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The Ultimate Workout for Strong, Stable, Sexy Shoulders

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Over the past week, as we spent the majority of the time on the blog discussing the Xtreme Fat Loss Diet on the blog, I started thinking about where to go from there.  I thought, “Okay, now everyone who wants to lose fat has a great program for a bit.  What else do people want?

The best way to answer a question is to ask it, so I’ve been asking people on my Facebook Fan Page what they’d like to see—and a huge majority are interested in muscle gain (broadly) and how to specialize on a particular muscle.

Well, it just so happens that a few months back, I had an article posted at T-Nation about how to specialize any body part for increased growth. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, I re-posted it on my blog right HERE. The premise was that I believe for intermediate and advanced trainees, the fastest way to progress is to have short periods (4-6 weeks) where you focus intently on a single body part and lower the volume for everything else.

Whenever I am training for size, I almost always specialize. I really enjoy this approach because it is fast and effective—much like my fat loss workouts, but in a different way. Instead of getting you shredded, specialization workouts help you correct imbalances or bring up lagging body parts lickity-split.

They’re also just useful if you want to add some size to a given part of your body quickly without worrying about the rest of the body.

Anyway, getting back to my point: one of the great things about my Facebook page is the awesome community we have—sort of like a message board. I was fielding some questions about the article on the forum, and I had several requests for an example workout featuring shoulders.

Never one to disappoint, I wanted to hook you guys up with an awesome shoulder workout to help you build strong, sexy shoulders in no time.

Never one to disappoint, I wanted to hook you guys up with an awesome shoulder workout to help you build strong, sexy shoulders in no time.

A1) Alternating Javelin Press – 2×10
A2) Barbell High Pull – 2×8
note: rest 20-35 seconds between A1 and A2. Rest 60 seconds after A2, then repeat. After second set rest 120 and move to B

B) Single Arm DB Overhead Press – 3×6
note: perform 6 reps for 1 arm, then switch. No rest between arms. Rest 90 seconds after last set then move to C

C1) Push Press – 3×5
C2) Forward Leaning Lateral Raise – 3×15
C3) Bicep Curl, any variation – 3×10
note: rest 45-60 seconds between exercises, 180 seconds between circuits. After your last circuit, rest 240 seconds andproceed to D

D) Lumber Jack Press – 1×8 per side
note: rest 45-60 seconds between sets

E) Pike Push-Up – 1 x20-25
note: rest 60 seconds between sets

As per normal Roman shenanigans, the rest periods are short. As I’ve mentioned, for the most part, my clients train quickly and don’t rest much. Even programs like the above workout, while geared towards muscle growth, generally lead to fat loss.

Give it a shot this week, and check out that article.

Leave your thoughts about the article below. Unless you didn’t like it, in which case don’t tell me because then I’ll be sad =(

Okay, workout time. Go try it.

What other body parts would you like to see specialized?  Or more broadly, what muscle gaining topics would you like to see covered?

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

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  • Derek

    Great post Roman. I'm currently on the HP Mass program but may try a spcialization through the winter next year.

    I'd like to see what you did for a direct arms workout.

  • Derek

    Great post. I haven't tried the pecialization route in awhile. I'm currently on Thibs HP Mass program but may try a specializtion over the winter next year.

    Considering this post, I'd like to see what you would do for a direct arm workout.

  • Seth

    I saw a comment in here somewhere regarding a rotator cuff injury and recommendations. A student of physical therapy myself, I've seen many people with such injuries. Most exercise protocols would include very functional planes of movement (4-way cable column pulls incl internal/external rotation & flexion/extension of the shoulder). Importantly, rhomboids, lats, and SCAPULAR muscles are key areas not to be neglected when specializing your shoulder musculature…which brings me to the heart of a good point regarding training the shoulder: while sculpted delts are kick-ass, make sure not to forget those extra 'rotator cuff' contributor muscles that are so important for injury prevention and overall shoulder health! Chances are, results will be even better!

  • Alfonso

    Hey Roman! Awsome blog! I gave it a try on monday and today. GOOD STUFF! I was wondering if you could make one for triceps, it's my most overlooked muscle. It would be great if I could have a workout like this one for the triceps to catch them up with the rest. Keep up the good work Roman!

  • Shane Mclean

    Lots of good stuff per usual. No matter what i do i cannot put any size on the quads. That workout would be great. Thanks Roman

  • Shane mclean

    Lots of good stuff per usual. No matter what i do i cannot put any size on the quads. That workout would be great. Thanks Roman

  • Shane mclean

    Lots of good stuff per usual. No matter what i do i cannot put any size on the quads. That workout would be great. Thanks Roman

  • Roan

    Hey Roman, the first e-mail about this with the link didn't work for me, and didn't see it on the front page either! (I thought those were the 3 most recent blogs?)

