Some muscle groups respond better to different types of training stimulus, shoulders are a great example of this. While I will still include heavy pressing for high threshold motor unit stimulation, shoulders usually favor high volume training, time under tension, moderate to high repetitions and a wide variety of angles. In this blog, I will explain each of these philosophies in greater detail so you're able to develop your deltoids through smarter training!
High Volume Destruction
The role of the deltoid muscles are generally to support arm rotation and keeping the joint stable. This area of the body works all day long, lifting up cups of coffee, reaching for your protein powder from the cupboard and holding your phone to your ear. Having the ability to avoid fatigue is crucial for the deltoids which is why they can be resistant to training stimulus, meaning they need more volume than some other muscle groups because they're able to take more punishment!
Punching out set after set on shoulder day with shorter rest periods is a tactic I have found to work very well across a wide variety of body types.
Time Under Tension
Every muscle must spend enough time under tension in order to grow, there is no debating this. However, with deltoid training, it is very common for the traps to take over leading to a loss of tension. For this reason, I want to emphasize the importance of isolating the deltoids in order to see faster results. Often this involves reducing the weight being used for exercises such as side raises, relaxing the traps and slowing down rep tempo. Together, these steps allow you to put more tension on the deltoids!
Many times I have witnessed people reduce the weight they use on isolation shoulder exercises and notice a significant amount of growth, this explains why.
Higher Repetition Ranges
Due to the fact shoulders do a lot of low-intensity work as previously discussed I have found most people have a large percentage of slow twitch muscle fibers in this area. Using moderate to high repetition ranges can yield phenomenal results on shoulder day! Some days I will use 15-20 rep ranges, other times this can go as high as 50! With the combination of extreme blood volumization and sarcoplasmic cell swelling driven with these unconventional rep ranges, you can expect to see great results!
Lots of Angles
Intelligent hypertrophy training always uses a variety of angles, however, shoulders require more than most. With several unique heads to attack within the deltoid muscle group, getting creative with angles can generate outstanding results!
One of my preferred ways to do this is with cables, adjusting the height and using a variety of hand attachments in order to adjust the angle of attack. Cable exercises are a great way to perform supersets, tri-sets and giant sets as well for shoulders because the transition is fast between exercises. For example, you can start with a straight bar front raise, step forward and do the same exercise from a different angle and then move into a lying down position for a third angle. Suddenly you have created a huge amount of hypertrophic trauma on the anterior deltoid area from three different positions.