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The Boulder Shoulder Workout!

Combining Drop Sets & Supersets for MAXIMUM GAINS!

Posted by NutritionMax - August 7th, 2014

This is a true deltoid shredding workout that will challenge your ability to endure the muscle burn. It’s a novel and different approach to training shoulders that involves agonizing slow tempos and drop sets, but the results are very rewarding. If you are having a difficult time stimulating shoulder growth, look no further. This workout will guarantee a strong enough stimulus to force your muscle to grow!

This Routine Requires:

  1. Dumbbells
  2. Cable Machine with Rope Attachment
  3. Hammer Strength Shoulder Press (If no available, unloaded barbell is acceptable)

List Of Exercises:

  • Stop 1 - 2 reps short of failure
  • Rest 45 – 60 seconds MAX between sets

1.  Standing Dumbbell Press


  • Set 1: 30 reps with light weight
  • Set 2: 20 reps with slightly heavier weight


  • Set 1: 11 reps
  • Set 2: 9 reps
  • Set 3 (Drop Set): 8 reps - followed by - 10 reps using half of previous weight
                   Example: 40 lbs for 8 reps, 20 lbs for 10 reps

2.  Standing Push-Press / Front Dumbbell Raise (SUPERSET)


  • Set 1: 12 reps / 6 reps
  • Set 2: 10 reps / 8 reps
  • Set 3: 9 reps / 9 reps
  • Set 4 (Drop Set): 9 reps / 15 reps - followed by - 10 reps / 10 reps with 50% less weight     
                   Example: 40lbs / 20 lbs - followed by - 20lbs / 10lbs


  • Explosive and controlled Push Press (1 second up and down)
  • Explosive concentric motion, with 1 second hold at the top and a 2 second eccentric (lowering) motion
  • Control the motion, don’t hyper extend the back & stop short of failure

3.      Standing Straight-Arm Dumbbell Lateral Raise


  • 3 sets of 10 second isometric holds
  • Rest 30 seconds MAX between sets

4.      45 Degree Incline Bench Lateral Raise


  • Set 1 (Ascending Drop Set): 6 reps / 6 reps / 6 reps
                  Increase weight with each drop set
                                  Example: 5 lbs. / 10 lbs. / 12.5 lbs.
  • Set 2 (Descending Drop Set): 8 reps / 10 reps / 10 reps or until failure
                  Decrease weight with each drop set
                                  Example: 30 lbs / 15 lbs / 5 lbs


  • Controlled up and down motion. No swinging arms

5.     Rope Face-Pull / Bench Rear Delt Flyes (SUPERSET)


  • Set 1: 9 reps / 15 reps
  • Set 2: 7 reps / 17 reps
  • Set 3(Drop Set): 6 reps / 10 reps - drop weight by 50% - 15 reps / 20 reps


  • Explosive face pull with 2 second isometric holds when elbows are back.
  • Controlled regular tempo with rear delt flyes lying on bench.

6.     Hammer Strength Shoulder Press or Unloaded Barbell


  • Set 1: Perform 50 reps as fast as you can using weight that you can handle


  • If you need to rest, only rest for 10 seconds and continue until you hit 50 reps!

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NASM CPT, Master's in Human Nutrition
Precision Nutrition Sports & Exercise Nutritionist

Justin Janoska is a professional fitness coach and a clinical nutritionist who specializes in helping people with challenging diseases. He runs an online coaching platform where he helps people like you reach build muscle or lose weight.

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Crushed this workout this morning; was awesome!!! Can't wait to try it again now that it's in my muscle memory bank. Each week I'll pick a different muscle to torture outside of my 12-week shred and this week it was deltoids. The whole thing took me a little under an hour, but I know I'll be a lot quicker next time now that I've done it once. By the time I was done 2.5 pounds felt like 50.

Smash  Edit  Delete  Close

Thanks @reggiebfitness I've also added some of your bigger Biceps in 4 weeks into my routine. They are quick to do making them a great addition  to a routine when I have time. Been a great help focusing on the different parts of the Biceps. Liking the wide grip... Slowly seeing the peaks and valleys :D


Interesting article, This is a lot of volume and I typically hit my shoulder days two days a week as I workout more than one body part per day. I really like some of the concepts here, so if I were to break this down into two days, how might that split look? Or would you not reccomend that with these exercises?

