02 Dec 7 Accessory Lifts for Bulky Coconut Shoulders
There’s way more to building boulder shoulders than the shoulder press alone. If you want to achieve strong, bowling ball sized shoulders, you’ll need to incorporate various lifts into your shoulder routine to hit the multiple parts of the deltoids (shoulder muscles) from all angles. These are some of the most useful accessory lifts to add to a shoulder routine in order to round out some bulky coconut shoulders.
Anatomy of the Deltoids
First things first – let’s analyze the muscular structure of the shoulder so that we can form the best strategy for attack. The deltoid muscle (shoulder muscle) is comprised of three different heads: the anterior deltoid, the lateral deltoid, and the posterior deltoid. Anterior deltoids are sometimes called the front deltoids, lateral deltoids are sometimes referred to as the middle, outer, or side deltoids, and the posterior deltoids are also commonly known as rear deltoids.
There are a few basic functions attributed to the deltoids: abduction, adduction, extension, flexion, external rotation, internal rotation, transverse abduction, transverse extension, and transverse flexion. In general, these are all a collection of pushing and pulling movements with the pushing movements focused on the front of the shoulder and the pulling movements focused on the back of the shoulder. With this awareness, you’ll note that a balance of push and pull lifts are key to developing round, balanced, and strong coconut shoulders.
Anterior Deltoid Exercises
The front deltoid is usually the largest developed of the three heads. This is because it is a primary mover in a lot of pushing lifts, like the overhead press, military press, bench press, and dips. A great amount of people develop their front deltoids to a much greater extent than their rear deltoids and have misshapen and imbalanced shoulders which inevitably leads to injuries and postural problems such as slouching. Often, the anterior deltoid doesn’t need much individual targeting, however here are the top auxiliary exercises for when they need to be built up:
1. Front Raise
This is best performed with a dumbbells, but barbells and cables can be utilized as well. This works as a great isolation workout for the anterior deltoids which do a large part of the work. Front dumbbell raises can be done with both hands simultaneously, alternating hands with each rep, or alternating hands with each set.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your elbows slightly bent and hands in front of your upper thighs.
- Keeping your chest up and your back completely still, lift the dumbbells straight in front until your extended hands reach shoulder height at a 90° angle. As you lift, turn your thumbs upwards to avoid shoulder impingement.
- Lower the dumbbells back down to your thighs and repeat.
2. Arnold Press
The Arnold Press was allegedly developed by Arnold Schwarzenegger to target and add mass to the front shoulders even more so than then regular shoulder presses. His reinvention of the dumbbell shoulder press certainly has its results.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand, positioned at shoulder height in front of you with your forearms perpendicular to the floor and a supinated grip (palms turned toward your face).
- While keeping your chest up, drive the dumbbells up toward the sky while simultaneously pulling your elbows back and rotating your palms inwards until they face away from you.
- Pause at the top with arms extended vertically and elbows slightly bent.
- Lower the dumbbells back to the starting point by reversing the motion on the way down and repeat.
Lateral Deltoid Exercises
The side deltoids designate how wide your shoulders appear from the front or the back. They cap off the shoulder with that rounded curvature symbolic of the coconut shoulders. Side deltoids come into play during abduction movements, or when the arms are raised and extended away from the middle body. The lateral deltoids are often as undeveloped as or slightly more developed than the rear deltoids. These are trickier to target on their own since any slight internal or external rotation of the shoulder will draw the work to either the anterior or posterior deltoids when the lateral deltoids are the intended target.
3. Side Raise
Side or lateral raises can be performed with either cables or dumbbells. Similar in motion and form to front raises, side raises are designed to target the lateral deltoids, or side deltoids. This lift is notorious for causing shoulder impingement if performed the wrong way. To avoid shoulder problems developing from this side raises, keep the thumbs pointed higher than the pinkies. Do NOT point the thumbs down as if you’re pouring a pitcher of water.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, elbows slightly bent and hands positioned in front of your upper thighs. Bent forward at the waist slightly and keep your knees unlocked.
