Tone and tighten the muscles in your shoulders and arms with a high-volume weight-training workout. Building lean muscle takes routinely participate in workouts that overload the muscles. To overload muscles means to place them under a level of stress that they're not used to regularly handling. As a result, they become overloaded and the muscle fibers are left damaged. This damage stimulates the muscle-building process and during your days off, when you're letting your muscles recover, they undergoing a process that results in greater size and definition.
This particular workout aims to overloads the muscles in your shoulders (deltoids) and arms (biceps and triceps) by pushing the muscles to fatigue with a high volume load. You up the volume of a workout by adding more exercises, sets, or reps.
Workout Frequency: How Many Days Per Week
Complete the full shoulder and arm workout a total of two times per week. Because rest is just as important as a workout to build muscles in your deltoids, biceps and triceps muscles, schedule two to three days of rest in between each session to allow enough time for complete healing. For example, if you do the first session on Monday, fit in the second one on either Thursday or Friday.
Volume for Lean Growth: How Many Sets & Reps
Do four sets of each of the six exercises with reps structured in a pyramid format. On set one, do 12 reps. On sets two and three, do 10 reps. On set four, complete 8 reps. The first set is used as a warm-up set, so select a relatively lighter weight. Then, as you progress through each set, incrementally bump up the weight slightly. For example, let's say you use 12 pounds on the first set. You may use 15 pounds on the second set, 20 pounds on the third set, and 25 pounds on the final set. Rest just 30 to 90 seconds in between each of the sets and in between exercises to help encourage muscle fatigue.
The Workout: Exercises
#1 Barbell Shoulder Press
Works: Deltoids, Triceps
Barbell shoulder presses can be performed while either sitting or standing. If you stand, set your feet to hip-width for a stable base. Begin with the bar at the front of your shoulders with your hands set to shoulder width and palms facing forward. Your elbows should be in line directly underneath your hands. Press the bar overhead by extending your elbows until the arms are straight and the bar is in line with your ears. Bend your elbows to control the bar back to the front of your shoulders and to complete the rep.
#2 Barbell Upright Row
Works: Deltoids, Biceps
Stand with your feet set to hip width for a stable base. Hold the barbell down at the front of your thighs, with your hands positioned to shoulder width and palms facing in toward your thighs. Bend your elbows and allow them to flare out to your sides as you pull the bar up the front of your torso and up near your shoulders. Bend your elbows to lower the bar back to starting position and to finish the rep.
#3 Bench Dips
Works: Deltoids, Triceps
Sit on the side of a flat bench and place your hands beside your hips on the edges of the bench. Extend your legs out away from the bench. Holding your weight with your hands, shift your hips forward so that they clear the bench to get into starting position. Bend your elbows to lower your hips toward the floor. Continue until your elbows are bent to 90 degrees, and then straighten your arms to raise your hips and return to the starting position. For a greater challenge, rather than resting your feet on the floor, place them up onto a second bench. Once that becomes easy, you can rest a weighted plate on your thighs.
#4 Barbell Biceps Curl
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointed forward. Hold the barbell down in front of your thighs with your hands positioned shoulder-width and your palms facing forward. Bend your elbows to curl the barbell up to your shoulders and then extend the elbows to lower the bar back to the thighs and to complete the rep. Be conscious of whether you're allowing your body to rock forward and back during reps, and if you are, select a lighter weight.
#5 Lying Barbell Triceps Extension
Lie back on a flat bench. With hands positioned shoulder width on the barbell and palms facing your feet, hold the bar over your face with arms extended. Bend your elbows to lower the barbell toward your forehead, stopping it just short of making contact. Extend your elbows to lift the barbell back up to starting position and to complete the rep. Because you're holding the weight overhead, it's a good idea to have someone position themselves behind the head of the bench in case you need spotting.
#6 Incline Dumbbell Biceps Curl
Holding a dumbbell in each hand, sit and recline back on an incline bench positioned at 45 to 60 degrees. Allow your arms to hang down toward the floor. With palms facing forward, bend your elbows to bring the dumbbells up to your shoulders. Extend the elbows to lower the dumbbells back to starting position and to complete the rep.