NutritionMax  Edit  Delete  Close

You're right, it is a lot of volume. That's the point.  It's more technique/volume training for size. So, if you hit them twice a week like I do, pick one for for this and another for strength only which wouldn't involve any of this craziness. 

SittingPress  Edit  Delete  Close

Even if I hit the shoulders twice a week? Or would you suggest I only hit them once a week? My shoulder days are on the same days as chest and back. My last workout I decided to hit shoulders first in the routine since I'm really trying to bring those up. 


I LOVE supersets and drops sets. I do these every workout and for every muscle group. The compound exercises are the hardest. Nothing like supersetting deadlifts or squats with another exercise :-) I superset DLs with pull-ups or T-bar rows and superset Squats with leg press variants (45 degree or overhead) or front squats - killer stuff :-)


For shoulders, a superset for me usually is DB or BB shoulder press followed by side laterals followed by rear delt raises. Do that 3-4 times in 10 minutes and your shoulders blow up :-)

jmboiardi  Edit  Delete  Close

I do 2 exercises per superset and 1 superset per muscle group. I have posted my workouts a few times in the forums already

Mcmike  Edit  Delete  Close

Hey John! How many exercises did you do for shoulder workout?


That looks like a MONSTER shoulder workout!!....I've been doing Scott's "Maximum Growth--Shoulders" routine for several months and have gotten very good results. Maybe since it's been about 6 months on that routine I am "allowed" to change things, BUT honestly I do not see HOW I'm going to remember all the variations between the reps / sets / weight drops, etc!!! much as I admire the ideas behind this routine, it's WAY too complicated to remember AND keep the rest times UNDER 45 secs. (I wear a stopwatch to make 100% SURE of my rest intervals, and have headphones to keep people from approaching me during those periods--it seems a bit "anti-social" but for me I'm there for ONE reason : to WORK, not talk / text / BS about whatever.....concentrated effort=efficiency of time, and controlled results!


For me (personally) I like to "K.I.S.S", and following Scott's drop set / rep routines are very easy to remember since they are consistent within the exercises; this routine would have me carrying around a notebook (or other device) JUST to make sure I'm doing the "right" number of reps and the correct drop....maybe I'm just too dumb to remember all those details, but I'd probably have to simplify it by keeping the drops / reps equal, and maybe adding a burn set (lower weight / higher reps) at the end of each exercise.


And----"greenjade816" IS correct---the photo caption for #1 should read "standing PUSH press" since the DB's are facing IN-ward (palms in) versus the "standing DB press" which would have the palms facing OUT-ward--unless you are doing the "Arnold" variation (which he did at times).

NutritionMax  Edit  Delete  Close

Right. That's a type with the picture, that I didn't write! Haha. Listen, I understand this is complex, but it doesn't need to be that rigid. Workouts are not complicated where you need to do this exact rep scheme with this perfect amount of rest in between and so on an so forth. My approach is just very spontaneous because that's how I like things and that's how you keep things different. Do some drop sets, do some burn sets, superset with 2 exercises, just play with it... it doesn't need to followe exactly how I've written it. All too often there are these strict routines people follow but doing that same thing over and over is mundane and ineffective.


heyyy thanks for the writeup!! appreciated man!


are you supposed to do the standing dumbbell press with the palms facing in?


thanks in advance

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

HEy @nutritionmax... can you e-mail me what needs to be fixed? Thanks! sorry!

NutritionMax  Edit  Delete  Close

That's an error in the workout routine. I think Scott made that mistake, haha. It's a push-press, not a dumbbell press.


Nice concept! But when you say superset, shouldn't it be different 2 muscle groups?

NutritionMax  Edit  Delete  Close

Superset is a general term for pairing any 1 exercise. They can be the same muscle group or different. Compound supersets often are oppsing or different muscle groups though.