- Lift both dumbbells simultaneously to the sides until they reach shoulder height. Your thumbs should be angled higher than your pinkies.
- After a brief pause at the top, lower the dumbbells slowly and repeat the movement.
4. Upright Row
The upright row is one of the most incorrectly performed exercises in the gym. It is, however, one of the most effect muscle building exercises for the lateral deltoids as well as the trapezius muscle which covers a large triangular area of the back from the top of the neck extending to the shoulder and middle of the back. The way this exercise is wrongly utilized can cause a lot of injury to the shoulders and their rotator cuffs. For maximum safety, use dumbbells or cables instead of barbells for greater and more natural and unrestricted range of motion. Keep the thumbs of your hands higher than the pinkies to avoid internal rotation that causes shoulder impingement. Utilize a wide grip no narrower than hands shoulder-width apart.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms resting in front of your upper thighs.
- Pull your elbows and hands up and back but do not lift your elbows above shoulder height.
- Simultaneously externally rotate your shoulders by pulling your hands above your shoulders.
- After squeezing your shoulders, bring your arms back down to the starting position and repeat.
Posterior Deltoid Exercises
The round shape of boulder or coconut shoulders are finalized with extensive posterior deltoid work. Cultivating muscle mass for the rear deltoid involves a lot of pulling motions and also gives rise to a muscular upper back.
No, it’s not a face exercise, but it is an underutilized and undeniably effective rear deltoid muscle builder. Face-pulls are great for isolating the rear deltoids and making them do the brunt of the work along with your upper back (including traps). It’s not a very popular exercise, but it’s definitely a great accessory lift to throw into a shoulder workout routine to shape up the rear delts. When done incorrectly with internal shoulder rotation and high elbows, it can cause shoulder impingement and/or allow the trapezius muscles to steal the show. Swallow your pride, use a small weight, and focus greatly on controlled form.
- On a seated row machine, grab onto each end of the ropes with tight, neutral grips. Your fists should be facing forward with your thumbs as the highest part of your hand and arms extended forward. Keep your elbows slightly bent.
- With a straight and flexed back, begin pulling your elbows back just below shoulder level and simultaneously pull your hands back so that they are in line with your shoulders and your forearms are perpendicular with the floor. At this point it should look like you have your arms raised flexing your biceps.
- After a brief pause, return your arms to the starting position and repeat.
6. Reverse Fly
Reverse flyes are another great isolation exercise for the rear deltoids. These will again target the upper back as well as the back of your shoulders. Reverse flyes can be performed using dumbbells or cables. With cables, these can also be done standing, seated, or laying face down on a bench.
- Lay face down on a bench (or seated and leaning forward) with a dumbbell in each hand and arms slightly bent at the elbows.
- Pull your outstretched arms back and squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you were pinching a pencil between them.
- After a brief pause, return your arms down to the starting position and repeat.
7. Rear Delt Row
Barbell rows are actually a compound exercise that works a load of upper body muscles. That said, rear delt rows can be an accessory exercise using less weight for the purpose of targeting the rear deltoids. Dumbbells are usually the best piece of equipment to use for the rear delt row.
- Kneel over the side of a bench and use your arm for stability. The other half of your body should have your leg planted into the ground and a dumbbell in your hand using a pronated grip.
- Pull your elbow up out to the side perpendicular to your torso.
- Squeeze at the top and return your arm back down to the starting position. Repeat a few reps on this arm before switching to the opposite arm.
Everyone is going to have their favorite shoulder exercises and what works great for others may not work as well for you. Just remember to do everything with correct and controlled form. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t keep doing the same motion or you’ll risk damaging your shoulder in a pretty short amount of time.
Remember, these are accessory and auxiliary exercises designed to be added to the big compound lifts. Lifting small weights won’t pack on muscle and create boulder shoulders like the military press or overhead press will. But they will help break strength plateaus and shape up your deltoids where they are lacking.