The ONLY 2 Shoulder Exercises You Need (NO, SERIOUSLY!) (2023)


What would you say if I told you that there were only two shoulder exercises you need to do? In this video, I am going to show you the two shoulder exercises that should make up the bare minimum of your shoulder workouts. Not only are these two exercises great for building big shoulders, but they are the two exercises that hit cover all 3 heads of the shoulders.

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Some might tell you that you only need two exercises total in order to build a muscle group. I disagree. I don’t think anyone should be limited to picking just two exercises for a muscle group because each one often has multiple muscle head as well as multiple functions that can be targeted individually through exercise selection.

The chest is a great example of this; it has three heads as well as two separate functions. Some might tell you that all you need is a flat bench press and incline bench press. You are only hitting two of the three heads of the chest with this election and while you are pressing, you are not getting any adduction - another major function of the chest.

In the case of the shoulders, you have the ability to hit all three heads of the delts given the proper exercise selection. Pressing and lateral raises are the basis of your shoulder training and being able to choose one of each is a great way to build big shoulders. This means that one exercise should be a pressing movement and the other should be a lateral raise movement.

However, when trying to build big shoulders, this is simply the foundation of your what your shoulder training should include. Not every shoulder workout needs to include both of these exercises, but a complete training plan will at least build off or include them at some point.

The first exercise up is the overhead press. Now, this doesn’t have to be a barbell overhead press, but it needs to be some variation of the press. This can come in multiple options such as the barbell press, a modified Bradford press, the z-press, or a dumbbell overhead press (standing or seated without pressing your back into the bench).

The thing is that dumbbell press is limited by the weight you can clean up to your shoulders to press overhead. I like to perform this exercise with a single dumbbell as it allows you to clean the weight up with two hands and it allows for stacking of the wrist over elbow over shoulder to help with orthopedic issues.

The next exercise is some form of a lateral raise; this can be cheat lateral or a strict lateral performed normally or with an intensity technique such as 1.5 reps. However, my choice is the cable lateral raise because it allows you to hit the middle and rear delts in the same movement. Not only are you raising the weight to hit the middle delts, you are getting the elbow behind your body top get a contraction on the rear delt.

This exercise is also interesting because it allows you to put the middle and rear delts on stretch, which is normally ignored on traditional lateral raise exercises. In order to build bigger shoulders, you need an exercise selection that not only gets a good contraction, but a good stretch as well.

If you don't have access to a cable machine to perform this cable side lateral raise for your shoulders you can always grab a pair of dumbbells. One of the most powerful dumbbell shoulder exercises you can do is something called the cheat lateral raise. This is used with heavier weights than you would normally use on a strict lateral raise.

You lean forward at the torso a bit which will not only help you generate some of the momentum used to bring the weight up and position it for the slow eccentric lowering, but it will put the rear delts into position to drive the arm back behind the body into extension as you raise into abduction. It's a powerful variation of the lateral raise that will hit both the rear and middle delts without needing to have access to a cable machine.

Now, if you want to take your shoulder training to the next level that hits every head of the shoulders from different angle, there are many exercises to choose from. I don’t think we should ever be limited to just two exercises for a muscle group, the delts included. But you should at least start with these two exercises to build the foundation of your shoulder growth.

If you are looking for a complete step-by-step training program that will take your workout to the next level, be sure to head over to and find the workout program that matches your goals.

For more videos on hot to get big shoulders and the best exercises to do just that, make sure that you subscribe to this channel here on YouTube and remember to turn on your notifications so that you never miss a video when it’s published.


When it comes to shoulder exercises.

There are no shortage of options.

However, which exercises, do you focus, on?, If, you're struggling to build your delts, right? Now, you're going to want to watch this video to the very end because I'm going to give you the two exercises that you need to focus on.

If you want to start seeing your best results.


Others may want you to believe that there's only two exercises that you need.

And that all other shoulder.

Exercises, just don't, even provide any additional benefit.

That's, not what I'm saying.


If you don't have these two boxes, checked in combination with each other, you're going to struggle to build your best shoulders, possible.

With, this bare minimum approach, you can be assured of the fact that you're going to have an effective combination of exercises to use and more so be able to focus on fewer things.

So you can get to where you want to be faster., What's up, guys, Jeff, Cavaliere,, So.

You might be surprised to hear me, say, only two, especially when it comes to shoulders, when we've got the front, middle and rear delts.

There's, a lot of choices.

But if you use scientific selection of the exercises you do, you can make the right choice.


When we talk about the only two, they're, not just the only two you need., If, you're only going to do two.

Then these two need to be on your checklist.


The first one has to be some variation of a press.


We know that the Barbell Press is providing you a great opportunity for shoulder, growth, and that's all-around, shoulder, growth hitting all three of those heads.


What if you've actually maxed out your gains here?, Right?, You, just plateaued.

You, can't, add weight to the bar, anymore., We've, got other options.

