Building large, healthy shoulders goes beyond pushing a city bus. Sure, that will do the job if you can, but there is a better way. We'll go into some of the exercises you probably will not do, but there's something we need to talk about first …
There are a handful of reasons why it could be difficult, a stubborn one to develop body part. Lack of mind-muscle connectivity, poor execution, poor motion selection for your structure, and poor overall programming are just a few.
The old bodybuilding adage "Train a muscle at different angles" was basically a way of saying that you need to use the length-tension relationship in different movements. Different exercises give the muscles to be trained different resistance curves, so that these muscles are trained in different lengths within the movement. Maximizing development is all about creating as much tension as possible in these different lengths.
The key is to find exercises that best fit your structure and train the muscles best in different positions: extended, medium, and shortened. But it is also important to use movements that strain the targeted musculature in these lengths.
Here are four exercises that meet this approach:
-Band Dumbbell Press
The Dumbbell Overhead Press is a proven delta-press strength and size builder. But both power and body lift could make it more effective.
The most common way people operate the press is sitting (which is fine). Then lock the elbows by turning from the outside and push from the shoulders into the overhead position, with the dumbbells arching over this range of motion.
There are some problems here. At the beginning you can not get rid of the fact that this exercise mainly hits the front deltas. This means that you should make sure that the front delta is maximally loaded in its extended state. In this way, you prevent excessive external rotation and instead allow the elbows to roll slightly forward, allowing you to work in your natural scapular plane.
If you hold down, you want to avoid this frequent curling motion, as it actually takes that very quickly leaves its active range of motion. It is the traps that add the arms in this overhead buckle movement.
This buckling movement also shortens the lever arm in the movement, making it easier when you reach the barrier. And that's cool and everything if you do not try to strain the actual muscles. But if you are, it means that you do not spend so much time in the area where the movement is actually difficult.
The better way to do this is to push the dumbbells straight up while keeping your elbows in line. It's no different than stacking your elbows and wrists in a vertical line as if you were running a barbell press.
To make them more productive, add a band to smooth the descending resistance curve. By adding the band, we eliminate this dead area in the upper range of motion and create a longer torque curve.
Now the front deltoid muscle is maximally loaded at the bottom, leaving you with longer active range of motion, eliminating this dead area of motion near the top where there is very little tension.
2 – Rear Delt Series with Supination
I have done my part of the curved side elevations (Rear Delt Raise), but the truth is that they are neglected as a rear-delta movement.
With a curved side raise, the rear deltas are never really completely shortened. A key component in maximizing an exercise is to fully extend and then completely shorten the target muscle within a movement. But some exercises do not do that as well as others.
A better option is the rear delta series with supination. In this exercise you row (as you would expect) to bring the elbow as far behind you as possible, shortening the posterior impression. But you will literally add a phrase by supinying while running the series.
Why the twist? Because it causes some external rotation in the shoulder, which is one of the components of the back delta. Supination on the forearm is actively linked to external rotation of the shoulder, as is pronation with internal rotation.
This is not an exercise that you are very busy with, but you do not need it so long as you use the appropriate resistance to the mechanics and make sure the backstop is completely shortened.
3 – Lateral Incline Increase
Unlike the lateral uplift, it is nearly impossible to cheat with it. Not that fraud is bad, and from time to time I add fraudulent lateral raises to my programming. For most people who have trouble making a strong connection between mind and muscle, the biased version is the better choice.
In this exercise, of course, the resistance is also aligned with the middle fibers of the delta. When using a standing lateral elevation, it is common (and quite natural) to work more in the scapula, which is somewhat safer for the shoulder joint. It also makes it more of an anterior delta movement, which we try to avoid because it has already been treated.
Since the resistance is closer to the middle delta and you can not cheat, you bring the dumbbells directly to your side. This makes it a great option for smoking the middle delks.
If you want to keep the tension on your shoulders as much as possible throughout your range of motion, you should eliminate the lower quarter of the movement. The delta itself is not very active in the lower part of the range of motion. It is the supraspinatus, which initiates the abduction of the arm from this position, and then the delt takes over.
If you raise the dumbbells at the first repetition, lower them only about three-quarters of the way down to perform the next repetition.
Try this with drop sets or cluster sets. Between the sets, complete 4 to 6 sets in the cluster, which is 10 seconds, resulting in muscle failure on the last miniset.
4 – Cable Y-Raise
You can use this lift with an incline bench or perform standing. They use cables, which means they have a different resistance curve than dumbbells.
Dumbbells work with a rising resistance curve and a descending force curve. The weight feels the hardest when you are in the weakest mechanical position. This is because gravity acts against you while the resistance is farthest from the main work joint.
For cables, the exercise becomes more difficult in the beginning when you are strongest and weaker at the end where you are weakest. This is more ideal for this exercise, especially if you are doing the lateral inclines before or after this exercise. They train the muscle for different lengths, although the movement is similar.
The Y-Raise raises your arms at a 45-degree angle relative to your upper body. This not only shortens the middle delta completely, but also brings in the lower traps. You need strong lower traps to get a good stabilization of the shoulder girdle. Better joint stability means better performance for the working muscles.
An Important Tip
Do not hold your shoulders back and down. If you are making lateral elevation variations, or any of those movements that lift the upper arm, you do not want to block your shoulder blade (going into retraction or depression) before you perform it. The traps and rhomboids serve to provide stability to the scapula during lateral lifting. By locking the scapula in retraction and depression, you decrease its ability and provide superior joint stability.
For lateral elevations, the scapula must actually be turned up normally and authentically. If you deliberately stop it, you're actually creating less stability in the joint and motor patterns for that movement. When you do this, you end up getting less power from the working muscles and getting ready for shoulder problems.
To keep this simple, do not engage the movement with the traps, but do not lock them down. It is a lateral increase. That just means raising your arms to the side. You do not have to block things to do this effectively.
The Common Denominator
People struggling to build bigger shoulders try to grow by running tons of heavy overhead presses, ignoring that this is not the case Train the deltas quite differently, as you train to push on the chest. (The deltas are heavily involved in chest pressure.)
If your deltas are a lagging muscle group and you have pushed hard over your head, it should be clear to you that it may be more direct to train each head of your deltoid muscle. Make sure you direct as much tension as possible to the areas of the delta you want to work on.
Do not sacrifice the shape for loading. As soon as you finish the execution, concentrate on the loading process. This is the smart approach.
Delts on Fire
Ditch the free weights for large shoulders