1 of the Reasons Why Strongman Athletes Have Some of the Biggest Shoulders on the Planet (2016)

1 of the Reasons Why Strongman Athletes Have Some of the Biggest Shoulders on the Planet (2016)

1 of the Reasons Why Strongman Athletes Have Some of the Biggest Shoulders on the Planet

For the past week I have been watching a lot of strongman competitions online and one thing that really stood out was their impressive shoulder development! They may not have the most striated and veiny shoulders like the bodybuilders do, but if we are talking about sheer size then the strongman competitors have some of the biggest shoulders on the planet. Some of them literally look like they are carrying watermelons or bowling balls under their sleeves!

Now if we take the drugs at the elite level and the genetics out of the equation, one thing that I’ve noticed is that these guys are the kings of overhead pressing variations. They don’t do any forms of horizontal pressing in competition either (although they probably do some horizontal pressing variations when they train on their own in the gym).

Overhead pressing variations are the kings of shoulder movements and you best believe that if you get very strong at different variations then your delts will look massive. You could do all of the lateral raises you want, but its really those heavy vertical presses that are going to build those delts up to a tremendous degree.

A lot of strongman competitors are pressing 405lb+ on standing military presses and this is some serious elite upper body strength, but it strikes the important point that if you are neglecting vertical pressing in your programs then you are leaving a lot of shoulder mass potential on the table!

Most lifters in the gym really prioritize the bench press which is why Monday is also known as national chest day and then people wonder why they have such piss poor shoulder development! If you really want to take your shoulders to the next level then you need to put the overhead press on Monday and make that your main priority for pushing exercises. On top of that, you also want to have another day where you overhead press in a different way while dramatically reducing your benching volume & frequency.

Another thing that most people mess up on is that they will usually only do 2 vertical pushing variations which are the:



While these are both amazing movements, there are more vertical pressing variations that most people neglect such as the behind the neck press. The BTN press is actually one of the best shoulder builders because it hits all 3 heads of the delts which is important because most people actually have decent front delts, but its their piss poor rear delt development that makes their delts look like shit.

Today I am going to show you all of the different vertical pressing variations that strongman competitors use so that you could get some ideas for your training because if you are past the beginner phase then its good to rotate some of your main lifts around. For example, if you did barbel military presses for a month then you might switch it up to a different variation in the next program in order to hit your delts in a different way and get overall development overtime.

Here they are:


The log press is another staple in strongman circles and most logs have neutral grip handles attached to them which makes them easier on the shoulders, but nonetheless they are still moving some heavy weights which is very impressive!


The military press is a classic lift and the crazy part about it is that strongmen do everything that hard way because they didn’t have a bar to un-rack that heavy weight off of. When strongmen do their presses they usually have to Deadlift the weight and then clean it up into position which requires a lot of back strength.


The box press is an unusual exercise that a lot of strongmen competitors do and its just another way to work the shoulders. The strongmen are so good at pushing anything in a vertical plane of motion and that’s why their shoulders are so big! They aren’t just limiting themselves to one or two movements, strongman promotes high exercise selection and it contributes a lot to their growth.


One arm DB push presses are an important exercise whether you do them strict or with a bit of leg drive because you are working each delt independently and unilaterally. If you want big shoulders then unilateral work is a must! Not to mention that they look pretty bad ass as well especially if you get to the point to where you are working with triple digit numbers.


The viking press is nothing more than a fancy word for a neutral grip shoulder press. If you don’t have this at your gym then you can simply use the standing calf raise machine to do your presses. The neutral grip also makes them more shoulder friendly and the loading potential is quite high too so don’t ignore this movement.


The strongmen have big shoulders because they don’t only limit themselves to pressing a regular gym bar or dumbbells overhead, they get creative. They are able to put literally any object over their heads and that trains the shoulders in a different way. In other words, these athletes think outside of the box and aren’t only limited to weights in the gym.


The keg press is yet another odd object to lift, but its good because it builds more shoulder stability whenever you press awkward objects above your head.


Start incorporating more vertical pressing in your programs and your shoulders will start to blow up in size if you work up to some respectable numbers. My standards are that if you could shoulder press your bodyweight for a set of 10 then you will have some big shoulders. This means that if you weigh 225lb and you could military press 225lb x 10 then your shoulders will be pretty big by then. If you eventually get to the point to where you could press 1.5x your bodyweight for reps then you will be one wide and strong animal.

This article was written to simply show everybody that you can’t complain about having lagging delts if your vertical pressing strength sucks and if you aren’t rotating your lifts around either. Its not rocket science, if you want bigger delts then start training your shoulders like a strongman and you should also sprinkle in some bodybuilding work such as rear delt raises, face pulls, lateral raise and stuff of that nature for overall development just for the icing on the cake.


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