Shoulder training

How is your deltoid development, have you thought about that lately? If the answer is not as good as it should be, you are not alone and following the usual methods may never get you there if you are a natural bodybuilder with average genetics.

shoulder workout

Lets examine the usual methods, split routines, training the biggest body part first in a given workout, starting each muscle group with the basic multi-joint exercises followed by the so called isolation/shaping movements, doing lower reps on multi-joint exercises and higher reps on isolation exercise, three to four sets per exercise of three to four exercises per muscle group, trying to use as heavy of poundages as possible in questionable form, training each muscle group twice a week.

Lets take split routines, they were invented to break the body into separate groups of muscle to be able to give greater attention to just a few muscle groups at a given workout while you are fresh because it would be impossible to do three to four sets per exercise of three to four exercises per muscle group in one workout and give them all equal effort and intensity, if you did chest, back, shoulders, arms, abs, legs, and calves in one workout using this protocol you would end up doing seventy two to one hundred and thirty two sets in a single workout.

So the theory being that some muscles are trained while others get a rest works ok with a upper body/lower body split but not so good for a push/pull split, when do the deltoids, shoulder and elbow joints get to rest? These areas are used with equal involvement in both push and pull exercises, they are the middle links between the torso muscles and the hands, there is no getting around this fact. To train back a day or two after chest or vise verse subjects the deltoids and joints to stress before they have had a chance to recover and it is during recovery that muscles grow, not while training them.

Training breaks them down and if they are constantly being trained where is their chance to compensate and grow?

Next lets look at the practice of training the biggest muscle group to the smallest in a given grouping of muscles in a workout. This rule applies with torso before arm training for the obvious reason that tiring out your arm muscles before chest or back will result in not being able to train chest and back hard enough because the arm muscles being smaller and weaker will tire out even sooner than normal, but this is not the case with shoulders, they can be carried to greater levels of intensity, being pulled along by the larger, stronger torso muscles.

Next is notion of starting each muscle group with a basic multi-joint exercise followed by more isolated exercises. This is a good idea for someone starting out seeking overall size and strength but you quickly find the strongest muscles or parts of muscles developing at the expense of the smaller ones, thick front delts, the outer/lower pecs, upper lats, the inner calves and inner biceps, the inner and long head of the triceps, the upper half of the thighs, leaving the middle and rear delts, the inner and upper pecs, the lower lats and middle back, the outer calves and biceps, the lateral head of the triceps, the adductor and tear drop muscles of the inner lower thigh barely touched giving the body an incomplete unfinished lopsided look and following the crude basic movements with light isolation exercises is a waste of time and energy as if some how you can shape the weak areas with enough intensity to cause any real effect with light localized training after the fact.

Next the theory of using lower reps on big basic movements and higher reps on isolation exercises. Well doing isolated exercises for reps of four to six is certainly ill advised for sure because of the intense pull on the ligaments and insertion points of the muscles when they are moving through a inferior mechanical line of pull while higher reps tend to pump more blood into the muscle and keep the muscles under tension for a longer time but this doesn't equate to greater shape or definition, that is more the effect of diet and genetics, though it is possible to affect shape to a certain degree.

Now using low reps on big compound movements will produce increases in size and strength but as the pounds start to add up the risk of injury looms larger but it has been proven that gains in size and strength can be obtained in multi-joint exercises with reps as high as fifteen for the upper body and as high as thirty for thighs and calves with far less risk of injury and more time under tension and more blood being pumped into the muscles.

Next is the accepted practice of three to four sets per exercise of three to four exercises per muscle group. Have you ever tried to do four sets to absolute failure for four exercises for back followed by the same amount and intensity for traps, rear delts, and biceps in a single workout? Can you say severe over training? And follow this, even a few days later, with chest, front and side delts, and triceps with the same volume and intensity, good luck getting the deltoids to grow.

This is why there are so many pec, front delt/rotator cuff, and bicep injuries, the severe overuse of the deltoids, shoulder and elbow, joints the connective tissue, ligaments, and insertion points are eventually overwhelmed and something gives way due to the chronic overuse and under recuperated style of training.

Training as heavy as possible in questionable form is a sure way to serious injury and recommended only for the stupid, there are smarter, more effective ways to get what you want without forever nursing some pain or injury, pushing through the pain until the injury is chronic and you end up training with lighter weights anyway but still with pain and at a level of intensity less than you need to progress because pushing to the limit even with light weights hurts too bad.

Save yourself the pain and injury by losing the ego, sometimes training hard equals training dumb if your definition of hard training only encompasses going heavy, many a pro bodybuilder has learned that lesson the hard way, cutting their careers short. Train smart not dumb.

Training each muscle group twice a week. If you do, one of these workouts should be lighter and sub maximal with higher reps and if you do the usual type workout splits you are actually working some muscles, joints, ligaments, and insertion points four times a week.

So what do you do when it seems that most of the rules of training are counterproductive? Well starting with split routines, if you must, split the body into an upper body workout and a lower body workout, putting abdominals in either the upper or lower body workout but not both and use a rotating workout schedule training upper body on Mondays and Fridays and lower body on Wednesday one week and lower body on Monday and Friday and upper body on Wednesday the next week and just keep this rotating week to week with Monday being your light workout whether it be upper or lower body, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday being rest days.

As for deltoids, most people don't know how to train them to good effect, they usually overwork and under train them. Train them before chest and back and start with the most isolated movement, follow them with progressively more compound movements, and finish them off with a compound movement, an example would be side lateral, then upright row, then overhead barbell press, then chest training and bent laterals, then bent arm reverse flys, then behind neck pulldowns, then back training.

Keep reps in eight to twelve range for more time under tension and if you carry every set to at least positive failure, one to two sets per exercise of two to five exercises per muscle group will be sufficient with more exercises for larger muscle groups such as back or thighs and less for smaller ones such as biceps or hamstrings. As long as you do delts before the larger chest and back muscles you maximize the limited number of sets you do for them as the training effect is amplified by the fresh larger muscles pushing the pre-fatigued muscles through the rest of the workout at a level above what can be obtained by localized isolation training done after training the larger muscles first, thus capitalizing on the localized isolation effect and building on it resulting in more intensity with less total sets.

Shoulder training


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