8 Weeks to Boulder Shoulders

grow boulder shoulders
Having well defined shoulders isnt easy...Having Boulder Sized Shoulders is difficult.

Updated May 1, 2018

8 Weeks to Boulder Shoulders

The 8 Weeks to Boulder Shoulders Program maximizes overall shoulder size and width. It is a two-phase program, with each phase maximizing a specific aspect of deltoid muscle growth. Regardless of the phase, the workouts target all three heads of the deltoid muscle. The deltoid is compromised of three heads, the anterior (front) head, the middle head, and the posterior (rear) head. The workouts involve exercises that hit the front head - seated alternating dumbbell front raise; exercises that target the rear head – incline bench rear delt raise and incline bench rear delt cable raise, exercises that target the middle head - seated dumbbell lateral raise, dumbbell later raise (standing), and cable lateral raise; as well as exercises that hit all three deltoid heads, with greater emphasis on the middle and front heads - barbell shoulder press, standing barbell shoulder press, seated dumbbell shoulder press, and Smith machine behind-the-neck shoulder press. Hitting all three heads is critical to developing deltoids that are massive from all angles, the front, side and rear. The program emphasizes more middle delt work, through the variety of lateral raises and shoulder presses, as this head makes up the largest portion of the deltoid and is the muscle that gives your shoulders width and the cannonball shape.

Phase 1 (weeks 1-4)

The first phase of the program is done with very heavy weight, lower reps, and the high intensity techniques - negative reps, forced reps, extended sets, and drop sets. These techniques will overload your muscles and maximize the amount of muscle damage they sustain. There are basically two mechanisms by which muscle grows. The first is through muscle damage. When a muscle is damaged due to the mechanical stress from the resistance of the weights, new muscle cells replace the damaged muscle cells. The new muscle cells grow bigger and stronger than the old muscle cells in an effort to prevent further damage to the muscle from the same stress. However, the more experienced of a lifter you are, the less muscle damage you experience. This is because your muscle fibers are strong enough to resist further damage. That is why you will need to train very heavy and with the high intensity techniques employed during this phase to fully overload your muscles and ensure maximal muscle damage and growth through this mechanism. During Phase 1 you will follow a five-day training split, in which you train shoulders and all other major muscle groups (except for abs) just once per week. See 8-Weeks to Boulder Shoulders Split (Phase 1) for details of the split.

Training your delts just once per week during this phase will optimize muscle recovery from the brutally intense workouts that you will attack your delts with. Since you're training during this phase to maximize muscle damage you need to allow time for optimal recovery, which will allow the new muscle cells time to replace the old ones and proliferate. You will train shoulders on Thursday following a complete day of rest on Wednesday, which will help keep your strength and energy levels high during the delt workout. You will follow the 8 Weeks to Boulder Shoulders Phase 1 training program on shoulder day. For all other muscle groups, follow your typical training program. Limit the use of high intensity training techniques for the other muscle groups to focus your body's efforts on maximizing delt muscle growth.

During the shoulder workouts in Phase 1, you will start with two sets of the seated barbell shoulder press. These two sets will include negative/forced reps. To do this, select a weight you can lift for 6 reps on the seated barbell shoulder press. After reaching failure, perform three more reps in the following manner. Slowly lower the weight from overhead to your upper chest with a 5 second negative rep. Have your partner help you lift the bar back to the start (with no more force than needed to help you press the weight back up). Repeat this two more times for a total of 3 negative/forced reps. Next you will do two more sets of the shoulder press using a technique known as extended sets. Extended sets allow you to continue the exercise for more reps by moving to a position that places you in a better biomechanical position. To do this you will do one set of the seated barbellshoulder press for 6 reps to just short of failure and superset that with the standing barbell shoulder press for as many reps as you can with the same weight you used on the seated shoulder press. The standing shoulder press is easier than seated because you can use your legs to help you explode the weight up as your delts fatigue on the standing shoulder press. Do this for 2 sets total. Next up you will do the seated dumbbell lateral raise as an extended set with the standing dumbbell lateral raise. Choose a weight you can do 8 reps with on the seated dumbbell lateral raise. Stop just before reaching failure then immediately stand up and continue the set until failure, using your legs and body to help you complete more reps. After reaching failure perform 2 negative/forced reps as described above. Do three sets in this manner.

You will then finish this delt annihilation by focusing on the front and rear heads with the seated alternating dumbbell front raise and the incline bench rear delt raise, respectively, for 3 sets each. Perform the first set of each exercise as a straight set, doing 8 reps to failure. On the second set you will do one drop set after reaching failure by reducing the weight 20-30% and immediately performing as many reps as possible to failure. On the third and final set of each exercise you will do two drop sets after reaching failure by reducing the weight 20-30% and immediately performing as many reps as possible to failure then reducing the weight again by 20-30% and immediately performing as many reps as possible to failure. And that's it. Give your delts a week to regenerate and do it again next week.

