Yesterday I did a new shoulder workout based on some new concepts that I have been learning and I have to say it was a great one! For one, I focused on taking out my rear delts first, so that when i targeted the middle delts they failed first, not the front delts. That tends to happen on side raises if I do them first. I found separately on my own and through some reading that the rear delt fly machine is probably the best way to train shoulders. Many might disagree with me, but I feel between rear pec deck machine, upright rows, and variants of vertical presses are all you need for good delt development.
There are two schools of thought on rep range. One is you should train appropriate for the fiber type you’re using. For the delts which are slightly more Type 1 fibers (endurance) and less Type 2 (strength and power) fibers (45% Type 2) then that would mean you would use a slightly higher rep range such as 12-15 reps, not 6-8 like you would for chest.
The other school of thought is that you always train the Type 2 fibers, since some research shows when you train the type 2 fibers the Type 1 fibers still grow more! Thus do 4-6 reps on everything, even ultra finesse moves like face pulls…..
That being said you usually use less reps on barbell and compound lifts, thus using heavier weights. Thing is, most of the compound lifts for the delts are presses and that preferentially works the front delts, probably the least important delt head.
SO I propose this approach; to begin with the rear delts and work to the middle and traps. Then end with presses and front raises. This will result in using less weight, but you can still drop the reps to the low end so you’re in theory hitting the Type 2 fibers as hard as you can.
Thus your doing 6-8 reps for the presses, but since its a super set, Im extending the set to hit the type 1 fibers with extra reps. Its not like the muscles know a second exercise is coming and work less hard on the presses for 6. They aren’t like “Oh crap, we have 6 reps of Arnold’s coming, lets half ass it on these military presses!”
I call a place where your perform a superset a “station” since you should be supersetting two cables, or a freeweight with a cable or machine. You can’t be taking up two machines on opposite ends of the gym, thats rude and frustrating. So I have one machine with multiple uses, or a set of dumbbells you can bring with you to a machine or use for multiple exercises. I just order the dumbbell exercises so the hard stuff is first then the easy stuff so you reach failure twice with only one pair of dumbbells! Old training trick.
If your a rank amateur, use only station 1 for a few weeks then advance to doing station 1 + station 4. After 2 more weeks station 4 then station 1
Intermediate lifters stations 1, 2, and 4 for 3 weeks then stations 4, 1, and 2 for 3 weeks
Advanced lifters do Stations 1, 2, 3, and 4 for 3 weeks then 4, 1, 2, and 3 for 1 week then repeat.
The Best Middle and Rear Delt Activation
Rear Pec Deck palms down
4 x 15
This will get your rear delts the best, especially when using a life fitness machine. This also activates the middle back muscles and traps to turn this into a full upper back workout!
Rear Pec Deck palms in
4 x 12
In this orientation you’re targeting your middle delts the best and activating the middle back differently. I try to make sure to contract everything and each set is done slightly different either gripping the posts different places or raising my arms up so my hands are above shoulder level, this activates the lower traps better.
The two of those can be done as a super set, I would do palms in for 8 reps then palms down for 8 reps same weight, then do it the opposite order next set for 6 sets.
Lateral raises + Upright rows + Shrugs
6 x 8,8,8
Lateral raise a weight for 8 reps then let the triceps go slack and your now doing upright rows for the next 8 reps, then use heavier DBs likely 4 times as heavy and shrug 8 reps. The laterals and the uprights should have functioned to pre exhaust the traps as they are the secondary muscles.
Behind The Neck Pull Downs
Super Set with
Face Pulls From The Floor
4 x 12
Go over to the jungle gym and set the lat pulldown bar in the lat pulldown, and the double rope on the floor of the adjacent cable station. You’re going to do behind the neck pulldowns using the intention method. You’re going to grab the handles of the pull down bar on the far ends and try to pull them apart, as if you want to pull the bar apart. It wont work. What will happen will be your elbows ‘float’ down to about shoulder level. It’s a super small range of motion and you’re not pulling the bar down, your pulling it apart and since it can’t come apart if just floats down a couple inches. But your rear delts are ON FIRE
Then go to the rope on the floor and do face pulls: pull the handles with the back of your hands touching towards your face then pull the handles apart so the knuckle of the rope hits you in the forehead.
That should finish off your rear delts, traps, rotator cuff muscles and other supporting muscles.
Obviously this is super advanced and 1% of competitive athletes will get it right the first time.
4 x 6, 6
Use a straight bar or smith machine and get the proper form right. The bar should be low as your chin or lower if comfortable with arms in front of your and elbows sticking out in front of you. Don’t hit yourself in the chin when you propel the bar up and back at the same time. After 6 reps not quite to failure, use lighter Dumbbells and do arnold presses to failure, ideally 6-8 reps. This will give the front delts a lot of reps with variable weight and the chest and triceps help out. After a few weeks of this add a third exercise, front raises and use ½ the weight you’re using for the arnold presses for 6 reps.
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