Yes, most of us got into the lifting game because we wanted big arms and the most popular question in gyms all over the world is “how much ya bench, bro?”
Let’s be clear about this though. If you want to make a statement in the gym or when you walk into a room of people you don’t know, you gotta have big shoulders.
Whether you’re a bodybuilder standing onstage or some dude on the street, having big and wide shoulders announces to anyone within eyesight that you lift.
So, you want to take that shoulder training to another level so you can make that kind of statement?
Grab your pre-workout of choice, get to the gym, and get warmed up.
It’s go time.
1. Seated Rack Barbell Press – 5 sets of 5 reps
We’re taking a classic shoulder exercise and putting a powerlifting twist on it. Place a seated bench in a squat rack. Place the safety racks so that when the bar is on them it is under your chin. Take the bar and lift it off the rack so you’re holding it overhead. Lower it to the safety racks and stop. Don’t let go.
Once the bar is at a dead stop, count “one thousand one” and press it back up to the starting position. Repeat this for as many reps as it takes for you to get comfortable with the exercise. Add a little weight and do it again until you’re comfortable.
Now we get to have fun. You need to go heavy but make sure you can still handle the load you place on the bar. The goal is five sets of five reps. You should struggle to get the fifth rep but be able to get it. If you can’t get five, lower the weight. If five was easy, go up.
2. Seated Lateral Raise – 4 sets of 10 reps
Now that we got the heavy and aggressive lifting out of the way, let’s develop those side heads of the delts. You need to do these laterals seated because the goal here is to fatigue the muscle, not lift more weight. So doing them seated will help prevent you creating momentum.
Lift the weights up and to your sides with a slight bend in the elbow. When you reach the top, stop, then lower them back down. Don’t just go up and down. That slight pause can do so much for building those delts because they have to work harder to control that weight.
Since this is our only side delt exercise, we’re going with four sets here of 10 reps.
3. Superset: Upright Rows & Face Pulls – 3 sets of 15 reps
Although we have rear delts third in the pecking order with this workout, we want to make sure we give them extra attention because they are so vital to pulling movements and you need detail in the rear for those back poses if you’re competing onstage. So we have two exercises that attack the rear delts from two angles.
Before we get into these, a word of warning. Don’t go heavy. Momentum is not going to help you at this point, tension with resistance you can control will.
First, we have upright rows. You should use a barbell here and take a wide grip. Bring the bar up and along your body, but no higher than your nipple line. Going up higher will hit the traps and possibly affect your rotator cuffs. Once you reach that nipple line area, stop, and then slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.
As you perform this lift, think about squats. Why squats? Many people actually place the bar on their rear delts when they do squats. So they try to build the rear delts up so they have that “shelf” like area so they can support more weight there.
As you perform the upright row, when you get to the top of the movement, imagine someone will put a bar on your rear delts. You might be shocked how much better you feel this when you do.
After 15 reps, you immediately go to a cable station with a rope on the top pulley. I want you to pull that rope right to your face but make sure your elbows don’t go above the shoulders. Once again, this will activate your traps which we don’t want yet.
Squeeze the rear delts for two seconds when you pull the rope in. Go for 15 reps here as well. There is no rest between exercises and 60 seconds between each superset.
4. Alternate Machine Shoulder Press – 4 sets of 12 reps
Your struggle is about to get real. We’ve targeted the front head, side head, and rear heads of the delts. Now we’re going to target all three but one side at a time. Most shoulder press machines allow you to lift one side at a time but if for some reason you can’t, go with dumbbells.
Hold your weight up with both arms. Now perform 12 reps with one arm while keeping the other arm up with the weight pressed. After all that other work you did, all three heads of the shoulder area are going to have work together here.
Once you get that 12th rep, hold that last one up and start performing 12 reps with the other arm. You’re going to be tempted to fly through the reps but don’t. Make each one count. You have four sets here.
Make sure you alternate which arm you start with so they each start two sets. For example, if you start with your left arm on the first set, start with the right arm on the second.
5. Machine Shrug – 3 sets of 15 reps
If you prefer to train traps with back then you’re done. For those of you that like to train traps with delts, keep going because you have one more exercise today.
Many gyms out there now have a shrug machine that allows you to hold handles at the sides. If you don’t, go with dumbbells. Regardless, your weight should be at the sides here because it actually helps with range of motion.
Shrugs are simple but you should know one thing. You should be shrugging, not performing the bobble head. In other words, shrug with your traps, squeeze them, and slowly lower your resistance to the starting position. If your reps take shorter than two seconds, you’re doing them wrong.
If you want those Goldberg like traps, they need to be worked so work them properly. Three sets of 15 reps here will be a great way to finish off this intense shoulder session.
The Super Striated Shoulder Workout
|1. Seated Rack Barbell Press||5||5|
|2. Seated Lateral Raise||4||10|
|3a. Upright Rows||3||15|
|3b. Cable Face Pull||3||15|
|4. Alternated Machine Shoulder Press||4||12 each arm|
|5. Machine Shrug||3||15|
*Rest no more than 60 seconds between sets.
We actually created this workout while I was at Muscle & Strength headquarters.
I got to train with M&S Editor Josh England and this workout is what we came up with that day.
Thanks to Josh & M&S for having me and for the workout.