T Nation

Shoulders - More or Less Training?

Okay since I can no longer post on T Cell Alpha I will start a new thread here on shoulders. I’m hoping the experts can chime in.

I do an upper/lower split, each twice per week. On upper days (for shoulders) I do machine military presses, cross over cable pulls, lateral rows and DB presses (usually superset the last two).

Since I really want to build up my shoulders (and tris are the worst body part) I started doing less sets on upper body day for shoulders, bis and tris and then I added an extra day just to do them. This way arms and shoulders get hit three times per week, one of those days being much more intense than the other two since it’s dedicated to only arms and shoulders. The two upper body days typically get one exercise, sometimes two, of 4-8 sets total for shoulders and arms.

I never do a body part two days in a row. Either they’re split between days off or leg days.

I saw this posted on T Cell Alpha by Caveman: “Actually they run an article a few years ago about avoiding all direct shoulder work and just keep the laterals at the end of every workout. Thats every workout. May be a day of heavy pressing could keep balances and strength.”

Now I have no idea what article he is referring to (and can’t ask) but it did bring some questions to mind.

Is it that less is more when it comes to shoulders or is hitting them three times per week good for growth?
Does the frequency and intensity vary depending on the individual?

Just as a side note my tris are the most stubborn and least developed. My bis are my best muscles and noticibly developed (even before training). My shoulders have been coming along nicely on twice per week sessions but I want to step it up because I like the look of well developed shoulders.

Thanks for any help.

Never really know till you try.

I almost never ever ever do direct shoulder pressing anymore. The front delts IMO get hammered with heavy bench work et al. I do do a lot of face pulls which really nail the rear delt; though technically face pulls are not a rear delt exercise per se. Side laterals are truly your one potential exception.

Also there can be a difference between developing asethetically pleasing shoulders and strong functional shoulders. I powerlift so having capped coconut halve delts is less important to me than benching a larger weight. I dropped overhead presses in an attempt to increase my bench and it worked. This is not to suggest that some people would see an increase from doing overhead presses.

The game is so subjective as aforementioned you truly don’t know till you try. If you are making progress and your lifts are increasing you’re doing something correctly. When you plateau or stall then perhaps you could mix things up a bit.

I always used to devote at least one day a week to prioritizing shoulder development, but all that did was overtrain them. I’ve seen much better progress doing chest work first in every upper body workout, and using laterals or a lighter overhead press to finish off the medial delts. Every so often, I’ll do a heavier overhead movement, but this will still come after my chest work.

i would guess if you were hitting them with real intensity you wouldnt need to hit them 3x a week.

shoulders are also used a lot indirectly with just about every single upper body movement in one way or another. i would guess that if youre doing shoulder 3x your lifts would suffer on UB days when doing things like chest or back.

in all honesty, youre a woman and saying ok i want to make my shoulders better isnt that easy, a lot of what inhibits or promotes your muscle growth is going to be on that muscles genetic response to stimulus since your nat. testosterone is relatively low.

i dont mean to sound discouraging either, just keep at it, maybe start pushing the weight a bit heavier and work on some iso-tension to mix it up a bit.

Thanks for the responses. Livefromthe781 I agree which is part of the reason why I did less shoulder work on upper body days. I wanted to focus more on chest and back. That’s when I started hitting shoulders a little less and I figured why not add one day to really nail them.

On my last upper body workout I only did four sets of machine military presses for shoulders because I was too tired to do much more. I had already done chest and back. That’s when I came up with the idea to do a shoulder day. Then I figured since my tris suck I’ll make it an arm and shoulder day.

Leon how did you know you overtrained them? I personally don’t understand the concept of overtraining. I skip days between muscle groups so I’m never training an already sore muscle.

