There’s one thing every action star has in common, aside from a hefty paycheque, and that’s a set of boulder shoulders. Those Hollywood PTs bulking-up the likes of Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson understand that shoulder muscle is what bookends the V-shape of any all-action testosterone physique.

When it comes to your designs on a summer body, you’d do well to emulate them. Bigger shoulders give the appearance of bigger arms and a smaller waist. It’s a grossly unattended area for most men in the gym, but one man who wants to rectify that fact is physique competitor Ryan Terry – a fitness icon with with such adonis-like proportions that he looks hewn from Hellenic rock.

Terry, who is famous for his shoulders, has cleaned up at prestigious physique competitions including the IFBB Pro and the Olympia, racking up over a million Instagram followers along the way. Here, he reveals the secrets to his elite shoulder workouts and how they can work for the everyman.

Ryan Terry’s Shoulder Workout

“Always look at your deltoids as three different muscles,” Terry says. “You’ve got anterior [front], posterior [back] and medial [side]. A lot of people just do pressing motions, which won’t hit every part of the delt. You need compound moves to start with, like a barbell press. But then you need to split things up.”

As for how much and how often, Terry keeps things old school. “I work on a six day bodybuilding-style split. Five days for each individual muscle part, then the sixth day for a certain muscle group I’m trying to improve. If your shoulders need work, hit them twice a week, with three-four days in between to recover.”

Ryan Terry Doing Shoulder ExercisesImage Credit: SNHFOTO

Exercise 1: Barbell Overhead Press

This is your big compound move to get things going. Start with a warm-up set that focuses on time under tension (i.e., the amount of time you spend moving the weight), aiming for four seconds lowering with a two second blast upward, to strengthen your shoulders for the workout ahead.

Sets

  • 2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps, slow
  • 4 working sets of 10-12 reps

Execution

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your core set tight and a barbell held at your shoulders, palms facing forwards. From here, tense and drive the bar upward, really squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement. Lower with control.

Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 minute in between. Finish with a triple drop-set – the max weight you can do for 10 reps, then immediately drop 10 per cent weight and do another 10 reps without resting, then repeat once more.

Alternate Exercise 1: Dumbbell Press

This is an alternative to move one, if you aren’t comfortable with a barbell or are simply limited to dumbbells at home. As above, start with a warm-up set to prime your muscles and get the blood flowing to the right areas.

Sets

  • 2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps, slow
  • 4 working sets of 10-12 reps)

Execution

Set yourself up with a shoulder-width stance and grab two dumbbells you’ll be able to lift with good control for 10 reps. Lift the weights and bring them to rest on your shoulders with your palms facing each other. Steady your breathing and drive the weights up, rotating your arms so your palms face forwards at the top.

Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 minute in between. Finish with a triple drop-set – the max weight you can do for 10 reps, then immediately drop 10 percent weight and do another 10 reps without resting, then repeat once more.

Exercise 2: Dumbbell/Cable Machine Lateral Raise

Lateral raises hit the middle of your deltoid, an area often missed and therefore underdeveloped for a lot of people. Don’t get hung up on form here. Keep your back and body in the right position but if you can really push yourself, creating a little swing for the final three is fine. Obviously if there’s pressure on the lower back, stop.

Sets

  • 2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps
  • 4 sets of 10-12 reps

Execution

Either stand with a pair of dumbbells at your sides or set up a cable machine so the handles are at the lowest points, grabbing the left handle with your right hand and vice versa. Set your feet at shoulder width, pivot forward slightly at the hips, engage your core and pull your shoulder blades together to lift the weights out to your sides. Lower with control.

Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 min in between. Finish with a drop set or partials: double the weight and go for 10 partial reps, which increases blood flow and expands the fascia (the connective tissue) around the muscle.

