The momentum problem
Most lifters want to build large delts, so they fill their workouts with side elevations and return flights. Most of the time, the ego kicks in as they move towards heavier and heavier dumbbells.
But here’s something that can shock you: you don’t need heavy weights to grow bigger shoulders. You probably don’t need more than 10-15 pounds.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when doing isolation exercises is using momentum … mostly because their weights are too heavy.
When you want to isolate a specific muscle group, you want to eliminate as much momentum as possible so that you can effectively make the target muscle the driving force of the exercise.
These three exercises do just that. They eliminate the momentum so you can dial into the muscles of the shoulder and upper back.
. The side elevation on the wall
A common tendency in side lifting is to push the hips back and forth while “swinging” the dumbbells up. This side lift variation eliminates this.
Stand up against the wall like your mother took you on some time off. Put your forehead against the wall and keep it there throughout the set. With your palms facing the wall, make a large circle by lifting the dumbbells over you and keeping your arms closed.
When you bring the weight over your head, the top trap is activated. If you want to focus solely on your delts, bring the dumbbells to shoulder height.
2. The prone eccentric backward flight
This one is great because being prone (face down) increases the upper back / posterior delt engagement by eliminating potential impulses.
You can use slightly heavier weights than you normally would for return flights, but nothing crazy heavy. I’m using 20 pounds here and should probably have dropped to 15 pounds.
Lying on a bench. Row the dumbbells with your elbows on your sides. Keeping your elbows up, straighten your arms to your sides (form a “T” formation), and slowly lower the dumbbells.
Try an eccentric (lowering) phase of 3-4 seconds.
3. The bat wing
Lie on a bench with 5 to 10 pounds in each hand. You can even use 2.5 pounds and still get the benefit of the exercise.
You alternate between curved and straight arm positions and hold each for 2-3 seconds. The idea is to squeeze your upper back as tightly as possible to maximize tension.
Related: 3 Lateral Raise Variations You Didn’t Try
Related: A Better Way to Create Wide Delts