My Specialized Approach For Accelerated Growth: Back and Shoulders (Non Member Content)

So I’m the type that is SUPER obsessed with training protocols and program design. I’ve never really been able to just “wing it” in the gym. That probably accounts for the reason as to why my progress seems to come so quickly. I really feel that failing to plan IS planning to fail. My training and diet are proof of what proper planning can do for the body.

Before my off season began, I sat and drafted the game plan I wanted to put into place as far as a macro/meso-cycle is concerned. Basically a macrocycle is a rough outline of your training progression over a few months to a year. A mesocycle would plan and give you an outline for a few week’s worth (usually 2-6 weeks) of training. And all the work that you fill into that plan should have a common goal of making improvements, and in this case, bringing up some weak parts and producing some solid hypertrophy.

After every season, I take a step back and look at my pictures. And not only do I look at pics of myself from throughout the season, I’ll go back and look at comparison shots from the stage. It’s important to be able to objectively see oneself after every show, and to really see what you need to do to get better, and to be better. Earlier this season, I had the opportunity to speak directly with IFBB Head Judge, Sandy Williamson. She told me that I really needed to bring up everything as a whole. That I had really nice balance and lines, but I pretty much need to put on some quality size on all parts. She mentioned that my legs in particular will need to come up a bit, particularly since I am long limbed. And that essentially, in having more muscle, and starting my pre-contest season with a bit more size, will enable me to push even further with my conditioning and be less stringy on stage. So I took her words, along with advice from my coach, and planned out my off season accordingly.

My goal this off season is to put some quality work in the following areas:

Increasing width and detail in my back

Rounding out shoulders

Improve Abs (mainly Rectus Abdominals – “six pack” muscles)

Improve glutes and hamstrings – bringing in more roundness

Maintain quad sweep as my quads are pretty developed

 

Now, I’ve decided to do all of this in a very specific way. One of the methods I’m employing is a Specialized Training protocol. With specialized training, you want to take one or two body parts that you need/want to improve, and then you’ll go ahead and increase the frequency and volume for those parts over a number of weeks. The other parts you’re not so much focusing on during this cycle can be left to train once a week. It’s more of a maintenance plan for those parts as you focus on your weak areas. What’s great about this kind of approach is that it can really help to balance out your physique tremendously.

So the first areas I’m bringing this specialized focus to are shoulders and back. When I look at my frame, these are the areas for me that I want to make the most dramatic improvements for over the next few weeks. I’m taking about 4-6 weeks per specialized training cycle to really blast those areas, then taking a deload cycle to give the body a bit of a rest prior to hitting a new round of specialized training.

With this approach in mind, here is my current training split:

 

Day Body Part
Sunday OFF
Monday Back (Width) and Shoulders (Lateral Head)
Tuesday Chest and Triceps
Wednesday OFF or Legs (Hip Dominant/Compound Moves)
Thursday Back (Thickness/Detail) and Shoulders (All 3 Heads)
Friday Biceps and Triceps
Saturday Legs (Glutes, Hamstrings, Calves)

I can definitely, DEFINITELY say that I’ve made some swift improvements with this adjustment alone. My shoulders are definitely fuller and rounder. In a way I’ve never seen them before. I often look at other competitors, ones you know have put in years of work in the gym. The women that draw my attention most have this amazing roundness when it comes to their shoulders. Like all 3 heads are fully developed and formed. That’s the look that I’m going for.

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By hitting my shoulders twice a week, I really get to split up the two workouts with two different – and very specific – focuses. Lateral head one day, and all 3 heads the next. I started working in this kind of way as far back as a year ago. And I can definitely say that over time, it has helped a lot in improving my shoulder size and shape. So I’m really trying and hoping to push the envelope with overall development this time around as last time I had not done any specific specialized work for my shoulders.

I’m taking the same kind of approach with my back as well. One day, the focus is on width, and the second day it’s all about detail and thickness. So on those width days it’s always lots of pull ups, pull downs, pull overs, and really anything to directly activate the lats. While in the second workout for the week, rows and close grip pulls take front center as I really try to etch and carve out every tiny muscle in the middle of my back. Nothing is more beautiful than a defined and strong back. Nothing leaves a statement more than when you turn around and the back view is as impressive as the front. And as they always say, shows are won from the back… So I am for dang sure going to do everything in my power to give myself a fighting chance when it’s time to hit that back double bi shot.

 

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