The shoulders make a HUGE difference to your appearance.
They add a lot of width to your frame and make you look GOOD in general. So let’s develop some boulders on top of our arms!
Like any other muscle, to stimulate as much growth as possible we need to recruit as many fibers of that muscle as we can. In order to accomplish this we need to select an exercise that:
- works along the path of the FUNCTION of that muscle
- provides resistance at the PEAK CONTRACTION POINT which is the ONLY point in the rep where maximal muscle fiber recruitment occurs
What’s the function of the deltoid muscle?
To bring the arm AWAY from the body. It is important to note that because of the ball-and -socket joint at the shoulder, the arm can be moved away from the body in many directions.
This movement is facilitated by the fact that the deltoid muscle is 3 headed. They are:
- The Anterior Deltoid (front)
- The Lateral Deltoid (side)
- The Posterior Deltoid (back)
I mentioned in my last article about compound vs isolation exercises that a great use for compound exercises was the pre-exhaust method when specializing a body part. However, a multi-functional muscle like the deltoid can make great use of this technique all the time to stimulate growth without needlessly overtraining by attempting to hit each small head individually.
Here’s the deltoid workout I’ve been employing recently to great effect.
- Lateral Raises, followed immediately by
- Overhead Presses
The lateral raise will work the whole shoulder but puts most focus on the lateral deltoid. The Overhead Press works all 3 heads. Take both these movements to failure.
Since the lateral head will be solely responsible for reaching positive failure on the lateral raises i.e. the other 2 heads will not reach the point of failure, the inclusion of more muscles in the compound overhead press pushes the lateral head BEYOND positive failure and stimulates AWESOME growth in that head. This will really help broaden your body at the top and accentuate that ‘V’ shape.
It’s like this: Imagine you are asked to pull a bus like some people do at charity events. After a while you just can’t pull it any further. Then 2 of your buddies come along to help you. They are now contributing significantly to the pull, but you are also working albeit to a lesser degree than previously. In this way, the assistance you are receiving allows you to push beyond the prior strength limit because the effective load is reduced somewhat.
The same is also true to a lesser degree for the other heads as well. They are involved in the lateral raises, then get assistance from the traps, triceps, and upper chest in the pressing movement.
But why single out the lateral head? I believe it’s too easy to overtrain the anterior and posterior deltoids.
The anterior deltoid is significantly involved in all pec exercises, whether it be the bench press or pec-deck. The same goes for the posterior head in back movements and even some triceps movements like the tricep cable kickback.
Therefore the way to stimulate maximum growth in all 3 heads without overtraining is with the above pre-exhaust set.
Let’s have a look at how it’s done…
(sorry about the poor quality of this clip)
(1) Grab the dumbbells in front of your thighs
(2) Raise the dumbbells up and out to the side. If it’s comfortable for you, raise the elbows just a little higher than shoulder height for a full contraction. If not, just stop at shoulder height. Remember this is the PCP of this movement.
(3) Try to ensure that the palms of your hands are parallel to the floor at the top of the movement. Many people have the habit of tilting the dumbbell as it rises so you might need to pronate the hands a little to get it right. This helps keep all that resistance firmly on the delts.
(4) Hold at the PCP for a second before lowering again
IMMEDIATELY upon reaching positive failure, grab a barbell and start the overhead press.
see this article on overhead presses for the tutorial.
And that’s it my friends. It takes a lot of will power to hammer this out fully but the growth stimulation is awesome.
Factor this one into your workouts ASAP!