Deadlift & Shoulder Press Abbreviated Training

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Abbreviated training focuses on performing a few basic multijoint movements in each training session, putting maximum intensity into each set and only training two or three times per week, writes personal trainer Stuart McRobert in "Brawn." Abbreviated routines are based around compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups, such as the deadlift and shoulder press. Between them, these two exercises hit most of your major muscle groups and fit perfectly into an abbeviated training program.


The deadlift is the best exercise for working your posterior chain -- the glutes, hamstrings and lower back -- and has excellent carryover to everyday strength, claims trainer Eric Cressey, owner of Cressey Performance in Boston. They also hit your mid- and upper back, forearms and core muscles, too. Traditional deadlifts are performed with an Olympic barbell. Use a shoulder-width stance, with your arms just outside your knees, and pull the bar forcefully from the floor until you're standing upright, keeping your lower back flat throughout the whole lift. Deadlifts are a highly technical exercise and are best suited to a low number of reps per set.

Shoulder Press

The main advantage of the overhead press is that it works many of your upper body muscles in one go, according to coach Charles Poliquin of the Poliquin Performance Center in Rhode Island. It develops your deltoids, traps and triceps as well as your core. Shoulder presses are usually performed standing up using a barbell. Start with the bar touching your collarbone with your hands facing away from you and slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Press the bar explosively overhead until your elbows are straight, then lower it under control.

Sets, Reps and Weight

Abbreviated training is designed to build both strength and muscle mass. Sets of one to six reps using a weight that's at least 75 percent of your one rep maximum are best for strength gains, while eight to 12 reps per set, using 60 to 75 percent, is optimal for gaining muscle mass. In one session, perform three sets of five reps on each exercise using a weight that's around 80 percent of your one rep max, then lower the weight slightly and perform two sets of eight to 10 reps in the next session. Aim to add a little extra weight or perform one or two more reps each workout.


While deadlifts and shoulder presses hit most of your muscle groups, you need a little more for the perfect abbreviated routine. Alternate your session of deadlifts and shoulder presses with another consisting of back squats, chinups and bench presses, using the same set, rep and weight guidelines. If you're not sure of any techniques, ask a qualified trainer for assistance, and always check with your doctor before starting a new weights routine.