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To build bigger delts you’ve got to isolate and hit them hard twice a week. Problem is, the delts are as prone to overtraining as just about any body part, since these muscles are used in nearly every upper body movement. But this can be avoided through sufficient rest, proper spacing of workouts and limiting volume when your shoulders are trained along with other pressing exercises.
It’s a tricky balancing act, as doing presses for both chest and shoulders every week can beat up your joints pretty bad, but with a little training split and exercise selection creativity, bigger delt caps can be yours without the added pain in the shoulders.
Adding size quickly to your shoulders typically requires hitting all three deltoid heads (front, rear and middle) during every training week. The front delts get their beating when you perform any chest presses and flyes, so front raises have intentionally been left out of this routine. To that end, it’s advisable to perform one of your weekly shoulder workouts along with chest. The middle and rear heads will see minimal action during other upper body movements, so they need to be targeted on their own for maximal size – thus, pressing and lateral movements will be the focus of this shoulder routine (labeled “combined” below).
The other weekly workout will be your “at-large” routine, which you’ll perform on its own. To prevent overtraining, keep volume modest on combined routine days and make sure your “at-large” day isn’t preceded or followed by any upper body training days. The combined routine will give you a healthy pump with no frills and should be performed immediately after your last chest exercise.
Your at-large day is designed to increase size and strength and finish with a punishing pump via higher volume and intensity-boosting techniques. If you can’t raise your arms above shoulder height after this workout, that’s normal.
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Behind-the-Head Barbell Press 3 10 90 sec.
Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press 2 12 90 sec.
Cable Lateral Raise 3 10 90 sec.
Overhead Lateral Raise 2 12 90 sec.
Perform this workout immediately after training chest.
ExerciseSets Reps Rest
Behind-the-Head Barbell Press 4* 12 2 min.
Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press 3** 10 2 min.
Cable Lateral Raise 4* 12 90 sec.
Overhead Lateral Raise 3** 10 90 sec.
*On your last set, do three rest-pauses.
**On your last set, do a drop set where you ascend in weight three times.