Build boulder shoulders with this ten-move session from online PT Luke Grainger.

shoulder circuit for size and strength Men's Fitness UK

1a. Ys

Muscles worked: traps, erector spinae, posterior delts
Reps: 6-10
Rest: 20-30 secs, then go into 1b

  • Lie face down on a 30-degree incline bench with your arms hanging down and thumbs up.
  • Begin the movement by squeezing your shoulders back and down.
  • Holding that position, lift your arms all the way up until they form a ‘Y’ position.
  • Hold for 4-8 secs, then slowly return to the start.
  • Relax, then go again.

shoulder circuit for size and strength Men's Fitness UK

1b. Ws

Muscles worked: traps, posterior delts, erector spinae, rhomboids
Reps: 6-10
Rest: 20-30 secs, then go into 1c

  • Lie face down on a 30-degree incline bench with your arms hanging down.
  • Begin the movement by squeezing your shoulders back and down.
  • Holding that position, lift and bend your arms until they’re in a ‘W’ position, with your palms facing the floor.
  • While lifting the backs of your hands towards the ceiling, straighten your arms out ahead of you.
  • Hold for 2-4 secs, then slowly return to the W position.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together, keep the tension and go again into the next rep.

shoulder circuit for size and strength Men's Fitness UK

1c. Ts

Muscles worked: traps, posterior delts, erector spinae, rhomboids
Reps: 6-10
Rest: 20-30 secs
Sets: 2-3

  • Grab a pair of light dumbbells and lie face down on a 30-degree incline bench with your arms hanging down.
  • Begin the movement by bending your arms 90 degrees and squeezing your shoulders back and down.
  • Holding that start position, lift your elbows out to the side and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for 2-4 secs, keep the tension and then slowly lower your elbows to the start position.
  • Hold that position and go again into the next rep.

shoulder circuit for size and strength Men's Fitness UK

2. Reverse Snow Angel

Muscles worked: erectors, traps, lats, posterior delts, rhomboids
Reps: 10
Rest: 60 secs
Sets: 3-5

  • Begin by lying flat on your stomach, arms by your side with your palms facing the floor. (You may want to have a towel positioned where your forehead will be touching.)
  • Retract your shoulder blades while lifting your hands about 5 or 6 inches off the floor.
  • Keeping your shoulders squeezed and your hands off the floor, move your arms out to the side and up until they’re in line with your ears.
  • Pause there for a moment, then return to the starting position and go again.
  • Try to keep your hands from hitting the floor for the entire set.

shoulder circuit for size and strength Men's Fitness UK

3a. Seated Shoulder Press 

Muscles worked: delts, traps, triceps
Reps: 10
Rest: None – go straight into 3B

  • In a seated position with your feet flat, your shoulders down and your chest up, lift a pair of dumbbells up and out to the sides, with your elbows flexed and your palms facing forward. This is your starting position. 
  • From here, press the dumbbells up into the air, keeping your palms facing forward.
  • Pause briefly at the top, before slowly returning to the start.

shoulder circuit for size and strength Men's Fitness UK

3b. Upright Row

Muscles worked: traps, delts, biceps, core
Reps: 15-20
Rest: 60-90 secs
Sets: 3-5

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, dumbbells hanging in front of you with your elbows slightly bent and palms facing you. 
  • Pull your shoulders down and back, flex your elbows, and pull the dumbbells up towards your chin until they cross your chest and your elbows are at shoulder height.
  • Pause, then lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.

shoulder circuit for size and strength Men's Fitness UK

4a. Shrugs

Muscles worked: Traps
Reps: 10
Rest: None – go straight into 4B

  • Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells and stand tall with your palms facing your sides. 
  • Lift your shoulders up and back as high as you can, keeping your arms long.
  • Pause at the top, then slowly lower back to the start position.

shoulder circuit for size and strength Men's Fitness UK

4b. Reverse Fly

Muscles worked: posterior delts, rhomboids, traps
Reps: 15-20
Rest: 60-90 secs
Sets: 3-5

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then hinge at your hips until your torso is almost parallel with the floor.
  • Hang the dumbbells straight down from your shoulders, with your elbows slightly bent (not fully straight) and palms facing each other.
  • Keeping your core tight, your chest up and your back in alignment, pull your shoulder blades down and back, then raise your arms out to the side until your elbows are at shoulder height.
  • Pause, then slowly return to the starting position.

shoulder circuit for size and strength Men's Fitness UK

5a. Reverse V Front Raise

Muscles worked: delts
Reps: 20
Rest: None – straight into 5B

  • Begin with a dumbbell in each hand, your arms flexed at the elbow and slightly out to the side of your body. 
  • Keeping your shoulders down and back, lift your arms up and inwards so that your hands form an upside down ‘V’ position at the top of the move, roughly in line with your shoulders.
  • Slowly return to the start position with your arms out to the sides and shoulders down, then go again.

shoulder circuit for size and strength Men's Fitness UK

5b. Iron Cross 

Muscles worked: medial delts, traps
Reps: 1
Rest: 60-90 secs
Sets: 3-5

  • Grab a pair of light dumbbells and stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your shoulders down, lift the dumbbells to a horizontal position with your palms facing forward. Hold for as long as you can.

Model: James Stark (W Model Management)