Training chest is always fun and of course we all want great arms. And yes, abs are the centerpiece of our physique but it amazes me how often lifters neglect to give their shoulders the attention they deserve.
Not only are they important to performance and overall wellness but they make a physique stand out too. Round and wide delts make everything else look better.
So, it’s settled. Shoulders now need to be a priority.
This plan will help you sculpt your shoulders and turn them into one of your greatest strengths.
Outlining the Next 8 Weeks
This is going to be a two phase plan. In the first phase, we’re going to push ourselves to develop the muscle that we want to show off for four weeks. In Phase 2, the intensity goes up to 100 and we’ll do what it takes to help carve them out and shape them to our desired design.
The rest in between exercises will vary based on the week. You should train the shoulders every 7 days over the course of the next two months. That means you’ll have 8 workouts to do over the next eight weeks.
One Quick Note: For this program we’re going to focus specifically on the shoulders which means there is nothing included for traps. You can certainly train them with shoulders if you prefer but make sure you do them in addition to what is in this plan. You could also train traps with back.
Before You Start Every Workout
It isn’t just about show. It’s about go too. So before every workout we’re going to do an exercise to focus on shoulder health and function. You’re going to take a resistance tube or band that has light resistance.
Hold both ends of the band. Raise your arms overhead and stretch the band at the top. Lower the band and your arms so the band is behind your back. You should also release the tension on the band. Now come back up with the band so that it’s over your head and stretched.
Finally, lower the band back to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do as many reps as you can for 45-60 seconds. Don’t try to do the max reps possible though. Focus on making each rep a good one. This will not only help you with shoulder function but will serve as a great warm up.
Phase 1 (Weeks 1-4)
Although we’re not trying to set world records for a single lift, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t train heavy.
So for each of your working sets in this phase, the goal should be to reach failure within the specific rep ranges. That means if the rep range is 6-8 and if you can get 9, go heavier.
Arnold Dumbbell Press
These are still primarily a front delt movement but twisting them as you press can activate the other heads of the delts which helps prepare them for their specific exercises later on. They also help you achieve a great pump.
If you’re concerned about pressure on your lower back or want to place more emphasis on the front head, use a slight incline. This will recruit the pecs a little more but not so much you should be concerned.
Seated Lateral Raise
The reason you should do these seated is there’s less chance of you using momentum and you have to work harder to maintain form. This is beneficial for the side delts which is our focus here.
Keep a slight bend in your elbow but don’t bend them too much because this can take tension off the delts.
Rear Lateral Raise
It can be hard to feel the rear delts working and they can’t be seen while you’re working them. If you have trouble contracting them, have a partner touch your rear delts while you’re performing this exercise.
It can also be tempting to use momentum but fight that urge. If you have to swing the dumbbells up, go lighter.
One great benefit of cables is that you can keep tension on your muscles throughout the entire range of motion during your rep. There is no chance to relax. So take your time with each rep. Pull in, squeeze the rear delts, and slowly return to the starting position.
You can use any attachment you like on the cable but the rope is the most popular choice since you can spread the ends apart and get a better contraction. Make sure your elbows can go as far back as possible.
|1. Arnold Dumbbell Press||4||15, 10, 8, 6-8|
|2. Seated Lateral Raise||3||15, 10, 8-10|
|3. Rear Lateral Raise||3||15, 10, 8-10|
|4. Face Pulls||3||15, 12, 10-12|
This is another challenge of this program. As each week goes by, your rest periods will decrease 10 seconds. This means you’re going to work a little harder each week and your endurance will be put to the test. Decreased rest can help you burn a few more calories too which never hurts.
- Week 1: 90 seconds rest between sets.
- Week 2: 80 seconds rest between sets.
- Week 3: 70 seconds rest between sets.
- Week 4: 60 seconds rest between sets.
Phase 2 (Weeks 5-8)
In Phase 1 you performed four exercises in straight set fashion. In Phase 2, you’re going to do the same four exercises, but now in giant set fashion.
That means you’re going to perform all four exercises in a row without rest in between.
|A. Arnold Dumbbell Press||4||10|
|B. Seated Lateral Raise||4||10|
|C. Rear Lateral Raise||4||12|
|D. Face Pulls||4||12|
Weight Not a Factor
In Phase 1, weight mattered because the point was to push yourself to new levels of strength as well as increase muscle. Now, you should still challenge yourself but the weight you use isn’t quite as important. You simply won’t be able to use the same weights in Phase 2 as you did in Phase 1. That’s because giant sets weren’t designed for that purpose. They do have their benefits, though.
Giant sets not only help you increase muscular endurance but also help you get more done in less time. It helps more if the exercises you use are close enough that you don’t need much time to transition from one movement to the next.
With this plan, all you need is a seated bench, dumbbells, and to be close to a cable station. If you need to change an exercise because of how your gym is laid out or because it’s crazy busy when you train, that’s ok. Just make sure you substitute an exercise that is similar to the one you’re replacing.
One example is reverse pec deck for the rear lateral raise. Whether you have to sub in a different exercise or not, you’ll find that you can perform all of your work sets faster since the only time you have to recover is between the giant sets.
Speaking of Rest
Although you won’t rest throughout the giant set, you will get a break after you finish your cycle of four exercises. However, the time you get to rest still decreases as each week goes by. The decrease is only five seconds a week now but by the 8th week, you’ll feel the difference.
- Week 5: 60 seconds in between giant sets.
- Week 6: 55 seconds in between giant sets.
- Week 7: 50 seconds in between giant sets
- Week 8: 45 seconds in between giant sets.
The decreased rest periods will take a toll physically but as long as you’re mentally committed and focused when you’re in the gym, you’ll see great benefits not only by the 8th week but long afterwards as well.