Top 10 Barbell Shoulder Exercises For Growth

Dumbbells, barbells, KBs, machines, and bands are great for building solid and massive shoulders. However, if you want to strengthen your shoulders with only barbells, you can read this article. Here, I’ve shared the ten best barbell shoulder exercises to help you gain strength, mobility, and mass.

The shoulder is a group of three “deltoid” muscles; front delt, medial delt, and rear delt. And to build muscular and stronger shoulders, you’ll have to hit them all, and you can do that with the help of barbell exercises that I’ve compiled in this article.

If you want more variations in your shoulder training, you can combine bodyweight, dumbbell, and barbell exercises. And for that, you can save the following workouts.

How do you train your shoulders with a barbell?

You can train your shoulder with various barbell exercises, such as overhead press, barbell lateral raise, front raises, shrug, and upright row.

The barbell allows you to lift heavier loads during the workout and promotes hypertrophy over time. It is excellent equipment for progressive overload1 Progression of volume load and muscular adaptation during resistance exercise – European Journal of Applied Physiology and muscle growth.

List of The Best Barbell Exercises for Massive Shoulders

Here’s a quick overview of the top 10 shoulder exercises you can do with a barbell.

  1. Front Barbell Overhead Press
  2. Behind The Neck Overhead Press
  3. Barbell Front Raises
  4. Single-Arm Kneeling Landmine Press
  5. Landmine Lateral Raises
  6. Leaning Over Barbell Lateral Raises
  7. Barbell Upright Row
  8. Barbell Rear Delt Row
  9. Chest Supported Row
  10. Barbell Shrug

Okay, let’s see how to do the above barbell shoulder workouts with the step-by-step guide.

1. Front Barbell Overhead Press

Barbell Workout for Shoulder
Overhead Shoulder Press

The front barbell shoulder press is one of the crucial workouts for stability and growth.

The overhead press boosts power and strength, enhances balance and muscle coordination, and improves overall performance.2 Weightlifting Overhead Pressing Derivatives: A Review of the Literature – Sports Medicine (Auckland, NZ)

How to perform:

  1. Insert the desired weight into the bar and grab it with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Stand straight with your back straight and feet hip-width apart.
  3. Hold the bar at the front shoulder with your elbows pointing down and your palms are facing up. That’s the starting point.
  4. Brace your core, inhale, and press the bar overhead until your arms are straight upward.
  5. Exhale, pause for a moment at the top, then return the weight to the start in a controlled manner.
  6. Do not let your wrist arc; keep them firm so you can perform each rep safely and effectively.
  7. If you’re a beginner, do two sets of 10 reps each. And perform four sets of 8-10 reps each if you’re an intermediate.

2. Behind The Neck Barbell Shoulder Press

You can do almost the same steps to perform behind the neck press.

You’ll only have to hold the bar on the back of your shoulders instead of the front.

“Behind the neck press” works the same muscles as the overhead press but allows you to activate muscles at a different angle.

However, it also works on the back that reduces the stress off your deltoids.

But you can combine it with the military press to strengthen and build muscular shoulders.


3. Barbell Front Raise

The barbell front raise is a real deal for the front part of your shoulder “anterior deltoid.” It strengthens the muscles and builds solid shoulders.

How to:

  1. Holding a barbell with an overhand and hip-width grip, stand in the shoulder-width stance.
  2. Keep your arms straight in front of your thighs with your palms are facing in.
  3. Raise your arms in front of you until the bar is at or above your chest height.
  4. Slowly return the weight to the initial position. That’s your first rep; perform 6 to 10 reps.
  5. Suggested sets for beginners – 2, for intermediate and advanced – 4.

4. Single-arm Half-Kneeling Landmine Press

The kneeling landmine press is another muscle-building workout for the front shoulder you can do with a barbell only.

You can do it when you don’t wish to perform behind the neck press.

How to do:

  1. Place one end of the bar in the corner and put the desired weight into another.
  2. Grab the bar with your right hand, sit on your knee and move one step back so you can lean forward. Keep your one foot flat on the floor so you can generate maximum strength.
  3. Hold the bar at your shoulder height and keep your back straight.
  4. Press the bar up until your arm is straight.
  5. Pause for a second at the top and then lower to the starting point. That’s one rep!
  6. Do a couple of sets of ten to 12 reps each, on each side.

5. Landmine Lateral Raises

If you want to build defined shoulders, you should definitely do exercises for the side delt. And to build side muscles of your shoulders with a barbell, landmine lateral raise is one of the best exercises you can ever do.

It works unilaterally, stimulates side deltoid, and increases strength and stability.

