Best Workout for Deltoids

The Best Workout for Deltoids

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Strong arms are more than merely big biceps and triceps.

You have to have strong shoulders, too.

The muscles in your shoulders are the deltoid muscles and they do a lot for you.

Not only do they help your arms do arm things, well-defined deltoids also make your shoulders and upper arm look very fine.

Broaden your shoulders by following this deltoid workout!

But first, some learnin’.

An Introduction to Deltoids

Put your hand on your shoulder.

That fleshy bit, a little lower than your bone? That’s your deltoid muscle.

Some old-timers call it your deltoideus.deltoid anatomy posterior anterior lateral image skeleton delts deltoideus

That’s because it’s a triangular muscle, similar in shape to the Greek letter delta.

Of course, if “deltoid” is too long for you, go ahead and call them your delts.

There are three parts to each deltoid muscle, the anterior, lateral, and posterior parts.

The deltoids’ antagonist muscles are your lats, though some exercises work out both at once.

Each head of the deltoid helps you lift your arm in a different direction or to rotate your shoulders.

In fancy terms, the deltoids are responsible for shoulder abduction, extension, and flexion.

Without them, your arms would just flop at your side.

Also, your deltoids affect your posture.

If your back is rounded and your shoulders are hunched forward, there might be an imbalance between your anterior and posterior delts.

Focus on strengthening your posterior delts and your shoulders will open up!

One last thing.

The deltoids also keep your arms in their sockets.

When carrying something heavy, the weight tries to pull your humerus from your shoulders.

But the deltoids hold those bones in place.

So the delts are very important. Alas, they are often overlooked by workout programs.

Let’s fix that!

Warming Up Your Deltoids

Like any muscle, you don’t want to put a heavy strain on your delts until after you’ve got the blood flowing.

My favorite deltoid warm-up is to make circles with my arms.

Stick your arms straight out to your sides with the palms down.

Make small circles with your hands.

Gradually make larger and larger circles, until you can’t make them any larger.

Stop, then do it again, but circling the other way this time.


There are a couple of useful stretches, too.

The first hits the front of your delts.

Put your hand on a wall and push into the wall as you rotate your body away from the wall.

You’ll feel the stretch across the front of your shoulders and upper back.

Hold it for ten to twenty seconds then repeat with the other hand.

For the rear head of your deltoid, hold your arm in front of your body at shoulder height.

Use your other arm to pull the first arm into your body.

Don’t forget to do this with your other arm, too!

By the way, these stretches are an excellent way to prevent back pain from sitting at the computer for long periods of time.

Exercising Your Deltoids

Your deltoids are not the same as your abs, biceps, or leg muscles.

They fatigue easily so it’s easy to overtrain your delts.

Which means I would recommend a lower number of sets with not too many reps per set.

2 sets of 5 to 8 reps for each exercise is a good target.

You won’t get bored with this short of a workout. Why not find a pair of wireless headphones to add some music anyway?

When you’re more experienced you can add a third or fourth set.

If you start to feel too stressed, feel free to back off and let your muscles recover.

Shoulder injuries are no joke.

Standing or Sitting?

Four of the following five exercises can be done either standing or seated.

Personally, I prefer to stand while I do these exercises.

You’re a little less stable while standing so you have to engage your core to stand up straight.

It’s just a little added bonus to your workout.

However, if you need to, you can do them while seated with no issue.

Overhead Press

There are two ways to hit your delts with a standing press.

Use a barbell or use dumbbells.

The movement is the same for both, but there is a difference in starting position.

In both cases, keep your elbows flared out. Your elbows, shoulders, and back should all be in one line.

Also, keep your palms facing forward.

With dumbbells, start with them next to your shoulders.

With a barbell, start with the bar behind your head, on your back.

Push the weight straight up but don’t lock your elbows.

Pause at the top then slowly lower the weight until you’ve reached the starting position.

Keep those elbows flared!

A variant you can do with dumbbells is to start with your palms facing inward and rotate as you lift so your palms face forward at the top.

Forward Raises

Barbells are too long and unwieldy for this workout, so drop the bar and grab some dumbbells or kettlebells.

Or you can use resistance bands. Attach them to the wall behind you, about as high as your hands.

Start with the weight at your side.

Your palm orientation doesn’t matter too much, so hold the dumbbells however is most comfortable.

Keep your arm mostly straight and raise it directly forward.

Pause when your arm is parallel to the floor then lower your arm.

Don’t let gravity win! Go slow.

You can either alternate arms or work them both at the same time.

Lateral Raises

Lateral raises are very similar to forward raises, except you move your arms away from your body to the side instead.

You can use either dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands here, too.

The instructions are the same.

Start with your arms at your sides, lift them to be parallel to the floor, then slowly lower them.

For an added kick to the workout, superset the forward and lateral raises.

When you finish one, perform the other after only a ten-second rest.

Bent-Over Lateral Raise

This exercise’s movement is similar to the lateral raise, except your torso is parallel to the ground and the arms start hanging down.

You can do this while lying face-down on a bench, while standing, whatever is most comfortable.

Start with the palms facing each other then raise the weight to your side while keeping your elbow slightly bent.

Pause at the top then low your arms, slowly.

This exercise focuses on the posterior part of the deltoid muscle, so don’t neglect it!

Neutral Grip Chin Up

Let’s finish off with something similar to a pull-up.

However, since our focus is on the deltoids, your form has to be a little bit different.

Grab the pull-up bar with a neutral grip, where your palms are facing each other.

Not every pull-up bar has that option. This one does and can most likely fit in the doorway to your room.

Keep your shoulders down and back and lean back. That part is important for hitting your delts.Pull up chin up neutral grip bar home door deltoids exercise

Pull yourself up until your chest reaches the bar, pause at the top, then lower yourself back down.

Don’t bounce at either the top or the bottom!

You’ll likely be able to do fewer chin-up reps than you could do with the other exercises.

That’s fine. Just do what you can.

When you’re done with the chin-ups, congratulations!

You finished the routine!

A Word on the Rotator Cuffs

If you’ve heard of one muscle that’s prone to injury, chances are that it’s the rotator cuff.

It’s a weak yet important muscle that works alongside the delts, which means that you will be activating it with this workout.

That’s why you don’t want to go too heavy with the delts.

They can take it, but the rotator cuffs might not.

If shoulder exercises hurt, even slightly, stop working out and let your rotator cuff heal.


The deltoids are an oft-overlooked muscle but they are important for your arms and your posture.

Your delts do fatigue easily, so you have to watch out for overtraining.

However, this does mean that this deltoid workout routine doesn’t take much time.

A little bit of effort for great results.

Plus, this workout will make you look great in sleeveless shirts!

The Best Workout for Deltoids