4 Best Lifts for Boulder Shoulders [And 3D Delts]

The shoulders are one of the most stubborn muscles on the body. Especially when you’re trying to get boulder shoulders or 3D delts!

Without extra attention, they have a difficult time getting big and rounded like they should be when they are fully developed.

To get true boulder shoulders it is essential that you get enough volume in your workouts each week.

The shoulders should be worked 2-3 times a week if you are trying to put on mass and get the true boulder shoulder look.

2-3 times a week gives your body a rest day or two between and allows your body enough time to heal and get the gains.

Any more than 3 shoulder workouts a week (4 is pushing it) will not give your body enough time to rest and it will actually hurt your gains in the long run.

2-3 shoulder workouts a week pushes your shoulders to their limit and will lead to greater mass gains over time.

Now that we know how many workouts a week are ideal, it comes down to what lifts you should use.

There are as many shoulder lifts as there are pieces of equipment in the gym. It can be quite confusing and difficult to choose the ones that will be the most effective and provide the quickest results.

In order to build balanced and the best looking shoulders you can, you must focus on all the heads of the shoulder.

There are 3 heads that make up the deltoid on the shoulder and create the “boulder” at the top of each arm.

The anterior, or front, the lateral, or side, and the rear deltoid, or back.

Every shoulder lift generally targets one of the three heads and puts an emphasis on it.

If you are trying to put on more mass, compound and functional movements should make up the bulk of your workout. Compound movements generally allow you to add more weight and lift more. In most people this will lead to greater gains over time.

Isolation movements are great as well. They allow you to emphasize one area of the shoulder and laser in on it.

But compound movements should make up the bulk of your workouts.

1. Military Press


The military press is one of the best compound lifts for the shoulder. It mainly targets the anterior or front part of the shoulder but also uses the lateral part as well.

This lift allows you to go heavier than most shoulder lifts and will have you out of energy fairly quickly when done right.

There are two variations to the military press and one is not necessarily superior than the other.

It really comes down to your preference.

The military press can be done standing or seated.

When done standing it is important to not use your legs as a booster. It’s ok if you use them a tiny, tiny bit but they should not be the main driving force behind the lift.

Both variations are great and both should be used throughout the week.

Try switching off between each variation between each shoulder workout!

If you are consistent with your workouts and include this lift in your workouts, then you’ll have boulder shoulders in no time!

2. Lateral Raise

The lateral raise is an excellent lift for targeting the lateral or side deltoid of the shoulder.

But this lift will require an ego check before you do it.

Many people do this lift with incorrect form and it will lead to injured shoulders and less gains.

It is vital that you keep your arms straight out, or almost straight out when doing this lift like the gentleman in the video.

A study recently tested this and it concluded that going straight out to the side is more beneficial if you are trying to engage more muscle fibers!

Bending your arms in actually engages shoulder muscles less and makes it easier than going completely out to the side. Even if you use more weigh

3.Rear Delt Raise


The rear deltoid is usually the most neglected head of the shoulder so it is very very important that you include a lift or two in your boulder shoulder workout that targets the rear head!

If you don’t target the rear head, your shoulders will look flatter and won’t have the 3D effect that fully developed and balanced shoulders have.

The rear delt raise is one of the most effective ways of targeting the back of the shoulder!

Make sure you squeeze out each rep and create a mind to muscle connection.

4. Frontal Raise

The frontal raise is a great isolation movement to target the front head of the shoulder!

The frontal raise is a great finisher movement when working out the shoulders and will have you feeling the burn.

Make sure you aren’t only lifting the weight. Also “reach toward the wall” when bringing it up to engage more of the shoulder!

Make sure you don’t use your legs to help get the weight up and make sure you are going up and down in a controlled manner.

Don’t jerk it up and drop it down quickly.


Now that you have the knowledge of how to get boulder shoulders apply it!

Remember to workout your shoulder 2-3 times per week using these lifts! You can also sub in some of your other favorite shoulder lifts to add variety to your workout!

Good luck!

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Hey I'm Mr.Workout! I have a passion for lifting, working out, the gym, and helping others out! Thanks for stopping by and reading my content! Let me help you on your journey. Join the GAIN TRAIN today and get post updates, free workouts, tips and tricks, and more!

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