The delts can take a lot of damage compared to other muscles and are fairly resistant to growth for many people. If you’re having trouble growing your shoulders, try these tips and exercises!
Front delts: movements like the overhead press and really any vertical press will hit this region. However, usually the front delts don’t need much specific targeting because they’re highly active in many other compound movements like the bench press. This is one reason isolation exercises like a front dumbbell raise aren’t a very good choice for front delt growth.
Side delts: Exercises like an upright row or a dumbbell lateral raise are great movements that will target this region. For some, upright rows with a barbell or dumbbell can cause pain. However, for most people if they only bring their elbow to shoulder height and not above, they should be fine. Main thing is just to do the movement in a comfortable range of motion that doesn’t hurt.
Rear delts: many people have a hard time feeling this area of the shoulder working and have a hard time getting it to grow. Usually this can be attributed to using too heavy of weight during the exercises. The rear delts are much smaller and generally weaker than surrounding muscles so lighter weight should usually be used. Doing a set or two of cable external rotations for 20+ reps can be helpful for establishing a connection with the rear delts before training as well. The main movements I like for targeting this area are the banded or cable face pull and rear delt fly.
Generally, most of the training for the shoulders should take place in the 8-20 rep range since they can’t produce nearly as much force as bigger muscles, making them better suited for higher rep training. Another result of this is that they can be training more frequently and with higher volumes compared to other muscles. Doing 18+ sets per week directed at the side and rear shoulders isn’t uncommon for those who see good growth in the delts. The front delts usually only need around 5 or so sets per week of directed training for maximal hypertrophy.