The Iain Valliere Shoulder Workout | The Ultimate Guide!


Iain Valliere is one of the best bodybuilders in the world. He has won many professional competitions including the 2021 Texas Pro and the 2021 Tampa Pro. Iain is known as a “mass monster” and has massive cannon-ball delts.

If you want to learn how Iain Valliere trains his shoulders then this article is for you!

Introduction

  • Part 1: The Iain Valliere Training Split
  • Part 2: The Iain Valliere Arm Workouts

In this comprehensive guide I will teach you exactly how Iain Valliere organizes his shoulder workouts.

Iain Valliere trains his shoulders one day per week using a 6-day bodybuilding bro split. He says that training each muscle group on their own separate day is his favorite way to train because he can blast each body part with a ton of volume and intensity. Check it out:

Iain Valliere’s Training Split

  • Day 1: Chest / Triceps
  • Day 2: Back / Biceps
  • Day 3: Quads
  • Day 4: Shoulders
  • Day 5: Arms
  • Day 6: Hamstrings
  • Day 7: Off

Talk about an intense training split! This type of training schedule is very difficult to recover from because you only have one day off during the week. However, for a gifted athlete like Iain Valliere it works like magic.

Iain’s shoulder training program is very interesting. He picks about 4-6 exercises for his shoulders and he performs 2 working sets to failure per exercise.

He does one heavier set in the 8-10 rep range and then one back-off set in the 12-15 rep range. He also likes to throw in different high-intensity techniques on his working sets like drop sets, forced reps and rest-pause sets. He uses these techniques on 1-3 exercises per workout if he is feeling good.

Here is a high-intensity shoulder workout that Iain Valliere performed during his offseason phase of training. Check it out:

Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: Machine overhead press, 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Machine lateral raise (straight arm), 2 sets of 8-15 reps****
  • Exercise #3: Smith machine overhead press, 2 sets of 8-15 reps****
  • Exercise #4: Standing DB lateral raise, 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #5: 30 degree prone DB front raise, 2 sets of 8-15 reps

**On the second set perform a single drop set

****On the second set perform a double drop set

Here is the training video:

Talk about an intense shoulder workout! For this workout Iain performs 2 compound overhead pressing movements and 3 shoulder isolation exercises for his front and side delts. He starts the workout with some heavy overhead presses.

Iain Valliere performs his warm up sets just like Dorian Yates – his goal is to work his way up to the really heavy weights without wasting too much energy. For that reason he keeps his reps relatively low during the warm up sets. Check it out:

“On my warm up sets I like to do 5, 6, 8 reps, whatever. Just get a feel for the movement, kind of get the movement patterns down, but not exhausting the muscle by any means.”

After warming up Iain performs his 2 working sets to failure. For this workout Iain uses some type of drop set for the first 2 exercises.

Drop sets are probably his favorite high-intensity technique for training shoulders. For other body parts like chest he prefers to use a different high-intensity technique called forced reps.

Here is another one of Iain Valliere’s shoulder workouts. Check it out:

Workout #2

  • Exercise #1: Seated barbell overhead press (from pins), 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #2: Ez-bar upright row (wide grip), 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Seated machine lateral raise, 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #4: Dual arm cable reverse fly, 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #5: Standing DB front raise, 2 sets of 8-15 reps

Here is the training video:

For this workout Iain doesn’t perform any high-intensity techniques. He just performs 2 heavy sets to failure per exercise.

Iain actually performed this workout while he was getting ready for a bodybuilding contest. He says that he drops the high-intensity techniques as he gets closer to a contest because he is just trying to maintain muscle mass while avoiding injuries.

He saves the high-intensity techniques like drop sets and cluster sets for the offseason when he has more energy and he is trying to build muscle mass.

During the workout Iain gives some good advice on being careful with certain shoulder exercises:

“It’s one that you really  need to be careful with not overdoing the load or causing impingement. Any pulling movement, lateral raises, upright rows, the key is to have soft hands.

Make sure you are not squeezing the living piss out of the weights. If you are squeezing really hard then your body is going to want to use everything in the chain of command.

Your grip is just enough to hold the bar and engage the delts without anything else.”

Let’s look at one more of Iain Valliere’s shoulder workouts. Check it out:

Workout #3

  • Exercise #1: Seated DB overhead press, 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #2: Behind the back cable lateral raise, 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Reverse pec dec, 2 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #4: Barbell upright row, 2 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #5: Standing DB lateral raise, 2 sets of 8-15 reps

**Perform a rest-pause set on your second working set.

****Train to failure, then perform several partial reps in the bottom position.

Here is the training video:

Iain performed this workout with his long-time training partner Chris Bumstead. Iain starts this workout with some seated dumbbell overhead presses. He works up to the 160 pound dumbbells for his heaviest set. Talk about a strong pair of shoulders!

After the heavy dumbbell overhead presses Iain moves onto one of his favorite side delt exercises: the cable lateral raise.

Iain says that he likes the cable lateral raise more than the old-school dumbbell lateral raise because it provides consistent tension through the entire range of motion.

“Laterals are one of the movements I actually really prefer to do on cables. Biceps is another muscle group. I just find with dumbbells you’re limited where the tension curve is where you are not limited with cables.”

After the cable lateral raises Iain finishes his workout with a variety of exercises for the side and rear delts.

Conclusion

Iain Valliere trains his shoulders using high-volume / high-intensity bodybuilding style workouts. He performs 1-2 heavy overhead pressing exercises and 3-4 lighter shoulder isolation exercises per workout.

As usual Iain performs 2 working sets per exercise: one heavy set in the 8-10 rep range and one back-off set in the 12-15 rep range. He also likes to perform high-intensity techniques on these exercises to blast through training plateaus.

If you are an advanced bodybuilder and respond well to high-volume workouts then I highly recommend you give Iain Valliere’s shoulder workouts a shot. It may be just what you need to take your training to the next level.

If you enjoyed this content then make sure you check out my article “The Iain Valliere Training Program!

“The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100%.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!

 

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

What's going on! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen, I'm the creator of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to take your training to the next level, then you've come to the right place... My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world!

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