The regular two hands press is one of the best known of the repetition exercises which develop the shoulders as well and the back of the arm and other muscles of the upper body. The two hands press is too well known to require mush explanation. As usually practiced the feet are placed a comfortable distance apart, the body is held erect, in the military position, and the barbell is pressed from the chest to arm’s length overhead, then lowered and continued for the desired number of counts or until tired. The weight should be pressed with moderate slowness as in nearly all other exercises, so that the resistance can be felt every inch of the way.
The position of the hands can be varied, from fairly close to very wide apart, each position puts the muscles intro action in a somewhat different manner and develops the muscles from various angles. Much more weight can be handled in the continental or lean back style of pressing. With this method John Grimek has pressed 330 pounds. The press is started in the usual manner and when it reaches the sticking point, the body is permitted to bend backwards as the upward motion of the bell continues. The front of the deltoid performs most of the action in this style of pressing.
The press behind neck is a good movement. A wider grip than usual in the military press is employed, the weight is lowered until it rests momentarily upon the back of the neck, pressed overhead, lowered and continue the exercise for the desired number of counts. As you will notice, once again we bring the deltoids into action in a somewhat different manner.
Two hands press with dumbells places the muscles in action in a different style than the press with barbell. In the press with barbell the knuckles are usually held back toward the body although there have been cases of men who could press well the opposite way, with palms facing body. At one time our colored maid, seeing the other girls practicing on the lawn, lifted a weight for the first time, curling it with palms up and then pressing it in that position. The weight was 80 pounds and she handled it easily enough, probably could have done more, for up to this time that was the most weight I had ever seen pressed by a girl, particularly a girl trying to lift for the first time. How she acquired her excellent deltoid development we don’t know, but she had what it takes to put the weight overhead. One of our local girls, Alda Ketterman, now the manager of Brookside Park, the York company park, where in normal times the strength and health picnics and weight lifting exhibitions are held, later pressed 85 pounds the first time she ever tried it. Considering that after 15 years of training in all the ways I knew, five pound dumbells, rowing machines, wall pulley weights, chinning, dipping, resistance exercises, tension exercises, and quite a variety of athletic pastimes, I could only press 80 pounds, Alda’s perfect press, made slowly with a wide grip, was most excellent. It proves in my own case that I had what I later discovered to be a fact, unusually poor bodily leverage in two hands overhead pressing, and that most work and exercise, nearly all athletic games, do not build the ability to lift weights overhead. Alda had lived in the country most of her life, like most country girls she had helped on the farm occasionally pitching hay or other commodities, and somehow she had built a fine, strong pair of deltoids. On a trip through the West a few years ago, in which John Grimek, Tony Terlazzo and I took part in 24 exhibition in 30 days, besides driving 9,000 miles, we found a super strong sailor in San Francisco who had bested all comers in curling and back hand pressing a weight. With much glee the fellows at the San Francisco YMCA produced this fellow the night of our exhibition there and he challenged anyone of us to a contest in his style of lifting. John Grimek had never tried this method but being a real strong man as well as having what many consider to be the world’s greatest physique, he engaged in a contest with the Californian. And although his opponent lifted 250 in this manner, extraordinarily enough, Grimek, who by that time had his competitive blood up, curled and back hand pressed 285 pounds.
To develop the muscles in a different manner you can practice this style of pressing at times. And dumbell pressing with the dumbells held parallel with the feet, instead of at right angles to the feet as in barbell pressing.
Alternate pressing with barbell first in front of neck and then in back of neck is a good movement. As is alternate pressing or seesaw pressing with a pair of dumbells. It’s best to practice this movement at times while holding the body perfectly straight or in the military position. When very heavy dumbells are employed you can bend a bit from side to side. Frank Leight, the 1942 Mr.
One arm military pressing has its advantages. It differs from two hands pressing in the fact that the bell is twisted as the weight goes overhead. As the name implies one should stand in the military position, heels together and on a line, toes out at an angle of 45 degrees, knees straight, body straight, non lifting hand along the thigh. Bending to either side, leaning back, twisting, are causes for disqualification.
A modified version of the side press is one of the very best exercises. While this movement is one which in time will result in skill in bent pressing, while it is one of the best to build the triceps of the arm and the latissimus dorsi, it does not need to take a second place to any of them.
Many people believe that a modified form of the side press is the very best shoulder developing exercise. The average body builder should be able to start with at least a 25 pound dumbell, 50 or even 75 will be easy for an advanced weight man after some practice with this exercise. Take the bell to the shoulder, stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, step forward slightly with the foot on the nonlifting side. Most of your weight rests upon that advanced foot. Lean forward and to the side in the direction in which the foot on the nonlifting side points, assuming that you will start with the right hand, we will call that foot the left, as you lean over and forward you push up the weight with the right arm to arm’s length. Straighten your body and then lower the bell slowly. Lowering the bell slowly is important for you will obtain almost as much benefit and development from lowering as from raising. At the low point the bell should be just opposite to the shoulder and about eight inches from it. You should deliberately harden the muscles of the upper back as the bell is lowered, so that the back muscles form a shelf or resting point for the horizontal upper arm. When you learn this movement properly, leaning toward the left foot, placing your weight upon the left foot, will cause the weight to go up almost of its own accord. You should select a weight which will permit you to practice this movement from ten to fifteen repetitions. It is highly important that you perform the exercise properly, for how you do it is more important than the weight handled.
