Kris Gethin had been overdue for a shoulder surgery for a long time, and postponing it simply was no longer an option. But when the date was finally just over the horizon, he didn't wallow in impending doom. He said farewell to shoulder training in the most Kaged Muscle way imaginable: He invited Kaleb Redden, one of the docs who would be in the procedure, to join him for a 400-rep deltoid salute.

Starting with the rear delts and moving forward, the pair went through 12 sets of dumbbell work—with plenty of dropsets mixed in, of course—before ending on a Gethin fave, shoulder presses on a hack squat machine.

Just a warning, though: If you do try to hang with these two experienced bodybuilders rep-for-rep, prepare to be hanging out at the light end of the dumbbell rack.

"We didn't go crazy heavy on weight. We just kept the intensity very high, kept the rest periods minimal, and kept the volume up as well. So, you may look at the weights and go, 'That's not that bad.' Try to match us for the reps, and the rest periods," Gethin says.

The entire workout should take no more than 30-45 minutes tops, even if you stop to swap shoulder-injury war stories in the second half like Kris and Kaleb did. But even with that pause, this is a true delt-melter.

"If you can't drink your In-Kaged or you can't pick your nose, you know you're on the right track," Gethin says.

Kris Gethin's Delt-Destroying Dumbbell Shoulder Workout
1
Superset
Reverse Flyes
3 sets, 20 reps (with a dropset on the third set)
Dumbbell Rear Delt Row
3 sets, 20 reps (with a dropset on the third set)
2
Superset
Seated Side Lateral Raise
2 sets, 15 reps (with a dropset on the third set)
Alternating Deltoid Raise
Lateral-to-front.
2 sets, 15 reps
3
Superset
Front Dumbbell Raise
2 sets, 15 reps (performed one-and-a-half-rep style using both hands on a single dumbbell)
Alternating Deltoid Raise
Front-to-lateral.
2 sets, 15 reps
4
Machine Shoulder (Military) Press
3 sets, 20 reps

Technique Keys

Rear Delt Superset

This is a classic Gethin-style compound set: 20 strict reps with the chest supported, followed by 20 reps allowing a touch of momentum. To make it work, though, you need to make sure that your strict reps are actually strict.

"Don't squeeze your traps too much," Gethin advises. "Don't raise up, don't raise back. Raise out. Make sure it's all delts, no back."

Rear Delt Superset

A training partner can further help by cuing you to hit their hand with the weight in the right position.

"A lot of people neglect their rear delts. That's why I like to start with it. And it's the exercise that doesn't bother me at all, so I like to warm up with that exercise," Gethin says.

Any doubts about your form? Go lighter. This isn't the Olympics of rear delt flyes. And that last set, Gethin says, is the money set. It's basically 80 reps without more than a couple of seconds of rest in the middle. If prioritizing rear delts is new to you, expect to have yours crowing at you like roosters when you wake up tomorrow morning.

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Lateral Raise Superset

Get ready for light weights to feel seriously heavy. The seated lateral raises are nothing out of the norm, except that you'll be doing a double dropset with each set—so 15, 15, and 15. Stepping down in increments of 10 pounds is just about right. If you have to use straps in order to keep your grip from limiting you, do it. And if you have to think of your 15 reps as 3 sets of 5 with a brief rest-pause in each one, do that, too.

Lateral Raise Superset

After that, you'll use some seriously light weights—Kris and Kaleb use 10s—for 15 reps of a standing lateral raise that ends with the weights meeting in front of the chest.

"These are the ones that are going to hurt, man," he promises. "As soon as the form starts to falter, rest and re-align so you can get it right."

Two rounds of this should feel like more than enough.

Front Raise Superset

The dumbbell front raises are performed one-and-a-half-rep style. That means you'll go to around chest level, and then to just above eye level, to count as one rep. If holding a single dumbbell puts too much strain on the front of your shoulder, use two very light dumbbells instead.

Front Raise Superset

After that, do the flipside of how you ended your last superset. You'll start with a light double-dumbbell front raise, then bring the dumbbells out into a lateral raise. Keep your palms facing down through both movements.

Machine Press

Your shoulders should already be cooked by now. But you've got one more stop: a shoulder press machine for 3 burnout sets of 20 using light weight. Kris favors a hack squat-style machine, but if the sled on your gym's hack squat is too heavy, you could use cables, a landmine, or a simple shoulder press machine instead.

What's the advantage of using a leg machine? "You can target the part of the delt that you wish, whether you really lean into it to get more of your side delts, or come back a little bit so you're pressing with a bit more of the front delts," Gethin says.

Yes, you'll have to do these with seriously light weights to be able to last 20 reps. But Gethin promises that all this light work will help you move heavier weight down the line.

"I find a lot of people train shoulders a little bit too heavy," he says. "They have too much momentum, and they don't activate the delts as much as their traps or their rhomboids or pecs. Going a little lighter every now and then gets you a better neuromuscular response, so when you do go heavy, you know exactly how that exercise should feel.

That's 400 reps, and that's a wrap. If you can get a shaker bottle to your face, then go the extra distance and give yourself a well-earned pat on the back.

About the Author

Nick Collias

Nick Collias

Nick Collias is the Executive Editor at Bodybuilding.com.

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Shoulders Workout