3D deltoids

The Barbell-Only Shoulder Workout

Checklist:

Lifting straps

Belt

Wrist Wraps

Lifting Shoes

Traditionally speaking, most lifter’s shoulder days incorporate barbells, dumbbells, bands, machines, and a whole array of equipment. Given that we live in interesting times due to COVID-19, some people’s equipment may be fairly limited. I also have to contend with no gym access; forcing me to innovate my training. However, the following shoulder workout is one I developed from my home gym–where access to a dumbbell rack was a long-forgotten luxury. This regime helped me develop a ton of size on my deltoids and traps, while simultaneously building my athletic ability and grip strength.

As part of a new eBook I am currently developing on how to become aesthetically proportioned and athletically blessed, this shoulder day incorporates a mixture of bodybuilding and simplified Olympic lifts. And no, it’s not Crossfit oriented.

The workout will be split into three focal points: 1) Athleticism 2) Aesthetic/Hypertrophy 3) Supersets/Hypertrophy. For the athletic movements, I have chosen a simple 3×5 give the explosive and demanding nature of the first two exercises; in part, to not drain the athlete before the higher rep ranges. The aesthetic movements require higher hypertrophic rep ranges and a focus on time-under-tension and control. The finisher is to cap off the muscles, and inducing failure on the final rep of the triset–cheat by kipping the weight up on the final reps of each exercise, if needs be.

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Without much further ado–here it is:

Athletic Portion:
Push Press 3×5
Snatch-Grip High Pulls 3×5

Aesthetic Portion:
Wide-grip upright rows 3×12
Wide-grip upright bent over rows 3×15

Triset:
Bradford Press 3×10
Wide-grip upright rows 3×10
Wide-grip upright bent over rows 3xfailure

The first two exercises–push press and snatch-grip high pulls–serve to build strength, size, and athleticism. The triple joint extension to be reaped in both will carry over to all competitive sports. Push presses are a form of supramaximal load enabling you to lift more than you can with a strict overhead press. The speed generated through the movement will transfer to other presses such as the bench press and incline bench press. Snatch-grip high pulls are, hands down, the best upper trap developer out there; and, due to their athletic nature, are criminally underused by discerning bodybuilders despite secondary activation of the side deltoids and posterior chain. Your forearms will also get a great burn from these exercises.

The second two are more aesthetic movements aiming to add mass to the side and rear delts to help craft the coveted “3D” look in the deltoids. Typically, the bulk of lifters will aim to develop these smaller muscles by endless sets of side laterals and reverse flyes. In my experience, very few lifters resort to using a barbell for these movements. As, for the purpose of this workout, equipment remains fairly limited; these two exercises will target the more aesthetic side of the workout. Please use a wide grip for both. A narrow grip upright row–all too common in the gym–can cause shoulder impingements; and a narrow grip bent over upright row will be too focused on the upper back. These barbell movements are there to imitate dumbbell raises in their stead.

Finally, the triset involves a Bradford Press–one overhead press plus one behind-the-neck-press equals one rep–immediately followed by the two wide grip upright rows, hitting your side and rear delts. These are, of course, to be performed at a lighter load, and their purpose is as a finisher to draw blood to the muscles, induce fatigue, and to spike the heart rate.

All of the exercise combined should lead to athletic development, hypertrophy, and a sprinkling of cardio towards the end for an all-round session. The exercises chosen should not take more than an hour to complete.

Enjoy!

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