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As a professional bodybuilder who has been in the biggest competition in the world, I've seen my fair share of gym sessions. I've also hired so called gurus to write workout programs for me that, on all occasions, didn’t improve my physique at all.

I started bodybuilding sixteen years ago. In the beginning, I didn’t grow easily. In fact, everyone seemed to be bigger than me. After a year or so of training, I realized that 90 percent of the gym used anabolic steroids. Basically, we were all dieting and training hard, but my results were much slower. I became frustrated and started training with high volume. That didn’t work, so I hired someone to train me for six months. That was a disaster.

I ended up going back to the basics and watching my diet very closely. If you're a natural trainee, you have to be super strict. I trained for a total of three years and entered my first competition. It was just a regional competition, but I won easily. I tried and tested many different training routines over the years and found some simple techniques to get some growth in certain areas where I found it really hard to promote growth. However, my shoulders and chest were my weaknesses. They just looked so small and flat, and I had zero thickness. I must tell you now that I didn’t stay natural. In fact, after five years, I started to use small amounts of anabolic steroids to help me. Then, when I reached Olympia, I was taking anabolic steroids, growth hormone, and diuretics. If you're an IFBB professional bodybuilder, you'll be taking steroids to reach this level. It is impossible without it.

These simple exercises are what I used for three years to help get some growth in the shoulder area. It's very simple training and some people won’t believe how different my training is compared to what they've seen other professional bodybuilders do. But I can tell you that most of what bodybuilders do in the gym is very different from what they say they do.

Just follow this simple plan below for three weeks. If you're a beginner (one to three years of training), you should see some solid growth.

A. Front barbell raises (palms facing up):

This exercise is just the same as what you probably do in the gym at the moment, but your palms face upward instead of toward the floor. When you execute the exercise, start the movement with the delts, not the hands. Don’t take a tight grip of the bar. Keep it loose. It should take you three seconds to raise the bar to shoulder level and two seconds to lower it back down. Never drop down but take the full two seconds.

  • Week 1: 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Week 2: 4 sets of 15 reps
  • Week 3: 5 sets of 15 reps

B. Upright rows (stopping the bar when it reaches the sternum):

With this exercise, you need to take a wide grip, bend over slightly at the waist, and row up to the sternum. Really focus on the contraction at the top and then lower slowly.

  • Week 1: 4 sets of 20 reps
  • Week 2: 5 sets of 20 reps
  • Week 3: 5 sets of 20 reps

C. Lying dumbbell side raises:

I was always a fan of these. They really keep the tension on the side deltoid, which, in my view, is one of the hardest things to build early in your career.

Lie on a bench on your side. Raise the dumbbell just short of full range of motion and then lower it down. However, don’t rest the dumbbell. Keep the tension on the side delt at all times.

  • Week 1: 1 set of 20 reps
  • Week 2: 1 set of 25 reps
  • Week 3: 1 set of 30 reps

As you can see, this program isn't anything like you would normally see on a professional bodybuilder's plan. However, it works. It hasn’t only worked on me, but it's worked for eleven of my aspiring natural bodybuilders who have all competed and have great shoulders. If I'm able to, I'll write another article about building the separation between the shoulders and the chest, something that creates a wonderful looking physique. I have many clients who only train to look good on the beach or for the chicks, and I have a full-proof plan that will help emphasize the shoulders, chest, and traps to make you look twice as big as you really are (as long as your body fat isn't above 15 percent). I look forward to seeing you all gain some muscle mass from my beginner to intermediate plan above.