Can You Get Massive 3D ”Capped” Shoulders Naturally?

3D ”capped delts” are one of the characteristics defining modern fitness models. Those guys give extra attention to this body part because when wide canon delts are combined with a small waist, you have a recipe for an extraordinary V-taper, which is what those models desire.

They want to create the so-called classic look – small waist coupled with a wide back and three-dimensional shoulders. This way models appear bigger and freakier compared to the average person on the street that has a reverse V-taper formed by massive fat cell accumulation. Thus, a pronounced V-taper is a way of saying: ”I lift. Come at me, bro!”.

Question is, can you get those otherworldly 3D delts without using drugs that destroy your balls, hair and make you stay awake at night?


There are a lot of people in the gym who spend enormous amount of time doing lateral raises, hoping to achieve deltoid greatness.

Those poor souls get a massive pump using drops sets (as advised by Scooby) and think 3D delts are just around the corner, but this is not the case at all. As you can guess, I consider this exercise a waste of time at its finest.

In order to acquire ”capped delts”, you need to develop the side deltoid, which is a really small muscle consisting of 2/3 slow twitch fibers. This basically means that the sucker was not built for hypertrophy in the first place.

Besides, many compound exercises such as overhead presses and handstand push-ups work that muscle a lot. Therefore, if you are doing similar exercises, you don’t really benefit much from lateral raises with pink dumbbells. The burn that you feel from similar play means nothing as far as muscle growth is concerned. Nothing.

The best overall direct shoulder exercise is still the standing overhead barbell press. It’s an exercise that allows you to program it very precisely, and if you do the movement correctly and flare your elbows a little during the middle phase, it places even more stress on the mid deltoids. Many people claim that the overhead press is only a front deltoid exercise, because their form sucks and turn the movement into a standing incline bench press. This way the front deltoids always end up doing even more work.

In general, all variations of the overhead press are fine as long as you progress. However, I think that the classic standing version has a few benefits that are hard to overlook:

  1. less stress on the lowerback;

  2. teaches you how to brace your core;

  3. more athletic than the seated version;

  4. no need to develop advanced skills like hand balancing;

So, can the overhead press build 3D deltoids?

My answer would be yes. The overhead press will get you to your deltoid potential. I consider all other shoulder exercises copies and fillers. The overhead press is the king of shoulder training, at least for me.

The indirect approach

Since the shoulder is an exceptionally small muscle group, which works during most upper body exercises, you can get decent results without ever doing a direct shoulder exercise – not even the overhead press. Pushing movements such as the bench press, dips and push-ups will take care of the front deltoids, while the rear delts will get murdered during back training (especially rows). This is a legit way to train your shoulders, but is not as dedicated. If for some weird reason shoulders are a mania of yours, you may want to stick to more focused exercises. Also, this method works the side delts even less.

Conclusion: You can build some decent shoulders with overhead presses, pushing exercises and back training naturally. A good example would be Eugen Sandow. During his era overhead pressing was the thing, and he did a lot of it. His shoulders look pretty round to me.


Eugen Sandow

With that said, forget about getting the 3D capped delts of modern fitness models regardless of the exercises you are doing. Those are something else.

I believe the delt roundness that we see today is all drugs since anabolic steroids affect the traps and shoulder area the most.

Modern fitness models and bodybuilders have otherworldly shoulders compared to the guys from the 70s who were D-bol and test junkies themselves. The guys of today have unusually capped shoulders that look like XXL canons. Why? Because of the new muscle elixirs that have entered the scene.

According to many, the drugs that made the modern shoulder look possible are Equipoise, Masteron and Trenbolone. The last one (tren) is the steroid responsible for the appearance of the aesthetic YOLO (you only live once) kids like Zyzz.

The side effects that come with those muscle elixirs are really hardcore, but the muscle addicts love the look that the drugs provide and try to persevere through the dark times.

For those wondering, here are the nice things you can expect from Trenbolone:

Heavy breathing (feeling of breathlessness).
Elevated body temperature and night sweats.
Production of dark colored urine.
Insomnia and nightmares.
Erectile dysfunction.
Reduction in appetite.

and more.

I personally don’t see real value in making your life a living hell just to look more muscular. I could understand similar choice if we were talking about life or death situations, but this is not the case. Most steroid users make a conscious choice to start pinning. Nobody but their own ego forces them to do it.


If you think you can get the shoulders of Dana Linn Bailey through lateral raises, you must be a 3rd grader.

Another evidence that proves the effect of drugs on shoulder size and appearance is given to us by women who compete as bodybuilders and fitness models. Some of them have shoulders that would make guys from the early days of bodybuilding look like malnourished babies.

Final thoughts

There are no secret shoulder routines. The best approach is to just select a few compound exercises and progress with the use of training cycles. Everything else has the value of a pointless Christmas present – it looks nice under the tree, but at the end of the day doesn’t take you anywhere.


    1. Mindy

      I’m super natty and I’ve always had fast-growing delts much larger than my other muscle groups. My girlfriends can’t seem to grow shoulders like mine to save their life. One of my girlfriends is similar to me in that her shoulders are her fastest growing muscle group. Part of me wonders if it is because I do full-range of motion in my shoulder exrevises while my friends stop their shoulder press with arms at 90 degrees. I also wonder if it is just body mechanics – I am a T-Rex because my upper arms are freakishly short. I have long forarms and short upper with short biceps. Perhaps this affects which muscles take over during my exercises. I have also been boxing for 7 years and my jab arm shoulder has always been larger than my other. So this year I started southpaw jabbing more often and my smaller shoulder grew lightening fast. I don’t disagree that large delts are usually from drugs but some people just have a muscle group that grows effortlessly

  1. Derp

    Maybe, someday in the far future, when people tire of the over-exaggerated and alien bodies of today’s scene, bodybuilding will be reclaimed by true natties. Kind of like how hipsters shun the contemporary and scavenge for the vintage. Every once in a while we go full circle and make “a return to the roots.” It just has to be marketed.
    Sandow had such a great and attainable physique for his time, it’s still impressive to this day.

  2. Andrew Levesque

    Hey there! Just want to weigh in here. By no means am I a professional, but I have been at this for around 3 years. I am what is reffered to as blessed with genetics. I barely do any shoulders (couple workouts for each section a week) I take no protein supplements, no roids, no special diet, just creatine on small bouts at a time. My shoulders are massive, my back is wide with a natural V and my triceps are incredible. My chest, Biceps, and core however require constant advancment as I suffer in these areas. This is normal. Genetics are different for everyone, while I could have almost perfect shoulders to me its gross if it is unbalanced. If someone is overall perfect in every area that is a dead give away. While I focus on my weaknesses they will never become enough of a strength to not focus on them. So do not be discouraged if you do not have a “perfect” shoulder or the peakist Bicep. Treasure your strengths and be the best you can be!

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