And that would be something like a Z Press, where we take away some of the momentum of the legs and maybe drop the weight just a little bit to work on that pure shoulder overhead pressing strength that when you take back with you to an overhead press, it's going to be a lot stronger., Now, it's, also, no secret that I like to take myself outside the rack and tell you guys to just grab a pair of dumbbells and do a standing version of the Overhead Press.

This is a great option, except for those who start to use heavier and heavier weights trying to get the weights to clean them up to your shoulders from a standing position is a hell of a lot harder than it is from a seated position.

So, here's, the option I'm going to provide you, just a One Arm, Dumbbell, Overhead, Press., Because.

The clean is a lot easier to do when you've got two hands to help.

You get there.


We get this additional benefit of shoulder stacking and joint stacking, which will allow you to have optimal strength and efficiency, while still overloading one shoulder at a time.


What I talk about is as I press, up, I can lean just a little bit and keep my wrist over my elbow over my shoulder., If I, have any orthopedic issues at all, I can adjust the weights from side to side and still make sure I'm getting the appropriate overload.

Remember, guys.

The list of only two has to start with at least some version of an overhead press.

But, that's, just one.

We still have one other.

And when it comes to shoulders, it's, pretty damn hard because you're forcing me to pick between one that targets more of the middle delt or one that targets, the rear delt.

That's like asking me to pick between my twin sons.

Well, luckily, I, don't have to make that pick, and neither do you, because I've got an option that's going to actually help you to hit both and it's going to be a version of a Lateral Raise.


When we talk about this, guys, that is the movement.

Some form of a lateral raise needs to be in the equation here.

But we don't want to have to pick between the rear and the middle delt.

And for me, that's, where the side lateral raise is done with the cable, because we get some really unique benefits.


Number, one, I can get my arm across my body to get a pre-stretch on the middle and rear delts that isn't really there in any other variation.


Then what we want to do is focus on the feet, because if we can just turn our body, all importantly, just about 45, degrees, we're going to change this exercise and we're going to target both the rear and middle delts, because of it.

So, I get this resistance of abduction because of the angle of my arm against this line of resistance in the cable.

But I also am setting up a bit of a row where I'm resisting extension of the arm behind the body.

And as any heavy rower will tell you, with huge rear delts, that's.

What drives the growth of the rear delt is the extension of the arm and heavy resistance to extension.

So, by having this slight tweak of my body in this direction, I've turned this Lateral Raise into more than just a Lateral Raise.

I'm, getting the benefit to the middle delt and the rear delt at the same time.

With that stretch in place that I talked about from the very beginning, it's, just a great variation of a lateral raise.


If you didn't have this cable set, up, you're, not out of luck.

Try, the Cheat Lateral again.


The Cheat Lateral is an exercise I always talk about being able to give you that heavy resistance.

That has the eccentric component and overload too.


You can turn it into extension with that slight leaning of the torso extension and external rotation at the shoulder.

You get all of these components that are allowing you to get growth in both the middle and rear delt.

Regardless of which one you choose, the Lateral Raise, in some form or fashion, is going to be what you need to do.

You pair it up with the first exercise.

You got a powerful combination., And, remember, don't, let others flaw this concept of only two for you.


You only think you need two exercises, you're doing it wrong.


If you choose to only do two, then these two have to be it., If you're, looking for other shoulder, exercises that will complement it well, make sure you check out this video, I actually rank all the shoulder exercises for you.

If you're, looking for a complete program from Athlean-X.

You can find it at

Guys, remember to click, Subscribe and turn on your Notifications.

So you never miss a video.

When we put one out., All, right, guys, see you soon.


The ONLY 2 Shoulder Exercises You Need (NO, SERIOUSLY!)? ›

How Many Shoulder Exercises Should You Do? For optimal shoulder development, I recommend that you include one primary exercise for each shoulder muscle: Front Delts. Examples: bench press, overhead press, dumbbell press, or front raise.

Are 2 shoulder exercises enough? ›

How Many Shoulder Exercises Should You Do? For optimal shoulder development, I recommend that you include one primary exercise for each shoulder muscle: Front Delts. Examples: bench press, overhead press, dumbbell press, or front raise.

What is the only shoulder exercise you need? ›

The first shoulder exercise you absolutely need is the Barbell Shoulder Press. The reason why you're doing a barbell press rather than with dumbbells is simply because you will be able to handle more weight.

What are the two best shoulder workouts? ›

Best Shoulder Exercises
  • Overhead Press. Why It's Great: All-in-one exercise for building strong shoulders. ...
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press. Why It's Great: Fantastic for training strength and working with greater ranges of motion. ...
  • Landmine Press. ...
  • Arnold Press. ...
  • Push Press. ...
  • Bottoms Up Kettlebell Press. ...
  • Banded/Cable Delt Raises.
May 15, 2020

What is the single best shoulder exercise? ›

Overhead presses are one of the greatest moves to develop shoulder strength and mass. They build up the deltoids and muscles that support the scapula, strengthening the shoulder through a wide range of motion and improving performance both in and out of the gym.

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