Alternate Exercise 2: Assisted Bench Lateral Raise

If you find there’s too much swing, or that other muscles are picking up the work, you can properly isolate the delts using a bench. It’s all about muscle contraction, not just a-b movement, so don’t be ashamed to lower the weight if needed. You’re here to train your shoulders, not your ego.

Sets

  • 2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps
  • 4 sets of 10-12 reps

Execution

Set a bench to a 45-degree angle. With your chest down, lie on the bench with your head just over the top, with two dumbbells on the floor at shoulder level. Make sure you’re set securely on the bench and grab the weights. Tense your core, squeeze your shoulders and raise the weights out to the side. Lower slowly.

Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 min in between. Finish with a drop set or partials: double the weight and go for 10 partial reps.

Exercise 3: Pec Deck Rear Fly

This really isolates the rear of your deltoids, so you won’t need to go too heavy here. Using the pec dec machine ensures there’s constant resistance during both the eccentric and concentric part of the movement, which equals more muscle building bang for your buck.

Sets

  • 2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps, slow
  • 4 working sets of 10-12 reps

Execution

Set the seat so the handles are at shoulder level, which in turn should be sat fully to the rear of the machine’s settings. Hold the handles with your palms facing inwards. From here, set your torso tight and draw your arms out to the side and back through the dec’s semicircular plane. Return with control.

Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 minute in between. Finish with a triple drop-set – the max weight you can do for 10 reps, then immediately drop 10 per cent weight and do another 10 reps without resting, then repeat once more.

Exercise 4: Reverse Cable Crossover

Time to hit the front of the deltoids with some serious time under tension. The focus here is steady, sweat-inducing control. Don’t use a weight that you can’t move slowly for 10 reps. And resist the urge to let the cables swing back with speed. You want tension the whole time.

Sets

  • 2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps, slow
  • 4 working sets of 10-12 reps

Execution

Stand in between the cable machines, with the handles set at the highest points. As with the cable lateral raise, grab the handles in the opposite hands, but this time draw them to your chest so your arms are crossed a bit like Wolverine. Lean forward slightly and draw your arms out and down. Again, a bit like Wolverine but in his full, claws-out extension. An alpha male growl at the mirror is optional.

Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 minute in between. Finish with a drop set or partials: double the weight and go for 10 partial reps.

Exercise 5: Front Raise

This pretty painful move targets the front delts and doesn’t let up. It’s imperative you pick a reasonable weight here, because overdoing it will put all the onus on your lower back and very little of it on your delts. You want big shoulders, not a month off work due to muscle spasms.

Sets

  • 4-5 sets of 15 reps

Execution

Holding either a weight plate or barbell, set your hands at hip height. With your feet at shoulder width and your core tensed, draw your shoulder blades back and raise the weight with straight arms up to shoulder level. Keep breathing. Lower with control.

Stick with the same weight throughout unless you feel like it’s too hard or too easy, in which case adjust accordingly. Rest for 1 minute in between sets. Each rep should be 4 seconds up, 4 down.

Exercise 6: Dumbbell Shrugs

Now for the finishing move: shrugging metal upwards to build a set of Tom Hardy-esque traps. You can go quite heavy here, as you’re not moving the dumbbells through a particularly challenging range of motion. But be sure to reduce the weight if you end up compensating with your arms or calves.

Sets

  • 4 sets of 10-12 reps

Execution

Standing with your feet planted shoulder-width apart, bend your knees to pick up the two dumbbells, letting them come to rest on your quads. It’s all about mind-muscle connection here. Really think of your traps squeezing as you draw your shoulders together to raise the weights. Keep your arms loose and as inactive as possible. Lower with control.

Stick with the same weight throughout unless you feel like it’s too hard or too easy, in which case adjust accordingly. Rest for 1 min in between sets. Each rep should be 2 seconds up, 4 down.

Ryan Terry is an ambassador for leading sports nutrition brand USN who have just launched their brand new Blue Lab Whey protein. To find out more visit www.usn.co.uk