How To Attack Stubborn Shoulders - Ways To Improve Your Shoulder Workout
Let us face it, shoulders are a very stubborn body part. Most gym trainees have very underdeveloped shoulders. Over the course of time, I have found that many people plateau on shoulder exercises such as shoulder press, or adding weight to their isolations. What I have found over the years of research and training myself is that shoulders may need a few varieties to make them grow. Sometimes doing things backwards help speed up the process of stimulating the body part. Everyone is so used to training with compounds followed by isolation exercises. This may not always be the case with stubborn bodyparts. Below are some of my best tips to help get through a shoulder roadblock.
As stated above it is not always about banging out compounds, and following them up with isolation movements. Shoulders are very stubborn and doing the exact opposite may bring better results. What I have found is a popular technique by John Meadows that works very well. I start my shoulder workouts with pre-exhaust methods. What I mean by that is using isolations to get the muscle warm before moving into my compounds. A typical shoulder workout may start with side laterals or front laterals. From there I may move into rear delt swings or Hammer Strength rear delt laterals and then finish with shoulder press. The reasoning behind this is it hard to stimulate the shoulder only with compound movements. Due to the muscle being made up of the front, side, and rear deltoid you want to stimulate all three area’s to get the muscle fully developed. By activating other aspects of the shoulder (side, front, or rear) first before a compound, it will help get the blood into the muscle and achieve a greater stimulation.
Remember muscle activation and stimulation is very important for muscle growth. Anyone can lift a lot of heavyweight, but with improper form it won’t result in gains. Results are from proper time under tension, muscle stimulation, and activation over prolonged periods of time. Which takes me into the second piece of information for this article.
Stimulation and Time under Tension
Stimulation will always be the biggest factor for muscle growth. If you do not train with proper range of motion, you are shortchanging your progress. It is not always about packing on pounds or progressive overload when it comes to weightlifting. What we have to realize is when a muscle is contracting, blood flow into the muscles can become restricted. When a muscle is working and activated properly during an exercise blood flow is restricted due to muscular contraction. During muscular contraction, metabolites will build up in the muscle and lead to growth factors. When growth factors or activated, and an individual is eating properly for muscle growth, they will see results.
From personal experience, my shoulders started to grow when I threw in a lot of volume and higher rep sets. Pushing as much blood as possible into those stubborn muscles and forcing them to grow. I pushed as much lactate build up I could, and pushed as much pain into my rear delts and side delts before trying any compound movement. I used intensity techniques such as rest pause sets, drop sets, accumulation sets, and supersets to help keep the tension strong on my shoulders. I am talking about sets exceeding 20 reps into the 30-40 rep range. Even if you are not one who focuses on reps, you could focus on timed sets. Perform an exercise for X or Y amount of time to help keep stimulation on the intended target. A very good example is rear delt flies on a hammer strength machine. Try to aim for sets that exceed 30, 45, or even 60 seconds. The amount of tension being build up in your rear delts will give you a huge pump and get the muscle activated before moving into the rest of your workout. Giving the muscle so much time under tension will help keep it stimulated when you move from exercise to exercise during your workout.
The diet must support your training
While I am not trying to beat a dead horse here, many trainees overlook how important their diet is for their results. Someone who may be dieting for months will not be seeing muscle gains as they continue to diet. On the other hand, if you give your body a consistent surplus of calories it will be an important factor to help pack size on your frame. Stubborn body parts need adequate calories to grow. Many individuals who struggle to bring up lagging bodyparts will also raise calories on those training days. Giving your body excess glucose on training days, you are very focused on bringing up will just help enhance your workout. When you fuel the body properly for optimal performance is when you will see your greatest results.
Trying to run a car on empty is not always ideal. The same could be said for training or bringing up lagging bodyparts. If you under prepare for a workout, do not expect it to go as planned. When your calories match your training, you will then see your best results. If you are dieting and find it very hard to attack a stubborn body part, I would suggest using a refeed or cheat meal on that day to support training that body part. It is not uncommon to see trainees increase calories on back or leg workouts to help fuel for how demanding and draining it is on the body. Heavy sets of deadlifts, squats, and compound movements are exhausting. There is no better way to help surge your workout then giving the body what it needs.
In conclusion, there are a few things people can use to help bring up lagging bodyparts. I have personally found that shoulders are very hard area to target for most gym trainees. When you shrug your shoulders during a shoulder exercise, it will place more tension on your traps then your shoulders. You need to keep the target area relaxed and execute the proper range of motion. Another big mistake is keeping your workout the same time and time again. Try doing your workout absolutely backwards. Start with isolations and finish with your compound movements. Granted you may not lift as much on a shoulder press at the end of your workout compared to the beginning. Let us remember the key focus here being stimulation, time under tension, and muscle activation. If you can feel your muscles working properly, they will grow much better than people who throw around weight with inadequate form. Proper range of motion is key to make sure the muscle is being activated the highest degree. Try different intensity techniques to push blood and increase the lactate build up in the stubborn body part. This just may be a tool to help you unlock progress and overcome a roadblock.