A common misconception out there in the training world is that all body parts, like shoulders, respond to the same type of training stimulus. This has led many enthusiastic lifters to carry out the exact same type of workouts for each training session of the week.
Whether it is the overloading principle, or the muscle confusion principle or any other training approach that promises results, the same application of the training stimulus doesn’t always work the same for each muscle group.
For instance, if you want to grow a massive back, then you’re going to have to pull heavy weights off the ground and work in a relatively lower rep range to stimulate growth. If you’re looking to build up your arms, going heavy probably won’t do anything for you other than destroy your tendons. And that’s just something we don’t want to have happen to you!
The point here is that in order to build your body so that everything grows at the same rate, you may have to take different approaches with your training for different body parts.
For example, the shoulders seem to respond best to both a heavy and moderately heavy approach with both low and high reps being beneficial. For this reason, it is highly suggested you incorporate both strategies into your shoulder workouts and to help you with this, here are 4 excellent supersets you can include in your training to build boulder shoulders.
Superset #1: Dumbbell front raises/side laterals/bent over laterals
This first order of exercises is more of a triset, but it super in nature by virtue of the massive pump you’ll get going almost immediately. This is a personal favorite simply because of how beneficial this sequence is for warming up the shoulder in its entirety.
You have to keep in mind that the shoulder joint itself is quite delicate and can easily be injured in a few different areas, so it’s imperative that you drive as much blood into the area as you can prior to heading into any of the heavier pressing type movements you’ll be using throughout the workout.
You don’t have to go heavy here at all and you should probably keep the reps in the 12-15 range and complete at least four rounds of this. Once complete, you’ll be primed and ready for the next superset.
Superset #2: Machine Overhead Shoulders Presses superset with Machine Lateral Raises
Many of the shoulder injuries that I have seen occur, typically happen when overhead pressing is involved while using a free weight exercise. For this reason, it is highly suggested you start your overhead pressing with a machine that will offer you more of a fixed plane of motion. Remember safety is a key part of working out.
This way you only have to focus on the pressing part of things versus the stabilization as you are still priming your shoulders for more overhead pressing to come. And focus is a key part of this whole process.
So make sure you use a smith machine or any of the Arsenal or Prime overhead presses here at Brickhouse Gym and use a good amount of weight for your top sets whereby you complete 8-12 reps and then immediately follow up your press with a machine side lateral.
Again, it’s a fixed plane of motion for the shoulders, which offers some good safety, so don’t be afraid to let it rip with a good amount of weight but staying in the 12-20 rep range.
Superset #3: Seated Dumbbell Presses superset with Standing Lateral Raises
This one is definitely a favourite. It’s now time to really get down to business and get to moving some good old free weight around. The seated dumbbell press might be one of the best shoulder exercises there is because of the freedom of movement it provides and what it offers by way of being able to utilize a good amount of weight to stimulate growth.
If your shoulders are strong enough, you’ll probably need someone to help you get those 150’s into position so as to not waste all your energy, so find someone to help.
Once you bang out a good 6-10 reps here, head over to the lighter dumbbells and complete a drop set of lateral raises for the shoulders by starting with the weight you used for your last feeder set, working down in 5lb increments until the pain is too much to handle!
Superset #4: Standing low cable Lateral Raises superset with Reverse Pec Deck Flys
To really cap things off (pun intended), finish up with three to four supersets of standing low cable lateral raises and reverse pec deck flys. By this point, your pump is probably so crazy that you can’t even imagine driving any more blood into your delts, but do this just to make sure every and any last fibre is demolished and forced into new growth.
A real good trick for shoulders is to complete all your supersets with these two exercises as quickly as you can. No need to take your time here. Just grip it and rip it and then get the heck out of there. Keep the weight moderate and the reps high and feel the burn.
So, as you can see, this training plan for shoulders involves both multi-joint, compound movements and more isolated movements using both heavy and light to moderate weight, with a wide range of repetitions to work through during the session.
This type of mix seems to provide great gains in shoulder development for a lot of people, so if you haven’t been trying this approach yet, please give it a go. The boulder shoulders you’ve always wanted are right there for the taking, as this workout promises to deliver.
So get at it. Try these exercises out the next time it’s shoulders day for you. Make sure you have a spotter for some of them as safety is important in the process. Let us know how it goes.
Author: Dana Bushell
Gym Star Team Member