Since 1965, only 14 men have earned the title of Olympia. Considering their scarcity, these men must surely have unique insights into what is needed for an impressive physique. Mostly, these variables developed a new exercise or technique that led to their stratospheric success.
You, too, can benefit from the legends' experiences, which is why we have put together the best shoulder training techniques from four of the greatest bodybuilders ever on the scene: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jay Cutler, Lee Haney, and Dorian Yates. Use their methods to maximize your own shoulder potential.
Shoulder Workout on the Olympic level
We all know who came up with this – he is named after him. In his early days of competition, Schwarzenegger needed a way to develop his shoulders evenly so they could have a rounder and more complete view of the stage. He developed this dumbbell movement as a way to train all the schoolheads simultaneously, while being heavy enough to produce the desired size and mass.
Arnold found that the dumbbells were turned up and back down, activating the posterior and lateral heads of the deltoid muscle, while the forward heads are still accentuated by the pressure movement. While this is the standard today, the Arnold press was a breakthrough in the golden age of bodybuilding. Add to that an increasing weight and a decreasing repetition schedule, and you have a professional shoulder exercise for the Olympic stage.
Pro Tip: If you want to do it a little more challenging movement, move one dumbbell while the other is pushed out.
Rear Single Arm Cable
Jay Cutler faced a major obstacle on his journey to winning the title in the early 2000s. This obstacle was called Ronnie Coleman. Cutler knew he needed to be big and wide if he had the chance to disrupt Coleman's eight-year winning streak and win the title. In order to build the width in the shoulders, Cutler had to build full, round shoulders and large side panels.
Although side elevations are the standard for building side panels, they can sometimes also incorporate the front head, depending on how they are carried out. To prevent this, Cutler often made side cable increases for each side and using cables.
Professional Tip: Focus on slow repetitions to minimize momentum. The cable allows you to keep the side edges under tension throughout the range of motion.
Lee Haney is possibly one of the first Mr. Olympia winners to be as famous for his back as he was to his front. When Haney turned around, the competition had no chance. One reason for Haney's dominance was his impressive development of the rear delta and trap.
Haney was never an advocate to become extremely heavy. Throwing plates to move weight did not appeal to him. His goal was to achieve the best possible contraction, which is why he preferred upright rows behind his back to develop his shoulders and traps. He had the feeling that the weight behind him made a better contraction of the traps possible. The upright row, instead of the normal shrug, forced the throws to enter the action.
This movement started as a shrug behind the back, until Haney began to bend his elbows to achieve a better contraction. Then he realized that this was a good way to hit the trailing edges. The upright rows behind the back quickly became an integral part of his program. Whether you believe this step helped, there is no doubt that Haney's impressive upper back gave him the title of Mr. Olympia eight times in a row! before it goes down again. This extra tension can help create a stronger connection to the back sections, and will result in a greater density that you would not otherwise get Yates. The exercise played a major role in developing the details and thickness of the Brit's big back. The machine maintained tension on the lats and restricted freedom of movement, allowing Yates to lift a heavy weight with a minimal risk of injury.
Yates liked the Hammer Strength range, but every version of the machine will do the job. Pro Tip: A slow pace along with top contraction at the top is crucial to make this work for you as it did for The Shadow.