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Total Sets Per Week for Shoulders?

Hey Paul, wondering how many weekly sets you recommend for Shoulders?. In your article about Ditch the free weight for big shouldes, how many times per week is the workout supposed to be done? Thanks

Not Paul’s philosophy, so if he disagrees with this, I don’t have any retort, but if you google renaissance periodization, Mike Isratael has good articles on frequency for shoulder hypertrophy. From his article on side/rear delts:


The rear delts can actually be sustained with no direct work so long as pulling work for the back is still done. But the side delts need at least about 6 sets per week of direct work to keep their size in most intermediate or advanced lifters.


Most intermediate-advanced lifters need at least 8 sets of direct rear and side delt work per week to make gains. To be more specific, that’s at least 6 sets of each if doing VERY isolation exercises that don’t cross-target between rear and side delts and only 8 sets total if the exercise hits both adequately.


Most people respond best to between 16 and 22 weekly sets on average.


Most people seem to encounter recovery problems above 26 sets per week. In reality, there will be a minority (but a substantial one) that can train with much higher volumes than this and still recover.”

His articles cover frequency, intensity, variation, include sample programming, etc.

Why delete though?

Must have hit it by accident! Didn’t want to at all.

Now I gotta delete u bum

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Leave your post for context, otherwise I’d have to delete the response to the response you deleted. We’d be here forever…
…and yet, we’d never have been here, 24 hours from now.

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No. Don’t tell me what to do

(Btw I feel bad about cluttering this thread but you already answered it pretty well and one response from Paul will sort it out I think)

Mike’s recommendations aren’t “bad” per say, but there’s no one on the planet that is doing 26 sets of truly hard shoulder work in a week.

The number of true work sets in a week by an advanced guy for shoulders is probably within those lower ranges (6-8 sets in a given training week). For the intermediate it’s probably higher…something like 12 work sets in a given training week.

One thing I will probably be touching on in the future (and will be in the new high intensity training group I am running soon) is the need to identify failure points within the training session and training week. And that establishing failure points is far more important than just understanding how much “volume” you may or may not need.

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Yeah okay, but can you count face pulls and rear delt swings as ‘‘Truly hard shoulder work’’?
Also, i don’t know if your familiar with Dr John Rusins approach to Rear delt training, but he recommends doing mulitple sets of rear delt work 5-6 times a week. Do you recommend this as well?

No I don’t consider that truly hard work but it does count towards work for a particular muscle group.

I definitely think you can do less intensive movements like rear delt swings and bent laterals multiple times a week if bringing them up to snuff is the goal. That won’t have much of a systematic impact.

Ok, thanks Paul! For the less intensive movements, what would you say the celing would be for total work? 30 sets? We’re talking Rear delt swings and cable rear delt flies here. What would you say?

Well again, I don’t like laying out blanket numbers like that because it’s over simplifying everything.

I don’t think you need to do 30 sets of anything in a week EVER.

I’ll say it again, I don’t buy into the notion that volume is the growth driver because it’s too simplistic to state that, and all the “science” that is used to state such in actually used in a very limited way, i.e. noobs who are “resistance trained men” doing 20 sets in a training week…that’s a long rant so I won’t get into it.

3-4 sets every other day should be fine for smallish muscles done with less intensive movements. Start there.

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I’ve noticed a lot of your training doesn’t involve tons of work sets, unlike most other hypertrophy programs. Despite being a big fan of 4+ sets per service for a long time, I’m doing a program that uses almost completely 2 work sets. Only thing is, they’re all-out, balls to the wall high intensity sets- 8 reps followed by 6 five-second negatives- and I find myself more beat up than I did before (in a good way). Do you think it’s intensity first, with sufficient volume second, that drives hypertrophy?

Effort should dictate volume. So as you can see, you’re probably not going to want or EVEN NEED more than the 2 work sets when they are performed with enough effort.

And THAT is what stimulates the growth response. Not a bunch of “junk volume”. That’s where so many of these supposed “experts” totally miss the mark with this absurd volume recommendations.

Do you think you could do say, 18 sets like that in a given training week?


Flap I think you forgot to mention the front delt hypertrophy guide lol only put the side/rear delts. It’s not too far off Paul recommendations

_MV: _

The maintenance volume for front delt work is legitimately no direct work in almost all cases where compound pressing is still done for the chest. If you need to get to the gym in a rush and only have time for a maintenance session, compound pushing is MUCH more worth your time than direct front delt work.

_MEV: _

Most intermediates can make great front delt gains with NO direct front delt work, as both horizontal and incline pushing, as well as overhead pressing and triceps work is going to be very simulative of the front delts. Even most advanced lifters shouldn’t see any losses in front delt size if they completely eliminating direct front delt work or even all overhead work, so long as they keep hammering their other compound pushing work.

_MAV: _

Most people respond best to between 6 and 8 weekly sets of direct front delt work, which INCLUDES overhead pressing, on average.

_MRV: _

The front delts actually take quite a bit of damage from push training and have a very limited fatigue threshold when isolated in conjunction with chest training. Much past 12 sets of overhead pressing or front delt raises starts to really become a recovery issue in the context of other chest training._

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I can attest to that, having been put on a program by Paul where most exercises were done for 2 all-out sets in the past.

At no point did I feel like I wanted to do an extra set. With almost all exercises being brought to failure (and sometimes beyond), the low ish volume really balanced things out.

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