The main shoulder muscles that concern bodybuilders are the deltoids and although they work closely with the arms and chest muscles, it is possible to isolate the delts in a training session. Unlike other body parts though, the shoulder is not designed for heavy lifting in all directions so beginners need to take care and use lighter weights than usual for shoulder-isolating exercises.
The deltoid covers the shoulder and consists of three distinct segments:
1. The anterior or front deltoid allows you to raise your arm to the front.
2. The medial or middle deltoid allows you to raise your arm to the side.
3. The posterior or rear deltoid allows you to draw your arm backwards when it is perpendicular to the torso.
The front delt usually receives plenty of work with chest exercises such as the bench press and pushup, so you'll need to use common sense and listen to your body when performing exercises that specifically target this muscle. The recommended shoulder exercises for beginners are as follows:
1. Seated dumbbell press - 3 sets of 10-15 reps. This exercise places the emphasis on the medial head.
2. Front lateral raise - 3 sets of 10-15 reps. This exercise emphasises the front delt.
3. Rear lateral flyes - 3 sets of 10-15 reps. This exercise targets the rear delt.
As with all exercises you need to take care in scheduling specific body parts. To begin with you should incorporate your shoulder exercises into a program similar to the one suggested below:
Day 1: Biceps, Back, Abs
Day 2: Hamstrings, Shoulders, Abs
Day 3: Quads, Forearms, Calves
Day 4: Triceps, Chest, Abs
For the first couple of weeks complete one set but then add one set each week to a maximum of three. At the end of three months you will be ready to move on to more intensive intermediate level exercises.