    Anyway, I am sure going to give his a try when I feel like specializing! Thanks for the work out :D

  • Roan

    Hey Roman, the first e-mail about this with the link didn't work for me, and didn't see it on the front page either! (I thought those were the 3 most recent blogs?)

    Anyway, I am sure going to give his a try when I feel like specializing! Thanks for the work out :D

  • The variety of the movements in this workout is great. So many times people repeat the same exercises over and over when they are doing shoulders.

  • The variety of the movements in this workout is great. So many times people repeat the same exercises over and over when they are doing shoulders.

  • Seth

    I saw a comment in here somewhere regarding a rotator cuff injury and recommendations. A student of physical therapy myself, I've seen many people with such injuries. Most exercise protocols would include very functional planes of movement (4-way cable column pulls incl internal/external rotation & flexion/extension of the shoulder). Importantly, rhomboids, lats, and SCAPULAR muscles are included–key areas not to be neglected when specializing your shoulder musculature…which brings me to the heart of a good point regarding training the shoulder: while sculpted delts are kick-ass, make sure not to forget those aforementioned extra 'rotator cuff' contributor muscles that are so important for injury prevention and overall shoulder conditioning! Chances are, results will be even better!

  • Seth

    I saw a comment in here somewhere regarding a rotator cuff injury and recommendations. A student of physical therapy myself, I've seen many people with such injuries. Most exercise protocols would include very functional planes of movement (4-way cable column pulls incl internal/external rotation & flexion/extension of the shoulder). Importantly, rhomboids, lats, and SCAPULAR muscles are included–key areas not to be neglected when specializing your shoulder musculature…which brings me to the heart of a good point regarding training the shoulder: while sculpted delts are kick-ass, make sure not to forget those aforementioned extra 'rotator cuff' contributor muscles that are so important for injury prevention and overall shoulder conditioning! Chances are, results will be even better!

  • Seth

    I saw a comment in here somewhere regarding a rotator cuff and recommendations. A student of physical therapy myself, I've seen many people with such injuries. Most exercise protocols would include very functional planes of movement (4-way cable column pulls incl internal/external rotation & flexion/extension of the shoulder). Importantly, rhomboids, lats, and SCAPULAR muscles are key areas not to be neglected when specializing your shoulder musculature…which brings me to the heart of a good point regarding training the shoulder: while sculpted delts are kick-ass, make sure nOt to forget those extra 'rotator cuff' contributor muscles that are so important for injury prevention and overall shoulder health! Chances are, results will be even better!

  • Jane

    Thank you for the videos and perfect timing as I need the exercises now I have a holiday booked.

  • VJ Beach

    Thanks Roman for the workout. Great timing for the summer and those tank tops.

    Just a thought that next time you can show alternates to the exercise. What I mean is how do I do this without weights or with dumbbells, bands and barbell.

    You have indicated in your writings that you understand many of your subscribers workout from home. We all have different types of equipment and therefore need to understand the variations in order to do them correctly and not hurt themselves. If they are exercises that can't be done with another form of equipment or body weight then that can be indicated.

    What I find is I see the exercise and if I can somehow alter it without hurting myself I do, but if I can't then I skip over the workout. Not really what I would like to do.

    Just a thought, Keep up the great posts.

    VJ

  • Karen Praxel

    Can you post a video of both you boys just reading me a bedtime story?

    —-batting my eyes—-

  • Corey Ramsay

    The lumberjack press looks ok. All I can see on the dumbbell press is painful elbows from the snap you are giving it on the extension. But hey… I'm old, way more parts hurt than I like to count and “What the hell do I know and besides who's asking?”

  • faizul

    great workout man..my shoulder is burning..he3..tq 4 sharing…

  • Great Workout, will try it out later, as always well written. Other areas specific on arms (well summer is coming) if shoulders are going to look good then so should arms.

    Look forward to the next article

    Regards Trevor

  • Jay

    I would like to see more topics on skinny guys gaining muscle. This is not particularly my problem but I am very inerested in body chemistry especially when in contrast to mine. I believe I can gain a lot of knowledge as well.

    Also, a bit more specific about how to go about getting your lower body leaner and stronger.

  • Evy

    Great post and a few new moves to work into my routine. Love it!

