I'll man up and admit it-sometimes I get bored with my training. Not merely a beast of burden, I fancy myself a thinking man and while many of my misguided brethren have overanalyzed themselves into permanent skinnydom, I do consider this pursuit of ours as much an intellectual exercise as anything. Figuring out how to heighten my performance, maximize my gains, to wring out yet another quarter inch from my generous, yet often stubborn genes-this is the shit that keeps me in the game. The pure, unadulterated challenge of it all.
As such, I've been known to experiment. To plot and scheme and devise a devious plan to, if nothing else, do shit a little different and stand apart. Not for any notoriety or attention, but instead to know that I never accepted good enough as sufficient or bought in to the next man's theory as gospel. Many a day I've found myself wandering outside of the safe part of the city, my gym cipher becoming something of a training red light district. A place where one can be comfortable flashing their freak card and doing some off the menu, under the counter, on the down low shit.
Shoulder training has often been a devil's playground for such deviant activity. Being the calling card freak muscle group, I've often endeavored to create masochistic strategies to seduce them into new growth. As I see it, anything I can do to stimulate slumbering muscle fibers, induce new soreness and stretch my Animal t-shirt from East to West is time well spent.
What follows are a few techniques I've thrown in the mix over the years when the same old grind just wasn't cutting it. Sometimes, like a squirt of Sriracha on yet another grilled chicken breast, we all need a little flavor in our lives. Consider these deviant delt designs as a splash of G Diesel brand hot sauce on the mushy flavorless meal that is your current shoulder session.
It is literally as backwards as it sounds. Take what you've done traditionally and put it on its ass. Instead of pressing when you're strong, doing your laterals in the middle and closing out with shrugs, do exactly the opposite. Open with heavy shrugs of whatever type you prefer, move on to the multiple angles for your raises and maybe some upright rows and now that you're rocked and you can't raise your arms, it is finally time to press. At a distance it seems fucked, but once your neck deep in the mix, you'll realize that is precisely the reason it works. The last will be first and the first shall be last indeed. This is a sample of how such a twisted session could be structured:
Dumbbell Shrugs: 4 sets x 20-10 reps
Reverse Pec Deck: 4 sets x 15-10 reps
Dumbbell Side Lateral Raises: 4 sets x 20-6 reps
Upright Rows: 4 sets x 12-6 reps
Seated Barbell Military Presses: 4 sets x 12-6 reps
A play on the traditional superset model, tagalong training, as I've come to call it, essentially dictates a superset of the same exercise on every single set of a workout. I use the phrase “tagalong” because this style, best executed, will necessitate you dragging a pair of dumbbells or a fixed barbell from apparatus to apparatus all around the gym to be utilized immediately after every set of your session. The best way to decide how to utilize the tagalong technique is to identify your weakness and use this bizarre training style to exploit it. Por ejemplo, if your traps need work, you would simply do your normal shoulder session but add a set of dumbbell shrugs on to the end of each and every regular set. The end result? Maybe 12-16 sets meant to seek out and obliterate a weak muscle group. In my case, I'm side delt obsessed, so I'd self-medicate with a prescription of something like this:
Seated Barbell Military Press: 4 sets x 15-6 reps*
Reverse Pec Deck: 4 sets x 15-10 reps*
Front DB Raises: 4 sets x 10-6 reps*
Barbell Shrugs: 5 sets x 20-6 reps*
*each set to be immediately followed by 10 reps of Dumbbell Side Lateral Raises
As a means in spitting in the face of my love for all things diverse, on occasion, I like to strip it all down to the rock bottom basics and do some “jailhouse” or bare bones training. In such an instance, I'll pick a single apparatus and utilize this lone tool to train an entire bodypart. Though it seems all too simple and exclusionary, it has proven personally true that sometimes limiting my options may best narrow my focus and heighten the nexus of brain and brawn that is the coveted mind-muscle connection. Here is a sample all out shoulder workout using only a single barbell and some black iron coinage:
Standing Barbell Military Press: 4 sets x 12-6 reps
Barbell Upright Rows: 4 sets x 15-10 reps
Barbell Front Raises: 4 sets x 10-6 reps
Barbell Shrugs: 4 sets x 20-10 reps
As you can see, though firmly fixated on a fetish to build big delts, these training styles can be channeled to annihilate any muscle group that needs a lesson in respect. In actuality, thinking outside of the confines of what is generally done may benefit us in all aspects of life in this crazy world. Sometimes it takes a little deviation from the safe route, away from what the square community holds in such high esteem in order to achieve greatness… The cultivation of a mushroom cloud mind state that rejects the templated, cookie cutter mandates of the powers that be and embraces each of our inner freaks.