This Dumbbell Workout Rocks Your Shoulders in 20 Minutes

Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.
·3 mins read

From Men's Health

It doesn’t take hours upon hours to build the big boulder shoulders you’ve always wanted. In fact, you can get a quality shoulder workout done in just 20 minutes.

Why? Because shoulders get plenty of work through most of your other training. If you’re doing bench presses and pushups, your anterior deltoids are coming into play. If you’re doing barbell and dumbbell rows in your workouts (as you should be!), you’re firing up your rear delts more than you think; your rear delts are a key muscle in driving your upper arm behind your torso. Even exercises like biceps curls and skullcrushers demand that your shoulder musculature fires up, along with your midback, to stabilize the joint throughout the motion.

All of this means you don’t need a ton of targeted shoulder work; in fact, you need to be cautious to not overtrain your shoulders, aware that the muscle group needs time to recover. Sure, you could do four exercises for your chest or your back, and those larger muscle groups can handle that abuse. But your much smaller shoulder muscles may not respond as well to such volume, especially since they’re also taking so much abuse during those chest and back sessions.

Treat Your Shoulders Like an Accessory

That’s why you shouldn’t necessarily dedicate a full “day” to shoulder training. Instead, one of the best approaches to training shoulders is to treat them like an “accessory” integrating a short shoulder workout after you’ve trained, say, chest or back.

This approach lets you target your shoulders without overtraining them, shielding them from injury while still helping you build cannonball delts. It’s also the best way to use this 20-minute shoulder session.

The Workout

You can do this dumbbell shoulder workout once or twice a week. It’s best used after you’ve finished either a heavy chest or back workout. Focus on technique for all exercises; that’s far more important than picking up the biggest dumbbells you can find. Use medium-weight dumbbells.

Do each exercise in order. Rest 60 seconds between each set, and 90 seconds between each exercise. If you’re doing this workout after a heavy chest or back workout, you won’t need to warm up. If you’re doing this as a standalone session, warm up with three 1-minute sets of lying Superman holds and 1 minute of jumping jacks.

Half-Kneeling Dumbbell Halo

Instead of leading with an overhead press, start by attacking the entire shoulder girdle and challenging stability. Do 2 sets of half-kneeling halos, aiming for 12 to 16 reps per set. Switch the direction of your halo rotation every two reps, and focus on keeping your abs tight. (Have a kettlebell? You can use that or a dumbbell for this movement.)

Dumbbell Military Press

Now you’ll attack an overhead motion. Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps. Keep your core and glutes tight, and make sure you’re not arching your back.

Floor Lateral Raise

Finish with two sets of floor lateral raises, a favorite of fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. Do 10 to 12 reps each set, focusing on squeezing your shoulders every rep.

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