8 Weeks to Boulder Shoulders Split (Phase 1)

8 Weeks to Boulder Shoulders Phase 1 Workout

Perform this workout every Thursday for the four weeks that make up Phase 1. Each week you should attempt to increase all weights used on all exercises by 5-10 pounds.

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Barbell Shoulder Press 2 6* 2-3 min.
Barbell Shoulder Press 2 6 no rest
Extended set with
Standing Barbell Shoulder Press 2 failure 2-3 min.
Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 8+ no rest
Extended set with
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 failure 2 min.
Seated Alternating Dumbbell Front Raise 3 8# 2 min.
Incline Bench Rear Delt Raise 3 8# 2 min.

* After the 6th rep, perform 3 negative/forced reps.

@Use the same weight for both exercises.

+ Use the same weight for both exercises. When you reach failure on the standing lateral raises perform 2 negative/forced reps

#On the second set do one drop set. On the third set do two drop sets.

Phase 2 (weeks 5-8)

On the second phase of the program, you will still follow a five day training split, but you'll now hit your delts twice each week. One delt workout will be a light and short workout following chest. The other will be later in the week after a full day of rest from the gym. This delt workout is heavier and more intense than the previous delt workout. The reason for the twice a week training of delts in this second phase is due to the other mechanism by which muscle grows. In Phase 1 you focused on muscle growth via muscle damage and regeneration of new muscle fibers. After four weeks of training this way your muscle fibers will be resistant to further muscle damage. Now you will switch your focus to training that will maximize growth by the other mechanism by which muscle fibers grow. Another way that muscle fibers increase in size and strength is by an increase in activity of specific genes in muscle cells. Weight lifting increases this gene activity. And as a result the muscle cell increases protein synthesis. Since muscle is made of protein, the more protein it builds or synthesizes, the bigger the muscle gets. Training muscle groups more frequently, such as twice per week as opposed to once per week, helps to maximize muscle growth through this process. Keeping gene activity high in the deltoid muscle cells, by training your delts every 3-4 days, keeps protein synthesis at higher levels, resulting in more muscle growth. The first delt workout of the week is done on Monday, following chest. This delt workout is comprised of just cable exercises to maximize constant tension on the deltoid muscle fibers. The line of pull of the cables allows you to keep constant tension on the deltoid muscle throughout the entire range of motion. This helps to target more muscle fibers in the deltoid and that leads to greater overall muscle growth. This workout starts with the cable lateral raise using both arms to hit the middle delts and finishes with incline bench rear delt raise for the rear delts. There is no specific front delt work in this workout due to the fact that it follows a chest workout, which significantly involves the front delts. For each exercise you will do 4 sets, resting just one minute between sets. On the first set choose a weight that you can get for 20 reps. Then for set two you increase the weight for 15 reps, then 12 in set 3, and 10 for the final set 4. Depending on how fatigued you get and how well your muscles are used to recovering in just one minute, you may find that you don't need to increase the weights to hit those lower rep ranges in each successive set. The fatigue alone may prevent you from being able to do more than the target number of reps.

The second workout of the week in Phase 2 is performed on Friday following a full day of rest on Thursday. This will ensure that your energy levels and mind frame are up for the intense delt workout you will hit every Friday. The Friday delt workout consists of pre-exhaust supserset training. This training method involves performing one set of an isolation exercise, such as the dumbbell lateral raise, followed immediately by one set of a multijoint exercise, such as the dumbbell shoulder press. This technique fatigues the target muscles, in this case the middle deltoid head, so that during the multijoint exercise the targeted muscle is the weak link in that exercise. This ensures that you fail on the multijoint exercise when the target muscle fails and not the assistance muscle, such as the triceps. In this workout you will superset the seated dumbbell lateral raise with the dumbbell shoulder press, then the dumbbell lateral raise (standing) with the Smith machine behind-the-neck shoulder press to maximize middle delt emphasis, and therefore growth of this deltoid head for increasing shoulder with and roundness. You then finish with the seated alternating dumbbell front raise and the incline bench rear delt raise to hit the front and rear heads for a well-rounded (pun intended) delt routine that targets all three heads.

8 Weeks to Boulder Shoulders Split (Phase 2)

8 Weeks to Boulder Shoulders Phase 2 Workout 1 (Monday following chest)

Perform this workout every Monday, following your chest workout for the final four weeks that make up phase 2.

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Cable Lateral Raise (both arms) 4 20, 15, 12, 10 1 min.
Incline bench rear delt cable raise 4 20, 15, 12, 10 1 min.

8 Weeks to Boulder Shoulders Phase 2 Workout 2 (Friday)

Perform this workout every Friday, following a full day of rest on Thursday for the final four weeks that make up phase 2.

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise 2 12 no rest
superset with
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 2 10 2 min.
Dumbbell Lateral Raise (standing) 2 12 no rest
superset with
Smith Machine Behind-the-Neck Shoulder Press 2 10 2 min.
SeatedAlternating Dumbbell Front Raise 3 10, 12, 15 1 min.
Incline Bench Rear Delt Raise 3 10, 12, 15 1 min.

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