If you're ready to blast your shoulders to the next level, here are six power moves that did wonders for me. Try these exercises twice a week for 12 weeks, and you'll see what develops.
EXERCISE 1: SEATED SIDE LATERAL RAISES
Since shoulders are a complex bodypart in need of more warm-up, I reverse the order of movements, starting with seated dumbbell laterals for a pre-exhaust before going to a heavy pressing movement. Even then, I put as much power as possible into each exercise. If you dedicate all of your training to building mass, the excess is going to spill over into piling mass onto individual muscles and that, after all, is what creates separation.
After three or four warm-up sets of seated dumbbell laterals, grab a heavy pair and blast out three or four additional sets of eight to 12 reps each, all of them explosive and every set to failure.
Be careful not to confuse explosive with bad form. Throughout the entire range of motion for laterals, the dumbbells don't rotate or tilt. They stay horizontal. Exploding for the lift means you should fight them as hard as you can during the descent, using your delts, not your traps.
EXERCISE 2: SEATED DUMBBELL PRESSES
Go for the fullest range of motion possible, pushing the dumbbells all the way to the top, not touching them together but extending them to where your hands would be if you were using a barbell. At the bottom, bring them lower than you would a barbell, trying to sneak the inner part of the dumbbells down low over the outside of your lateral delt caps. For these, too, it's three or four sets of eight to 12, to failure every time.
EXERCISE 3: REAR LATERALS ON AN INCLINE BENCH
Lie on a bench with your arms hanging down. Then raise the dumbbells outward in an arc. Don't turn or tilt the dumbbells; just blast them straight out to your sides for three or four sets of eight to 12, all to failure.
EXERCISE 4: SEATED FRONT DUMBBELL RAISES
This is a movement of maximum power: very heavy. Working one arm at a time, brace your body and explode the dumbbell out to the front and inward, almost directly in front of your eyes. Since you've already capped your lateral delts with earlier exercises, this one covers what's left by hitting the inside front delts. Again, perform three or four sets, eight to 12 reps, all to failure.
EXERCISE 5: FRONT BARBELL SHRUGS
Go pretty heavy with these: 400-500 pounds for three sets of eight to 12, using a wide grip -- at your outer shoulders or possibly farther apart. Each rep is a full contraction but fast and explosive, shocking the traps before the force has a chance to enlist the help of your shoulders.
EXERCISE 6: REAR BARBELL SHRUGS
Behind-the-back barbell shrugs require a little more technique and practice, but they're necessary for hitting the middle region of the upper back (and your traps). Here, too, do three sets of eight to 12, all to failure.