"Dip down a little RIGHT at the top of the exercise so
you don't have to use your traps."
I get so many good ideas when I talk to my clients, and this communication becomes a valuable source of information. Let me share just such a conversation with you. The other day I was speaking to Tony Cacciola, from New York, who is not only a client of mine but also a personal trainer.
Tony was telling me how much he was looking forward to attending out upcoming workshop in August.
"Larry, I am looking forward to seeing how you actually do some of the exercises. It will be a big help. I hate to say this, Larry, but frankly, I get more out of reading your articles than I do from the exercise description pack you sent to me."
"No need to apologize, Tony," I said. "I understand completely. When I write an article, I am dealing with only one exercise, whereas I have to cover hundreds of exercises in the Exercise Description pack. Can you imagine how many pages it would take to explain each exercise in detail," I replied.
"Yeah, I guess so," he said. "I try to tell my clients how to do the exercises the way I think you are showing me, but, I have a hard time getting the exact movement. I want to get them right because I think you have some unique ideas about exercise form."
"Thanks for the compliment, Tony, I learned some time ago that conventional movements were not going to get me the growth I needed to compete against guys that were "naturally" bigger. I simply couldn't make enough gains doing things the "plain old vanilla way." I had to find something better. In many cases I feel I have been successful. I know I can change a person's physique tremendously if I can just get them to learn some of these unique movements.
"For example, when we were fist beginning to build Lee Labrada's exercise program. Lee told me he didn't believe he needed special exercises to build a great physique. He felt all he needed was the basic exercises.
"I was so happy to hear him say that. I knew we were going to have some fun. He was about to discover some secrets which his easy growth had hidden from him."
"Yeah, I believe you Larry. I have learned to do shoulders the same way you explain in your Loaded Guns book. It does make a difference. I do have a question, though, about delts, if you don't mind," he asked.
Sure, go ahead," I offered.
"I don't understand what you mean by starting out with one dumbbell higher than the other," Tony replied. [Side laterals.]
"Tony," I said. "I tried so hard to explain the best way to work delts in that chapter. Unfortunately, even when I have the person right in front of me when I am explaining, it's hard to get it right. It's necessary to go over and over the same thing until the person finally understands.
"Let's see if you can visualize it over the phone. The dumbbells are held in front of you with one hand higher than the other. I don't mean in front of each other but one actually on top of the other."
"You mean the plates are hitting the knuckles of the other hand?" he asked.
"No, not hitting the knuckles, but being clear on top of the other. One of the biceps is more flexed than the other and the upper body is bent over to help the dumbbells get started. Then, just at the top of the movement, you bob down with the upper body."
"I don't bob at the top of the movement," he said.
"If you are not bobbing with the upper body at the top of the movement, you are almost assuredly doing the exercise incorrectly. One of two things is happening. You are either using too little weight or you are working your traps too much. You have to bob with the body at the top! This is what allows you to get the elbows into the top position without using the traps. This also allows you to use much heavier weight. Sometimes I will use 80 lb dumbbells on side lateral raises."
"Yeah, I have heard that and it makes me sick." Tony replied. "I'm having a hard time using 55's."
"I know what you mean. Remember, I have been working on this movement for years. I could never do it with the correct form besides having worked really hard on my forearms." I answered.
"Forearms?" he asked incredulously.
"Yes, Tony, the key to using big weights on side laterals is forearm strength. You see, you are not just swinging weights up into position like a rock at the end of a rope. You are sort of pressing them out to the side. This takes biceps and forearms as well as strong lateral deltoids. I know it seems strange but it's true.
"This is not a simple movement, there are several things one has to keep in mind while doing side lateral raises. Perhaps this is why it is so hard to get this exercise right. In order to work side delts you have to deactivate the frontal deltoids. They are going to try to do most of the work because they are stronger than the side lateral head. (frontal delts are worked during bench press, military press, dips, etc.) This is why there is a tendency to raise the thumb side of the dumbbell higher than the little finger side. This is a dead giveaway that the frontal delt head is working more than it should.
"Follow these steps and you should be able to get close to the correct form: Bend over at the waist, with the dumbbells held in front of you with one dumbbell held higher than the other. Dip the shoulders down a little and at the same time swing and press the dumbbells out to the sides. It helps if you have a very firm grip on the dumbbells with the little finger side of the hand pressed firmly against the inside of the plates. If the dumbbell handles are too long, however, off-setting the hands in this way makes the dumbbells cumbersome. The inside distance between the plates should be no more than 6" in order for this idea to work. You will need chalk on your hands because the grip needs to be very firm. I like to think of making finger prints in the handles. The grip is important because if the weight drops down to the fingers rather than being up tight in the palm, most of the effort is being expended by the traps, especially if you are not bobbing at the top of the movement. Another reason for the bobbing at the top is to properly complete the flexing of the side lateral head. This can be determined by looking at the mirror in front of you. You should just be able to see the rear delt flex right at the top of the exercise. You have to be able to see your form to know you are doing the exercise correctly. Again, you should be able to see the rear delt flex in the mirror. If you cannot see the rear delt flex, you are probably using too much weight and using the front deltoid.
"You are NOT trying to hold the dumbbells at this top position at all. You are just bobbing down for an instant to get this full flex of the side and rear deltoid. The elbows and wrists are raised only as high as the shoulders. Any higher and you will be using traps or front deltoids."
"I kind of know what you are saying, Larry, but it's a lot harder to do than it is to say." Tony replied.
"I know, it takes practice and it takes lots of forearm strength to be able to use a heavy weight. Once you get it though, it's the best possible exercise for building some really impressive deltoids. Again, be careful not to raise the shoulders. Raise only the arms. If you've built traps that are more powerful than your delts, it is going to be very hard to build impressive deltoids because the traps will always want to do the work for the delts.
"I hope you enjoy the secrets in this report . . . once again here are some . . .
world of advice . . .
Recipe for Success
1) Take a dream.
2) Mix it with motivation and action.
3) Add long hours of practice and discipline.
YIELD: Your goal, whatever it may be.
Enjoy Your Lifting!