HOW DO I BUILD STRONG SHOULDERS?

Building strong shoulders is a common goal for many of our clients at Lincoln Nutrition & Fitness. It’s definitely not an easy task and often feels like an adventurous pursuit of the mythical unicorn. 

Let’s face it, building strength in the shoulders can be a difficult journey, often progress is slow, tedious and if done incorrectly, can lead to injury.

There are many benefits to having strong shoulders. Strong shoulders are beneficial for safely performing everyday tasks such as lifting objects overhead, playing with your kids, playing sports, makes it less likely to injure yourself during exercise, and not to mention you’ll look great in your clothes!

I want to help you build strong shoulders safely, effectively and efficiently!

STEP 1 – DETERMINE YOUR GOAL AND SET BENCHMARKS

To be able to effectively build a successful strength program, a goal is highly important and having benchmarks to shoot for are also highly beneficial to track progress and success. 

These are the most common benchmarks and goals we use for determining shoulder strength & health at Lincoln Nutrition & Fitness. 

  • Shoulder Press
    • Men – Bodyweight
    • Women – 75% Bodyweight
  • Bench Press
    • Men – 1.25 x Bodyweight
    • Women – 95% Bodyweight
  • Strict Pullup
    • Men & Women – 3 consecutive repetitions
  • Bent-over Row
    • Men – Bodyweight
    • Women – 75% Bodyweight

STEP 2 – DETERMINE THE LENGTH OF YOUR TRAINING PROGRAM

Shoulder strength takes more time to develop than lower body strength, so you’ll need to be patient and pick a length of time that will be long enough to see results. For a shoulder specific training program I recommend 12 to 16 weeks. 

STEP 3 – DETERMINE HOW MANY TRAINING DAYS PER WEEK YOU’LL COMMIT TO THE PROGRAM

Building strong shoulders can be tricky and if done incorrectly can lead to injury. To safely improve shoulder strength without causing overuse injuries, I recommend a maximum of two upper body training days per week with one to two recovery days in between. 

Note – If you’re following a program like CrossFit which is generally more shoulder intensive and varied, ask your coach to modify your CrossFit workouts so you don’t overload your shoulders.

STEP 4 – CHOOSE PUSHING EXERCISES

When programming a shoulder strength routine, it’s best to choose one vertical pushing exercise and one horizontal pushing exercise to perform once per week. 

A shoulder press is an example of a vertical pushing exercise, and the bench press is an example of a horizontal pushing exercise.

Including these different pushing angles in your programming helps strengthen your muscles through different planes. 

STEP 5 – CHOOSE PULLING EXERCISES

In order to keep muscular balance, it’s important to compliment pushing exercises with pulling exercises. 

Choose one vertical and one horizontal pulling exercise to pair with your vertical pushing and pulling exercise each day. 

For example, on day one you might choose to perform shoulder presses and strict pull-ups and on day two perform bench presses and bent over rows.

STEP 6 – CHOOSE YOUR SETS AND REPS

It’s important to approach your training in three different phases. First, build a neurological and muscular base, then build muscle, and finally increase strength. These phases determine your sets and reps for the program.

In the muscular and neurological foundation phase your exercises should consist of one to three sets of ten to fifteen reps with long recovery periods in between each set.

Then in the hypertrophy phase, perform three to four sets of six to twelve reps with moderate recovery between sets.

Finally, in the last weeks add strength with more traditional weight training containing four to seven sets of one to five reps with short recovery periods. 

If you’re interested in building strong shoulders, we have done all the programming work for you! Our BOULDER SHOULDER PROGRAM is a 14 week supplemental program containing two shoulder training sessions per week designed for beginners to advanced clients!

Follow these steps if you’re ready to build strong shoulders! 

  1. Check out the Boulder Shoulder Sample Program below. 
  2. Find The 14 Week Boulder Shoulder Program here. WHICH IS ON SALE FOR A LIMITED TIME!

Note – this program is intended to be a supplemental program to your current exercise routine. I highly recommend meeting with a personal trainer or a coach to modify your current exercise routine as needed!

  1. Schedule a free goal session with an LNF coach here!

COACH PHIL KNIEP

Precision Nutrition L1 Coach

CrossFit Level 2 Trainer

Endurance Certified

Mobility Certified

Scaling Certified

3x CrossFit Games Qualifier

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