How to perform:

  1. Place the one end of the bar in the corner of the wall.
  2. Insert the appropriate weight into another end of the barbell.
  3. Stand to the right side, grab the bar firmly with your right hand and keep your arm in front of your stomach.
  4. Holding the bar, raise your arm to your side until you feel the contraction in your side delt.
  5. Return the weight to the start to complete your first rep!
  6. Shoot for four sets of eight to ten reps each.

6. Leaning Over Barbell Lateral Raises

If you want to isolate your side delt more specifically, you can incorporate leaning over barbell lateral raise in your shoulder workout routine.

To do this, you need a small barbell to hold and do it efficiently.

How to do it:

  1. Grab an empty bar in your right hand and stand beside the rack with your feet together.
  2. Hold the rack with your left hand for support and lean against it until your arm is straight.
  3. Keep your working arm straight at your sides with your palm is facing inward. That’s the start.
  4. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, raise the bar to the side until your arm is at your shoulder level.

7. Barbell Upright Row

The barbell upright row is one of the best exercises for building shoulder muscle.

It is a compound workout that works simultaneously on the shoulder and upper back.3 Effect of grip width on electromyographic activity during the upright row– Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

Upright Row Shoulder Workout
Upright Row

To build up a muscular upper body, you can include your strength and hypertrophy program.

How to do it:

  1. Put the appropriate weight into the bar, grab it firmly with an overhand grip.
  2. Stand upright with your back straight, chest up and core tight.
  3. Keep the bar in front of your thighs with your arms are straight and palms facing in. That’s the start.
  4. Pull the bar toward your neck as high as possible.
  5. Hold for a couple of seconds at the top, then slowly lower the bar down. That is your first rep.
  6. Do three to four sets of 6 to 10 reps each, depending on your fitness.

8. Barbell Rear Delt Row

Working on the rear part of your shoulders is pretty crucial for developing well-shaped shoulders, and the barbell rear delt row workout will help you do that.

The rear delt row works simultaneously on the back of your shoulders and upper trap.

If you build a shredded upper body, you can include it in your barbell home workout routine.

How to:

  1. Insert the plates into the barbell and stand in front of it.
  2. Hold the bar with your hands two times wider than hip-width apart.
  3. Pushing your hips back, bring your torso forward until your chest is parallel to the floor. Your knees should be slightly bent.
  4. Keeping your core tight and back straight, pull the bar up close to your chest.
  5. Focusing on your shoulder blades, pause for a couple of seconds and lower the weight down. There’s one rep!
  6. Aim for three sets of 6 to 10 reps.

9. Chest Supported Row For Rear Shooulder

The chest-supported row workout also allows you to build the rear shoulder with a barbell.

If you have a flexible bench at home, you can follow the below steps to perform the chest supported row.

How to do it:

  1. Place a bar under the top of the bench.
  2. Set the bench at a 45-degree incline and lie on your chest with your face down.
  3. Grab the bar with an overhand and hip-width grip.
  4. Squeeze your shoulders together to row the weight up as close to your chest.
  5. Hold there for a moment, and then let the bar down until your arms are straight. There’s one rep
  6. Aim for three sets of 6 to 10 reps each.

10. Barbell Shoulder Shrug

The barbell shrug is one of the best exercises that strengthen the shoulder, neck, and upper trap.

It also helps you fix lousy posture and reduces the risk of injuries by strengthening your shoulder and neck muscles.

How to perform shoulder shrug:

  1. Assume a shoulder-width stance with your back upright.
  2. Pick a loaded barbell and hold it with an overhand grip, hands wider than hip-width.
  3. Let your arms hang in front of your hips with your palms are facing inward.
  4. Squeezing your shoulder muscles, raise your shoulder blades, and then drop them down.
  5. Repeat for the required number of sets and reps.

Barbell Shoulder Workout Routine for Strength, Mobility, and Gain

Summary

Duration: 45-60 minutes

Rest between sets: 1-3 minutes

Part 1

  • Front Barbell Overhead Press: 12, 10, 8, and 6 reps
  • Barbell Front Raises: 10, 8 and 8 reps
  • Landmine Lateral Raises: 10, 8 and 8 reps
  • Barbell Rear Delt Row: 10, 8 and 8 reps
  • Barbell Upright Row: 10, 8 and 8 reps
  • Shoulder Shrug: 10, 8 and 8 reps

Part 2

  • Military Press: 12, 10, 8, and 6 reps
  • Barbell Front Raises: 10, 8 and 8 reps
  • Leaning Over Lateral Raises: 10, 8 and 8 reps
  • Barbell Upright Row: 10, 8 and 8 reps
  • Chest Supported Row: 10, 8 and 8 reps
  • Barbell Shrug: 10, 8 and 8 reps

More Barbell Exercises:

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References