As anyone who has been paying attention will know, my problem area is my shoulders. When I first started weight training, my shoulders were my absolute favourite body part to train. High reps, low reps, straight sets, pyramids, drop sets – it didn’t matter what I did, my shoulders seemed to grow. After every shoulder workout I could see the striations in my shoulders, and I could barely lift my arms the days following a training session.
Cut to about four months ago when my shoulders all of a sudden just stopped making progress. Combined with the fact that my arms were growing at a very fast rate (which I must admit is a high quality problem!), my shoulders seemed to not only plateau but actually get smaller! My shoulders are weak relative to the rest of my body, and it seems like it has been far too long since I have increased my weights for any exercises.
Since then I have tried a number of strategies to attack my shoulders. Usually I am pretty good at bringing up lagging body parts – it’s what I’m paid to do, after all! I have always been able to manipulate my own training program to achieve a certain result, but my shoulders are just not cooperating.
I have tried using high volume workouts twice a week, training them to failure with heavy weights only once a week, sticking to pressing, sticking to flyes only, and doing endless numbers of drop sets, giant sets and supersets. Yet nothing seems to work.
Rob and I only had one training session together last week, and we both knew it had to be shoulders. He was in charge of creating our workout. I was feeling sick and he asked me if I was going to be okay to lift. I said yes, and he replied: “No, really. I want you to push so hard you need to go to hospital.”
Alright, then. Our workout was painful, and I certainly felt my shoulders. We did a high repetition workout Dana Linn Bailey style:
Single arm cable lateral raises: 3 x 4 paused reps (hold for 3 secs at top of each rep), 4 quick reps, 4 paused reps
Push press: 4 x 12
Seated lateral raise: 4 x 4 quick reps, 4 paused reps, 4 quick reps
– superset with upright rows: 4 x 12
Standing bent over flyes: 4 x 4 paused reps, 4 quick reps, 4 paused reps
While the paused reps almost killed me, it still wasn’t enough. Despite me actually shedding tears during this workout, I didn’t feel anything the next day and I don’t feel any stronger. I’m designing a new program to start next week, and I’m toying with the idea of doing shoulders twice a week again: one higher rep day with lots of drop sets, and one heavier, low rep day.
Before I started writing my program, I realised there might be others who have gone through a similar plateau with their shoulders, or another body part. Does anyone have any tips? How did you break your plateau?