How to Build “Boulder Shoulders” (WARMUP & WORKOUT!)

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If you want to build bigger shoulders but don’t have access to a gym and prefer to train at home, then this shoulder workout is going to be key. In fact, in this video, I’m going to show you a routine that can be done with a single weight plate that can be performed as either a warmup routine or a full on workout for your shoulders depending on how heavy you load it.

The key to any routine that is capable of warming up your shoulders before you train them is that it must activate the key muscles of the shoulder (not just the delts) and provide mobility in all three planes. The “deltoid dozen” as this is called, is a series of 12 shoulder exercises that hit all of the above and can really help you to loosen up your shoulder joints prior to training.

Up the weight of the plate you are using and this continuous routine can be a real metabolic hypertrophy monster for your delts. The key is not to underestimate the cumulative damage the lighter weight can have when compared to the more traditional heavy overhead pressing you might be doing. Metabolic stimulus for growth is real and something that any experienced lifter can benefit from especially when the progressive overload gains have slowed or in some cases stalled completely.

Begin with deciding which focus you are pursuing. Use a lighter plate for the shoulder warmup (maybe around 5 or 10 lbs) or a heavier plate for the workout (anywhere from a 25 to 55lb plate or higher). The first two moves are meant to help loosen up the shoulders with sweepers in the frontal plane and then the rotations that occur in the transverse plane. Let the weight of the plate make your shoulders feel progressively looser with each swing.

Next we move onto the two rowing variations. Rowing is actually a great shoulder activator since it hits the often overlooked posterior deltoids while introducing extension of the humerus (a much easier to manage range of motion than pure flexion or abduction will be if you are not yet warmed up). Move the plate up (from a low row to start to a high chest row at the end) to progressively introduce more activation of the rear delts and upper back.

Now we perform the pendulums. These are meant to now start involving the middle and front delt in addition to the rear delts. Swing the plate side to side and make sure that you are muscling the weight up not just using momentum. This will help to activate all three heads of the delts and really start either getting your shoulders loose or your shoulders fried depending on your focus.

With the delts properly warmed up now we want to start working on the external rotation of the shoulder and the activity of the rotator cuff. We can accomplish this with the sword raises. The bottom hand can serve as a spot as you lift the weight making this achievable even when using the heavier weight plate as during the workout version of this routine. Continue to warmup the rotators of the shoulder with the tight rings of the halo exercise. This is perfect for getting your cuffs loose as long as you make sure to circle the plate both clockwise and counter clockwise.

The pressing begins with press outs and gets progressively harder with diagonal press outs. Both of these are going to place more demand on the front delts but your shoulders should be adequately loose and ready to handle this at this point. Finally, load it up and finish strong with the plate 8’s, trap raises and bus drivers to put the final nail in the coffin of those shoulders.

As you can see, this routine can be used to both warm up your shoulders or train them depending on the weight you select. Either way, just a single plate is used here and that leaves no excuses for not trying this out. If you are looking for a complete bodyweight training program that can build big shoulders without any equipment at all, head to and get the ATHLEAN XERO program.

For more videos on how to get bigger shoulders and the best way to stretch the front delts, rear delts and middle delts be sure to subscribe to our channel here on youtube at


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