[quote]LiveFromThe781 wrote:
i would guess if you were hitting them with real intensity you wouldnt need to hit them 3x a week.

shoulders are also used a lot indirectly with just about every single upper body movement in one way or another. i would guess that if youre doing shoulder 3x your lifts would suffer on UB days when doing things like chest or back.

in all honesty, youre a woman and saying ok i want to make my shoulders better isnt that easy, a lot of what inhibits or promotes your muscle growth is going to be on that muscles genetic response to stimulus since your nat. testosterone is relatively low.

i dont mean to sound discouraging either, just keep at it, maybe start pushing the weight a bit heavier and work on some iso-tension to mix it up a bit. [/quote]

Your advice in the first two paragraphs made sense to me. The rest of your post was just uncalled for though. I am not pull some sort of shit arguement like I think you are a womanizer or something. But you wrote that stuff and it didn’t even need to be mentioned.

what rep range do you use? Are you doing the same rep range and weight that you have always done?

Perhaps look for a variety of different exercises. Laterals in the scapular plane work for me. I also got some development when I added for a while neutral grip high incline presses. was stale on military presses. lateral raises laying on an angled bench add neat touch. Face down on an incline bench as well. (scapular plane). I concentrate on raising my upper arm, and not the path of my hand, if that makes sense.

[quote]AmandaSC wrote:

Leon how did you know you overtrained them? I personally don’t understand the concept of overtraining. I skip days between muscle groups so I’m never training an already sore muscle. [/quote]

I knew I was overtraining them because they were shrinking, or at least falling way behind the rest of my body. Also, I was repeatedly hitting plateaus on my chest day (back when I separated horizontal and vertical pressing), so I began to suspect that I was overworking my shoulders. Thinking back, I recalled that my best shoulder development in recent history came from a routine that focused on horizontal pressing, with overhead work thrown in at the end. I didn’t progress much in overhead strength, but my shoulders grew like crazy. So, after remembering this and reading other sources that suggested shoulders need merely to be finished off after horizontal pressing, I gave it a try, and it’s worked very well.

On a side note, it surprises me to hear your muscle soreness goes away within two days (if I’m reading that correctly). I remain sore for at least four or five days, sometimes a week.

Have you tried adding 50lbs to your barbell overhead press and gaining 20lbs of bodyweight?

That is usually the fastest method.

I don’t want to give too much advice Amanda because you really seem to have a plan and know what you’re doing but as far as shoulders, less was better for me.

I gained good mass around my shoulders when I stopped dedicating them an entire day and instead worked in some power presses and lateral raises in my push and pull workouts.

I think that it allowed my shoulders to fully recover between workouts, because I also saw improvements in all pressing motions. Before lowering the volume, my shoulders were always the weakest link on chest and back days and it was holding me back.

good luck

[quote]DanErickson wrote:

Your advice in the first two paragraphs made sense to me. The rest of your post was just uncalled for though. I am not pull some sort of shit arguement like I think you are a womanizer or something. But you wrote that stuff and it didn’t even need to be mentioned.[/quote]

im not trying to sound like a womanizer in the least, my friend. im merely trying to say dont get discouraged because its a lot harder for women to shape on muscle, thats all. if it came off as womanizing, that was not my intention whatsoever, sorry if there were any misinterpertations.

regardless, i want to reitterate(sp) my last paragraph from my first post.

static iso-tension works really well, its a method incorporated both by Dante (DoggCrapp)and our very own Christian Thibaudeau. when youre doing shoulders, try to work til failure and incorporate the above mentioned methods.

[quote]AmandaSC wrote:

I personally don’t understand the concept of overtraining. I skip days between muscle groups so I’m never training an already sore muscle. [/quote]

overtraining has less to do with training a sore muscle and more to do with pounding the CNS. if a muscle itself is over worked it will just get inflamed, double or triple in size and the swelling will reduce to normal in a few days.

if you tax your CNS too much, think compounds to failure on a daily basis, then you sort of shut down. lethargy as in loss of energy, loss of appetite, i believe sleep is affected too. its like the way you feel after a really intense day of lifting or extreme cardio, but you dont recover from it in a couple hours as you would with those scenarios. at least thats my undertaking of CNS fatigue.