Don’t consider this movement to be a lift. Don’t use too light a weight for it is necessary to use enough weight to put some developing strain on the muscles. You will obtain a marvelous development of the shoulders as well as the upper arm, if you practice this exercise regularly with the maximum amount of weight which will permit you to perform 10 to 15 repetitions.
The movements offered pretty well cover the accepted pressing movements in the upright position with barbell and dumbell. Floor pressing and bench pressing have their advantages. While these forms of pressing bring into action only the front part of the deltoid, they are fine for developing the triceps and other muscles, a heavy weight may be employed and big strong arms and good shoulders will result.
In this class should come the various swinging movements. First with one dumbell and with two. In swinging with one dumbell, exercise is started with the bell on the floor, back of the feet which have been spread a comfortable distance apart, the dumbell is swung from the position just described in an arc, keeping arms straight throughout, until it reaches the overhead position, then lowered to a position between the back of the knees, and continued. The nonlifting hand may be placed on the corresponding knee to assist in balance. This is a splendid exercise, has long been a favorite here in
The two hands swing is a fine movement and even harder than the one hand swing. It develops the deltoids of both arms simultaneously, but provides twice as much work for the back. When Big Dave Mayor was champion we were having a number of contests one Saturday afternoon when he said, “How about two hands swinging?” He insisted that I swing first. I made 34 swings with a pair of 50’s, and Dave said, “You win, you win. I couldn’t do that many.” I habitually did one hand swinging, keeping the back flat and having the nonlifting hand to assure that I did not bend too far. But with two dumbells I rounded my back too much and felt it for several days in the back. So don’t handle too much weight in two hands swinging until you are accustomed to it. Superman Steve Stanko has swung a pair of 100’s in this manner.
Swinging movements can best be done with a swing bar. It is designed for that purpose and while all swinging movements are splendid developers for the deltoids they are particularly valuable for the vital, internal and glandular power they impart to the mid section of the body, which is strongly influenced by these excellent movements.
With the swing bar there is the forward raise using the deltoids and arms only, the swing bar raised from thighs to arm’s length overhead. There is the forward press with swing bar and pressing to arm’s length in front of shoulders. There is the swinging of the bar from a position at side near the foot, in an arc or half circle overhead and down to the other side, return and continue for the desired number of counts. There is a different form of swinging, similar to a movement we practiced with rifles during the First World War. Starting the movement with the arms straight, swing bar against the thighs, the bell is raised overhead and far to the side, then back to a starting position and up to a similar situation on the other side. The swing bar continues in a half circle, opposite to the swinging exercise previously offered. Swinging round and round like a wheel with the swing bar is a good movement and will bring all of the shoulder and upper back muscles into action. Swing bar movements are among the best, constant practice of these actions will leave the stamp of the weight trained man who has practiced a wide variety of movements, upon your body.
There are a wide variety of rowing motions, all of which develop the shoulders more or less. The standard form of bent over rowing, in which the upper body is held at right angles to the legs and the barbell is drawn from a position with straight arms below the body until it touches the chest, is one of the best for the upper back, particularly the deep lying muscles of the upper arms, the Coraco Brachialis, and the Brachialis Anticus, but it does develop the back of the deltoid. There are few exercises which can be practiced with weights which will bring the very rear fibres of the deltoid into action, so this exercise should be practice regularly to impart that roundness and fullness to the back of the deltoids. Getting off the subject for a moment, that is the subject of rowing motions, but I have you in the proper position so I will offer this exercise while the time is propitious, one of the best exercises to develop the back of the deltoids is a bent over exercise practiced with dumbells. A pair of heavy dumbells are held so that the bells will be at right angles to the front, bending over somewhat, the bells will be pulled up, elbows bent, as high as possible. You’ll feel that this movement puts into action the back of the deltoid as well as other attachments of the shoulders which are located in the upper back.
