How to Get Monster Shoulders

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Broadening your upper body is the easiest (and most effective) way to make your waist look slimmer. But you can’t do it with machine lifts and lateral raises alone. These four classic lifts will blast your delts, building the mass you crave.

1. Modified handstand pushup

Why it works: Similar to the overhead press, but you lift your whole body instead of just a bar, so you use more muscle fibers overall.

Do it: Get into pushup position, resting your feet on a bench or boxes. Walk your hands back so that your butt points up in the air and your torso forms a straight line. Lower your body as far as you can or until your head touches the floor. Do these after your main lift of the day using multiple sets of low reps, and treat the exercise like skill practice—do every rep perfectly and with control. When your form starts to break down, stop.

2. Lever press

Why it works: Forcing one shoulder at a time to take on a heavy load trains your shoulder muscles hard while also hitting your entire core.

Do it: Wedge the end of a barbell into a corner and load the opposite end with a weight plate. Hold the tip of the bar in your right hand with your left leg forward. From there, press the bar straight overhead, twisting your torso to the left. Do two or three sets of eight to 12 on each arm.

3. Muscle and clean press

Why it works: You take your shoulder through a full range of motion, and can lift heavier for max results.

Do it: Hold a barbell with a shoulder-width grip in front of your thighs. Use momentum—but don’t bend your hips—to row the bar up in front of your body, raising your upper arms until parallel with the floor. Let the force you generated help you to quickly flip your forearms and press the bar overhead. Work up to two heavy sets of five to eight reps.

4. Dumbbell clean and press

Why it works: As with the muscle clean and press, you train your muscles through their full range of motion—only this time you’re doing it with the added instability of dumbbells, so your shoulders have an extra challenge.

Do it: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, bend at the hips so the weights lower to just above your knees. Explosively extend your hips and knees and “shrug,” powerfully pulling the weights up to chest level. Then flip your wrists over so that the momentum carries the dumbbells to shoulder level. Press the weights overhead. (You should finish in the starting position of a shoulder press.) Try these as your main lift of the day, and do two to four sets of five to eight reps.

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