Harvey Keith, Mike Sable
Of all the muscle groups of the upper body, the deltoids are trained incorrectly most often. The large round deltoid muscles cap the shoulders and when properly developed, they are extremely impressive.
The deltoid muscle itself is divided into three distinct areas or heads. These are the frontal (or anterior) deltoid, the side (or lateral) deltoid and finally the rear (or posterior) deltoid.
The problem begins, when in the early stages of training, one of these three heads is overemphasized. Usually it is the anterior (frontal) head of the muscle that is overdeveloped (compared to the other parts). This is extremely dangerous to the proportion of the upper body since the other two heads (lateral and posterior) are more important in developing impressive shoulders.
The front delt is used in pressing of any kind. Bench pressing is an especially quick developer of this area of the delt. Thus, young trainees who concentrate on their bench pressing (and other pressing movements) often fall into the syndrome of having a well-developed anterior deltoid, while the lateral and posterior heads of the muscle are relatively weak looking.
Since all bodybuilding is based on illusion and selective development, we can easily see the importance of the lateral head of the deltoid that gives the upper body that all important appearance of width. The lateral head also shows up a great deal in rear and side poses of any sort.
Emphasis on the lateral and rear areas of the deltoid should begin at the earliest possible stages of training. The posterior deltoid is very important in giving a fine and polished look to the upper body. The tie-in from the rear head to the triceps is as important as the delt-tricep tie-in. When the delt-tricep tie-in is posed skillfully, it always proves impressive.
Your shoulder routine should be carefully designed in such a way as to equalize all three heads of the deltoid. This means the training emphasis should be placed on the slower growing lateral and rear heads.
The form in which you perform your various delt exercises is of paramount importance. For instance, when executing a proper lateral raise, several things should be coordinating at the same time. First, the arm should be treated only as a fulcrum (lever) taking minimal part in the movement. Do the movement with a false (thumbless) grip. This further prevents the involvement of the forearms. The upper arm and forearm should form one constant plane throughout the movement. The elbow should lead. The dumbbell itself should be treated as a bottle from which you are pouring water. This means that at the end of the movement, the dumbbell will end up with the back bell higher than the front. The rear bell should reach ear height. It should not go any higher.
When doing dumbbell presses, hold the dumbbells well out to the sides of the shoulders to further stress the lateral head. When doing any type of press, never lock out! This will remove the tension from the muscle being worked and place it on the triceps. Just press the dumbbells (or barbell) until the bottom of the plates barely reaches the ear.
The most popular exercise for developing the rear (posterior) head of the deltoid is the bentover lateral raise. There are several different methods of doing this movement. We have found the bentover lateral raise with the head supported to be the finest method of isolating this hard to reach muscle. Doing the exercise either with dumbbells or cables puts a direct impact on the rear delts.
Again, you should follow the ground rules set down for lateral raises: Elbows lead, false grip, rear bell higher, upper arm and forearm in one plane. Here then are several approaches to deltoid training that have yielded us results. All of them are constructed to place special emphasis on the lateral and rear deltoids.
A) Press behind neck. 5 sets increasing weight each set - 12,10,8,6,6. Remember not to lock out.
B) Standing lateral raise. 5 x 8-12.
C) Bentover lateral raise. 5 sets, 12,10,8,6,6.
D) Bentover cable lateral raise. 5 x 12.
Here are two other routines that approach the balanced deltoid development differently. Try each routine for a six week period, in order to make a proper evaluation you should then learn what exactly works best for you.
A) Standing dumbbell press down rack. To execute this properly, you must have access to a dumbbell rack and progressively weighted dumbbells. The dumbbells should be divided by no more than 5 pound increments. This is a fairly advanced training method and is a very intense way of bringing the shoulders up to their full potential. Start with a weight you can barely get 6 repetitions with. Remember to hold the dumbbells wide and not to lock out. A good lifting belt may also prove an asset. As you finish the first 6 reps, replace the dumbbells in the rack and grab the next lightest pair without resting and execute another 6 reps with the next. Work down the entire rack in the same manner three times.
Follow the dumbbell press with
B) Lateral raise. 3 times down the rack in the same manner. Then finish off your routine with
C) Bentover DB or cable laterals. 6 sets.
Here is a third possible deltoid routine. The first exercise is called the
A) Fore and aft press. Again the various rules outlined previously that apply to pressing movements must be adhered to. We have a special pressing machine we developed for this movement. If this piece of apparatus is unavailable to you, you may use a barbell. Take a wide grip and press the bar from behind your neck until it just passes over your head. Now lower the bar to the upper pecs and press back up over your head and return to the behind the neck position. Each repetition to the clavicles (fore) and each to behind the neck (aft) is to be counted as one repetition. Thus if this routine calls for 5 sets of 6, you will really be doing 12 movements in each set. Therefore, we begin this fluid routine with 5 sets of 6 reps in the fore and aft press.
Now we can begin to further stress the lateral head . . .
B) Strict standing lateral raise. 5 x 8.
C) Bentover lateral raise, seated while keeping the chest on knees. 4 sets of 10 perfect reps. The last movement will be
D) One dumbbell lateral raise while lying on an incline board on your side. Again maintain a false grip. Do 4 x 12 repetitions resting only to change the dumbbell from one hand to the other.
Try these various deltoid specialization routines for the prescribed six week intervals. By the end of the third routine, you should have attained some impressive results.
Bear in mind that the nutritional aspects of your training have a great bearing on the improvement you make.
Also remember that each individual improves at a different rate.
Enjoy Your Lifting!