[quote]LiveFromThe781 wrote:
DanErickson wrote:

Your advice in the first two paragraphs made sense to me. The rest of your post was just uncalled for though. I am not pull some sort of shit arguement like I think you are a womanizer or something. But you wrote that stuff and it didn’t even need to be mentioned.

im not trying to sound like a womanizer in the least, my friend. im merely trying to say dont get discouraged because its a lot harder for women to shape on muscle, thats all. if it came off as womanizing, that was not my intention whatsoever, sorry if there were any misinterpertations.[/quote]

Oh no dont worry, taht isnt what I was saying at all.

Thanks for all the advice. I’m actually not discouraged at all. I have put on a decent amount of muscle and I just started training at the beginning of this year. The only part that’s lagging are my triceps but I expected that. They’re actually finally coming along now.

My shoulders have been coming along nicely. I guess one can argue if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I was thinking that if they’re growing now why not work them a bit more and get them along faster? I could be wrong though but I guess one never knows what will work for them until they try it.

i tried out a good tricep longhead workout. i stole it form some other guy at the gym. you just get on the cable thing with the stack and put on a rope (easier on joints) and bend down pushing from behind your head think of it like a horizontal tricep extension.

[quote]AmandaSC wrote:
Thanks for all the advice. I’m actually not discouraged at all. I have put on a decent amount of muscle and I just started training at the beginning of this year. The only part that’s lagging are my triceps but I expected that. They’re actually finally coming along now.

My shoulders have been coming along nicely. I guess one can argue if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I was thinking that if they’re growing now why not work them a bit more and get them along faster? I could be wrong though but I guess one never knows what will work for them until they try it.[/quote]

Amanda,

I had the same problem as you did with the triceps underwhelming the rest of the body. 2 months ago, I had a about a 550 deadlift, and a 450 squat, but I couldn’t even bench 225 where a 350 bench would be more fitting to match my squat and deadlift. I stopped lifting for 2 months and have been back at it for about 2 weeks, so I’m not that strong anymore.

Regardless, I have started doing dips, and my arms are actually bigger than they’ve ever been, even after losing 35 lbs from cutting and only having been back at lifting for 2 weeks. I had never done dips before, and that’s what has worked for me so far.

"I do machine military presses, cross over cable pulls, lateral rows and DB presses (usually superset the last two). "

First those for me are not great exercises at all, other then maybe dumbbell presses yet then you superset it so you don’t get the full benefit from it.

What I would try is for your heavy bench days, use a narrow grip to work the shoulders much harder. I bench mostly with narrow grip and my shoulders are my strongest muscle group. I would also do push press, you can load much more weight this way and more weight generally means better gains.

For the most part you will want to lift HEAVY in order to make good gains especially as intermediate and beginner.

If your actually lifting very heavy with push press, bench press, incline press, and then dumbell presses you won’t need to hit your shoulders 3x a week or with nearly as much volume and you should get much better gains.

It seems to me your doing very light weight and high reps with tons of volume, and it FEELS like your working them a lot when your really just experiencing a minor pump. With the exercises your doing for shoulder you can’t load that much weight, so your gains will be limited.

LiveFromThe781 I’m trying to picture the exercise but I can’t.

DrummerofGod I do dips twice per week. I also do skullcrushers, pressdowns, overhead machine (really feel it doing these). My tris are finally coming along. They don’t compare to my bis at all but then again I started with noticible bis (unflexed) and tris that you couldn’t see when I flexed them.

shizen very light weight and high reps with tons of volume? Why would it seem that way to you? Check out my profile pics. Those pics are after training for a few months. I think you’ll see that I couldn’t have gotten this far doing Jane Fonda style exercises ; )

its like the kneeling tricep extension minus the bench and you dont kneel, you just bend over. i like it with the rope because you can push out towards the sides, like pulling the rope apart.