Big Delts Fast: 30-Minute Shoulder Workout

30 Minute Shoulder Workout

It can be tempting to skip your workouts when you are short on time. That’s especially true for smaller muscle groups, like calves or delts. After all, no self-respecting bodybuilder would EVER miss training their biceps or pecs, right?!

However, while your gains may be able to survive the occasional missed workout, skip more than a couple, and you’ll soon start to backslide and lose your hard-won muscle.

Sadly, your body can’t store muscle indefinitely, and if you don’t use it, you WILL lose it.

The good news is that you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to maintain or even build muscle. While there is nothing wrong with high-volume training marathons, a 30-minute workout can be just as effective.

So, the next time you think you are too busy to hit the gym, try our tried-and-tested 30-minute shoulder workout. If nothing else, it’ll tide you over until you’ve got time for a longer workout.

30-Minute Shoulder Workout – Overview

This workout is designed to attack all three deltoid heads – anterior, medial, and posterior – to give you 3-D shoulders in 30-minutes. Do it once or twice a week as part of a body part split routine, e.g.:

  • Monday – Chest
  • Tuesday – Back
  • Wednesday – Legs
  • Thursday – Shoulders
  • Friday – Arms
  • Weekend – Rest

Of course, before you hit the weights, you must spend a few minutes warming up and preparing your body for what you’re about to do. This will help make your workout more productive and could lower your risk of injury, too.

So, start with a few minutes of easy cardio followed by some dynamic mobility and flexibility exercises for the muscles you’re about to train. Finally, do a couple of light sets of the first exercise of the workout to ensure you’re 100% ready to go.

All warmed-up? Then let’s get to work!

The Best 30-Minute Shoulder Workout

This workout should be over and done in 30 minutes, but only if you hustle that muscle and don’t dawdle between sets or exercises. If you can’t complete it in 30 minutes, you are wasting time somewhere, so stop chatting, send fewer texts, and get moving!

# Exercise Sets Reps Recovery
1 Barbell hang clean and press 3 6-8 90 seconds
2 Jettison dumbbell lateral raise 3 10-12 60 seconds
3 Seated rope face pull 3 12-15 60 seconds
4a Cable crossover lateral raise 3 10-12 60 seconds
4b Cable front raise
4c Cable upright row

30-Minute Shoulder Workout – Exercise Instructions 

There are two ways to do any exercise – the right way and the wrong way. The right way is safe and effective, while the wrong way isn’t! So, when in doubt, use less weight, focus on your technique, and remember that injuries are often avoidable if you train with good form and appropriate weights.

1. Barbell hang clean and press

The barbell clean and press is an amazing upper body exercise. However, taking each rep from the floor provides your muscles with a break and reduces the effectiveness of what otherwise could be one of the best shoulder builders around. Hang cleans involve starting each rep with the bar in front of your thighs, which increases muscle tension and stops you from resting between reps.

How to do it:

  1. Hold a barbell with an overhand, shoulder-width grip and stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Pull your shoulders down and back and brace your core.
  2. Bend your knees slightly, push your hips back, and lower the bar down your legs to about knee height.
  3. Drive your hips forward, stand up quickly, and use this momentum to help you pull the bar up the front of your body to your shoulders.
  4. Drive your elbows forward and catch the bar on your anterior or front deltoids.
  5. Next, and without using your legs, push the bar up and overhead to arms’ length.
  6. Lower the bar back to your shoulders, return to the starting position and repeat.


2. Jettison dumbbell lateral raise

This unique exercise combines dumbbells with a resistance band to really hammer your medial deltoids. Located on the side of your shoulders, the medial deltoids are responsible for giving your upper body its width.

How to do it:

  1. Stand on the middle of a resistance band and hold one end in each hand. Also, hold a dumbbell in each hand. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, core braced, and shoulders back.
  2. With just a slight bend in your arms, raise your weights up until your elbows are level with your shoulders. Lower your arms and repeat until you reach failure.
  3. Release the bands and then crank out more reps using just the dumbbells for resistance. Again, continue to failure.
  4. Rest a moment and then repeat the entire sequence twice more to make three sets.


3. Seated rope face pull  

Face pulls are usually done while standing and with light weights. That’s okay, but if you want to maximize rear deltoid size and strength, sitting will give you a more solid base from which to work, and you’ll be able to go heavier, too.

As well as working your rear deltoids, this exercise hits your middle trapezius and rhomboids, making it an excellent shoulder health and posture exercise.

How to do it:

  1. Attach a rope handle to a seated pulley row machine. Hold one end in each hand and sit on the bench with your legs extended but not quite straight. Sit up tall, pull your shoulders down and back, and brace your abs.
  2. Starting with straight arms, bend your elbows and pull the handle into either side of your face. Imagine you’re trying to stick your thumbs in your ears.
  3. Extend your arms and repeat.


4a. Cable crossover lateral raise

Yep – we’re hitting those medial deltoids again. Why? because who doesn’t want wide, freaky shoulders! Cable lateral raises keep your deltoids under constant tension, making this exercise awesome for getting a skin-splitting pump. This is the first exercise in your 3-D shoulder triset.

How to do it:

  1. Stand in the middle of a cable crossover machine. Hold the left handle in your right hand and the right handle in your left hand so the cables cross in front of you. Bend your knees slightly for balance, brace your core, and pull your shoulders down and back.
  2. Raise your arms up until your elbows are level with your shoulders.
  3. Lower your arms and repeat.


4b. Cable front raise

Your second triset exercise hits your anterior or front deltoids. Like cable lateral raises, this move will keep your muscles under constant tension for a deep burn and pump. Use a straight bar or a rope handle as preferred. You can also use a single D-shaped handle and hold it with your hands close together.

How to do it:

  1. Attach your chosen handle to a low pulley machine. Stand with your back to the weights and astride the cable. Reach down and grab the handle and then stand up straight. Pull your shoulders down and back and brace your core.
  2. Keeping your arms slightly bent but rigid, raise the handle forward and up to eye height.
  3. Lower your arms and repeat.


4c. Cable upright row

Your final triset deltoid exercise is the cable upright row. While barbell upright rows can be somewhat shoulder joint unfriendly, the cable version tends to be more comfortable and less troublesome. Use an EZ bar, straight bar, or rope handle as preferred. Upright rows work your medial and posterior deltoids.

How to do it:

  1. Facing the cable machine, grab your chosen handle and stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and shoulders pulled down and back. Brace your abs.
  2. Bend your elbows and pull the handle up the front of your body. Keep your elbows above your wrists. Raise the bar to around mid-chest level.
  3. Extend your arms, lower the handle, and repeat.

More Shoulder Workouts & Exercises:

30-Minute Shoulder Workout – Wrapping Up

We get it – you are sometimes so busy that you don’t have time to get to the gym. But, and this is a promise, people who are busier than you are training right now. They get up earlier, go to bed later, watch less TV, or are just better at time management. They GET IT DONE!

While lack of time can be a legitimate barrier to working out, almost everyone can find 30 minutes a few times a week, which is really all you need to train most muscle groups.

So, when you are next short of time, remember this 30-minute deltoid workout and find a way to squeeze it into your day. You’ll not only preserve your hard-won gains; you may actually build new muscle mass simply by doing something new.


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