Dynamite Deltoids


Ladies . . . . you can build beautiful, round shoulders with six old-school exercises and these other six that have a “special twist”. These are the very best shoulder movements to add strength, curve and shape to your delts in no time! Work out included!


There is nothing like a good pair of solid round shoulders to make any strapless shirt, tank top, or trendy little black dress look fabulous! It is not too late to get those shoulders into tip-top condition before sleeveless weather is over. If you are willing to lift correctly with a challenging weight and stick to it – then those strong, round, defined delts can be yours easier and quicker than you think!



In one chapter of life I was an IFBB Fitness Pro competitor (a long time ago now!) At any Fitness competition, one of the first muscle groups the judges look at are the deltoids. Whether you are competing in fitness, figure, physique, bikini or bodybuilding, you must have great delts! The shoulders should appear to be broad and round. As an IFBB Fitness Pro competitor, I loved to train my shoulders because of the strength needed for the fitness routine rounds.


My training for competitions was different then than it is now. Primarily I liked to train quickly, with moderate weight, and high reps or heavier weights and less reps. I would spend about 30-40 minutes of weight training. In addition, I focused my attention with a  concentrated cardio and routine training during competition preparation. I never utilized what is commonly known as “light weights” because that is not efficient for my body type. By using moderate (and some heavy) weights my body’s condition continually improved. I had a significant amount of muscle mass, therefore, the higher repetitions continued to increase muscular endurance, which again, helped with the high intensity routine rounds.


Now that I am done with competitions, I still like to train quickly, because really who has hours to spend in the gym if it’s not your career. Currently, I am training for functional fitness, the ability to stay faster than my boys, and longevity in life. I typically use one of these three different methods. These have been very efficient for me in developing strength in a short period of exercise time. I use Tabata training which is eight rounds of 20 seconds of movement and 10 seconds of rest. Sometimes when doing shoulders I will also add a leg variation like – lunges or squats to really kick in the calorie burn. I practice the HIIT method as well – which is High Intensity Interval Training, with a slight variation. Lastly, I like to use a circuit training style. This is defined as two to three exercises back to back without rest. When training myself or clients, I always incorporate “active rest”. I select an abdominal exercise and use that between the two body part exercises. I find this is an easy way to get in a great abdominal workout. It also keeps my heart rate slightly elevated.



Traditionally my training consists of more full body workouts. Although for this article, I will be focusing on the shoulder muscles. To begin the workout, I start with a multi-joint exercise then progress to a single joint. For example, the shoulder press and the front raise. You can use a wide variety of resistance for these exercises – such as: machine, barbell, elastics, sandbags, kettle bell, or dumbbells. For these routines I just chose the basic dumbbells. You may need to switch the weight for the different exercises. For example the weight you use for the lateral raise may be lighter than the shoulder press weight. Your body will let you know, just be a good listener.


The shoulder press is the first exercise that we will start with. A key point to remember with the press is bring the dumbbells down to where the elbows bends about 90 degrees. You can make a straight line from elbow through the shoulders to the other elbow.  If you bring the elbows down too much further this can cause stress on the shoulder joint. The shoulder press utilizes the anterior and medial deltoids along with the triceps as a secondary muscle group.




A variation from the standard shoulder press is the Arnold Press – which the man himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself “created” back in his early days of bodybuilding. The palms start facing you, the elbows rotate out to the sides and then the arms extend above the head. Reverse the order to return to the start position.

Laura Mak demonstrates Arnold Press shoulder exercise

Arnold Press



In fact you can even shorten the Arnold Press, to a Reverse Grip shoulder press. This move begins with the palms facing you and extending the arms straight above the head. Return to the start position, with the elbows parallel to the ground. This is the reverse.

