How to Build Amazing Shoulders – Mind Pump

Check out the Mind Pump Episode Page and Show Notes

Key Takeaways 

Products Mentioned


  • Mind Pump consists of Sal Di Stefano (IG: @mindpumpsal), Adam Schafer (IG: @mindpumpadam) and Justin Andrews (IG: @mindpumpjustin)
    • The trio have 50 years of combined fitness experience as personal trainers

Shoulders 101

  • Why are shoulders so mobile?
    • We evolved from primates who lived in the trees
    • But – Their mobility comes with an increased risk of instability/injury
  • One in four people will deal with major/chronic shoulder pain in their lifetime
    • Once the pain starts, people often back off from exercise – this results in a reduction in shoulder mobility over time
      • Whatever you don’t do, you don’t stay connected to. Don’t use it, lose it!”
  • Immobile shoulders can be caused by poor posture

Shoulder Functionality

  • Shoulders require a wide range of exercises to ensure a wide range of movement and full functionality-
    • “Your shoulder joint is very mobile and very complex and requires more than a few exercises”
  • Neck pain is often related to shoulder malfunction
  • Weak back muscles or weak collar bone joints impede shoulder functionality
  • If your shoulders are tight, it carries over to an unbalanced back and chest

Shoulders Are Sexy

  • Shoulders are a main focus of bodybuilding competitions and workout programs
    • They are an aesthetic focal point valued by both sexes
  • “For thousands of years, well-developed shoulders represented good health”
  • Studies have shown that a proportionate shoulder to hip ratio has advantages for both men and women:
    • Women have easier pregnancies and childbirths
    • Men tend to have higher testosterone and sperm levels

The Parts of the Shoulder

  • Arms are not shoulders!
    • Massive arms with neglected shoulders give the upper body a misshapen look
  • The muscles of the shoulder:
    • Anterior head (front of the shoulder)
    • Lateral head (side of the shoulder)
    • Posterior head (back of the shoulder)

Why is mobility work important?

  • Overall, studies show that training in a longer range of motion nets more muscle
    • Better mobility = more gains
  • Mobility is a muscular recruitment process – if you don’t have it, train and develop it
    • Mobility work (pre-workout) leads to well-rounded shoulders, stronger muscles, and a reduced risk of injury

Mobility Exercises to Prime the Shoulders

The Most Effective Shoulder Exercises

  • Shoulder Press
    • Try a seated Z Press with a lockout at top
      • “Because it forces you into good posture, you can’t cheat it, you can’t load it as much, and it allows for a fuller range of motion
      • Once you’ve mastered the Z Press, then tackle standing overhead presses
  • Kettlebell Halo
  • Reverse Flys
    • This is the best exercise for the back of the shoulder – it targets the rear deltoids
  • Side Laterals with Dumbbells
    • This exercise works the side of the shoulders
    • With this one, er on going with lighter weight and more rep
    •  “When doing a lateral, your shoulders should stay stable and locked. Only your arms should move with your palm constantly facing down and elbow up.”
  • The optimal training frequency for shoulders: 2-3 days a week
  • All rep ranges work: stay in the 1-25 range for a few weeks and then increase
    • Except lateral and reverse flys (don’t use weight that forces you to go below 8 reps)