Complete Shoulder Training- Target All 3 Heads!

When it comes to hitting the shoulders, one of the most common mistakes is failing to recognise that your shoulders consist of 3 heads - all 3 need to be targeted for complete shoulder training!

If you’re looking to sculpt a set of well-rounded shoulders whilst warding off potential muscle imbalances, then you’re at the right place! Keep reading us as we run through the best way to approach complete shoulder training and take a look at some effective exercises for hitting each of the 3 heads (front, side and rear deltoids).

Compound Movements Vs Isolation Movements

Compound movements/exercises involve movements that target and simultaneously work multiple muscle groups. The functional style of this kind of movement mirrors everyday push and pull movements- this practical functionality gives compound exercises the potential to generate a great response from the body!

When it comes to compound shoulder exercises like the overhead shoulder press, this exercise works 2 heads of the shoulder in an effective way (front & side delts) whilst giving the third head some (rear delts) love too! This makes it a great compound movement for engaging a large part of the shoulders!


An isolation movement/exercise is a movement that targets a specific muscle, muscle part or muscle group. When it comes to really hitting and feeling the burn within one target area, isolation movements are a great tool to use! Isolation exercises will do a lot for you if you’re really looking to target and shape a specific music region.

With a muscle region like the rear deltoid which is the least targeted through a compound exercise like the shoulder press, an isolation movement is a great option for making sure that this head of the shoulder receives maximum activation! Isolation exercises are really great for facilitating maximum engagement and increased muscular definition.

If complete shoulder training is your objective, then the way to go is through shoulder workouts which target all 3 heads through incorporating a mix of both compound and isolation movements!

Shoulder Training Staples

Now that we know that complete shoulder training involves hitting all 3 heads (front, side and rear delts)using a mix of both compound and isolation exercises, let’s take a look at some really effective staple exercises and how they train our shoulders!

Overhead Shoulder Press (Compound)

This is probably the most famous exercise when it comes to shoulder training! The overhead shoulder press can be executed through using either a barbell, dumbbells or resistance bands. As mentioned earlier, this is a compound movement which hits all 3 heads of the shoulder, especially the front and side delts. The functionality of this movement is something that any shoulder workout can definitely benefit from!

To do this exercise, hold your weights by your shoulders with your palms facing forwards and your elbows bent at a 90 degrees angle. Then press upwards and extend through your elbows as you lift the weights up before slowly returning to the starting position is a controlled manner.


Side Lateral Raise (Isolation)

The head of the shoulder which runs along the side region of the shoulder is the side delt. A great way to hit this region is through the side lateral raise.  This movement is an effective shoulder-strengthening and side deltoid targeting exercise! – to try it yourself, bring your choice of weighted resistance (dumbbells or bands) slowly up from your sides until they form a T shape at your shoulders whilst keeping a slight bend in your elbows.


Front Raise (Isolation)

This exercise is similar to the side raise with the only difference being that you bring the weight from in front of your thighs (palms facing body) to directly in front of you until they’re at shoulder height. With any type of raise, it’s super important to maintain a controlled approach throughout the movement- so go slowly throughout the exercise. For really focusing on the anterior (front) deltoid, the front raise is an absolute gem of an exercise.


Rear Delt Raise (Isolation)

The rear (posterior delts) are positioned at the back of your shoulder- they’re probably the most commonly neglected head of the shoulder also. Ensuring that the section of your shoulders are targeted and trained is a necessity if well-rounded shoulders are what you’re going for! Balanced shoulder also do a great job of warding of muscle imbalances and the risk of injury.

One of the best exercises for really hitting the rear delts is the rear delt fly (also known as the reverse fly). To try it out for yourself, begin by either standing or being seated and hinge at the waist until your back is nearly parallel to the floor. Then, with slightly bent arms, contract your rear delts as you bring the weight up to your sides. At the top of the rep, squeeze!


Get Those Shoulders Popping!

As mentioned earlier, complete shoulder training is all about targeting all heads of the shoulder through reaping the rewards of combining both compound and isolation movements. Training your shoulders this way will not only ward off the risk of potential muscle imbalances within the shoulders, but it’ll also have you on your way to sculpting a set of sexy, defined and overall well-rounded shoulders!