Having those amazing capped shoulders is the ultimate goal. Unfortunately, shoulders can be an easy joint to injure or have issues with, so be careful here. Make sure to get a good cardio warmup in before the muscle warm up.
I like to activate my back a bit before doing shoulders. A great way to do this is to lay chest down on a mat, spread your arms out to the side, and lift them just a few inches up away from the ground while contracting your shoulder blades to warm up those rhomboids. I do around 15 pulses here. Then you can brings your arms straight overhead, so your arms are parallel to your torso not perpendicular, with thumbs pointed up, and do the same.
While doing a shoulder workout it’s important to keep your shoulders relaxed, down, and back. And it’s a lot easier to maintain this good posture if your back muscles have been warmed up a bit.
I alternate sets between those and “over the backs”. You can grab a lightweight pipe or band, hold it palms down out in front of you then raise it up and over the back of your head so you end with the band behind your back in more of a palms up position.
I do about 3 sets of the pulsing warm ups and 3 sets of the behind the backs, alternating each set.
Finally, you can do internal and external rotator cuff exercises.
Now to the lifting.
It’s usually best to start with compound movements first in a lifting session so you don’t wear out the small muscles before you get to the big muscles (unless you’re doing pre exhaustion which is a bit more complex. You do you). I start my shoulder days with a push press. You can do this with a barbell, on a machine, or with dumbbells.
My favorite is the Arnold press with dumbbells where you start holding dumbbells palms facing in, then push up and rotate out, ending with palms face out. This movement just feels so much more fluid and natural to me.
I move to lateral raises next. If you have trouble with shoulder clicking like I do, the trick with these is to rotate your hand so your pinky is pointed up and thumb angled more down. Give a slight bend in your elbows. Make sure your shoulder blades are down and back and you keep good posture throughout the exercise.
If you want to hit your medial delts twice, you can add vertical rows in here, making sure your elbows extend up past your shoulder line.
I hit my rear delts next, since they are weaker than my anterior delts and I want to get them in while I still have more energy. I hit them twice with both a read delt fly and some face pulls on the cable machine.
Finally I will hit my anterior delts, and I like to have some fun with them. If you’re sick of the standard frontal raise you can do them with a plate and add some rotation (like your steering a car). I also like “around the worlds” where you do a frontal raise then push out laterally and come down, then do a lateral raise and pull in medially and come down. There are so many great variations and tons of YouTube videos to watch!
The biggest take away is to know your strengths and weaknesses. I know my rear delts are much weaker than my anterior delts, so I usually prioritize those movements earlier in the workout before my anterior delts. You may have different imbalances than me.
As you may have noticed, I didn’t add reps or sets in here, as I know everyone is at a unique point. Challenge yourself, but keep good form.