The Perfect Workout for Rock Solid Shoulders

Build perfectly balanced shoulders with deltoids that cap with this workout routine. The workout incorporates 2 workouts that you alternate weekly.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Single Muscle Group
Intermediate
8 weeks
1
45-75 minutes
Barbell, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
Male & Female
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Workout Description

The shoulders play an important role in all facets of fitness. So whether you want to improve the way you look or get stronger, you need to pay attention to what you’re doing when it comes to shoulder training.

For bodybuilding purposes, wide and round delts give the physique a more muscular look and can help make your waist appear smaller. The result is a nice V-taper appearance that makes everything more pleasing to the eye.

Stronger shoulders can not only help you lift more weights when doing direct shoulder work. That strength can translate to other movements. Stronger front delts can help you with other pressing movements like the bench press. Stronger rear delts can help you pull more weight on rows or other pulling motions like pullups for instance.

This program is an eight week guide to help you not only get stronger but look better. If you follow this two-part workout for two months, you’ll see results both in the mirror and the weight room. There are a couple things you should know before you check out the workouts.

First, each workout has different exercises included, or at least different versions. This is so your body takes longer to adapt and get comfortable. It isn’t necessarily for the purpose of muscle confusion but they are different challenges and you will be less likely to get bored with the training.

Secondly, the overall goal here is constant improvement. The workout has rep ranges included and the goal is to improve by a minimum of one rep each time you train. So if you get three sets of eight reps last week, you should try to get three sets of nine next week. Let’s say you get two sets of nine but only eight on the third. You still improved by two reps. Next time you should try to get all three sets of nine before going for ten.

Shoulder Workout A (Weeks 1, 3, 5, 7)

Exercise Sets Reps
Standing Barbell Press 6 2-5
Standing Single Arm Lateral Raise 4 6-9
Reverse Lateral Raise on Incline Bench 3 10-13
Face Pulls 3 10-13

Workout A is the one you’ll perform on the odd number of weeks. That means you’ll do this on Weeks 1, 3, 5, and 7.

Every exercise in this workout are performed in a standing position. So your legs and core will be engaged and working to support you throughout the entire workout. You can see the instruction of each exercise on the M&S Exercise Guides page but here are some tips for each movement.

1. Standing Barbell Press

The first three sets are warm-up sets to help prepare the shoulders for the work to come. You should also pay attention to your execution of the reps so your form is on point. The last three sets are with the heaviest weight. If you need wrist wraps and elbow sleeves for this exercise, save them for the last three sets.

Don’t be afraid to use some leg drive to get the weight started. Just make sure you lower the weight under control back to the starting position. The weight should never drop quickly.

Rest for 90 seconds.

2. Standing Single Arm Lateral Raise

The emphasis here is going to be on the negative. Your muscles are more engaged and stronger lowering weight than lifting it. So you’re going to give them a challenging load here.

Use a weight that forces you to use a little momentum to lift. That doesn’t mean completely swinging it so don’t jump to the heavy end of the dumbbell rack. Just go a little heavier than you normally would.

Once you’re at the top of the movement, do all you can to control the weight on the way back down. It should take a minimum of two seconds for the weight to go back to the starting position. If you can’t do this properly, you’re going too heavy.

Make sure you start with the shoulder you feel is weaker so you can commit that extra little bit of energy to making that side stronger.

Rest for 60 seconds.

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3. Reverse Lateral Raise on Incline Bench

This workout has two rear-delt exercises because the rear delts are often neglected. This will help with balance as well as improving strength in that area.

The focus here is complete control. If you have to use momentum at any point here, you’re going too heavy. You should really feel those rear-delts working here. If you need straps to help you hold on to the dumbbells, go for it.

Rest for 60 seconds.

4. Face Pulls

Face pulls are awesome because you can really maximize the range of motion and keep constant tension on the area you’re targeting. If you have access to a longer rope attachment, use it so you can pull back further.

Once you pull the rope in, hold it for a count of three before releasing the tension. You should be far enough away that even with your arms stretched, the pinned weight doesn’t touch the stack.

Rest for 60 seconds.

Shoulder Workout B (Weeks 2, 4, 6, 8)

Exercise Sets Reps
Seated Barbell Press 6 2-5
Seated Lateral Raise 4 6-9
Single Arm Machine Lateral Raise 3 10-13
Seated Reverse Machine Fly 3 10-13

Workout B is different from Workout A because every movement is a seated exercise. Even though you’ll still be focusing on improving and getting stronger, you’ll be able to better isolate the shoulders with these movements. Here is what you need to know about each of these four lifts.

1. Seated Barbell Press

Since you’re going to be seated on a bench, you might be a little stronger here than the standing version since the bench will be supporting you.

When you lower the weight, stop at the bottom before pressing up. This prevents you from using momentum and makes the front delts work harder. If you prefer, you can do these in a squat rack and use the safety racks at the bottom so the bar rests on them when you stop. This is a safer version and I found doing this provides similar benefits to pausing on the bench press. It helps generate that power and explosiveness out of the bottom.

Rest for 90 seconds.

2. Seated Lateral Raise

This workout has two exercises that focus on the side delts so now the emphasis is on that roundness and width. No momentum and swinging on this one. You should be able to manipulate the weight and lift it at your will with no extra effort given by other muscle groups. Lift the weight out to the sides, pause, and lower it back to the starting position.

One extra tip here. Keep that tension on the delts by not allowing them to touch your sides. Once they are about an inch or so from doing that, go back up.

Rest for 60 seconds.

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3. Single Arm Machine Lateral Raise

We do want to make sure there is balance and symmetry so there is a single side movement included here too. Most gyms have a lateral raise machine that allows you to do one side at a time. If yours does not, go with cables or a resistance band.

Like the standing lateral raise in Workout A, you should start with the weaker side. You can either perform all reps on one side or alternate four on one side and four on the other. Whichever way you decide, stick with that for each workout.

Rest for 60 seconds.

4. Seated Reverse Pec-Deck

The final movement is on rear delts because I want you to finish this thinking about that area. You can’t neglect them or else you can’t maximize your potential.

Hold on to the handles with an overhand grip. If your machine has vertical handles, try to avoid using them because you will recruit the side delts. There’s nothing wrong with that in most cases but here we want to isolate the rear delts.

A more advanced method is to have your wrists or lower forearms where the handles are and pushing the weight back that way. This eliminates the grip factor so the rear delts have to work even harder. You may have seen some bodybuilders doing this in their videos. That is why.

Make sure you squeeze those rear delts hard at the top. On the last rep, hold it for five seconds before finishing your set. This will burn but be worth it when you notice the results.

Rest for 60 seconds.

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