Training for width – Shoulders
For anyone trying to develop their perfect physique and that traditional V taper we all strive for, it all starts with big cannonball shoulders. As you know from my previous back article, width is something I’m really focusing on over the winter months before I start my contest prep early next year. With my current training plan being tailored around the 5/3/1 program I hit the compound overhead press to start followed by isolation exercises for each of the deltoid muscles that make up the shoulder (front delt, side delt and rear delt). I personally tend to really focus on the side and rear delts as most exercises incorporate the font delt such as bench press, flys and even dumbbell curls to an extent. Next time you’re in the gym have a good look at peoples physiques, I guarantee most gym goers will all have well developed front delts with much smaller rear and side delts and if you’re looking to add width to your physique and proportion you really need to hit your side delts. I personally know of a handful of guys that stopped training front delts for 4-6 weeks to help bring up their side and rear delts which as a result influenced me to switch up my training too.
As I’ve previously outlined, the 5/3/1 program is based around percentages of your 1 rep max of 4 compound lifts. Following from the compound overhead press aka military press I turn my attention to the side delts before I start lagging in strength from the previous exercise. My first exercise for side delt is seated lateral raise drop set of 6 heavy reps into 12 medium rep into 24 light reps, the idea behind this is that your target both types of muscle fibre and stimulate more growth. The other reason I prefer to do them seated is that is harder to cheat, doing them standing isn’t bad but you’ll find you’ll lose form and towards the end of the set start jerking the weight up with your legs/body, however if you’re planning on doing 3 sets of 8-10 reps as oppose to the drop set I suggest you do them seated then once they become really hard stand up and cheat the last few out.
A quick final point when it comes to training shoulders, don’t lock your arms during any of the exercises and lead with your little finger, for example seated lateral raises, rather than swinging your arms up leading with your thumb, lead with your little finger, imagine the dumbbells are jug of water and at the top of the exercise slightly tip your little finger higher as if your tipping water out of the jug. Strange analogy but trust me it works and gets a full contraction of the side delts.
Week 1 – Shoulder Workout
5 minutes on cross trainer or rower
5-10 Rotator cuff work with bands
Over Head Press (warm up) 40% of 1RM x 5 reps
50% of 1RM x 5 reps
60% of 1RM x 3 reps
Over Head Press (5/3/1) 65% of 1RM x 5 reps
75% of 1RM x 5 reps
85% of 1RM x 5 reps + as many as you can
Seated Lateral Raises (Drop set) 6 reps – 12 reps - 24 reps x 3 sets
Lying reverse flys 3 sets of 8 reps
Front barbell raises (wide grip) 3 sets of 10 reps
Reverse Pec deck flys 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Cable lateral raises 3 sets of 6-8 reps
(2 seconds up, 1 second contraction and 4 seconds negative)
By Lee Malone