Bigger shoulders... everyone wants them, but hardly anyone knows how to train for them. The result: overdeveloped front delts, slopped physiques and tendonitis.
Although I was somewhat blessed in that department, I still learned a few things over the years that had a tremendous impact on my shoulder development.
Tip #1 - It's ok to train shoulders with a lot of volume
Shoulders can handle volume, and I mean lots of it. I believe that part of my quality shoulder development has to do with being a swimmer until the age of 25.
Doing thousands of reps every single day gave me a good base with regards to capillarization and blood flow. When I started lifting weights my shoulders grew immediately.
That being said, if shoulders are a focus of yours, you can definitely train them twice a week, You can also work them once a week as a separate muscle group and then combine rear delts with back workouts, and medial and front delts with chest for a second session.
Tip #2 - Add the clean and press to your training
Learn the clean and press. If you have somebody qualified to teach you, the clean and press is a great tool that will stimulate the nervous system.
Doing a couple sets at the start of your shoulder workout will greatly improve the effectiveness of the actual hypertrophy work. There is no need to go heavy. Try 4 sets of 8 at 60%.
Tip #3 - Apply inward pressure when pressing
Bend the bar together. All to often, the shoulder press becomes a triceps press. This isn't wrong, but it's not what you are trying to accomplish.
If you are working with a barbell, always apply inward pressure as if you were bending the bar together. If you use dumbbells, always keep the thumb lower than the rest of the hand.
Tip #4 - Slow your shoulder reps down
Slow it down. That goes for any exercise, but shoulder training in particular is often done in a sloppy and rushed fashion. This leads to inflamed shoulders, overdeveloped traps and general discontent.
If you initiate the positive phase through momentum or inertia the body does not get a chance to activate the muscle fibers properly. Always create tension on the part of the shoulder you are trying to train before even starting the motion.
Tip #5 - Shorten and tuck your abs
Tuck the abs in. If you watch the majority of people doing seated dumbbell presses from the side you will notice that their lower back is far away from the chair. In fact, they are always in an incline bench position. This is great for chest, but not so great for training shoulders.
Slide all the way back and shorten your abs. This will provide stability and proper shoulder recruitment.
Tip #6 - Initiate medial delt exercises with the elbow
Move the elbow. The elbow, not the wrist, should be the one initiating any exercises targeting the medial delt.
Most trainees think of moving the wrist first. This leads to an insolvent of the traps. The body always registers intention, so if the first muscle moved is not your target muscle, your set is pretty much done (this goes for all exercises).
Instead of ripping up the wrists, imagine having strings at your elbows, pulling them toward the ceiling.
Tip #7 - For side raises, tip your dumbbells
Turn the wrist. The medial delt works best when the dumbbells are angled slightly downward.
So when you start any type of side raise have the dumbbells pointing at one o'clock/eleven o'clock respectively.
Tip #8 - Toss upright rows aside
Do not do barbell upright rows. I know, I know...." I know this dude he is huge and does upright barbell rows, and besides, bodybuilders have always done barbell upright rows." True, but by that logic we would still travel in horse carriages.
Upright barbell rows are tough on the wrist and shoulder (especially when trainees pull above chest level). Also, they do not allow for the downward angle described in point 7.
Instead try v-pulls. Stand in a stagger step, slightly leaning forward, dumbbells in front you with he palms facing back. Start moving the elbows up and out outward so that the dumbbells follow a V pattern. Drop the thumbs going upward.
Tip #9 - Work your upper back
Do not neglect the upper back. The majority of shoulder injuries comes from overload of the frontal part of the torso through pressing while not creating a properly balanced back. Reverse shrugs, face pulls, j-pulls and wall slides should be done before any upper body workout.
That should do it, give these tips a go and let me know how you do!