Continuing our article series about the optimal volume, the next three articles will explain all you need to know about the front, side and rear delts.
If you’re not yet familiar with what volume is, how it affects our muscle growth and what you should know about it, check out our complete guide about the optimal volume for hypertrophy.
Alright, what can you expect from this article series about volume applied to each muscle? Based on Dr Mike Israetel’s knowledge and experience, as well as our own, we want to clarify which volume works best for each muscle.
Probably most of the people who train regularly seek for the nice 3D shoulder look.
But does tons of front delt work helps you with that?
A lot of people pay too much attention to their front delts and forget about the more important side and rear delts. This article will go more in-depth about what you need to know for the optimal front delt volume.
MV – Maintenance Volume
Why is it important to know your MV?
This is important to know because if you have to fall back or reduce your workouts for some while, you don’t want to lose your hard acquired gains.
Likewise, after mesocycles of heavy workout in between your MAV and MRV or even above your MRV, it is for sure a good thing to lower your volume from time to time to desensitize your body again and fully recover.
For that reason, it is crucial to know where your MV lies to ensure you don’t lose muscles and moreover stick to the appropriate “deload phase” volume.
How much volume do the front delts need to maintain their current size?
MV: 0 sets/week
How can that be?
Simple. When doing your actual chest workout, almost every push exercise, especially with an incline angle involves front delts to a good amount.
This means for most people who train their chest at least two times per week, you don’t need to put any further effort into isolation front delt work.
Such small muscles as the front delts really get fatigued fast. Particularly heavy chest exercises like bench press demand the front delts a lot.
MEV – Minimum Effective Volume
Why is it important to know your MEV?
Simple. As well as it is important to know how much volume your front delts need to keep its current size, it is at least of similar importance to know how much volume is required to grow your front delts.
How much volume is required for the Minimum Effective Volume?
MEV: 0 sets/week
In this case, the MV and MEV equal to each other. For both a volume of around 0 sets/week is compulsory to maintain or even grow your front delts.
How is that possible?
It applies the same explanation as abovementioned.
Because the front delts get involved in almost every push exercise (e.g. all variations of bench press or overhead press) you already fatigue them properly to stimulate growth.
Unless your genetical predisposition or training history regarding front delts seems to be different, most individuals don’t need any additional isolation work for their MV or MEV.
But of course, if you feel like they lag behind compared to the other parts of your shoulders or just out of pleasure, you can train your front delts occasionally.
MAV – Maximum Adaptive Volume
Why is it important to know your MAV?
Who wants to keep their training efficiency at the lowest level? I would say, nobody, right?
In order to get the best possible gains, we need to put more effort into our workout and increase the volume consistently. Accordingly, it is important to know where your MAV lies to maximize your muscle growth effect.
What’s the reference value for the front delts MAV?
MAV: 6-8 sets/week
If you notice that in comparison to your upper chest, side and rear delts the front delts come off badly, you can definitely add some isolation work into your programme.
Besides to your actual push workout (chest, triceps, shoulders), a volume of around 6-8 sets/week will stimulate sufficient growth and probably get them as big as the average guy wants them to be.
MRV – Maximum Recoverable Volume
Sooner or later in your mesocycle programme, you’ll get to a point where your performance starts to stagnate or even decrease. This is an indication that you probably overreached your MRV.
What does that mean?
The MRV refers to the maximum volume from that your body can recover properly.
Briefly speaking, the maximum amount of work that you can sustain until your strength and performance might decrease because your body is too exhausted and fatigued.
Why is it important to know your MRV?
Pretty obviously, nobody wants to take a forced break just due to self-transcendence on their volume.
Therefore, it is very essential to know where your MRV lies to keep your body recovered and avoid superfluous breaks.
Thus, what is a good volume that is still recoverable?
MRV: 12 sets/week
Probably around 12 sets/week comes close to the MRV for most people. Now some of you might think, 12 sets/week that isn’t really a lot, right?
Certainly, it’s not, but we really have to consider the basic push work that your programme consists of.
If you’re doing tons of flat, incline, and overhead press, all of those involve the front delts heavily.
Now imagine, you add 12 sets/week of isolation front delt work on top of that.
Exactly, because its 12 sets of direct isolation work along with your heavy push exercises, most people probably aren’t able to recover an even higher volume.
Eventually, on average the MRV lies at 12 sets/week.
As always there are exceptions who can bear more volume but for the average guy who doesn’t compete but just seeks to stay fit, this certainly is enough.
How often should I train for the optimal front delts volume?
So far we already noticed that the actual push workout exerts a big influence on the optimal front delt volume. This even continues to go further.
Whereas on average for most muscles I recommend a frequency of about 2-4 workouts/week, this case is different. For the optimal front delt volume, 1-2 workouts/week are sufficient.
The point is that all the heavy push exercises, don’t matter if its bench press, incline press or overhead press, especially for heavy lifters they take quite a long time to recover.
