Another 5-Star Shoulder Workout


This shoulder workout was an absolute killer! It was one of those sessions where I was sore the next day AND I could actually see a difference in my delts… after one day. I sh*t you not!


A1 Smith Machine Military Press
2 light warm up sets
Set 1: 135 lbs X 12 reps
Set 2: 155 lbs X 10 reps + 2 forced reps
Set 3: 165 lbs X 8 reps + 3 forced reps
A2 Incline Bench Dumbbell 3 Way lateral / front raise
set 1: 20 lbs X 15 reps (5 “rounds” each direction)
set 2: 20 lbs X 15 reps (5 rounds), then drop to 15 lbs, 9 more reps (3 rounds)

set 3: 20 lbs X 15 reps (5 rounds). Then back to smith machine military press 135 lbs X 8, then back to incline bench laterals X 15 lbs X 9 reps (3 rounds)
B1 Seated Straight Arm Lateral raise
3 sets X 20 lbs X 12 reps, then 6 reps partials (middle range of motion)
B2 Seated Dumbbell Push out/ Pull-in
3 sets X 15 lbs X failure
C1 Prone Incline Bench rear lateral raise
3 sets X 25 lbs X 12 reps
C2 Standing Dumbbell Reverse upright row (rear delt pulls)
3 sets X 45 lbs X 8-12 reps (failure)


A1 Triceps Pushdowns, elbows out, V-Bar
80 lbs X 8 sets of 8 reps, “I go, you go” (only rest long enough for training parter to go)
B1 Kneeling Cable Extension behind head with V-Bar
3 sets X 140 lbs X 12
C1 Cybex Dip Machine
Set 1: 80, 90, 100 lbs X 6, 6, 6 (ascending set)
Set 2: 100, 80, 60 lbs X 8, 8, 8 (drop set)
Set 3:80 lbs X 10 reps with slow negatives (6021 tempo)

Workout Commentary

The entire shoulder workout was 100% supersets. Like last week, we started on the smith machine with military presses, just a little bit heavier than last week, but focusing more on strict form than weight. Last week we supersetted from the Smith machine military presses into 3-way standing lateral raises, done at three angles (side, 45 degrees and directly in front) to hit every fiber of the front and side deltoid. This week we did the same, except we did the 3-way laterals lying supine on an incline bench, which makes cheating by using body momentum impossible. You can still cheat if you swing your arms (DONT!), but you cant cheat by swinging your body (The incline lateral raise is much stricter than the standing version).

Back and forth we went, supersetting between incline smith machine military press and the incline lateral raises. We also upped the intensity by adding drop sets on the lateral raises. Once we were exhausted with the 20’s, then we just dropped to the 15 pounders and kept going.

On the last set, we even took it to the extreme by doing what I call a “drop-superset.” We did a set of military presses supersetted into the incline laterals, THEN, went BACK to the military press, stripped off weight and did another set of military presses, then back to the incline lateral raises AGAIN! Kick ass!

Next, we took our 20 and 15 lb dumbbells over to an upright shoulder press chair and supersetted strict straight arm laterals into dumbbell push out pull in’s. The latter exercise gets my vote for the exercise that looks the easiest but is actually the hardest to do! The dumbbell push out pull in looks like a bench press done seated upright. Just press the dumbbells straight out in front of your body until your elbows are locked, then pull them back in. Since you’re sitting upright, all the stress goes to the deltoid – mostly front deltoid, but also some side deltoid. It’s a high tension exercise with a high isometric factor because the deltoids do not rest at all during the set – they are under contraction continuously. The contraction is extreme at the push out position and less in the pull in position.

One of the things I’ve discovered about deltoids is that they respond extremely well to constant tension and exercises with a high isometric factor. If they did not, then how can you explain the often extreme shoulder development of competitive gymnasts? Gymnasts do not lift heavy weights. They don’t do heavy barbell or dumbbell presses, yet I’ve seen some gymnasts with better delts than a few bodybuilders I know! It’s the isometric and constant tension factor.(think “Iron cross”)

So this is why you see me doing a lot of exercises like straight arm laterals with light weights and also these push out, pull in exercises, and the cross body raises I explained in a previous blog. I do train heavy. I don’t think the light, high tension work alone will recruit all the fibers necessary for maximum growth, but I don’t fall for the myth that you must always train heavy with low reps to get mass. It’s certainly about progressive overload, but bodybuilding is also about muscle tension.

We finished up deltoids with incline bench rear deltoid raises supersetted into rear delt “upright rows.” This is like a cross between a shrug and an upright row with with the dumbbells held at your sides (not in front of you).

For triceps I picked three exercises for each of the three tricep heads: elbows out V-bar pushdowns for the lateral head, V bar cable extension behind the head for the long head and the cybex tricep dips for the medial head. I was planning on using one arm dumbbell extensions behind the head for the second exercise, but after several reps of the first set, I switched to the cable because my left elbow was hurting a little bit. Cable extensions are much easier on the joints.

The tricep workout was good, but the deltoid routine was a killer. I love it when I can look in the mirror the next day and see “stuff” that wasn’t there the day before! (veins, striations, separation, muscle size, etc). Definitely another 5-star shoulder workout!

I hit abs at home (non-equipment exercises) later at night, before cardio (not listed above); double crunch (crunch with knees/lower body crunched towards upper body at same time as elbows /upper body crunch towards knees/lower body), ½ bent knee leg raise/hip lift (toes to sky) combo, and side crunches. 3 sets 25-30 reps each, just body weight, very strict, focusing on contraction. I’ve been training abs twice weekly. Off season I only work them once a week. Cardio was 45 minutes on the Lifecycle 9100 at level 4-5 (I have a lifecyle and Stairmaster at home… and believe me they come in real handy when I’m training 2X per day (or even 3X). My official weigh in yesterday was 193 lbs

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