Situational Training – Wider Shoulders/Narrower Waist

By

Vince Del Monte, WBFF Pro Fitness Model, Certified Fitness Trainer
and Nutritionist and author of No Nonsense Muscle
Building.

The nuts and bolts of what you need to know…

 

  • To build an “X” frame, one must focus on either widening up top, narrowing the midsection, or both

  • A lot of coaches draw a parallel between shoulder pressing strength, and shoulder size – therefore, logic would suggest that 9 times out of 10, one should start there when focusing on increasing width


Although it is very subjective, the illusion of wide shoulders, and a narrow waistline, is commonly agreed upon by most to be considered an aesthetically pleasing physique, and one which is sought after by many. Wide shoulders, combined with a narrow midsection form what is known as the “X” frame, along with a pair of highly developed quads. Fortunately for most, shorts and pants can cover up for a pair of chicken legs, but this doesn’t mean that the quads should be neglected.

Regardless, with summer fast approaching, the remainder of this article will emphasize solutions to the situation of how to combat narrow clavicles, and create the illusion of being wide!

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Correlation, or coincidence?

In my experience, many coaches commonly agree that big shoulders are built with big overhead presses, and I’m one of them. Not only does having a big overhead press lend itself to increased capacity to build bigger shoulders, but a big overhead press can also translate to a bigger bench press, as well as “healthy” shoulders – as the overhead press is corrective in nature (in all actuality, every exercise performed properly is corrective in nature) to shoulder problems that occur as a result of overuse, from performing an imbalanced workload.

As for shoulder size, I’ve yet to meet someone with an impressive overhead press and small shoulders. In fact, more often than not, you’ll find people with an impressive bench press and overdeveloped shoulders, simply because of how much the delts tend to take over when pressing on any angle. Therefore, is it any coincidence that putting up big numbers in any angle of press is consistent with a big set of delts? I think not!

Therefore, as I’ve said before, increasing overhead pressing strength will undoubtedly improve one’s capacity to build bigger shoulders, which is why one should start there when embarking on creating the illusion of an “X” frame.

One day for overhead work, and also overhead work on bench day.

Day 1 – strict overhead press, and push press

Day 2 – bench press, incline press, close-grip incline press

 

DAY 1: OVERHEAD FOCUS 

1) Strict military press

.
Week 1:
5 x 3 (starting at 80%)

Week 2: 5 x 4

Week 3: 5 x 5

Week 4: 5 x 6 (using the same weight for all 4 weeks)

Week 5: 3 x 3 (90% of your original max)

Week 6: 3 x 2 (95%)

Week 7: 3 x 2 (previous 100%)

Week 8: 3 x 3 (previous 100%)

Week 9: 2 x 1 (previous 100%)

Week 10: Test max*

 

2) Push press

.
3 sets of the same number of reps used for the military, using 10-20lbs more

 

DAY 2: “BENCH PRESS” 

1) Bench press

.
Week 1: 5 x 3 (starting at 80%)

Week 2: 5 x 4

Week 3: 5 x 5

Week 4: 5 x 6 (using the same weight for all 4 weeks)

Week 5: 3 x 3 (90% of your original max)

Week 6: 3 x 2 (95%)

Week 7: 3 x 2 (previous 100%)

Week 8: 3 x 3 (previous 100%)

Week 9: 2 x 1 (previous 100%)

Week 10: Test max*

 

2) High incline bench press (one setting more incline than a regular fixed angle incline bench)

3 x maximum reps with the same weight used FOR YOUR MILITARY PRESS SETS ON THE OTHER PRESSING DAY

 

3) Close-grip regular incline bench press

3 x maximum reps with same weight as no.2

 

Yes, likely triceps long head.

I would do top half presses from pins from various positions, partial presses and push presses.

Mechanical Advantage – limit the range as fatigue accumulates

 

 


Phase 1 (4 Weeks)

.
a) Military press

.
Week 1:
80% 5 x 3

Week 2: 80% 5 x 4

Week 3: 80% 5 x 5

Week 4: 80% 5 x 6

 

b) Top quarter overhead press from pins (from forehead to lockout)

3 sets of 4-6 reps with working weight

 

c) Partial overhead press (from just above forehead, press up 3″… start the first rep from pins but do not lower the bar to the pins between reps, stop just short of the pin)

3 sets of 6 of 8 reps with working weight


Phase 2 (3 Weeks)

