Shoulder Size & Power
by Anthony Ditillo
I began my shoulder mass and power routine while trying to recuperate from a serious Bench Press injury. After the nerves in the pec-delt tie-in became increasingly inflamed, I realized rest and a complete revamping of my training routine was indeed necessary in order to aid complete recovery and the ability to maintain some type of muscular condition in the affected areas. In short, rest and change were definitely needed.
The only pressing movements I was capable of performing at this time were partial standing presses in the power rack (in front and behind the neck). These partial presses were done from just below the chin to the height of the eyes and the height of the forehead. Locking out the weight was impossible due to the extent of the injury. So press and press and press I did. I trained four or five days per week. Twice I pressed in front and twice I pressed behind the neck. I also included at this time bentover rows, high pulls (clean, and snatch grip) and shoulder shrugs. These movements were done for 10 to 14 sets of between 3 and 5 reps. With enough time and work, incredible poundages can be handled in the various partial movements I was employing. I also believe that the NECESSITY of such huge poundages results in great increased in muscle size.
Eventually I was capable of handling 555x5 from the chin to eye level, 495x5 from the chin to above eye level, 405x5 from chin to top of head and 355-5x5 from below chin to above forehead, twice per week. In the partial press behind neck, I managed 405x5 from shoulder to top of ears, 375x3 from shoulders to top of head and finally, 315-5x5 twice per week from shoulders to top of head.
At this time, bench pressing was still out of the question and only by using a very close grip could any work be done. Realizing that another change was needed in my program too ensure proper healing, I began to experiment with pressing at different angles in order to maintain some degree of strength and development in the hitherto injured muscles. After much experimenting on various grips and angles I found that the standing press was possible, if done cautiously. This also meant that presses at the various inclines and the press behind neck standing were also possible.
During this period, the partial presses were reduced to once per week or so and the brunt of the work was concentrated on these new pressing movements as well as various pulls and squats. I trained five days per week using one of the presses each day along with either two pulls or one pull and the squat. Each movement was performed 12 to 15 sets of either 3 or 5 reps with only one minute rest between sets. After 2 to 3 warmup sets I would jump into a heavy weight for 3 reps and do 10 sets with this weight. As strength would permit, I would eventually wind up with 10 sets of 5 reps with this weight and when this increase was possible, I would then increase the weight on the bar and go back to ten sets of triples. This schedule was kept up for close to a year except for two six week periods when I decided to “peak out” and see where my strength level was at. During this time my best training poundages consisted of the following:
Standing press – 355x1, 325x3, 295x5.
Press behind neck – 305x1, 275x3, 255x5.
Seated Press – 315x1, 285x3, 255x5.
Incline Press – 375x1, 355x5.
These lifts were done a little over one year ago at the Elizabeth YMCA. At this time, I tried myself out on the bench and registered 350x5 with a close tricep grip. This was possible, solely, to the overhead shoulder work and incline work because I had NOT been able to do ANY bench work for over one year. It is also my opinion that the previous work done in the power rack made it possible for me to steadily increase my training poundages.
The training routines I’ve outlined for you here were very fundamental in helping me to recuperate from the most serious training injury I’ve had to date. By using these movements the way I’ve outlined them, a great increase in muscle mass is possible. The overload partial movements when done for many sets of 5 are VERY stimulating for size increase. Probably this is because the rep scheme was high enough for muscle congestion while the massive weights used in this style of training necessitated a size increase for the system to support this much work. I also found out that grinding out set after set of 5’s in the various other pressing movements would also result in an increase in muscle mass but only if the rest pause between sets was kept to a bare minimum.
These routines were developed for me by my friend and coach, Dezso Ban.