    My personal preference is a workout emphasizing the glutes, hamstrings, and calves. I know guys like the quads and the chest routines, but seriously, I'll look at a guy's butt before I pay any attention to his chest or thigh muscles. Quite a few women I know have the same preference. Go figure, eh?

  • Jake Oliver

    Hey Roman

    Just a question with the Javelin Press and the Lumberjack Press.

    I might of missed it in the posts but they seem like quite similar exercises to me. What is the advantage of doing them both and what are some form tips so you're not doing almost the same exercise?

    Thanks!

  • Terra

    great article, and thanks for the new shoulder exercises. (are they appropriate for women too, that want toned shoulders, but NOT bigger?)

    I'd like more abdominal toning exercises–still like to get that 6-pack!

  • Dan

    what about the best exercice for the chest.

  • Hey Cass,

    Thanks for the post.

    Considering your limitations, give a number of recommendations would unwise…I'd have to say that you're best served with a good Physical Therapist in your area.

  • Joakim

    Nice workout, but aren't you supposed to train the mouscle group several times during a specialisation program?

    I'd appreciate it really much if you would post a “complete” program (with all the workouts you do in a week). Of course that is pretty much to ask…

    About the muscles, I'd like to see an arm workout ;)

  • Dan

    Specialization for arms would be great…

  • Stacey Diehl

    Timely. Thank you.

  • Maria

    Would love to see a post about training lower back, legs and butt. It's time for skirts and shorts!

    Also, have you ever thought of doing an online radion show with some of the other trainers you collaborate with? Personally I think that would be awesome! As in informative AND hilarious. You could probably use something like blogtalkradio and people like me could call in and ask questions.

    Something to think about.

  • Cass

    Roman,

    I was so excited to see this article, as delts are one of my areas I would like to bring up. However, I am a 43 year old woman who has been lifting for years, and due to age or lifting, has experienced some “breakdown” over the last several years. Basically, I have tendonitus of the rotator cuffs and what looks to be a very slight partial tear and a bone spur in my right rotator cuff. I have had cortisone injections which seem to be helping and my orthopedic surgeon says there is no need to jump into surgery right this minute. He would like to see me continue to lift but to do so in a smart fashion.

    To that end, I am no longer “allowed” to do any overhead pressing movements and no more dips. I can still bench press, can do as many lateral and rear delt raises, etc.

    Any way to build “healthy” and rocking shoulders with those limitations? I think you will find that more and more, as the lifting generation ages, this will be a common injury, even for those lifters who did it smart, like me.

    Thanks!

  • Jan

    Great workout.

    If you want to know what more I would like to know about, it's… shoulders. I belive the topic is so wide, that You could cover it more. It's my favourite muscle group to train, and I'd love to see some more workouts for them.

    Best regards, and thanks for your work!

  • Leon

    Great workout. I'll try a variation of that. I say variation, because I only have kettlebells (and of course bodyweight) to work with (nearest gym is probably in the nearest town – 150km away). Ever thought of doing a KB routine? I'd love that.

    I'm going off topic now, but I have a question regarding training on a fast day. Do you continue on a 100% fast, even if you train, or do you take e.g. some whey protein after a workout? I fasted for 36 hours last Friday (Thursday evening to Saturday morning), and trained three times – KB's Friday morning, some light jogging and cycling Friday evening, and again heavy KB's on Saturday morning. Straight after Saturday morning's training I had some unflavoured whey with honey (pretty good by the way) and a decent breakfast (eggs, avocado and home made cottage cheese). But all through the fast I only drank water the whole time. I got pretty hungry, but I must say I feel pretty good now. I think I'll make it a weekly thing, but then on Mondays, so that I can enjoy some “feasting” on Sundays.

    Thanks

    Leon

  • Mat

    Awesome workout Roman. You ever think about doing a program just with specialization workouts?

    I'd buy that! ;)

  • Sandy

    Great routine Roman, as always. I'm in the middle of doing FPFL 2 at the mo and having a great time doing it. Unfortunately at present I can't manage the chin-ups (used to be able to but got out of weight training for a while and seem to have lost the strength to do them), so would love a back workout that would help me achieve doing 3 sets of 6 chin-ups. Thanks will look forward to it.

  • caroline

    Nice post Roman! The video are great!

    Maybe next time, a leg training to build bigger legs…

  • Kia Komadina

    Awesome workout, Roman. I'm going to give it a go tomorrow.

    The one area that I would love to have some specific workouts for developing is the thighs. Getting some decent shape without too much emphasis on the front of the leg is what I want to achieve.

