Written by Tim Rigby, M.A., NSCA-CPT & Brought to you by PVL Supplements
It’s no secret that when your shirt comes off outdoors, the most immediate, eye-catching part of your body is the width of your shoulders. This can instantly make or break you, for it conveys your level of raw strength and power (and believe us when we say it influences your sex appeal – big time). Furthermore, it’s not just men who seek to expand their top horizon, either; women with well-defined, muscular shoulders are truly sexy and very captivating.
The following is a strategic plan (of just two months) which will produce substantial shoulder gains for you fast. One of the greatest tools in stimulating new muscle growth is variety, and this easy-to-use program offers a great depth of variety to produce just what you’re looking for.
Using 2 mesocycles’ worth of weekly splits, this program will last 8 weeks in length. During the first 4 weeks, you’ll use a specific mass-stimulating training protocol; during the second 4 weeks, you’ll make big adjustments to the resistance, sets/reps matrix, and in fact the weekly training split.
MESOCYCLE 1 (Weeks 1 through 4)
During the first mesocycle of four weeks, the emphasis is on mass building. You’re going to go balls-to-the-wall and lift heavy weights for moderate reps. You’ll also reach muscle failure at least once per exercise; you’ll take longer rest periods between sets for recovery and you’ll also employ the specialty technique of a cheat rep. Due to the combination of intense volume and relatively heavier weight, you’ll train your shoulders only once per week – that’s right, a total of only four times during the first mesocycle. Make sure to lead off your workouts with shoulders (rather than the bench, for example) so your energy level is freshest, especially if you’re training them in combination with another muscle group like your chest.
Here’s a sample shoulders workout for Mesocycle 1:
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
STANDING OVERHEAD PRESS * 4 8, 8, 6, 6F# 2:00 mins.
INCLINE BENCH PRESS * 4 8, 8, 6, 6F 2:00 mins.
UPRIGHT ROW 3 10, 8, 6F 1:30 mins.
ARNOLD PRESS 3 10, 8, 6F 1:15 mins.
DUMBBELL FRONT RAISE 3 10, 8, 6F 1:15 mins.
* - Perform two warm-up sets using lighter (but gradually increasing) resistance. Perform 10 reps for each warm-up set.
F - Fail on the final rep.
# - If you’re using sufficiently heavy weight, you should aim to fail on the sixth and final rep; however, to force the rep to completion, you can cheat here and use your legs, effectively turning this into a push-press for the last rep.
MESOCYCLE 2 (Weeks 5 through 8)
After you’ve completed the first mesocycle, it’s time to switch things up to avoid too much adaptation. You want to constantly introduce new stimuli every four weeks to encourage consistent muscle growth. Having just completed a month of lifting heavy, mass-building weights for moderate reps, you’re now going to switch to a system of lighter weights for higher reps (along with a few variations in terms of the exercises you perform). At the end of the day (this two-month program), you’ll have developed not only explosive fast-twitch muscle fibers, but also the slower-twitch fibers as well. Between sets, it’s important to keep your rest periods relatively brief; this way you can ensure a good pump and also get a bit of a calorie burn too, since you’re using an element cardio-style training. During this mesocycle train your shoulders twice a week – the key is to use substantially lighter weights, in order to provide a stimulus, yet not overtrain.
Here’s a sample shoulders workout for Mesocycle 2:
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
SEATED DUMBBELL PRESS * 4 12, 12, 10, 8 1:00 min.
DECLINE BENCH PRESS * 4 12, 12, 10, 8 1:00 min.
UPRIGHT ROW 3 15, 12, 10 1:00 min.
ARNOLD PRESS 3 15, 12, 10 1:00 min.
DUMBBELL LATERAL RAISE 3 15, 12, 10# 1:00 min.
* - Perform two warm-up sets for these exercises. Use a weight that is about 80 percent of your first working set’s weight. Perform 5 reps for the first warm-up set and 10 reps for the second.
# - Aim for failure on your final rep and then perform a drop set after you achieve failure: after the final rep, reduce the weight, and without taking any rest, continue to rep out until you achieve failure again.
During the second mesocycle, as you lift lighter weights for higher reps, you’ll also allow your fast-twitch muscle fibers (that you hammered in the first mesocycle) ample opportunity to recover and grow. By the end of 8 weeks, you’ll have built up a huge new horizon and achieved massive boulder shoulders, just in time for summer!
An excellent supplement to ensure and promote the greatest recovery possible (so you can build the most muscle possible) is TOTAL RELOAD from PVL. It’s packed with BCAAs, electrolytes, lactic acid buffers, vitamins and minerals. These are all to your training advantage, so use them!