.
a) Military press

.
Week 5: 85% 5 x 3

Week 6: 90% 4 x 3

Week 7: 95% 3 x 3

 

b) Top half overhead press from pins (from eyes to lockout)

3 sets of 3-5 reps with working weight

 

c) Partial overhead press (from 3″ below lockout to lockout… start the first rep from pins but do not lower the bar to the pins between reps, stop just short of the pin)

3 sets of 4 to 6 reps with working weight


Phase 3 (3 Weeks)

.
a) Military press

.
Week 8: 100% 3 x 2

Week 9: 100% 3 x 3

Week 10: Test new max (should be about 10-15% more)

 

b) Push press

5 x 1-3 with working weight

No other assistance exercise


Here’s a good specialization program to boost your strict pressing performance.


Day 1, 3, 5:
shoulder pressing

Day 2: legs and back

Day 4: arms


 

MONDAY: Strict + Full Pattern Overload

1. Strict press 5 x 3-5

2. First half press (from bottom position to eyes level) 5 x 3 (try to use 10% more than what you used in the strict press, work doing the lifting action explosively but without leg drive, and lower back down slowly)

3. Negative press (lift as a push press, lower back down to the shoulders as slowly as possible, especially from forehead to shoulders) 5 x 1 ideally using the same weight as on your first half press

 

TUESDAY

1. Front squat 5 x 3-5 using the double progression model

2. Deadlift 5 x 3-5 using the double progression model

3. Bent over row 5 x 6-8 using the double progression model

 

WEDNESDAY: Overload + Mechanical Advantage Muscle Stimulation

1. Push press with diminishing leg drive* 5 x 1 with your target strict press weight at the end of the cycle (a 10% increase is very realistic over a 4-6 weeks period for a spec routine)

2. Push press (normal leg drive) 5 x 3 with the same load as above, but this time you can use a strong leg drive

3. High incline bench press (60 deg. or 3rd pin setting on most adjustable benches) 5 x 3-5 using the double progression model

*Diminishing leg drive means that you use the smallest leg drive possible and you strive to use less and less leg drive each week, until you can do it without any leg drive (which would mean a PR in the strict press)

 

THURSDAY

1. Floor press 3 x 3-5 using the double progression model

2. Preacher curl 5 x 6-8

3. DB hammer curl 5 x 6-8

4. Decline DB triceps extension 3 x 8-10

 

SATURDAY: Stability/Technique w/Constant Tension

1. Strict press 5 x 3-5 using the double progression model

2. Bradford press (press just above forehead, bring behind neck, press just above forehead, bring to the front, this is ONE rep) 3 x 6-8 reps

3. Seated DB press constant tension (from neck level to just above forehead) 3 x 10-12

*Zavickas press can be used for strict press to make things harder, and increase the demand placed, well, everywhere

The strict overhead press is the strength lift where it’s the hardest to progress, by far.

 

To maximize shoulder size you need a combination of strength and isolation work. I would recommend a spec routine where the shoulders are hit 3x a weeks and the rest of the body is trained at a lesser level (to avoid systemic fatigue).

shoulder press

SHOULDERS DAY 1:
Mechanical Advantage (weakest to strongest)

 

1. Strict press (strict shoulder press performed while seated down on the floor)
Ramp up to 3RM

2. Push press
Continue ramping up to 3RM

3. Half push press
Continue ramping up to 3RM in the half push press (driving the bar just above forehead)

 

SHOULDERS DAY 2:
Mechanical Advantage Drop Sets

 

GIANT SET A

  1. Incline (seated on incline bench) lateral raise
    8-10 reps
  2. Incline front raise (same weight)
    max reps
  3. Incline bottom half lateral raise (same weight)
    max reps
  4. Incline bottom half front raise (same weight)
    max reps

 Perform this giant set 4 times*

 

TRIPLE SET B

  1. Heavy bottom half lateral raise
    6-8 reps
  2. Regular standing lateral raise (about half the weight as B1)
    6-8 reps
  3. Full lateral raise (almost touching the DB overhead… using about half the weight as B2)
    6-8 reps

Perform this triple set 4 times*

 

TRIPLE SET C

  1. Seated lateral raise
    8-10 reps
  2. Seated front raise (same weight)
    8-10 reps
  3. Seated DB clean and press (same weight)
    8-10 reps

Perform this triple set 4 times*

 

SHOULDERS DAY 3:
Strength + Mechanical Advantage + Constant Tension

 

  1. Standing single-arm DB press (neutral grip)
    5 x 4-6/arm
  2. Incline bench press
    5 x 4-6 reps

 

MECHANICAL DROP SET C

.
3A. Savickas press
6-8 reps

3B. Standing strict press (same weight)
max reps

3C. Push press (same weight)
max reps

3D. Half push press (same weight)
max reps

Perform this mechanical drop set 3 times*

 

SCHEDULE AND OTHER TRAINING

.
The important thing for maximum results is to do the SHOULDERS DAY 1 and SHOULDERS DAY 2 on back-to-back days. Then allow ample rest before doing DAY 3.

