High-Rep Shoulders and Arms for a Day

If you’ve read over my last entry for the shoulder and arm workout you’ll notice a few things that could potentially become problematic over time for us forty and up types. Namely the barbell lying extensions (nose breakers, skull crushers) and the lower rep shoulder stuff.

My elbows tend to get a little tender with lying triceps work where the elbow is subjected to sheer stress. That single joint action with progressively heavier weight seems to compound over time. Add this to the shoulder work (specifically overhead presses) which are subject to both a ton of back and chest work to begin with and you’ll understand why sometimes I enter the gym not wanting to punish these joints.

So, the other day I entered the gym doors with the goal of not pulverizing anything. I wanted to try to keep the weight lifted low, just for the day, and still get a great workout – not to mention try something new. I set out to accomplish this in a few ways.

  1. Go very high on reps. I would do 30, 25, 20, and 15 reps. Four sets total for any given exercise.
  2. Weight would remain the same on all sets.
  3. Rest would be cut down to 30 to 40 seconds between sets.
  4. If I didn’t hit the rep goal, I would rest a few seconds and then finish the reps for the set.
  5. I didn’t worry about lifting heavy. I did focus, however, on the blood pump.

I switched a few exercises around to give my elbows a bit of a break too. I was also confident in the fact that lighter weights can build muscle mass with this study and this study to list a few. So I was excited. Here’s what I did performing the 30, 25, 20, 15 rep scheme for each.

Dumbbell side laterals
Dumbbell bent-over rear laterals
Face pull with pulley rope
Dumbbell shrugs (did 3 sets of 12)

Standing behind the head triceps plate extension
cable triceps pressdown

Standing dumbbell curl
Standing cable curl

And that’s it! Now, not every set was to failure. I simply would hit the target rep goal and terminate the set. I wasn’t looking to go crazy with the intensity for that particular day, I just wanted to get the blood in the muscle and feel like I got a great workout in without draining my energy.

How do I feel a few days later?


It got me thinking though. What if I formatted my workout for lifting in the higher rep range but going to failure on most sets? I’m intrigued for sure. Plus, it would be nice to take break from the heavy weights for a while and run a little experiment on myself in the meantime.

Could I build some new muscle with the higher rep scheme over say 4 or 6 weeks? Stay tuned.

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