  • Izaak

    Love your info Roman. Ima start your “Chesticles” chestilization workout in about 2-3 weeks after my current phase of Lean Hybrid Muscle, but, i would love to see something specializing LEGS. I want to get bigger legs (quads, hams, calves, glutes). I see people at the gym that look like light bulbs (big upper body with chicken legs) and thats the look that i DONT want. Thanks!

  • Kathleen

    I would love it if you could always add an element that was purely a bodyweight workout that did not need equipment but would still do the trick. Come on – I know you've got 'em!

  • Daniel

    Hey John, cool and useful information as usual! U never let us down, do you know what I like the most?, is that u bring us different and challenging exercises.. way far from those every random guy do at the gym! It'll be nice to get a broadly inside on Triceps bro! so keep it in mind, thanks again dude!! Cheers from Colombia :D

  • Steve

    I love your posts Roman, always filled with great material. I especially like this workout you posted because I feel my shoulders are weak compared to some other parts of my body. I'd love for them to be a bit bigger and rounder.

    I saw a post down below about calves and although it would be nice to have bigger calves or forearms, i feel it's very hard to increase the mass of these parts of the body due to them being very genetically determined. I feel you can definitely improve the look of these muscles, but it's very difficult to get significant increases in their size. I'd love for my distal arms and legs to be bigger than they are and I do find my grip to be a limiting factor during some workouts

  • fatima

    Hi,

    Thanks so much for great workouts.

    Is it really a chance to develope poor calves.It drives me crazy.My body has very good shape and just my calves do not go to the other part.

    What is your recommended exercise for this?

  • John

    I'd love to see a workout that strengthens the whole back, not just the upper back/shoulder area. I've been seeing a chiropractor for about a year, and I'd love to strengthen the muscles so that the bones would stay where they're supposed to be.

  • Terry

    Hi

    Thanks for the great workouts and explanatory videos. I really appreciate you taking the time to include the videos, because sometimes the same exercise is called different things by different sources and quite often I've never heard of it by any name.

    How about some kettlebell exercises in the future. I don't have a lot of equipment, but I do have an adjustable and a few fixed weight kettlebells.

    Thanks

  • Terry

    Hi

    Thanks for the great workouts and explanatory videos. I really appreciate you taking the time to include the videos, because sometimes the same exercise is called different things by different sources and quite often I've never heard of it by any name.

    How about some kettlebell exercises in the future. I don't have a lot of equipment, but I do have an adjustable and a few fixed weight kettlebells.

    Thanks

  • Surely. If we're talking about building a nice booty, Lunge/RDL combos work great.

    Here is one version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td6-HoWvt9c

    And here is another:

  • Lisa

    Another great workout, John. Killed me, and I don't have a lot of weights to work with.

    I would love to see more specific exercises. For example, I'm half-Japanese and as per traditional Japanese form, I have a flat butt. I found the KB swings recommended by Tim Ferriss SUPER helpful in “rounding me out” as it were. Anymore suggestions for exercises there?

  • rocky

    Yeah the article on t-nation is kick ass roman. One of your best by far. But id love to see some arm stuff. You got some of the biggest arms and id love to know your opinion on training them. Thanks.

  • Miguel

    Great workout Roman. Will try it asap!

    I'd like to see workouts for arms growth. I started as a beginner directly doing full-body workouts and now I think my extremeties (calves and arms) are disproportionately thin compared to the bigger muscle groups.

    Thanks!

  • Mark

    I would be VERY interested in you creating a product

    on high intensity training. A holistic program that covers all aspects of your body for impressive gains.

  • freddie

    /asskissing

    as one of the masterwizards of the iron-roundtable you never stop dishing out good stuff. /end

    As you've mentioned before you come from a bodybuilder background and your advices are affected thereof, not a bad thing imo. So i'm stealing this shoulder killer for my next 531 cycle as accessory work if you don't mind ofc ^_^

    -halfbreed

  • @bruceleewannabe – Dean, thanks for the kind words about the article–I'm glad you gave it a second try and enjoyed it. I appreciate it, truly.

    In terms of hanging out on the forum, happy to do so. My favorite things in the world are interacting with people, writing, and training (in that order). Hanging out on forums and answering questions lets me do all of those things. Welcome to the community, definitely looking forward to having you around =)

    Regarding information over-load.

    It's hard, for sure. But like I said, I just LOVE training, and learning about it. Every time someone else in the field comes up with something new, I get excited and really eager to learn and apply. I don't “throw out” too much–I believe that everything has a place, and that almost nothing is useless.

