In Part One we talked about how to use side lateral raises for the side deltoid head but . . . we were just getting started . . . there are two more fantastic dumbbell exercises for building deltoids and . . . this time we're going to talk about them. I'm going to focus on Standing Dumbbell Presses and Bent Over Lateral Raises.
Surprisingly, all three above exercises require a very similar movement. It's a funny kind of thing almost like you're trying to take flight. Your elbows turn up while your wrists turn down. Kind of like a bird flapping its wings. Coincidentally this is precisely the position the arm should be in when testing for maximum strength in the side deltoid according to Drs. Kendall and McCreary in their valuable reference work entitled "Muscle Testing and Function".
If you travel around a bit and you'll see there's all kinds of ways to do these exercises but I have found after years of my own training and helping hundreds of personal training clients . . . this way works best.
Once you catch on to these dumbbell exercises, I promise . . . you'll never go back to the old way again because of the thrill you get from seeing your deltoids grow so much faster and . . . I might add . . .without all that inflammation that comes with barbell work.
Even the Dumbbell Rack is Important
Let's start off with the dumbbell press. You need several things in order to make this thing work. First thing you need is a set of fixed dumbbells because you won't have time to change weights between sets. If you rest that long it'll blow the whole thing. The dumbbell rack needs to be in front of a mirror and it has to be the kind you can lean up against. Those two-tiered racks with the lower rack out closer won't work, because you have to lean off balance into the rack. This is important, because you're going to be throwing the elbows back as the weights go up. If you're not leaning off balance into the rack, when you throw your elbows back it throws your whole body off balance.
So . . . once again . . . lean off balance into the rack with the rack about pelvis height. This . . . kind of . . . locks you into position.
Grab the dumbbells with the little finger side of the hand up against the inside plate of the dumbbell. Hold the dumbbells overhead with the little finger side of the dumbbell higher than the thumb side.
The Arc is the Key
The starting position should have your arms about parallel with the floor and the elbows slightly in front of the body. The palms facing the head. As you press the dumbbells overhead, the elbows should be pulled back as far as possible and the palms turn towards the mirror (this works the side deltoid head).
You're going to be using only the middle 3/5ths of the dumbbell press. You are not pressing the dumbbells up to lockout position; just up to 4/5ths of a full press. Try to imagine you are trying to touch the elbows together somewhere up behind the head. You can't actually do that but . . . this is the arc you're shooting for. the last 1/5th is almost all triceps and it'll take most of the stress off the deltoids so don't do it. This will keep the deltoids in constant tension. The deltoids love constant tension. In fact, they thrive on it.
It makes them grow like crazy.
So, don't press out the dumbbells to lockout position. You want to use only the middle 3/5ths of the movement.
Okay . . . here's a final finishing trick on this exercise that will make your deltoids burn like crazy. As you being the dumbbells back down, try to keep them as wide as possible. You're going to be a little stronger on the down side so . . . stick them way o9ut there. It places increased stress right on the lateral head. Don't forget . . . you want to keep the little finger side of the dumbbell higher than the thumb side. This is important . . . if you let the thumb side of the dumbbell go higher it transfers all the stress to the triceps. You want to keep all the stress right smack on the lateral head. This is do good, it's starting to make my mouth water . . . makes me want to hit the gym.
When I showed this movement to Francis Benfatto his deltoids blew up like crazy. He said, "Larry, I can't believe the pump this gives me, right on the outer head."
"Isn't it great," I said. "I just love it!" One of the nice things about this exercise is . . . you're doing presses so you can use a lot more weight than you can with side lateral raises butt you're still working the side deltoid head. I think that's why it gives such a great pump."
I mentioned earlier . . . deltoids love constant tension. That's not true of all muscles. Some grow better on full lockouts . . . not deltoids though. Deltoids are also different because they grow best with "down the rack" (DTR) training. You can build huge deltoids using DTR. Start heavy and work light. If you've got a rack with 5 lb. increments it's great. Let's suppose you start with the 80's and do a set of 6 reps just like I've described, go immediately to the 75's and do another 6 reps then on to the 70's and so forth until you've done 6 sets of 6 reps. Not only does it build some frontal deltoids but this particular movement also hits the side deltoid head which is normally almost impossible to build while doing presses.
Bent Over Dumbbell Raises
Okay, let's finish off with Bent Over Dumbbell Raises to the rear. This exercise is a lot easier to do than the other two, but you're still trying to get the same "elbows back and the wrists forward" movement. It's this feature that forces the elbows to stay in the arc that will not cause shoulder inflammation.
In fact, you can do all of these dumbbell shoulder exercises with heavy weights without wiping out your shoulders. Whereas if you do presses with a barbell you'll be lucky if you can do it for two weeks without some ugly joint pain sneaking into your workout.
Let me finish with ben over dumbbell raises to the rear. You can do this with your head resting on the dumbbell rack or you can just bend over at the waist until your upper body is parallel with the floor. It takes a lit more oxygen if you don't rest your head on the rack however (fold up a towel to cushion your head).
Again . . . grab the dumbbells with the little finger side of your hand smack up against the inside plate of the dumbbell. You need chalk on your hands on both of these exercises because you want to maintain a real firm grip on the dumbbell throughout the exercise. Don't just swing it like a pendulum . . . maintain control throughout the exercise. If you're bending over and watching yourself in the mirror you should be seeing your rear deltoids work like crazy. This is another one you want to use DTR (heavy to light). Do 6 reps, drop the weight 5 pounds and go immediately on to the next set until you have completed 6 sets of 6 reps. You are going to have a fantastic time with your new chiseled delts. Here are more helpful words of advice I want to leave with you . . .
Change is the end result of all true learning. Change involves three things; First, a dissatisfaction with self - a felt void or need; second, a decision to change - to fill the void or need; and third, a conscious dedication to the process of growth and change - the willful act of making the change, doing something.
Enjoy Your Lifting!