Furthermore, every time you train chest movements which are not direct work for the front delts (like the overhead press) still hit them. This at the very least conserves them if not gives them an additional stimulus.
On that note, front delt isolation work only needs to occur 1-2 times/week. According to what I’ve just said, this results in 4-6 times/week composed of 1-2 additional isolation workouts along with your current push workout.
How intense should I train for the optimal front delt volume?
6-10 reps on average
The front delts seem to be a muscle fibre that does not really respond to high burnout rep ranges. Instead, a lot of people experienced really good growth with heavier forces of about 8 reps on average.
Anything above 10 reps, there are two things likely to happen. First, your delts just get tired over time and second is that your triceps tires out and consequently will be the limiting factor rather than your front delts.
Front delt workout – Exercises
Let’s take a closer look at the actual front delt workout.
What is important to know for the optimal front delt volume?
Actually, there isn’t really anything special about it. There are two common movements which are used to train the front delts.
- Cable front raise
- Dumbbell front raise
- Barbell front raise
Overhead pushing movements:
- Military Press
- Shoulder Press (Dumbbell/Barbell
- Overhead Press
- Arnold Press
- Handstand Push Up
As you can see, there are mainly two movements that stimulate our front delts. A good thing to do would be implementing exercises of both kinds into your training programme.
I can recommend starting with a heavy compound exercise (e.g. shoulder press, military or overhead press) and afterwards finish off your front delt workout with some lighter cable raises.
Range of Motion
Is the range of motion important for the optimal front delt volume?
Especially when it comes to shoulder workout, it is very important to pay attention to our elbows, joints, and shoulders. For that reason, the range of motion is very crucial!
Hence, we advise taking whatever barbell, dumbbell or machine all the way down for a deep stretch. Most people can even touch the barbell to their clavicle and push it all the way overhead.
That allows you to use the smallest amount of weight to actually generate really good forces and especially high workloads to keep the shoulder mobile.
Furthermore, if you use overhead press movements to the full range of motion you’ll be less susceptible to shoulder injuries.
Before we wrap it all up with a nice overview of what you should keep in mind regarding the optimal front delt volume, just some short advice for you, guys.
After we’ve talked quite a lot about our front delts now, I hope that everybody understood that the front delts really don’t need as much attention as other muscles to grow.
Instead, you should focus more on developing your chest, triceps, side and rear delts. In most cases, the front delts really keep care of themselves through your regular push workouts.
You don’t want to spend a lot of time doing isolation work for your front delts and ending up with huge front delts whereas your chest, side and rear delts lag behind.
This could really cause you issues to feel your chest properly, make you more susceptible to injuries and doesn’t even look that good.
Nevertheless, you can add some isolation work for your front delts occasionally, but you should definitely prioritize other muscles.
MV: 0 sets/week
MEV: 0 sets/week
MAV: 6-8 sets/week
MRV: 12 sets/week
Frequency: Compared to most other muscles the frequency for front delts is lower than average. 1-2 isolation workouts/week stimulate sufficient incentives to get bigger front delts.
This is because almost every push exercise (bench press, incline press, and overhead press) hit the front delts to at least some extent. Accordingly, the front delts can grow from a relatively low volume.
Intensity: Front delts tend to be composed of muscle fibres that respond best to heavy forces.
Most folks gain good progress from a high intensity. Rep ranges between 5-8 reps/set seem to be the area where most of the growth happens.
Anything above 10 reps, it is most likely that either your front delts get tired or the triceps tires out as the limiting factors.
Exercises: We can identify two common movements for the front delt workout. 1) raise movements (cable raise, front raise) and 2) overhead pushing movements (military press, shoulder press, overhead press).
I would recommend implementing both kinds to stimulate the best possible growth and combine the benefits of both.
Range of motion: The optimal front delt volume tremendously benefits from a proper range of motion.
Why? It allows you to use the smallest amount of weight to actually generate really good forces and keep the shoulder mobile. This also reduces your susceptibility to shoulder injuries.
In this section, we’ll give you some practical tips for the optimal front delt volume that you can implement from time to time into your training programme. This will help you to stimulate new incentives.
These are techniques that worked quite well for a lot of people and can be recommended from our own experience, too.
Giant sets: You set a certain number of reps.
For example, in this case, 60 reps for overhead press. In your first set, you did 15 reps, second one 12 reps, third one 10 reps and so on.
You continue this until you reached your set number, in this case, the 60 reps of overhead press.
Special shout-out to Dr Mike Israetel, we really value his knowledge and the content that he shares with you guys on his YT channel and his blog.
Definitely check out his video about front delt volume!
Do you put a lot of effort into your front delts?
If this article about the optimal front delt volume helped you, it would be highly appreciated if you can share it with your friends and family.
Let us know what your opinion is by leaving a comment below.
For any further questions, you can reach us through our social media channels. We’re pleased to help you out!
See you next time!