Stefi Cohen Explains Most Effective Way To Build Big Shoulders W/ Workout

Shoulder Hypertrophy Explained

Stefi Cohen holds 22 all-time world records in powerlifting not to mention she’s also a Doctor of Physical Therapy. But Cohen also has a pretty impressive physique and she’s known to offer some very valuable training advice with scientific explanations via her YouTube channel. 

So last week she uploaded an informative video on the most effective way to build the shoulder muscles and we have the details so that you may be able to use these tips for your own shoulder training progress.

So, Stefi Cohen starts the video off by explaining how the shoulders don’t often get the same attention as some of the other body parts which many people place more of a focus on. And she explained how the delts are very important for rounding out an impressive physique and accentuating other body parts.

Cohen noted that the following three factors are how we determine how to most efficiently train for strong, 3-dimensional shoulders.

  • Regional anatomy
  • Fatigability
  • Strength curve of specific exercises


So first she talked about the anatomy and function of the three deltoid heads which are the anterior (front), lateral (side), and posterior (rear) deltoids, and how each is challenged differently depending on the movement.

Therefore, it’s best to hit the shoulders with a variety of exercises and not just one for each head. Shoulder flexion, extension, and abduction exercises are all necessary for a complete shoulder training routine.

Shoulder Anatomy

Moment arm

The next piece of information relates to the internal moment arm which Cohen describes as the ‘distance between the muscle acting on a joint and the joint itself’. She says a large moment arm creates more muscular force through better joint leverage and this is ideal for training the delts most effectively (e.g. front raise, lateral raise, overhead press, horizontal row, rear delt raise, and cable straight-arm pullover).

Strength and resistance curves

Cohen explained that some exercises have either an ascending or descending strength curve. This means an exercise is more challenging during one part of a repetition. So she recommends adding in cable work sometimes which is a great way to apply constant tension to a delt head through the entire range of motion while also taking advantage of the stretch-mediated hypertrophy benefits. 

Training considerations

This portion is about what influences muscle damage which includes activation, fiber type, sarcomere length, and the length tension relationship of a muscle. But Cohen says that because the delts are relatively small, they’re less susceptible to muscle damage due to likely containing more slow-twitch fibers. 

She recommends 10-20 sets per week with no more than 5 sets to failure in any given training day. Also, 3-4 days per week training with low volume (sets/reps) per each session is ideal for maximizing weekly productive volume. 

Hypertrophy Workout

Now for the actual workout. Choose a challenging weight for each exercise so that you won’t have a whole lot left in the tank following each set. 

Hypertrophy Workout

Anterior and lateral heads

Overhead press

  • 5 sets x 5 reps with a challenging weight

Posterior head

Horizontal row

  • 4 sets x 10-12 reps

Lateral head

  • 4 sets x 10-12 reps

Raise the dumbbells only to shoulder level. 

Anterior head

Dumbbell fly

  • 4 sets x 10-12 reps


Here’s the video where you can learn all of the details and we’ve also explained a few points below…

That’s a wrap!

Stefi Cohen offered some very beneficial tips for building the shoulder muscles so feel free to apply to your own training. 


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