My shoulder genetics are pretty pathetic. For years I did numerous overhead-pressing variations with regularity and included enough lateral raises to get championship width several times over, but I just didn't seem to get any serious shoulder thickness or size.
My problem was that I believed that growth only happened in the 8 to 12 rep range. I thought that higher reps would turn me into a marathon runner. The solution?
- High reps with heavy weight.
- Doubling my focus on the neglected rear delts.
3D Posterior Delt Training
Rule number one: Train your rear delts!
Training your back isn't enough to develop really large rear delts unless you're gifted genetically. Developing the rear delts is of paramount importance when you stand to the side – when fully developed, you get a thick, 3D "look" that can set you apart from everyone else.
The secret here is to train rear delts with very high reps (most of the time). What I've found over the years is that rear delts respond very well to that type of training.
Burning the life out of them can be painful and test your willpower, but if you can do it, they'll grow. Try the rep scheme below for one month and you'll see what I mean.
Do this on a selected rear delt exercise:
Week 1: 4 sets of 35 reps
Week 2: 4 sets of 20-25 reps
Week 3: 4 sets of 12-15 reps
Week 4: 4 sets of a traditional reverse pyramid: 35 reps, 25 reps, 15-20 reps, and then 8-12 reps. Increase the weight each set on these.
Destroyer Set: Heavy Weight, High-Rep Day
Try using heavy weight for high reps once a month to really shock the muscles.
So how do you do high reps with heavy weight, especially on something like rear delts? I use the following once a month in the offseason, and then twice a month pre-contest.
Finish your shoulder workout with a "destroyer" set of what I call hang and swings.
This is when you use a heavy weight and a very limited range of motion. By the end of the set, you'll look more like you're twitching the dumbbells rather than lifting them. That's okay. If you're in excruciating pain, then you're doing it right.
Lie face down on an incline bench and let the dumbbells hang down. Use a pair of heavy dumbbells and be sure to use wrist straps. Here's the rep scheme for the set:
- Do 60 reps with heavy dumbbells with the partial range of motion hang and swing.
- Drop the dumbbells when you hit 60 reps, and then grab a weight that's half of what you did. Do another 30 reps of hang and swings.
- Drop the dumbbells and cut the weight in half again. Do 10 reps, but come all the way up with a full range of motion and flex your rear delts hard for 2 seconds on each rep.
[video here if needed:]
This will hurt. Your rear delts will grow. You will thank me later!
Questions? Spill them below or join me in the T-Nation John Meadows forum.