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Critique My Program, Works Great Except Shoulders

I have been working a new program for the last month and a half. I use a push/pull/triceps M/TR and a legs/shoulder on T/F. Wed is abs, leg scisors and side bends. Mainly a “support” muscle day just to keep me in the gym.

I have been making steady gains on all my lifts except for my shoulders. I stay the same almost ALWAYS, though sometimes less.My workouts are about 1hr-1h15. Very intense.

I am eating pleanty, as shown with steady gains elsewhere.

So I need feedback on my shoulders

Bench 8-10x5
fly 8-10x4
cable row 8-10x5
Single DB row 5-8x4
reverse crunch ~40
decline fly 8-10x4
Skullcrusher 8-10x5
tricep kickback 15x4

squats 6-9 x 5
Deadlift 5x1
leg ext 10x2
leg curl 8-10x2
cabke crunch 1 set
preacher curl 8-10x4
conc curl 8-10x3
**seated should press 6-8x5
**lat raise/alt. cable raise 8-10x4

You’re putting your shoulders at the end after squats, deads, leg isolates, abs, and arms.


How big are you? How much do you press? I don’t think you necessarily have to press to have big shoulders, but if you’re healthy, might help. Never (personally) seen someone press an impressive weight and have small shoulders.

DB presses are fine, just slightly harder to go heavy on. Do you progress on them? Like are you trying to do more reps for more weight every session, or just repeat the same thing every time?

Work your rear delts. Look at Paul Carter’s or John Meadows’ stuff.


As jshaving said, overhead work will grow your shoulders. I’m not a bodybuilder (i.e., I don’t care about size), but once I started incorporating a lot of overhead work in my programming, I noticed that my shoulders blew up quickly. Also as jshaving mentioned, work your rear delts (face pulls are great for this).




Surprised no one mentioned this, but your delts are probably still fatigued from the previous day’s chest session. Maybe try an upper/lower split 4 days a week or a push/pull/legs 4 days a week. If you want to prioritize shoulders, do them before chest on the upper or push days. You could also do a 3-day split like this - chest/back, legs, shoulders/arms, rest, repeat. My vote would be for the upper lower or P/P/L split though. There’s a reason why those splits are so common.

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Lots of good advise, thanks to all.

I am doing DB Overhead presses, lat raises, front raises with leg day. so ALL upper except shoulders on M/TH and Legs&shoulders T/F.
To jshaving. I work with '50s on ohd DB press, and 30-35 on lat raises. I have made occasional gains, but now I occasionally regress or stay the same mostly.

That’s Too heavy on lateral (medial?) raises. Slow down and feeeeeel those delts.


Can we get a picture of your upper body? Ive seen some BIG guys use 20-25s. I can do work sets with 70-75s on DB OHP and rarely use over 25s for lateral Raises, so having your working weight with laterals be just 15# below your OHP weight is strange to me.

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I’ll back off slightly and see what happens. I am holding good form without bending forward, nor bending elbow excessively. I’ll try it though!

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OK, heres the pic. I know my musculature is under some fat, but please be nice, Yes, the’re there but no great definition.

Oh man, that’s great, usually dudes would rather die than use a little less weight.

Since you’re so open minded, some work for the rear delts could be useful too.

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yea that’s way too heavy if your focus is on delts, on the lateral raises. I’ve pressed 300 lbs overhead and I don’t use that much weight on lateral raises.

more than slightly. Drop to 20 lbs as your heaviest sets and control the weight. Keep your arms fully extended or with a SLIGHT bend for comfort. Do not swing the weight. And try for a short pause at the top of each rep.

I also recommend single arm seated dumbbell presses. Do a set of 10 (or whatever) with the left, then then 10 with the right. This will really force you to focus on stability in the movement.


Exercise recommendation? (rear delts)

Do those 5 sets of DB presses include warm-ups or are they all at 50 lbs?
Also, your shoulders actually look pretty beefy. If you’re after aesthetics you won’t get that with your current BF. But from your statement “I have been making steady gains on all my lifts except for my shoulders” it sounds like you’re talking about strength. Do you have a progression plan? I don’t do DB presses but if I did and they were my main/heavy lift for shoulders, and the goal was strength, I would have a plan such as 3 x 4-6 reps (after warm-ups). I would start with a weight that I could do 3 sets of 4 with in good form and work up until I could do 3 sets of 6 and then add 5 lbs and start over. That’s an example of how you progress on a lift.
You use the same weight for all 3 working sets and you don’t go to max/failure on the 1st set, you want to make sure you get 3 sets of at least 4 good reps. If you think you can get 5 on your last set then go for it. If you nail the 5th rep then next time see if you can do 5 on the 1st, but if you only get 4 each on sets 2 and 3 that’s OK. Eventually you should nail 5 reps on all 3 sets then start trying to add a 6th rep on one of the sets, and so on. And if you do this and still can’t progress then there’s something else wrong, for example rest, nutrition, etc.
And it helps immensely to log all of your sets/reps. I carry a small notepad with me.
In addition, at your size, I don’t really see an issue with using 30 lb dumbbells for lateral raises either if you can do them in good form. Shit, I’m 67 and only 5’9" 184 lbs and I am currently at 30’s for 3x8.

Very good advice Dragon1952. I hqve been trying to keep at a set rep for all sets. It doesn’t always work, but I will change to mqx reps on each set qnd try it out… My sets do NOT include warm ups at present. Is that really necessary?(honest question). /My progression plan in general is that if I add ~2 reps I go up 5 lbs (2.5 on some items).

I don’t do warm up sets on every exercise, no. But at my age I can’t just jump right in there like I used to either :^ ) It sounds like you have a progression plan so if you’re strength isn’t going up you are probably close to maxed out, which it doesn’t sound like at 50 lbs, or your recuperation and/or nutrition are possibly to blame, however, you obviously can’t progress as fast with shoulders as you can with other larger muscles.
I do a 6 day split so I’ll do back/chest, next day shoulders/biceps/triceps (shoulders first), then next day legs and shrugs.
Maybe try the DB presses standing?