Feeling excited about that return-to-gym shoulder workout? We know we are. In case you’ve forgotten what a good shoulder workout looks like, @marino_katsouris is on hand to take us through his essential moves for those incredible boulder shoulders. If that’s not enough, he finished the workout with a 10-minute air bike HIIT session. Madness.
To get the most out of each exercise, Personal Trainer, Joe Nixon has broken down the exercises and given you a little bit of detail on exactly why these moves are oh-so powerful. So, whether you’re waiting for the gyms to open and looking for some inspo, or have the kit at home to try this one, it’s definitely worth a watch.
1. Laying cable side raises
4 sets of 12 reps
The laying cable raise is a great way to isolate the deltoids, with the lateral delts getting most of the load. Resisting against a pulley mechanism allows for a smoother range of motion than when working against gravity. The delts are a small muscle, so focus should be on time under tension rather than weight.
1. Lay on a bench with your head facing away from the pulley mechanism. Grip two separate cables from low pulleys, at the same height you are laying at. Your hands should be at your sides.
2. Keeping your arms stiff – with elbows very slightly bent – raise your arms directly out to your sides so that your body forms a ‘T’ shape.
3. Slowly bring your arms back down to your sides, maintaining tension on the shoulders throughout.
2. Seated cable Y raises
4 sets of 12 reps
The seated cable Y raise switches the emphasis from the lateral deltoids to the posterior (rear) delts, traps and rhomboids of the upper back; the muscles responsible for contracting the shoulder blades. Once again, this is not a compound movement and your CNS system does not get taxed, so focus on maintaining muscle tension and feeling each rep.
1. Sit facing thelow-pulley mechanism, with one pulley in each hand. (It works best if the left pulley is in the right hand and vice versa).
2. Keeping your armsstiff, pull the cables up and out, finishing in a ‘T’ shape with your shoulders fully retracted and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
3. Slowly return the cables to the starting position.
3. Military press
6 sets of 8 reps
As the one big movement of the whole workout, the military press is where the magic happens. This compound movement recruits just about the whole body. The triceps and shoulders take on the concentric efforts whilst the core, back, and even quads come into play as stabilizers and synergists. The shoulders will have pre-exhausted by cable raises and will need to work harder to complete the exercise.
1. Hold a barbell just over your collar, with your hands at shoulder width.
2. Press it overhead. Force your head through and under the bar as it goes
3. Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position just above your collar.
4. Lateral raise drop-set
4 sets of 12 reps + 12 reps
The lateral raise uses dumbbells to isolate the deltoids and work great as an accessory lift to use after heavy compounds. A drop-set can help get extra volume into the workout when the muscle is failing, keep intensity levels high and increase overall mechanical tension.
1. Stand with a dumbbell in each hand-with arms slightly bent.
2. Lift the arms outwards, bringing the dumbbells away from each other until they are roughly shoulder height.
3. Bring your arms back down and bring the dumbbells back together, maintaining tension on the deltoids throughout.
4. To complete the drop set, choose a lighter weight and repeat straight afterwards with no rest.
5. Face pull pulses
4 sets of 10 reps
Face pull pulses target the smaller muscles of the shoulders and place more emphasis on the rear delts, traps and rhomboids. ‘Pulsing’ is an appropriate way to hit the smaller stabilizer muscles that are vital to healthy shoulder functioning. An essential exercise to prevent injury.
1. Sit or stand under a high pulley and hold a rope handle in each hand.
2. Contract your shoulder blades and bend your elbows to pull the rope to the sides of your face, keeping your elbows high.
3. ‘Pulse’ by squeezing, slightly relaxing, and squeezing again before returning to the starting position with arms stretched out.
6. Head supported plate rear delt fly
4 sets of 12 reps
A variation of the rear delt fly, this exercise typically hits the rear delts but also recruits the traps and rhomboids. Having your head supported on a seated bench ensures a stable platform to perform the exercise and helps to isolate the rear delts. Can be performed with plates, dumbbells, kettlebells or just about anything.
1. Bend roughly 90 degrees at the hips, keeping a stable base with your feet and supporting your forehead on a bench, box or similar implement. Hold the weight in each hand and let your arms hang towards the ground.
2. Keeping your arms stiff, pull the weights apart until your body forms a ‘T’ shape and squeeze hard at the top.
3. Allow your arms to slowly return to the starting position, maintaining tension throughout.
Take home message
These moves are perfect for incorporating into your return-to-gym workout plan, or trying right now if you have the kit at home. Think you could manage Marino’s HIIT session straight after? You’re braver than we are…