The upright rowing motion is a good movement on which we have many contests in the York Barbell gym. When I write about what I have done with a particular exercise of proficiency I have shown in that movement, don’t think that I am bragging about my prowess, if any, I am merely using my own experiences and those of others as illustrations. There are some things that I have been able to do well in the weight lifting and strength line, at others I am badly outclassed. I claim to be the world’s worst military presser, I am the only man to my knowledge in the world who has clean and jerked double what he could press on a certain day. All through my lifting career my clean and jerk was nearly double my press, 80 press and 150 clean and jerk the first time I tried it. 115 and 225 a year later. 135 and 265 in the earlier contests of the York Barbell club when they first won the national weight lifting team championship. 145 and 295 one day in a Saturday afternoon contest in
Back to the upright rowing motion. This can be practiced with swing bar, dumbells, barbell or with springs as you will see in the chapter devoted to that type of exercise. With a barbell, the hands can be placed at shoulder width, very wide, or only a hand grip apart. Most men can do more with a close grip. The weight must be pulled up to chin in this movement and it is easier to do this with a close grip when the weight gets heavy or the muscles become tired after a series of movements. For many, particularly for myself, it is easier to perform this movement than it is to curl or press.
The upright rowing motion with dumbells is an excellent developer too. For long years this was the favorite of mine, some years ago I went away to a convention for a week and while I was there did a lot of practicing of upright rowing motions with dumbells. I had a pair of dumbells which weighed 42 ½ pounds each, and every night would perform ten series of ten repetitions. When I returned I made a new life time record for myself in the two hands snatch, in one of the annual York Barbell shows 230 pounds. The dumbells move a bit unlike barbells so have a different effect on the deltoids.
At one time I practiced considerably in the one hand rowing motion and the one hand back hand curl. I would lean over placing the non exercising hand on a chair or box and exercise one arm at a time. It was after specializing on these movements that at an exhibition at the Eagle Bar Bell gym in
The shoulder shrugs must be included in this group. In the regular shoulder shrug with barbell, starting with arms straight, bell resting against the thighs, the shoulders are lifted as high as possible and there is an attempt to touch the ears. The movement is continued until tired, which is usually after about twenty repetitions. At times the movement can be varied by rolling the shoulders, raising while held forward, pressed back while raised, then lowered, raised while held back, brought forward, lowered, etc.
A shoulder shrug may be performed with dumbells held in the hands, perpendicular to the front instead of parallel with it. You can practice this raising the shoulders simultaneously, or alternately at times. Another good shoulder shrug with dumbells is to raise the dumbells until with bent elbows the arms are at right angles. Roll the shoulders round and round while holding the arms in this position. The curl under armpits, raising the shoulders as high as possible, is beneficial to the shoulders.
There is the press out in front with dumbells, either with the dumbells held with the hands in the same position as if a barbell or a swing bar were being employed, then back to chest and continued until tired or for the desired number of repetitions. Take a dumbell in each hand, raise to shoulder height as in the lateral raise, keeping the knuckles up and the elbow in position, bend the arms, swinging the dumbells in until they touch or nearly so in front of the body.
The “criss cross” standing is a good shoulder exercise. This movement is started from a position with the arms straight and extended lateralwards at shoulder height, knuckles up, keeping the arms at shoulder height carry them toward each other in front of the body, then permit them to pass, crossing the arms at the chest. Open the arms up and carry them back to the original position, in passing, the right arm should cross over the left one time, the left over the right the next. It is essential that you keep the arms at shoulder height, move the weight slowly and steadily, do not sway the body, carry the arms back until they are a bit farther to the rear than in line with the back. This movement not only develops the deltoids in a different manner but it is a good movement for developing the pectorals, too.
A little known movement, but a good one, is started with the arms extended lateralward at shoulder height, palms up as in the crucifix. From this position the hands are lifted upwards, keeping the arms straight, the palms will face each other as they go overhead. Lower the weights to the starting position and continue the movement from ten to fifteen times.
In one of the
The warm up which is exercise No. 1 in some of the York courses, while usually practiced with a light or moderate weight to get the muscles working, the breathing accelerating a bit faster and the blood flowing with an added tempo, has a beneficial effect on the deltoids. The bar is drawn from the floor to arm’s length overhead.
The high dead lift is one which is practiced with a very heavy weight. About twenty per cent less than your record should be about right. Bring the weight up as in the regular dead lift, but instead of stopping when the back is straight as is done in the dead weight lift, continue to pull the weight as high as you can.
The pull up to chin is one of the three or four best exercises in the entire line of physical training. A substantial weight can be employed, one which will make the exerciser puff a bit, and perspire somewhat. The weight is drawn from the floor or close to floor with subsequent repetitions, up until the back is straight and the bar touches the lip above the chin. This puts into action all of the major muscle groups of the body which is evidenced by the more rapid breathing that is induced, and it is a particularly good movement for developing the entire shoulder girdle.
Forming circles with the arms extended at shoulder height in front of the body and again at the side of the body will influence the development of the deltoids. Take a pair of dumbells of moderate weight, 10 or 15 pounds should be enough to start, 20 pounds would be sufficient for a fairly strong man. Extend the arms to front at shoulder height, swing them in alternate circles holding the arms straight throughout and approximately at shoulder height. To practice the second exercise, extend the arms to the side at shoulder height, as in the first exercise move the hands in a circle about one foot in diameter.