Bodybuilding 4 MIN READ 66 VIEWS June 7, 2024

How to Build Better Shoulder Muscles?

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Shoulder Muscles

Strong muscles surely make your upper body look attractive, but they have more to offer than just looks. Muscles in the shoulders are divided into different muscle categories, each responsible for a smooth movement of the arm. We all own a fine pair of shoulders, but what does it take to make them look muscular? 

Well, studies reveal that your muscle mass starts to decline by 3%-8% per 10 years as you hit the age of 30 and can be even higher after 60. So, you need to work consistently to maintain the toned shape and muscle mass of your shoulder muscles if your goal is to get ripped shoulders. Continue scrolling to explore the tips for achieving boulder shoulders.

Types of Shoulder Muscles and Respective Exercises

Did you know your shoulder is a complex structure composed of various muscles including deltoid and rotator cuff muscles? Understanding the shoulder muscle names and their functions is key to effectively strengthening them through targeted exercises.

The list below will help you understand your shoulder muscle anatomy and the exercises you can do to train it:

1. Deltoid Muscles

Deltoid muscles are responsible for the rounded shape of your shoulder. These muscles are structured in a triangular shape on your shoulders, resembling the inverted Greek letter delta, justifying its name. It is divided into three different parts, such as:

  1. Anterior (Front) Deltoids – If you stretch your arms over your head, like when opening a high cupboard, you would be using this muscle. 


  • Overhead press
  • Bench press
  • Front raise
  1. Middle Deltoids – Also known as shoulder abduction muscles, the middle deltoids are responsible for swift arm movement upwards, downwards, and away from the body.


  • Lateral raise
  • Military press
  • Reverse fly
  1. Posterior (Back) Deltoid – Ever tried rowing a boat? Or stretching your arms backwards after sitting down for a while? Well, these motions are assisted by your posterior deltoids. 


  • Rear delt raise
  • Bent-over row
  • External rotation

2. Rotator Cuff Muscles

The rotator cuff muscles are wrapped around your shoulder. They help keep your upper arm bone securely fixed to the socket of your shoulder blade. They are also called shoulder joint muscles. The different types of rotator cuff muscles are as follows:

  1. Supraspinatus – The supraspinatus muscle is the smallest of the four rotator cuff muscles. It is responsible for the smooth rotation of your arm. 


  • External rotation
  • Prone external rotation
  • Empty can exercise.
  1. Subscapularis – When you keep your arm stretched out, away from the body, this muscle is at play.  


  • Lifting arms out
  • Lifting weights side to side.
  1. Infraspinatus – Want to rotate your arm? Infraspinatus is one of the many shoulder muscles that help you with this task.


  • Side lying external rotation
  • Standing external rotation.
  1. Teres Minor – You can not swiftly turn and twist your arm without the help of this muscle.


  • Pull-ups
  • Lat pull-ups
  • Band pull-aparts.

Tips for Building Rock-Solid Shoulders

An intense workout session can help you add muscle mass to your shoulder muscles over time. However, if you want optimised results in less time, you need to focus on a more comprehensive approach. This approach requires you to focus on a balanced combination of diet, workout, and rest, as discussed below:

1. Aim at Progressive Overload

Starting exercise as a beginner helps you gain muscle quickly as your muscles work against the resistance. However, over time, your muscles get used to the pressure, and that’s when you hit the plateau. You need to keep challenging yourself and increase your weight after a period of time.

As per a study featured in the National Library of Medicine, increasing the load and number of repetitions during a workout can be an effective strategy to enhance muscle strength and endurance.

2. Do a Combination of Compound Exercises

Exercises like overhead presses and upright rows help strengthen a range of shoulder and back muscles. Doing them provides more enhanced and balanced results for upper body muscles as compared to just isolated exercises.

3. Rest and Recovery

When you work out, your body breaks down muscle tissues. During sleep your muscle tissues regenerate and recover to come back even stronger. If you do not take proper rest, the healing of your shoulder muscles will be delayed, leading to shoulder muscle pain.

As per a study, people who slept for 7-8 hours or more after a physical workout, experienced more improvement in muscle strength than those who slept for 6 or fewer hours. Moreover, proper recovery reduces the risk of injury during intensive workouts.

4. Do Not Forget Your Macros and Micros

When we think of strengthening shoulder muscles, a lot of credit is given to protein. Indeed, protein is the building block of muscles, but you also need other nutrients such as healthy fats, carbs, minerals, and vitamins. These nutrients help in the better functioning of your different body parts while also helping you maintain an efficient calorie supply and energy levels. 

According to a study, it is common for athletes to be unaware of their body’s energy demands, leading them to not meet their nutritional needs. Some of the essential micronutrients include zinc, magnesium, calcium, biotin, vitamin C, selenium, etc.


Building stronger shoulder muscles requires dedicated efforts in one’s diet and lifestyle. You need to train each of your shoulder muscles with the help of compound exercises to optimise overall shoulder muscle growth. Remember to keep challenging yourself by increasing progressive overload while lifting weights. Moreover, ensure a healthy, nutrient-rich diet and adequate sleep for better muscle recovery. Following these tips will help you add herculean strength to your shoulders.

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