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Extreme Shoulder Training... Can You Keep Up?

Bodybuilders are always looking for something new and improved. In a sport which remains perhaps the lowest-tech competition, it is the athletes of the iron game who are so very cerebral when it comes to finding ways to continually challenge their body to grow by subjecting it to new training stresses and new positive recovery forces. While a 45 pound Olympic plate will always be 45 pounds, the way we move the plate, the way machines can emulate the 45 pound of force, the way the damage to muscle fibers can be repaired through supplementation – there are all high tech items which receive plenty of mental horsepower from the athletes typically deemed to be dumb muscleheads.

Supersetting is one technique which has received a great deal of attention and focus from top muscle athletes in the world of bodybuilding. Supersets are simple. Choose 2 to 4 different exercises for one muscle groups. Perform 8 to 12 repetitions of each movement, with zero to minimal rest between movements. Take just as long as it takes to move to the next exercise, grabbing a dumbbell/barbell or jumping to the next machine station/bench. Supersets provide bodybuilders with a means of targeting one muscle group from multiple directions in a very short amount of time. If a certain group has been lagging, perhaps giving it 24 to 30 sets in a brutal 45 minute workout is going to unlock some growth, when your standard “12 sets with 3 minute breaks between sets” has grown stale. Top athletes use supersets for a very good reason – they work. Therefore, you should selectively be using them too, if you wish to gain the most amount of muscle in the shortest period of time.

Why superset with shoulders? Well, if you like pain, then this is right for you. Or, if you prefer wearing a pair of cannonball deltoids, then yes, it’s also for you! The shoulders are one muscle group which provides the most challenge for most lifters – particularly those who are still claiming natural status. The thighs and the shoulders are densely packed with muscle fiber receptors. Targeting them using supersets is one way to make the shoulder grow faster, allowing the natural athlete to potentially “keep up” with the AAS-assisted athletes who certainly have a key advantage.  Luckily, at least in the lower and mid ranges of bodybuilding competition, wise supplementation, training, and nutrition really CAN make a huge difference on the competitive stage. Are you ready to check out few shoulder training routines which employ supersetting to help you see some outstanding results?  Let’s dive in!

SuperSet #1

Seated DB Shoulder Press –

Seated Site Lateral DB Raises –

Standing DB Raises to the front - 

Rest 60 to 90 seconds before repeating.

SuperSet #2

Overhead Barbell Shoulder Pressing -

SB Upright Rowing –

Standing BB raises to the front using an underhand grip -

Rest 60 to 90 seconds before repeating.

SuperSet #3

Seated Shoulder Press – Arnold Style

Upright Rows with a Wide Grip

Steering Wheel raises using a weight plate.

Rest 60 to 90 seconds before repeating.

Use one of these supersets with each of your upcoming shoulder days, repeating the superset 3 to 5 times.  Or, mix things up and use all of the three supersets on the SAME training day. Tracking & recording your results may be a little more difficult with such extreme variance in your training – but if the growth really is phenomenal, then the trouble of recording such a complex workout may just be worth it!  Use your best judgment!

Nutrition for Supersetting

When you’re training regularly with supersets, two major nutritional adjustments will need to be made. First, you are going to be training with a greater intensity than you have ever used before. Therefore your typical energy expenditure is going to increase. An extra baked potato or scoop of rice in the 3 meals leading up to your very brutal shoulder superset day may be adequate for the extra energy you are going to need. No longer will you lift a weight 8 times, then set it down and play on your phone for 180 seconds as you wait for your pump to subside and breathing level to return to near-normal. Suddenly you’re going to be knocking out 3 straight heavy movements for the shoulders, then only given a single minute to one and a half minutes, to recover and do it again. This can be a lot of demand upon the athlete in terms of energy calories – and the added carbs you’ve consumed the day prior are going to come in handy.

Additionally, you are going to need a bit more protein in your diet, in the 12 hours AFTER your workout, to maximize your muscle growth potential. This small period of time, known as the “anabolic window”, exists and is one of the most coveted secrets in the world of bodybuilding. Consume 30+ grams of fast-digesting whey protein following your workout. Add some simple sugars like a banana to hasten the delivery of these amino acids to your very thirsty muscle fibers. Then boost your next 3 meals’ protein content by 10 to 20 grams. Just an extra 2 eggs or small piece of chicken is all you need to add to each plate. However, the results may be great, as the new muscle tearing from intense training with have the adequate protein resources on hand to assure the maximum amount of new muscle growth.

Recovery for Supersetting

If you’re going to train harder than you ever have before, then you are going to need to recover harder than you ever have before. After a brutal shoulder workout using supersetting, you should not be heading to the park for 90 minutes of full court basketball. You should be planning a nice Netflix & Chill with yourself and a big steak.  Sleep more, rest more, and engage in fewer activities that are either physically or mentally strenuous, in the 48 hours before and after your brutal shoulder supersetting routine. Remember that supersetting cannot be used with every muscle group in every situation.  Use it wisely and enjoy the great results!

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