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Building Great Deltoids

*Please note: it needs to be clarified that there is a difference between deltoids (delts) and shoulders. The shoulder is the joint and the deltoid is the muscle in which surrounds that joint and allows it to move in certain ways.


Fitness and bodybuilding is a lot about image. Nothing can give the perception and image of a healthy, strong body like a good pair of deltoids. They give life to the upper arm and show separation of the triceps and biceps. They also make the waist appear smaller as well and give depth to the upper back. Great delts in most cases are contingent with a nice body.


To know how to achieve great delts, one needs to know about the muscle first. It is comprised of 3 main sets of fibers: anterior (front), middle/lateral (side), and posterior (rear). The action of the deltoid muscle as a whole is shoulder abduction, flexion, and extension. Learning these important factors will allow a person to think of new ways of hitting the muscle and training it effectively.


Interesting fact to include is the deltoid muscle got its name from its triangular shape being like that of the Greek letter Delta.


When it comes to training the deltoids, there are many ways to hit the muscle directly and indirectly. Since people use the muscle for many different movements in the gym (bench press, push-ups, pull ups, deadlifts), some people actually avoid any isolated training on them. One can still build big strong deltoids this way, but isolated training is the way to go if you want deltoids that are above the rest.


Some very effective and popular delt exercises that involve pushing and pulling include:


  • Seated Dumbbell Presses (primarily side and front fibers)
  • Seated Lateral Raises (side/lateral fiber)
  • Face Pulls (posterior/rear fiber)
  • Behind the Neck Barbell Press (primarily rear fiber, also hits other 2 indirectly)
  • Bent Over Lateral Raises (posterior/rear fiber)
  • Cable Side Laterals (side/lateral fiber)
  • Barbell Military Press (primarily side and front fibers)


Rep and set scheme varies per individual, but a very popular scheme as of late is doing 2 sets on each exercise, 8-12 reps per set, and 5-6 different movements.


It is an understatement to say that when you train your delts right that you “feel the burn”. A good rule of thumb to follow when training delts is, if it doesn’t feel like the muscle is falling off the girdle (set of bones that connect the arm to the shoulder on each side), you’re not doing something right.


The ugliest faces of pain are made when training the prettiest delts.


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