by Men's Healthy List Staff
ripped guy flexing well defined arms and shoulders is a long time Progentra user

Nicknamed the Arnold press, this shoulder-building exercise can put some serious muscle in your biceps, but it has to be done the right way. Before launching his movie career, Arnold had already racked up seven Mr. Olympia titles that were a direct result of his amazing physique. But, how did he do this? Which pages from his book, or other muscular men’s, can you use to your own advantage?

First, let’s talk about his famous shoulder-building exercise: The Arnold press. This unique method of doing the overhead press can build muscle at an astonishing rate. The Arnold press targets all of the sections of the deltoids, which is the muscle that bulges, if you’re lucky, at the top of your upper arm. According to men’s health fitness director BJ Gaddou, men work the front delts while doing bench presses and pushups, but most miss the lateral and back sections. These are crucial components to your workout because the medial head adds width and thickness to your shoulder, while the posterior head supports the posture, shoulder joint, and the big muscles during pull-ups, farmer’s walks, rows, and deadlifts.


This move will give you the growth you’re looking for, but it comes with risks.

Mentioned before, this move targets all three sections of the deltoid. This is beneficial but it also may stress your shoulder joints so much you could sustain damage later in life. In addition, shoulder impingement may occur as you rotate the weights, which could lead to internal muscle rotation. A very unpleasant shoulder injury.


If you have any shoulder pain, do not try the Arnold press at first, and if you do try it later, be very cautious. To begin, strengthen your mid-back muscles with banded external rotations and Superman holds. After you have done these for a while, do thoracic spine stretches, and foam rolling, to build your thoracic strength. A great substitute for an actual Arnold press that may have less risk of damage can be found by looking up Ron Williams’ video that shows an adjusted lateral raise.


If doing Arnolds is on your bucket list, here are some things you should keep in mind.

Don’t over-rotate the weights

Keep your palms facing each other, though this isn’t mandatory when you are at the top of the lift

Start with low weights (three sets, 6 to 8 reps)

After you are completely sure you are doing the Arnolds correctly, use a variety of loads to get the needed variety and cycle through reps between low, medium, and high. While you do these, check in with your body often. Extremely large shoulders aren’t useful if you can’t rotate your shoulder because your rotator cuff is messed up.


Now, that we’ve discussed the benefits and drawbacks of getting massive arms like Arnold, let’s talk about some other ways to build your shoulders.

buff guy doing heavy dumbbell shoulder pressesFirst, you should know that not everyone works out the same. Whether the differences show up in the sets, reps, weights, or rest periods, everyone does it differently.

Here are five shoulder workouts that could really boost your muscles. If you like one, try it for 4-8 weeks, then go back to your regular workout or try another from the five.

Notes before you start

Do as many warm-up sets as needed, but don’t take them to muscle failure

Pick a weight that will let you reach muscle failure by the target-rep attached to the exercise

If you have a spotter, do some forced reps using your heaviest sets when doing overhead presses

If you don’t have a partner, do a dropset when you reach your last set, lower the weight about 25 percent when you hit muscle failure, then continue to a second muscle failure.


Delt-Mass Routine

Do 4 sets with a 6,6,8,20 reps pattern. Rest for two minutes.

Upright Barbell Row

Do 3 sets with a 8,8,10 reps pattern. Rest for two minutes.

Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise

Do three sets with an 8,10,12 reps pattern. Rest for one minute.

Side Lateral Raise

Do three sets with an 8,10,12 reps pattern. Rest for one minute.

Standing Front Barbell Raise Over Head

Do three sets with an 8,10,12 reps patterns. Rest for one minute.


If you want to pre-exhaust your delts, these exercises will help.

This pre-exhaust failure will help you take your delts to total failure so that your triceps won’t be a limiting factor. To perform this procedure you fatigue the delt-heads using single-joint movements than while your joints are strong, complete some multi-joint overhead presses. Before your triceps reach failure, your delts should.

When doing the single-joint exercises avoid the temptation to put on too much weight. This will stress your elbow joints. A machine version may be safer if you are fatigued from heavier lifts.


Exercises included in the pre-exhaust workout include:

muscular guy doing lateral raises in the gymStanding Low-Pulley Deltoid Raise

Do four sets with 8-10 reps and rest for 60-90 seconds.

Barbell Front Raise

Do three sets with 10 reps and rest for 60-90 seconds.

Reverse Machine Flyes

Do three sets with 10 reps and rest for 60-90 seconds.

Machine Shoulder (Military) Press

Do three sets with 8-10 reps and rest for two minutes.

Upright Barbell Row

Do three sets with 10-12 reps and rest for two minutes.


There are many exercises you can use to work your shoulder muscles. Start slow and build up to higher reps, weights, and try different exercises to build the muscles you want. Stronger, larger shoulders are well within your reach. With some preparation, safety knowledge, and determination you may even manage some Arnold presses. Good luck.

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