RNT Body Part Series, Part 3: Two Tips For Optimal Shoulder Training

Here's how you can optimise training your shoulders.

Akash Vaghela Akash Vaghela · 28 Nov 2017

Training Intermediate
4 Mins

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In this next part of the ‘RNT Body Part Series’, we’re going to dig into how to optimise your shoulder training.

If you missed the previous instalments, you can catch up here:

Part 1: Back

Part 2: Chest

As you’ll know from reading our blogs, we’re big believers that progressive overload with perfect form is the key to building muscle and improving your physique.

If you’re not getting stronger in a wide variety of rep ranges over time, your physique won’t change.

However…

With that being said, shoulder training is where this might not be AS applicable…

It’s where we see people butcher progressive overload and do more harm than good.

So next time you train shoulders, here’s what you need to do:

1. Press Heavy, Raise Light


Some exercises just aren’t meant to be done super heavy. Lateral raises and their variations are prime examples.

I know you’ve seen the hardcore videos of pro bodybuilders heaving the 100lb dumbbells for their lat raises and looking jacked doing so.

But for us mere mortals with average genetics and normal bone structures, this is only going to lead to injury and joint pain.

When it comes to shoulders, save your heavy work for pressing. This is where you can load it up with a sole focus on developing strength.

When it comes to raises, go for ‘feel’ and the pump. Don’t concern yourself with heavy loads, and instead focus on getting as much blood into the area as possible – the shoulders respond REALLY well to this style of training.

Why? It’s probably because the medial and rear delts are highly ‘slow-twitch’, meaning they’re built to be fatigue resistant and withstand high volumes. Which is also why super, tri and giant sets with short rest periods work so well for building up the shoulders.

Here’s two shoulder combinations I really like to finish off my upper body days with:

Shoulder Combo #1


A1: Rear Delt Swings x 20

A2: Seated Lean Forward Lateral Raise x 10

A3: Face Pull x 15

Shoulder Combo #2


A1: Standing Lateral Raise x 10-15

A2: Over and Backs x 10-15

Once you’ve got all your heavy pressing out the way, try these combinations to flush a lot of blood into the muscle, add volume and also help keep your shoulders healthy.

2. Watch Your Form


While the lateral raise seems like a ‘safe’ exercise, poor form and heavy weights can lead to achy and niggly shoulders.

Once you’ve checked your ego at the door, start doing your lateral raises this way:

  • Allow your arms to come up in a natural scapula plane of motion.
Instead of pinching your shoulders back while raising, raise your arms slightly in front of you. This’ll be more natural and create less of an impingement in your shoulders.


  • Keep a looser grip on the dumbbells.
For compound pressing and pulling exercises, you want to grip the bar hard to create an ‘irradiation’ effect where you enhance the stability and strength in the joint. But if we’re trying to isolate a small muscle like the medial delt, squeezing hard will actually take away from the isolated impact of the exercise.

Remember, this is a ‘feel based exercise’, so we’re not trying to synchronise the body together and lift progressive loads. We want to keep it isolated and target only the medial delt without bringing any secondary movers in.

Embrace the Pump & Grow!


Shoulder training is pretty simple, and to get the most out of it, you can’t go wrong with pressing heavy, and then chasing a nasty pump with creative combinations of raises all performed with perfect form.

Akash VaghelaAkash Vaghela

Akash Vaghela has spent 10+ years transforming bodies and lives around the world, and in May 2017, founded RNT Fitness to serve this purpose. His vision is to see a world transformed, where ambitious high performers experience the power of the physical as the vehicle to unlock their real potential. He’s the author of the Amazon best-sellilng book Transform Your Body Transform Your Life, which explains his unique and proven five-phase methodology, is host of the RNT Fitness Radio podcast, has been featured in the likes of Men’s Health and BBC, whilst regularly speaking across the world on all things transformation.

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