Looking to build better shoulders? Well, you should get in line with 100% of the people who are currently training at your gym. Most simply put, NONE of them are completely happy with their current level of overall shoulder development. Sure, some athletes will have bigger shoulders than others. Some lifters will have ripped shoulders that maybe lack a little size. But there is nobody in your gym who is 100% satisfied with her level of size, shape, and vascularity, when it comes to shoulders. They’re a difficult muscle group to develop and maintain, and are always at risk for injury. Let’s check out some signature twists you can add to your shoulder training to boost growth when nothing else seems to work.
This movement might be the simplest and most basic lift one will encounter in the gym, yet for a variety of reasons, it is often overlooked by lifters. First off you need a fair amount of space to complete this lift. Doing so without a back brace can be reckless, causing lower back tweaks. Finally, it’s quite a painful movement! However, standard barbell presses activate the fast-twitch muscle fibers of the entire three deltoid heads (as well as the traps, arms, and upper back) in what can only be described as the ultimate shoulder mass building movement. Many young athlete love this movement, but refined lifters tend to move toward more isolation work for shoulder training. If you aren’t currently seeing the level of development you’d like from your training, then you should return to your roots and include 4 sets of 6 to 10 repetitions on the standard barbell press with your weekly shoulder workout.
There are a million exercises which can target the side deltoids. Dumbbell, cable, and kettlebell movements of all types are commonly employed for this area. And of course, we all know that the use of presses (machine, barbell or dumbbell) to the front are an effective way to target those front deltoids. However, an interesting and creative movement known as “Arnold presses” which targets both the side and front delts is often overlooked, to the detriment of lifters. Commonly used by athletes such as the great Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1970s, this movement involves keeping the palms facing each other as one completes standard dumbbell presses. Alternate these with standard presses to give your front and side deltoids a unique training experience, targeting some muscle fibers which normally lie dormant.
Tagging those rear deltoids in a standard shoulder workout can be a difficult order to fill. You’re spending so much time with the heavy metal (well, cast iron free weights), doing all the pressing and side raises required to satisfy your daily training requirements, that hitting those rear deltoids can often become an afterthought. Even when you do manage to reach that point in your workout, you often fall prey to a lack of balance because youre muscles are just plain spent by that point. No worries. Leave those dumbbells alone and scoot on over to the cable station. From there, you’ll be in the position to tackle bent-over cable rows with a 45 degree angle, one of the best possible movements to isolation and push those rear deltoids to the failure point, even when your shoulders are starting to lose structural integrity and balance is failing.
As you near the conclusion of your shoulder training day, you may want to ask yourself if you have satisfactorily burned those poor deltoids to an adequate crisp this workout. If you realize there still may be a little gas in your tank, and you don’t feel your shoulders twitching in pain, then you should definitely consider going “all in” for one incredible burn-out set. The premise of this set is simple. Choose an exercise of the isolation variety which targets one of the shoulder heads. Cable movements or machine raises are a safe option. Set a very low weight, in which you could normally complete 12 to 20 repetitions without stopping. Complete 12 to 15 repetitions, then stop and takes a few breaths. Complete another few repetitions until you fail. Take another few breaths. Continue until you reach 40 to 50 repetitions, or until your shoulders absolutely fail from the pump. Either way, you’ll have activated more slow-twitch muscle fibers than have been used in a very long time!
Building incredible shoulders requires a great deal of effort, discipline, and above all, patience. Your training needs to be intense, your diet consistent, and your efforts without fail. Step back from trying to gauge progress on a weekly basis, opting for month-to-month gains as a result of your gym efforts. Over time, your shoulders will slowly break their mold and you’ll be bigger, and better, than ever before in the deltoid department. Good luck!