers, the posterior head or rear delt, is what you should focus on if you want to build some 3D delts, and here’s why…

Most people, including you (the reader) most likely already have at least decent anterior and lateral head development due to your regime.

Unfortunately, (and this is a mistake we all make when first starting) many people often neglect the rear delt, which is a HUGE mistake!

Your rear delt ties INTO the lateral head.

This means that by neglecting the rear delt, you’re leaving another 30% of your lateral head gains on the table!

Try some of the below exercises for a couple of months, and watch your overall shoulder development skyrocket.

Here are the top 3 Exercises for rear delts:

  • Rear Delt Fly Machine
  • Cable Pull-Aparts
  • Face Pulls

Another benefit to giving the rear delt the proper training it deserves, is it will also do WONDERS for your CHEST GAINS!

Yep, you read that right, doing rear delt exercises will help with your chest gains by naturally (over time) PULLING your shoulders back, allowing your chest to tap into its fullest potential during your workouts.

This was something I noticed, specifically when doing proper form face pulls that when done before say incline press, your chest naturally is in a MUCH better position to attack bench with for example.

Building 3D-Delts: In Summary

All in all, using the shoulder master tip combined with the exercises listed in this guide, you are fully equipped to develop some insane 3D delts.

I recommend taking at least a day or two, with much lower weight than you’re used to on shoulder exercises to REALLY learn how the shoulder tip works, and from there, increase the weight till you fail in the 8-12 rep range.

Doing this ensures that you are targeting the shoulder properly, and even if you’re using less weight, you will most certainly make MUCH more shoulder gains doing so.

As always, I thoroughly hope you enjoyed this article and found the information presented within useful.

If you want even MORE great articles on meeting any and all of your fitness, bodybuilding or health goals, then make sure to check out the rest of Herculean Strength.