    I tend to stick to basic principles that work, but I am always open to new ideas willing to augment what I've been using if something seems to be a good fit.

    The main thing is to have the discipline necessary to stick with whatever program you're on while you're on it.

    Most programs that get published are pretty decent, at least as templates for the ideas they are trying to communicate. The abundance of information isn't the problem–it's the impatient reaction to immediately try that information that causes most people not succeed,

    I'm all for ingenuity, creativity and out-right craziness: for program design.

    For program execution: the intelligent application of consistency, stability, and intensity win out over anything else, every time.

  • John, when your article first came out a few weeks back & quickly scanned it and moved on, not giving it much thought. Went back a few days ago & read it. It was…GREAT! I hope you got payed well for it, cause IT WAS….YES, GREAT!

    What also what great is how you got in the forum with the Q&A. That was very cool of you. And just found your site here & I'm looking forward to hanging out here & learning.

    Also, in your field, how do you not go crazy with information overload? Sometimes with all the info out there, T-Nation & all the writers, various programs, etc, can be very confusing!! How do you go about that and what is your approach with what to apply or throw out? How do you keep it simple?

    See you around!

    Dean

  • Graham

    Just did this workout. Brutal but oh so nice.

  • Nice workout, man. I don't think I've ever done a javelin press.

    -Nate

  • Originally Posted By YlwaI'll answer that, John. All guys should, cause all girls would say yes to that. I belive a guys most attractive area isfrom his chest/shoulders and up. A pair of nicely defined delts and pecs leaves at least me drooling more than a pair of sixx-packs. Not that I mind that either.

    I listened to that coaching call, Roman. Is this the “first” work-out of the week you should do, and the other ones being 50% shoulders and 50% other?

    Yes, exactly. For anyone not wanting to specialize to the extent that you'd do 3 dedicated shoulder workouts per week, you would do precisely as you said.

    The above workout would be workout 1 (Monday) and then Wednesday and Friday would be workouts comprised of 50% shoulder stuff and 50% other stuff.

    The option I describe in the article is 3 workouts for shoulders in a given week, and a single day dedicated to a full body circuit. Both approaches work very well, just depends on a) what you enjoy more, b) how many times you can realistically get to the gym, and c) to what extent you want to prioritize.

    Lots of different ways to set it up.

    Thanks for listening to the call! Hope you enjoyed =)

  • Wow, excellent stuff again.

    I definitely need better shoulders, so I immediately got this workout noted and will try it as soon as possible.

    Many wacky/fun exercices too, I'm sure we'll all have a blast trying it out :D

    I also read your article on TMuscle, super good info there too!

  • Originally Posted By FredLooks like a great program for targeting your shoulders John. One quick question: when you said:

    “the fastest way to progress is to have short periods (4-6) where you focus intently on a single body part and lower the volume for everything else.”

    On the 4-6, I imagine we are talking about days, correct?

    Otherwise, great stuff man. Highly appreciated!

    Oh, bollocks. That was a typo, it's supposed to be every 4-6 weeks.

    The main point of the article is that the majority of people–once they've reached a certain level of development–will progress more effectively by focusing on a single body part for a short while, rather than trying for full body growth.

    Thanks for pointing out the typo.

    Quick, to the edit-mobile!

  • @John M. – the Sandow exercise is a side press. The side press allows a lot of bend in the torso.

    With the Javelin press, we keep the torso completely upright, and use abdominal bracing for maximal stability.

    I have a video on my YouTube account I can link to.

    You could do this 3 times per week, certainly. I would say you would want to do this once or twice per week, alternated with another shoulder workout. That workout would have slightly different exercises, as well as these exercises with different set and rep schemes.

  • Ylwa

    I'll answer that, John. All guys should, cause all girls would say yes to that. I belive a guys most attractive area isfrom his chest/shoulders and up. A pair of nicely defined delts and pecs leaves at least me drooling more than a pair of sixx-packs. Not that I mind that either.

    I listened to that coaching call, Roman. Is this the “first” work-out of the week you should do, and the other ones being 50% shoulders and 50% other?

  • Fred

    Looks like a great program for targeting your shoulders John. One quick question: when you said:

    “the fastest way to progress is to have short periods (4-6) where you focus intently on a single body part and lower the volume for everything else.”

    On the 4-6, I imagine we are talking about days, correct?

    Otherwise, great stuff man. Highly appreciated!

  • John M.

    Is the javelin press like that old school sandow exercise? And would this be done three times a week? Thanks for the great info! I mean what guy doesn't want wider shoulders?