When I first started training, my friends used to say to me, "Larry, you will never win Mr. America. Your shoulders are too small. It used to bug me no end to hear this. I used to grit my teeth and vow to myself that I was going to get so big and thick that no one would ever say that to me again.
Years later I walked on stage to compete for the Mr. Olympia title. As I twisted into a side back shot showing my arms and deltoids the audience went crazy. Matter of fact, it was their favorite shot.
Reg Park, seven times Mr. Universe was heard to say, "If it wasn't for Larry's arms and deltoids he would just be another top bodybuilder." Can you imagine the satisfaction it gave me to hear someone of Reg's caliber give me such a compliment after starting with such narrow shoulders?
I'm going to share one of the tricks I used to change my greatest weakness into my best body part and . . . it's a method I haven't told you about before.
Funny . . . I knew about this but . . . I forgot I knew.
It's strange how you miss things that are right in front of your nose. Kind of like you see them so much you don't even know they're there. That's the way it was this time. I've known about this a long time but I've never paid attention that I should be sharing it with you guys.
I guess the thing that really brought it to my mind was an injury. It's amazing how many time we learn things about our bodies when we get an injury. This was just one of those times.
Let me tell you about it.
My right shoulder had a little twinge in it. Not really wiped out but just didn't feel quite right. You know the way it is. You want to work out but you're a little hesitant to hit it heavy?
I had been traveling on the road for a couple of weeks and my workouts had been a patched collage of available equipment. Finally, back home in my own gym, I was ready to hit a serious workout . . . all except for my delts that is.
I wanted to work them, but I was going to drop the weight and concentrate on motion. I felt if I could just get some movement in my delts it would be just the trick to flush out whatever was sending me those little shots of pain.
I had learned from long experience . . . I had to make durn sure I didn't feel even the slightest bit of pain. I wanted to heal rather than further injure myself, so I started out with my dumbbell press. I call it my "leaning off balance mid 3/5ths dumbbell presses." I dropped the weight way down so I could safely move entirely through a pain free process.
And you know a funny thing happened. It was almost like I reeled in my "power antenna" and sent out my "growth sensors." That's an unusual way of saying it but . . . what the heck. It's the best I can come up with. Anyway . . . I guess I was sensing the exact movement I needed to extract the most growth out of the exercise. You know . . . trying to groove on it so I could feel the delts saying, "No, not right there . . . move a little . . . now the elbows back further . . . bring the dumbbells down wider . . . now don't forget the arc . . . Yeah, that's it. Right there. Now are the dumbbells in . .. ex . . . ac . . . tly that way. Do a few more. Yes, that's it. You got it. Can you feel that?
The delts or any muscle group will talk to you like that if you're quiet enough to hear them. Actually, it's more of a feeling than it is a voice. But it's just as distinct.
It is . . . unless you are always listening to the "go heavier" voice.
I guess that's why I heard it . . . because I was injured and I couldn't go heavy.
So I replied "Oh, yeah. I feel it . . . Man, is that great! I've got to do another set. This is wonderful!"
My delts were loving it and so was I. I could feel my "endorphin high" beginning to build. The more sets I did the more the whole process was revealed to me. I could see the whole idea laid out.
I said to myself, "Hey, I'd forgotten all about this. I got so wrapped up in trying to use heavy weights I forgot all about what made this thing work in the first place. It took an injury to get me back to the secrets I had learned a long time ago."
Let's stop for a minute . . .
Look at the pictures I have included above. You can see how much mass I packed right on the outside of my delts using this idea.
Let me outline some of the equipment you need in order for this thing to work. You're going to say, "Picky, picky." But when I try to do this in a gym that doesn't have these little details it just doesn't work. So . . . let that be your guide.
The dumbbell rack has to be just high enough that you can lean over, off balance into it. It should hit you just below the hips.
Actually, this isn't too critical. It could hit you somewhere around this area and it will still work. But you have to lean off balance to get the movement right.
Grab a pair of dumbbells. A little light at the beginning because you want to get the movement right. Oh, before I forget. You should be facing a mirror as well. Hold the dumbbells with the little finger higher than the thumb. This places all the stress on the deltoids rather than the triceps. Keep the dumbbells in this position throughout the movement.
Press the dumbbells overhead . . . not to lockout position but, just through a range of motion that is only the middle 3/5ths of the exercise.
Okay . . . this is important!
I don't know how to tell you this but, you don't actually press the dumbbells. You press the elbows. Sounds crazy, but let me explain. You see . . . your deltoids don't give a hoot what is happening to either the dumbbells or your wrists but they do care what is happening to your elbows. I know I told you earlier about that "little finger higher" stuff. But just listen.
It's the arc of the elbows that the shoulders are aware of. I want you to press the elbows so that, if possible, they would touch up somewhere behind the back of your head. I've got to get you to see this clearly or you're not going to grow and . . . you're going to end up looking like an albatross going through a mating dance on National Geographic.
What should I say? Hmmm . . . Well, let's just try again. Oh, wait a minute, I forgot something. The dumbbells start out with the palms facing the mirror. Not facing each other. You're going to be tempted to start out having them face each other because it helps you get this part of the motion down easier, but don't do it . . . because it makes it harder to get the eccentric part of the exercise correct.
Okay, let me repeat . . . press the elbows up behind as high as you can . . . trying to keep the arc that would have the elbows touch together behind the head. Actually, neither the dumbbells or the elbows go very high. It's probably not even the middle 3/5ths but more like the middle 2/5ths of the exercise.
Okay. Now for the lowering part of the press.
Once you get the elbows in the top position . . . slowly lower the dumbbells, at the same time try to keep them as wide as possible, all the time keeping the little finger side of the dumbbell higher than the thumb side. Okay, that's it! Now let me read over what I just said and see if it makes sense.
Oh-oh. I can see I've got to tell you more about lowering the dumbbells, because this is very important. As you lower the dumbbells, try to stretch out and get them as wide as possible. (Remember to keep the little finger side of the dumbbell higher than the thumb side). This places all stress right directly on the side deltoid head.
You will not believe the fire you are going to feel in your outer delts. In fact, it feels so good just writing about it . . . it's making my mouth water. And it just so happens tonight is my deltoid night. I can't wait. Let me leave you with just a few thoughts to chew on while you're working those delts . . .
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
Enjoy Your Lifting.