🔴 Delts Exercises Sets & Reps Guide
✅ The key to developing delts that have a round, three-dimensional look is to proportionally develop all three heads. That way your delts look full whether viewed from the front, rear, or side.
The most common mal-development pattern among trainers is having well developed front delts, moderately developed middle delts and seriously lagging rear delts.
This will typically manifest itself by significant internal rotation of the shoulder. Showing if your palms face more to the rear as opposed to your side when you’re standing relaxed.
This probably has to do with:
- Love for the bench press and chest training in general.
- Propensity for giving more love and attention to muscles you can see in the mirror.
On the other hand, there are people who shun direct anterior delt work while prioritising medial delt development to the point where the middle delts are thick while the anterior delts remain shallow and underdeveloped, especially when viewed from the side.
🎯 When to Train Your Front Delts
🔥 Id lay out three approaches to train the front delts. This is one area that doesn’t need to be overcomplicated
- Isolate, Integrate-Basically pre-exhausting. You do your isolation movements for deltoids first, and then you do your shoulder pressing last. Lee Haney notably trained this way for his shoulders.
- Heavy stuff first, light stuff after-You could call this a powerlifting model, but essentially it is prioritizing the meat and potato’s movement that you can apply progressive overload too, and saving the smaller exercises for after as follow up. This how most people train, and it does work.
- Isolate only-For the people who figured out that heavy pressing overhead just doesn’t work for them. In this case, putting shoulder work after chest work often works the best. Or you could pair shoulders with arm (biceps and or triceps)
How often to train front delts? If your shoulders are lacking, twice week is always effective. If not, once a week. Priority principle on this one.
How much volume? I don’t know if anyone has ever explored the upper limits of front delt work. Per my training experience, I don’t think I’ve ever done more than 10 working sets a week for front delts with anyone. This depends on the approach you are using. If you are doing just one movement for front delts, the working volume could be as little as 2 sets. If you are using more of an isolation approach, volume will likely be in the 4-10 range. Ive never doubled up on front delt exercises. I have my clients do ONE movement, and the working sets is what goes up and down. If shoulders are being targeted twice weekly, and 5 working sets are done each time we train for front delts, then 10 ends up being the limit.
🎯 The Exercises
Having written a treatise for front delt training by this point, lets get to the exercises I promised in the title of this article. Following each exercise are suggested working sets and reps
- Seated DB Front Raise-A classic movement that has been around for ages and always will be. On the setup for these, don’t slouch while sitting, or tuck your butt under you. Sit with a neutral pelvis, and pull your feet in closer to the body to do this. Maintain a neutral spine, and raise both DBs simultaneously, or alternate them. Experiment with going from from a neutral to pronated grip, or pronated to neutral.
2-4 sets of 8-15 reps
- Front Raises with EZ Curl Bar-These are best done standing as a dropset. I love them for how effective they are while also being the epitome of bro bodybuilder ridiculous Take a conventional EZ Curl bar, and slide on however many 5lb, or even 2.5lb plates you want to each side. I suggest doing these with a bit of momentum of each rep. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, and do front raises to temporary failure. Slide a plate off each side, and do another set, keep doing this until you hit failure with just the barbell. A triple or quadruple dropset done once or twice is all you need for this one.
1-2 sets of 8-12 reps per 3-4 dropsets
- Front Delt Cable Raise-These can be done alternating, or unilateral. I like the alternating version, as you can get into a rhythm, but the unilateral one is great also for getting an extended stretch on the front delt. Stagger stance your feet, lean forward, and work one side at a time, or do them bilateral.
2-3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Cable Rope Raise-I picked this up from Christian Thibedeau. Id say this is a very “functional” movement if you set up properly for it. You set up as if you are doing a cable pullthrough with a pulley rope, but you lean farther forward, into an athletic “ready” position. With a neutral grip on the rope, you perform a front raise. I’ve found this work best in multiple sets, and not doing them to failure but letting the pump and fatigue accumulate. 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps work best, with minimum rest between sets.
3-5 sets of 8-12 reps
- Pauline Nordin Shredder Raise-Credit to the Pauline who I picked these up from. These are an “ultimate” front raise, takeing the shoulder from almost full extension all the way to flexion. Set an adjustable bench to somewhere between 30-45 degrees. Lying back on the bench, you will let the arms drop. You can start the movement in either a pronated or neutral grip. Already the front delt will be in an extreme stretch. Raise the arms all the way overhead, and back down again with control. This movement will be contraindicated for some people, so be cautious trying it out. If it does work though, HOLY MOLY, your anterior delts will be on fire. The stretch on the delt and chest cavity also feels phenomenal. Go LIGHT with the loading, 5-10 lbs is all you’ll need.
2-3 sets of 8-12 reps