The shoulders can be a tough body part when it comes to ensuring continual growth. With most body parts, there are a myriad of exercises you can use to hit them from varying angles in order to adequately hit every muscle fiber possible. With the shoulders, you have two basic movements. You are either moving the weight to the side and front, or you are pressing it overhead. You can use dumbbells or cables to deliver the raises, and you can use a barbell or nautilus machine to mimic the overhead motion. Other than that, you can’t really do much for them. When it comes to legs and chest, you can probably find 40 machines in your gym which deliver over 150 different movements. With shoulders, there are about five machines and ten movements. However, you can still train to reach success! Here are a few tips for keeping the shoulders unprepared for what you’re throwing at them!
Mix up your repetition ranges
While you can’t always use a huge array of shoulder movements (because there are only so many exercises to use) you can challenge your body to fire up both fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers by using different repetition schemes when lifting. Keeping the reps under 10 will activate those fast-twitch fibers. Going heavy (above ten or twelve repetitions) fires up those slow-twitch fibers. You want to ensure both groups of fibers are filled with blood in order to grow the muscle groups as much as possible, so you should find a balance in your shoulder training which allows you to use both rep ranges.
Find ways to go heavy
With the chest and back, you can use one-rep maximums or doubles or triples to challenge the body to lift incredible poundage a few times. This leads to muscle growth. However, with the shoulders, this kind of training would be foolish. Training with anything under 6 repetitions per set is an invitation to AC or RC joint failure, which can keep you out of the gym for weeks or even months. Using a partner and after a very thorough warm-up, however, you can go as heavy as you’d like without risk of injury. Be sure that you can lift at least 6 reps per set before you reach failure, and knock those sets out!
Experiments with the machines
Many gyms are equipped with a large number of shoulder machines, designed to allow the bodybuilder to train using various angles and approaches to lifts, without the need for balance. This removes the risk of injury, for the most part, and allows the bodybuilder to train much heavier than he could with free weights. While you may be prejudiced against machines for body pats such as arms or chest, you shouldn’t instantly rule them out for body parts such as shoulder. They may be more useful than they are for other body parts, particularly because they allow for variation in training that you cannot obtain with standard dumbbells and barbells.
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