Laura Mak demonstrates Shoulder press reverse grip shoulder exercise

Shoulder Press – Reverse Grip



The front raise is excellent exercise to add to a lunge or squat for a bigger calorie burn. Keep the elbows slightly bent, because you never want to lock out the arms. Lift the dumbbells up to horizontal or slightly above. If you are using dumbbells you can add a slight quarter turn with the dumbbells. The hands begin facing the sides of the body and at the top of the movement the palms of the hands face the floor. This is a movement similar to pouring a cup of coffee. This exercise concentrates primarily on the anterior deltoid. Try this variation – turn your palms up towards the sky and again lift the arms up slightly above horizontal and keep a slight bend in the elbow. Feel the difference how this targets the shoulders.

Laura Mak demonstrates front raise shoulder exercise

Front Raise and Reverse Grip Front Raise



The next group of exercises is the upright row and the rear delt lift. The upright row can be achieved with the dumbbell, barbell, or the cable. Keep the hands about shoulder width apart. If they are close it can cause stress on the shoulder joint. The most important part of this movement is to end with the elbows above the shoulders. As a trainer, many times I have corrected clients or gym members because their elbows were too low.  I see elbows that are barely shoulder level. This is not giving the maximum amount of benefit to the exerciser. The primary muscle groups used in the upright row are trapezius and posterior deltoids, along with the biceps as secondary muscle group. For a variation, try the upright row, then circle the elbow towards the back – going up, back, around, and down. This really engages all those tiny tiny muscle fibers of the shoulder.


Laura Mak demonstrates upright row shoulder exercise

Upright Row and Upright Row with Circle



The rear deltoids exercise can be performed with a machine or dumbbells. I like to use the dumbbells and do the exercise in a seated bent over position. In the seated position my back is supported and I can concentrate more on the rear deltoids. The elbows should remain in a stationary position with a slight bend through out the entire movement. The wrists should come slightly passed the shoulder line. It is important to squeeze through the shoulder blades at the top of the exercise. The primary muscles used in this exercise are the posterior deltoids. You can try both variations with the dumbbells end down towards the ground or with the palms facing towards the ground. Notice the difference on how it targets the posterior deltoid

Laura Mak demonstrates rear deltoids shoulder exercise

Rear Deltoids



An excellent variation for the rear deltoids is a high V and Low V lift. Use the same start position with the body tilted slightly forward with a bend in the knees and the abs pulled in tightly. Arms stay straight and lift up and at a slight open angle away from the ears. The next move is the Low V and the arms reach back and away from the sides. Both target the shoulders.

Laura Mak demonstrates rear deltoids with High V and low V shoulder exercise

Rear Deltoids- High V and Low V



The final exercises, which are my favorite, is the lateral or side raise and the full range of motion lateral raise. I like to use dumbbells on this exercise. Again, the elbows should remain in a slightly bent position. It can be performed with a 90-degree bend in the elbow, but this changes the concentration, and makes the exercise less difficult because the dumbbells are closer to the body. Lift the dumbbells up to horizontal or slightly above. I like to add a slight downward twist with my hands as I arrive at horizontal. Again, this is like pouring a cup of coffee. This is a more advanced step in this exercise. The primary muscle used in this exercise is the medial deltoids. For the full range lateral raise – the arms end the movement above the head with a slight bend in the elbow. The hands should be slightly in front of the head and lower slowly to the start position.

Laura Mak demonstrates side lateral raise shoulder exercise

Side Lateral Raise


Try incorporating these exercises in your shoulder workout. There are several ways to execute each of them, so try changing variables such as: a different order, add an extra squat or lunge, or  a different piece of equipment. It is important to continue shocking the system and keep performing new exercises in your work out. This will eliminate a plateau of shoulder training. Staying focused and consistent is the best formula for improving your body.


Dynamite Deltoids workout by Laura Mak with the best shoulder exercises

Build strong, sexy, and sculpted shoulders with Laura Mak’s Dynamite Deltoids Workout


Be sure to leave a comment below and let me know how you workout goes!


For more fitness fun join me in my Living Fit Now Online Coaching or the Living Fit Now Phone Coaching. Both are great options to work with me, even if you don’t live in my city. We can set up a complimentary consultation to see which program will fit you best.


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It will really make me SMILE really really big 🙂

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