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Markus Ruhl’s Monster Boulder Shoulder Workout

Updated on April 19, 2016
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Great, fully formed, thick, wide, deep shoulders set off any physique. Some treat them as small muscles and use lower volumes, while others give delts their own workout day. Each to their own, but here is an insight into the training and mindset behind a set of the best delts ever seen.

There is NO disputing that the giant German, Markus Ruhl had the biggest shoulders the bodybuilding world has ever seen. I mean them things were (and probably still are) absolutely monstrous. The whole man was a thing to behold, a behemoth. Although he never quite got the definition to be a great champion (his highest Olympia placing was 5th in 2004), his size was incredible. With a 330 pounds off-season bulk, down to a stage filling 280+ pounds competition weight, the man stole the show, and it was the way them shoulders stacked up there like great medicine balls that defined his awesome physique. Now, there were some serious genetics etc. (and we’ll leave that at ‘etc.’) going on there, but if you’re looking for a shoulder blast, where better to look than at the training regimen of the man himself. Markus trained 6 days per week, with just Sundays off. Delts got their own day to themselves, so let’s see how he did it.....

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The Ruhl's of the Game

Markus Ruhl used a mix of heavy weights and high volume, to achieve the maximum pump and really get deep into them boulders (I know this goes against some of my other articles, I’m just writing this as a straight up ‘How the hell did he do that’ thing)

  • Aim for the ULTIMATE pump
  • Go for moderate to high volume, using various numbers of sets and reps on many exercises to hit every angle of all 3 deltoid heads.
  • After warm-up, take every set to absolute muscle failure
  • Begin every shoulder workout with a heavy pressing movement while the shoulders are fresh, to get a good pump going right from the start
  • Heavy weights will be employed so strict technique and full range of motion is a must to avoid injury
  • Utilise 2-3 second full contractions to really squeeze the muscle at its peak and add intensity
  • Due to the intensity within each set, rest around 2 minutes between sets (I know, this doesn’t sound right, but LOOK at them shoulders)
  • Mix up the workout every 2-3 months to shock the entire delt area

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The Mind-Muscle Ruhl

The mind-muscle connection is key to effectively training any muscle group, but is especially important for the delts.

Markus insisted on absolute concentration, placing his mind deep within the muscle fibres, feeling them strain and tear during EVERY rep of his massive delt workout, which often took him 90 minutes to complete.

The Workout

As the man says, switch up the workout every 2-3 months, so here’s just one of his monster shoulder workouts.

1- Dumbell shoulder press- 1 warm-up of 30 reps

6 heavy sets – Reps 16-4

2- Alternating front dumbbell raise- 4 sets – Reps 12-8

3- Upright rows- 3 sets – Reps 10-8

4- Standing lateral raise- 5 sets – Reps 15-12

5- Bent-over lateral raise- 4 sets – 12-8

6- Dumbell shrugs- 5 sets – 12-6

Every successive set would involve a slight increase in weight, hence the drop in reps.

So that’s it! That’s how he did it. A massive 90 minute workout with about 2 minutes rest between sets and a 2-3 second squeeze at the peak of every rep. Unorthodox for sure, but that built some monstrous delts to frame the rest of his bulk.


Gotta be worth a go, even if just for a shock workout every now and then!

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