Shoulder Width Push Session

Do you want those boulder-sized delts that force you to walk sideways through doors? Well, I can’t promise you that, but I can give you a solid workout that will start the process to bringing them up. Delts are the widest point of the body and, if built, they give a 3D look that will highlight the upper body from the front, side, and back. It’s rare to find someone in bodybuilding with delts that are too big because we usually believe that wider is always better. At my last show, I realized that I needed to get my shoulders as wide as possible in order to be a knock out competitor on stage. This will also give you the illusion of a smaller waist.

Most of my off-season push sessions were set up to bring up chest, which worked well. My chest finally matched everything else. But getting on stage means dialing in the finer details and I realized I needed to emphasize delts this year. So, I included an overhead pressing movement as the first lift on every push session. Last year I was doing an overhead press maybe every other workout. I also moved up my shoulder isolation work to the middle of the workout rather than at the end, and cut back on chest training volume so that I could add in more shoulder volume. This is the thought process to go through in your program design. Exercise order is a huge component in an effective workout. Let’s get to the workout itself.

John’s Push Session:

*All sets are work sets and taken to muscular failure.
*No warm up sets are listed. Take as many warms as needed to get to your work sets.

1. HAMMER STRENGTH SHOULDER PRESS:

Set 1 at 6-10 reps. Set 2 at 12-15 reps.
The set up: hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart, the seat height should be set to where your hands are at chin level.
The execution: I want an explosive concentric phase, 3 second eccentric phase and slight pause when hands are at lowest point of lift. Press up using full range of motion as if you’re driving your elbow to your ear.

2. ICARIAN INCLINE CHEST PRESS:

Set 1 at 6-10 reps. Set 2 at 12-15 reps.
The set up: hands slightly wider than shoulder width, the seat height should be set to mid sternum level.
The execution: I want an explosive concentric phase, 3 second eccentric phase and slight pause when hands are at lowest point of lift.

3. SMITH MACHINE FLAT CHEST PRESS:

Set 1 at 6-10 reps. Set 2 at 12-15 reps.
The set up: hands should be placed so that at the bottom of the lift (bar on chest) elbow is directly underneath the rest. The bar should be brought down to nipple level.
The execution: I want an explosive concentric phase, 3 second eccentric phase and slight pause when hands are at lowest point of lift. Really focus on pulling the hands together as you press the bar up, like you are trying to push the bar together.

4. CLUSTER SET: PEC DECK FLY WITH CABLE FRONT RAISE:

60 second rest after each exercise. A cluster set is a super set but with rest periods, so you will be going back and forth between lifts.
The set up: on the pec deck fly, keep the hips pushed into the pad and shoulder blades off the chest support. Keep chest pulled up high and scapulas depressed. Hands should be traveling across mid sternum level. Perform the cable front raise on a seated cable row machine laying down flat. Use a rope attachment or straight bar to perform front raise. Keep the scapulas retracted and depressed.
The execution: on the first set, try to hit failure close to 15 reps. On each subsequent set, the reps will be decreasing due to fatigue. You may end up only getting 5 reps on the last set. On both exercises, perform a 3 second eccentric and explosive concentric phase.

5. DUMBBELL LATERAL RAISE:

Perform 3 sets of 15 full reps followed by 15 partial reps from the bottom of the movement.

The set up: perform these seated to stabilize the body and prevent momentum. Make sure to lead the movement with the elbow and keep the pinkie knuckle pointed up the entire time. For the partial raises, I keep my arms locked straight.
The execution: pick a weight you can only do for 15 reps. Use this as your work weight for the 3 sets. Try to hit 15 full range of motion reps, then immediately go into 15 partial reps from the starting position, bringing the dumbbell up only 1/3 of the way. Each subsequent set should have fewer reps due to fatigue. On the full range of motion reps, perform a 1 second isometric hold at peak contraction and then a 2 second eccentric phase.

6. SINGLE ARM CABLE LATERAL

Perform a triple drop set. Only 1 set like this.
The set up: set up a single cable handle hip height on a cable crossover machine. Face out 90 degrees from the handle with the outside arm gripping the handle and cable running in front of the body. I want you to perform only 1/3 of the range of motion the entire duration of the set.
The execution: keep the trap out of the movement. These can be done with constant tension, 2 second eccentric phase and 1 second concentric phase. Perform a failure set of 10 reps and continue to do 3 drop sets hitting failure on each drop.

7. CLUSTER SET: CABLE OVERHEAD TRICEP EXTENSION (ROPE ATTACHMENT) WITH BODY WEIGHT DIPS:

Perform 3 sets at 15-20 reps. Perform like a super set but take 60 second rest after every exercise.
The set up: for the tricep extension, the elbows should be pulled back overhead as far as you can to really stretch the long and medial head of the tricep. Keep the elbows locked in this position. For body weight dips, try not to lean the torso over too far and use more chest.
The execution: for tricep extensions, contract forcefully and spread the rope apart, give a 3 second eccentric phase. For bodyweight dips, perform the movement with a 3 second eccentric and explosive concentric phase.

There are many ways to emphasize certain muscle groups in the off-season. If you like the push, pull, and legs split, this shoulder emphasis workout will fight nicely into your routine.

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