Shoulders can be a tricky body part to develop. Over-loading these sensitive and complex joints with poor form and zero experience is a surefire way of causing injury, so it’s best to approach this essential muscles group with caution and care.
Alex Crockford, fitness model, YouTube star and all-round social media buff bod dude, has put together his ultimate workout for building bigger shoulders. Better still, it requires very little specialist equipment and zero fancy gym memberships.
Instead, most of these moves rely on bodyweight alone, so act as a brilliant platform to build strength and create a solid basis for those looking to take their workouts to the next level. Once mastered, you can look to progress to free weights or barbell exercises to really add mass, but Alex assures us that even these simple home workouts can reap fantastic results.
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How to perform Alex Crockford’s shoulder workout
Start by studying the form portrayed in the images. Note that Alex is engaging most of the major muscle groups when performing these exercises in order to increase stability and hone in on those shoulder muscles.
Make sure you have enough room to perform each move and if you’re using a gym, it’s probably best you go and find a quiet corner, rather than taking up space in the squat rack and not, you know, squatting.
Stay hydrated, ensure you’re eating a decent balanced diets with sufficient healthy calories to turn into muscle and look to inject a little extra protein into your diet to aid recovery and help with the bulking up process.
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Build bigger shoulders with this workout
The number of reps and sets are listed next to each exercise, so make sure you perform that number of repetitions (reps) in a smooth and controlled manner, before enjoying 60 seconds rest and then continuing on to the next set.
3 sets of 15 reps
It’s one of the most basic exercises out there but you’ll be amazed at how many fitness fans get this wrong. Note Alex’s palm placement just beneath and outside of his chest. When lowering to the floor, his elbows remain tucked close to his sides and bend to a right angle with the floor before explosively pushing back up to the top of the move. That’s one rep, now repeat.
Shoulder Press Push-Up
3 sets of 12 reps
Heading straight into this exercise from the standard push-up will ensure the shoulder muscles are kept under tension and worked hard. Begin in a normal push-up position but shuffle the feet forwards, hinge at the hips and point your butt towards the sky. Bend the knees a little to ensure the back remains flat, drop your head between the shoulders and lower it towards the floor.
Don’t let your bodyweight rest on your head or neck at the bottom of this move, instead support it with the arms and shoulders before pushing back up to the top of the move. Lowering towards the floor should be steady and controlled, with a little pause at the bottom to really shred some muscle fibres.
Plank Shoulder Tap
3 sets of 20 reps
The number of reps might look daunting, but you’ll be swapping sides with this one, so it is really only 10 reps per shoulder (phew). Enter the plank position by starting with the standard push-up (above) but almost locking out the arms to create a straight line that runs from your head to your feet.
Engage the core and glutes (bum muscles) to keep everything stable, now take the right hand off the floor and slowly tap your left shoulder like some sort of military salute, keeping all of the weight focussed and steady on that left arm and shoulder. Lower the right hand back to the floor and repeat on the opposite side. Do this until you’ve reached 20 reps.
3 sets of 30 seconds
This will require a seriously stable core and a strong balance game but it helps if you have a wall to rest the heels of your feet on. Quite simply, get into a handstand position with the weight held on your shoulders and hold this pose for 30 seconds. Practice at home before making a wally of yourself in the gym.
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Handstand Push-Up (advanced only)
3 sets of 8 reps
This variation on the above move demands superior shoulder strength and a stupidly stable core, so progress from a typical handstand gently to this if you’re feeling brave and even start out with just a couple of reps. Set up as above, but press up when in a handstand position and lower gently back to the start of the move.
3 sets of 15 seconds
This punishing finishing move requires yet more stability in the core and shoulders, which in turn gets the muscle fibres really firing. Enter this pose as if you were about to start a handstand but stop half way, balancing the weight on your arms. Gently resting knees on elbows promotes a bit of extra stability but this is a killer end to a tough workout.