Our shoulder muscles are among the most overworked during exercise, but they are also one of the toughest to develop. But, no, that does not mean you have to toil away at the gym forever and still get nothing. Your ticket? Five words: proper hardcore shoulder training techniques.
When it comes to that, fewer people are in a good position to give suggestions as Arnold Schwarzenegger. As a former Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia, he knows more than a thing or two in the successful development of deltoids. In this article, he lets us in on his secrets:
Working in the 8-12-rep range is generally the best way to add muscle mass to most body parts (the one exception being legs, which respond better to slightly higher reps). But I firmly believe that muscles, especially the deltoids, also need to be subjected to very heavy weight to grow to their potential – a weight at which you can do only 5-6 reps. Go ahead and do lateral raises in the 8-12 range (even 15-20), but I suggest doing overhead presses in the 5-6-rep range at least every other workout. It’s not that every set of presses has to be heavy; if you’re doing, say, 4-5 sets of seated barbell presses, you can do your first set or two for eight reps, but then make your last 2-3 sets heavier.
One of body building’s most established names agrees with the ex-Governor. Dana Linn Bailey also believes in the importance of going hard on your shoulders, especially if you want optimal muscle definition. Asked about whether she went all in or her shoulders because they lagged or eased up because they developed quickly, she says:
They were never lagging and they did grow easily, but I never held back on them. That idea never even occurred to me. The better my shoulders got, and it was a pretty gradual process, the more I wanted. The first thing people think of about my physique is my “pumpkin delts,” or whatever you want to call them. I had a good foundation for a V-taper from swimming competitively since the age of 5. But I had to work to build all the muscle I have today. My shoulders came faster than something like my legs, which are still a work in progress, but I have always worked them hard.
Steve Kuclo, another easily recognizable body builder, takes the different approach, however. In the same interview, he said that he eases up on the hardcore shoulder training techniques when he feels like his delts have had too much.
And he is right. As important as putting in the work is knowing when to take it easy. How you rest, in particular, plays a major role. Trainer Joe Stankowski clarifies what kind of rest is necessary for shoulder training and other muscle development programs.
Studies have found that testosterone and growth hormone are produced in greater levels when you rest for short to moderate periods. The amount of time can vary a bit, depending on how many sets you’re going for and how heavy the weight is, “but 60-90 seconds between sets is a good guideline,” says Stankowski.
Outside the gym, you should also make sure you are giving your body ample time to heal. Schedule your training in such a way that you will not overwork your muscles. And if you feel like you need to kickstart recuperation, do it with a trusted supplement like MusclePharm Glutamine. Manufactured by the official nutritional supplement provider of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, each scoop packs a powerful combination of nutrients designed to help you recover and rebuild from even the most intense of workouts.
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