3 Secrets for Supersized Shoulders
Everything you have learned about shoulder training is wrong.
Most bodybuilding advice is generic and boring.
It’s what most people follow.
It’s also why most people get generic and boring results.
Take a look in any gym today.
If you were to fast forward 2 years later, what would you see?
Would you see a packed gym full of people who have taken the time to get to know themselves and turn their weaknesses into strengths?
No. You would probably witness a scene similar to the one you saw today… the same people doing the same exercises and getting little results.
This is the case for every body part, especially shoulders.
If I had to pick one body part, shoulders are perhaps the most poorly trained of them all.
The majority of guys go into the gym… they do some shoulder presses and dumbbell laterals. They neglect the importance of form. They call it day.
That’s not shoulder training. That’s maintenance at best.
I have yet to see a true article (coming from legitimate experience) that does not rely on the generic “shoulder presses build big shoulders” cookie cutter advice.
None of my advice is ordinary.
My results have been anything but ordinary.
I deadlift at the end of my back workouts.
I use superior movements to build fully developed triceps.
I use split training to win the muscle building game.
I follow 3 secrets for supersized shoulders.
Here they are:
1. Rear delts must be your priority. Hammer them with volume and hit them early in your shoulder workout.
Your shoulders have 3 heads: front, side, rear.
The front delts receive the most work. They receive a lot of indirect work from pressing movements.
So they get plenty of work on chest day and when you train triceps.
Here are some movements that directly target front delts:
Any type of machine shoulder press
Barbell Raises (close grip)
Front Dumbbell Raises
Since your front delts get so much indirect work from any type of pressing movements for chest (as well as dips), you do not need to spend that much time directly working them.
In fact, you could go so far as to limit your front delt work exclusively to a few sets of shoulder presses.
The side delts also receive a decent amount of work from presses.
However, you definitely want to give these some direct work with some specific movements.
These movements add to that “capped delt” look, giving them that roundness:
Barbell Raises (shoulder width grip)
Any type of machine that mimics a lateral/raise movement
The rear delts are the secret.
Having rear delts that pop is what gives your shoulders that 3-D look.
The movements that specifically target this area are what create the illusion of width even if you have a narrow bone structure.
Not dumbbell presses. Not plate raises.
REAR DELT MOVEMENTS.
Current Mr. Olympia Phil Heath (3x) is not a genetically wide guy. In fact, a lot of forum trolls talk smack about him and call him narrow.
However, he maxes out his width and has that 3-D look because of his insane rear delt development.
You can watch any video of him training shoulders.
He’s always hammering away with the rear delt movements.
Incorporate these rear delt movements. Master the form. And hit them early in your workout. Watch your rear delts grow and start giving off the illusion of width:
Barbell Upright Rows (Wide-Grip)
Bent over Dumbbell Laterals
Bent over Cable Laterals
Seated Dumbbell Laterals (knuckles facing forward)
Check out the video of me supersetting Reverse Pec-Deck with Barbell Upright Rows (Wide-Grip).
2. Presses are not the ideal movement for fully developed shoulders. High volume lateral/raising movements are.
I did not build my shoulders with heavy barbell and dumbbell presses.
I built them with high volume supersets.
All of those movements for side delts and rear delts… I built my shoulders supersetting all those movements over the years.
I probably only do 3 or 4 working sets of heavy presses for shoulders.
The rest is all creative use of the tools at my disposal… dumbbells, barbells, cables, rows, kettle bells, various machines, ropes.
I use them all to hammer my shoulders with the movements that actually matter.
Shoulder training should not be easy.
If you want them to grow, you need to subject yourself to these movements.
By the time your shoulder training session is over, it should be difficult for you to even raise your arms.
Most guys (when they throw up in the gym) throw up because of an intense leg or even back workout.
I once had a guy throw up from one of my shoulder workouts.
You do not get that intensity from mediocre “build big shoulders with dumbbell presses workouts”.
You get that intensity (and subsequent growth) from high volume workouts focusing primarily on the lateral and raising movements.
Check out the video to see a typical Sonny Arvado “set” for shoulders. Yes, this is one set.
3. Form is everything… but not in the traditional sense.
Let’s get off topic for a little bit.
I’m a huge baseball fan.
I’ve loved baseball since I was 5.
In baseball, power hitters have many different approaches at the plate.
They have different stances.
They have different means by which they load up.
They have different swings.
Two of my favorite players growing up were Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr.
Two vastly different hitters.
Barry Bonds choked up, brought his hands up and down when he loaded up, and had a slight bend at the knees. His swing was very compact and direct.
On the other hand, Ken Griffey Jr. was the opposite. He stood rather upright at the plate and he had a long looping uppercut swing.
Both sluggers are in the top 6 of all-time home run leaders. Why?
It’s because when it comes to the actual fundamental mechanics of hitting, both Bonds and Griffey did everything the right way.
They both kept their hands inside the baseball.
They both kept their heads down in the zone during the swing.
They both kept their front hips closed upon contact.
They both kept their weight back and exploded through the zone with their hands.
Everything else was (is) irrelevant and is upon to customization.
That’s exactly what they did.
They had their sweet spot or groove which they expressed in all those things such as stance and bat angle.
All the stuff that matters (the fundamentals) was the same.
The same thing applies to shoulder training (actually training any body part).
The overall form is customizable.
Everyone has a unique build with different bone structures.
What works for Johnny might not work for Jimmy.
Some people benefit from super strict movements (zero momentum) while others are better suited to more rhythmic movements (some momentum).
I personally like using some momentum (particularly on shoulders), although I do occasionally go super strict on the movements (zero momentum).
Ultimately, you have to find your sweet spot in the iron game.
You have to find your form.
It’s in like that movie The Legend of Bagger Vance where Will Smith is instructing Matt Damon“you have to find your swing… a swing that’s yours and yours alone.”
You find that but be sure to keep these rules in mind.
As with the mechanics of hitting there are certain things you must do if you want to successfully hammer your shoulders.
1) On all raises your arms should be bent at approximately a 120 to 150 degree angle.
This is where poor form is most apparent in any gym. Most dudes do raises with a 90 degree bend (or even less) and use a lot of momentum to top it off.
You don’t hit the shoulders properly that way. In reality, you are taking a lot of the lift off of the shoulders and instead putting some of the strain on your forearms and traps.
Keep the arms at those angles and you tell me the difference. It might be difficult at first… but that’s because you probably have not been doing the movements with proper form.
At those angles, you have no choice but to make your shoulders do the brunt of the work.
2) You do not need full range of motion.
Full Range of motion is another myth that I could have listed in the previous posts on bodybuilding myths.
This coincides with the idea of finding your sweet spot.
Forget the generic “all the way up all the way down” advice.
When you are all the way up or all the way down, the muscle is not doing any work.
Instead, all the stress is placed on the joints and whatever supporting muscles happen to be helping you hold the weight up.
You want to be as efficient as possible.
To do that all you need to do is focus on the part of the lift that matters… your sweet spot where the targeted muscle (in this case shoulders) is doing 100% of the work.
Check the video to see me doing some shoulder presses on the smith machine. Notice my range of motion. That’s my sweet spot. That’s where the muscle is doing 100% of the work for me.
Anything else is a waste of time, energy, and perfectly healthy joints.
I’ve said my piece.
Time for you to say yours in the comments below.