Split the rest of the body into 2 workouts. Do minimal volume for chest, normal volume for back, normal volume for legs and lower volume for arms.

The week should look like this:

Monday: Shoulders day 1
Tuesday: Shoulders day 2
Wednesday: Lower body workout
Thursday: OFF
Friday: Shoulders day 3
Saturday: Upper body
Sunday: OFF

.

The LOWER BODY workout could look like this:

  1. Front squat
    5 x 4-6 reps
  2. Romanian deadlift
    5 x 4-6 reps
  3. Split squat
    4 x 6-8 reps/leg
  4. Lying leg curl
    4 x 6-8 reps

And the UPPER BODY session could look like this:

  1. Chest-supported barbell or DB row
    5 x 6-8
  2. Chin-ups
    5 x 6-8 reps

 

3A. Pec deck machine (pectorals)
4 x 8-10 reps with slow eccentric

3B. Reverse pec deck machine (rear delts/mid-back)
4 x 8-10 reps with double contraction at peak

4A. DB hammer curl
3 x 6-8

4B. Decline DB triceps extension
3 x 6-8

5A. Preacher curl
3 x 8-10 (slow eccentric)

5B. Lying EZ bar triceps extension
3 x 8-10 (slow eccentric)

 

Shoulders and traps specialization. Give those muscles everything you have and train the rest for maintenance.

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Train delts and traps 3 days per week and divide the rest of the body into the remaining 2 days.

.
Something like:

.
Monday:
Delts and Traps
Tuesday: Legs and arms
Wednesday: Delts and Traps
Thursday: OFF
Friday: Chest and back
Saturday: Delts and traps
Sunday: OFF

.
I like to do 3 different workouts:

.
Workout 1
(Monday) is heavy

Workout 2 (Wednesday) is more isolation/pump techniques

Workout 3 (Saturday) is supersets of one heavy movement and one pump movement

.
..

The key is to avoid doing a lot of work for the other muscle groups, you wont lose anything in a few weeks. But you need to be able to devote as much recovery energy as possible on the target muscles.

It’s both lats/teres and lateral deltoid that will give you a wide look. When I do a specialization program (actually lats and deltoid specialization is something I often do with physique competitors) I normally devote 3 training days per week to develop the target muscles and the rest of the body is trained at maintenance level over 1 or 2 days. This is normally done for 3 to 5 weeks.

 

A week would look like this:

.
Day 1:
 Lats and delts workout 1
Day 2: Legs
Day 3: Lats and delts workout 2
Day 4: OFF
Day 5: Chest and arms
Day 6: Lats and delts workout 3
Day 7: OFF

.
I normally approach training from a problem solving angle. When there is a specific problem to fix I prefer to go all out for a brief period of time, doing everything possible to solve the issue. Then move on to something else. Even if the problem might not be 100% solved after 5 weeks, just the fact that you hit the target muscles often will make you more efficient at recruiting them and it will be easier to make them grow in the future.

This shoulder workout could be the next one you progress to:

I have 2 ways of approaching a spec block… it’s mostly 3 spec workouts per week. But the content of those session can vary.

My first option is as you mentioned: a heavy session, a pump session (often done the day after the heavy session) and a “mixed” session (a typical bodybuilding day).

The second option is to train different parts of a muscle at each session, this works best for something like back where you’d work lats on day 1, rear delts/rhomboids on day 2 and traps/lower back on day 3

I like to do 4 exercises for a spec muscle group, 3 if I spec on two muscles (or 4 + 2). If I do a mechanical drop set (e.g. lateral raise + front raise + partial lateral raise) I count that as one exercise, but only if done with isolation exercises.

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Comments

2 thoughts on “Situational Training – Wider Shoulders/Narrower Waist

  1. I was wondering if there is a sample plan of the the workout for the week when you hit your lats and Delts 3 times ….as the format above???

    Or where I could go to view this.

    many thanks, Rob.

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