Many years ago, I came up with a saying that is the perfect way to preface this article: “If you really want a muscle to grow, stop whispering at it, and start SCREAMING!”
So, what does this mean? Simply put, the human body was not meant to carry an enormous amount of muscle mass. In fact, it much prefers that you add additional fat, which is part of our natural biological survival mechanism.
Thus, the accrual of significant amounts of new muscle is not only quite low on the human body’s “totem pole” of “physiological needs,” but also something it will actually fight pretty hard to prevent. This is precisely why you must literally override the natural tendencies of your biology and force the adaptations that lead to hypertrophy to manifest.
And how does one accomplish this? Well, it all starts in the gym!
Providing a Catalyst for Muscle Growth
Resistance training using BB’s, DB’s, cables and machines acts as the catalyst for muscle growth. However, while gains tend to come somewhat rapidly in the beginning (simply because weightlifting itself is a brand-new stimulus), they usually fall off significantly as time passes.
This is usually because most trainees fall into a general pattern in their workouts, using the same exercises, sets, reps and lifting tempos week in an out. And like I said, since the human body is quite resistant to building new muscle, if you keep “speaking the same language” to them over and over - they will soon “stop listening.”
If you wish to affect change you must force change, which is what I meant when I said, “you must start screaming!” No, I don’t mean you need to obnoxiously yell at the top of your lungs while training, but rather that you push yourself harder and harder at every workout – always leaping far out of you comfort zone.
And I should mention that intensity is not always directly related to the amount of weight that is on the bar. Intensity is created by simply stressing the muscles in ways they are not used to, nor are comfortable with. The muscles do not “know” weight, but fully understand (and respond to) tension.
Keeping that in mind, below you will find a 4-week, shoulder-transforming workout program using some of my most intense training protocols.
Each week your delts (mind and CNS) will be presented with a unique challenge that will certainly shock the muscles into new growth. I even threw in some novel movements to further add to the “stress.” There is no “whispering” involved with these routines, and even if you keep your mouth shut, your shoulders will hear you screaming loud and clear!
Week 1: The FTX2™ (Fast Twitch Exponential) Method
This training protocol helps set up maximum fast twitch muscle fiber firing through the use of high reps (to exhaust slow twitch fibers) and heavy explosive lifts (to excite the central nervous system).
|Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise||2/0/1||3||21-25|
|Wide Grip Barbell Upright Row||2/1/1/1||3||10-12|
|Single Arm Reverse Cable Fly||2/0/1/2||3||10-12|
Week 2: The SPEC™ (Stretch/Peak Contraction/Eccentric/Concentric Emphasis) Method
This training protocol utilizes four distinct rep tempos (one for each movement), each emphasizing a different “section” of the range of motion. This forces the muscle to withstand a unique form of tension with each exercise, allowing one to tap into several growth pathways.
|Incline Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise||2/4/1||3||8-10|
|Machine Reverse Fly||2/0/1/4||3||8-10|
|Seated Dumbbell Press||6/0/1||3||6-8|
|Wide Grip Cable Upright Row||2/0/4||3||6-8|
Week 3: The PRRS™ (Hybrid) Method
This training protocol utilizes various “intensity techniques” that will shock the muscles and ignite the CNS, both combining to facilitate new muscle growth.
|Machine Shoulder Press||4/1/1||3||4-6|
|Seated Bent Over Rear Delt Fly||2/1/1||3||13-15, 10-12, 7-9|
|A1. Dumbbell Lateral Raise||2/1/1||3||10-12|
|A2. Incline Cable Front Raise||2/0/1/1||3||7-9|
Week 4: The FDFS™ (Fiber Damage/Fiber Saturation) Method
This training protocol is meant to induce maximum fiber trauma, in order to trigger an anabolic effect, in the first half of the workout. Then, in the second half, the emphasis shifts to flushing the target muscles with blood and the hormones, nutrients and oxygen it brings with it.
|Smith Military Press||3/0/X||3||3-4|
|Single Arm Palm In Seated Machine Press||6/0/1||2||5-7|
|Single Arm Behind Back Cable Lateral||2/4/1||3||8-10|
|Shoulder Wide Grip Barbell Front Raise||1/0/1||2||26-30|
|Cable Rope High Pull||1/0/1||2||26-30|
Extra Tips For The Workouts
Tempo is the term used to describe how fast you lower, lift and pause with the weight in each phase of a repetition. It is expressed in seconds and begins with the negative (lowering) portion of an exercise, then the midpoint (stretch) portion, then the positive (lifting) portion, and if there is a fourth number used it will be the peak contraction (squeeze) portion.
1. Single Arm Reverse Cable Fly
Sit sideways on the bench or in the machine and grasp the pulley with the working arm. Rather than holding an attachment/handle, simply grab the end of the cable so that your palm is facing the floor. The arm holding the pulley should be held at shoulder height (throughout the set) and across your torso so that your forearm is in front of your face.
Keeping a slight bend at the elbow, slowly abduct the arm in a reverse fly motion until the rear/posterior deltoid is fully contracted. The only movement should be at the shoulder, with no twisting of the torso. Additionally, make sure not to pull back so far that you begin to engage the traps.
2. Incline DB Side Lateral
Grab a pair of DB’s (I suggest about 2/3 the weight that you would use for standard side laterals) and sit down on an incline bench set to about 45 degrees.
While keeping your arms just slightly bent, chest high and shoulders back, raise the DB’s out to your sides until your palms are facing directly toward the floor. Lower under control until the arms are again hanging at your sides.
3. Incline Cable Front Raise
Set an incline bench to between 45 and 60 degrees and place it a few feet in front of a low cable. Attach a short straight bar, or rope, to the pulley. Grab the bar (or rope) and sit back on incline bench. (Note: You can vary the width of your hands on the bar from narrow to wide. When using the rope, grasp with a “hammer” grip).
At the beginning of every rep, the arms should be completely straight with hands held a few inches above the thighs. Moving only at the shoulder joint, slowly raise to a point just over your head, making sure to hold this (fully contracted) position for 1-2 seconds before slowly lowering back to the starting position.
4. Single Arm Palm in Seated Shoulder Press Machine
Sit in a shoulder press machine that allows you to grip the handles so that your palm is facing inward. Slide your body over, making sure that your anterior (front) deltoid is directly underneath the handle/working hand.
Press upward until just before reaching full lockout, keeping constant tension on the shoulder. Lower slowly, feeling the anterior deltoid work all the way to the bottom.