Sunday, July 3, 2022

Delts -- Greg Zulak (1991)

From This Issue: February 1991

If there is one muscle group that makes you look powerful and impressive, whether in clothes or not, it has to be the deltoids. 

Big, wide shoulders and thick, rounded deltoids have been the mark of manhood for centuries. 

Along with the calves and the abdominals, the shoulders are considered one of the most important muscle groups of the body necessary for good symmetry, and it is the one muscle group that is impossible to overdevelop. 

Melvin Wells, video still courtesy of GOLDEN ERA BOOKWORM

There's never yet been a bodybuilder with shoulder too wide or delts too developed. Thus, the delts should be developed to the absolute maximum. 

Ron Love

There hasn't been a champion in the last 30 years who hasn't had great delt development, from 

Bill Pearl 

Reg Park

Larry Scott 

Don Howorth 

Dave Draper 

and others from the 60's, through Arnold, Waller, Columbu in the 70's, to Robby Robinson, Ron Love, Lee Haney in the 80's and on up to the current champions, never forgetting all who came before the 60's moving in that time-direction and finding so many similarities in how they trained then as well as now. 

It's that simple. If you want a complete, well-developed physique you must have good delts. 

Because the delts are made up of three distinct sections or heads, the anterior or front deltoid, the medial or side deltoid, and the posterior or rear deltoid, it is very important that all three heads be worked hard and fully developed, with special emphasis placed on the side head because it is the head that makes you extra wide. 

Larry Scott

Most bodybuilders tend to overdevelop the front head because all chest work and shoulder pressing movements work the front head hard. Some rear delt work is involved in most chinning, rowing and pulldown movements, but for full development of the rear head -- and the side head -- concentrated specific isolation movements are required.

The type of routine I am going to advocate this month is very strenuous and works all three delt heads very hard. It is not for a beginner, though. The beginner should stick to basic shoulder training that includes one form of pressing -- either dumbbell presses, behind the neck presses or front presses -- and one or two isolation movements to work the side and rear heads. Specific front delt work in not needed because bench presses, dips, flyes and the presses will work the front head hard enough. 

A good routine for the beginner, and even the intermediate bodybuilder might look like this: 

Behind the Neck Press (seated)
1x10, 1x8, 1x6

Bentover Lateral Raise

Barbell Upright Row
1x10, 1x8, 1x6

A more advanced bodybuilder could add three sets of side raises for the side head, That would make a very good routine for most bodybuilders. For a bodybuilder advanced even further, perhaps one set per exercise could be added. 

The delt routine I am going to suggest you try is much more intense. It's a real delt-killer and will blow your shoulders up like balloons because supersets, pre-exhaust supersets and even triple dropping are involved. 

A sample routine might look like this: 

Routine A

Wide Grip Bentover Barbell Row
4x8-10 ->
Bentover Laterals

Behind the Neck Press
4x8-10 ->
Dumbbell Side Raise

Seated Front Barbell Press
4x8-10 ->
Incline DB Front Raise

Alternately, you could do the same supersets in pre-exhaust fashion as follows: 

Routine B (Pre-Exhaust)

Bentover Laterals
4x10 ->
Wide Grip Bentover Barbell Row

Side Laterals
4x10 ->
Seated Behind the Neck Press

Incline DB Front Raise
4.10 ->
Seated Front Barbell Press

As you can see, all sections of the deltoid are worked very hard, but we train the normally weak and underdeveloped rear delts first when our strength, energy, concentration and enthusiasm levels are highest, followed next by the work for the side head. The front head is always trained last because, as explained before, it needs less work than the side and rear heads.

This routine demands that you train all three heads in the same workout. For the intermediate bodybuilder this is probably the best way to go. Finish off the above routine with some upright rows and shrugs to work the traps and you have a very good routine.

I'll just clarify a few points so there is no confusion. The wide grip bentover row is not like the types of bent rowing you do for lats. The grip is wider, the from is much stricter, and the bar should be pulled to the chest, not to the abdominals.

The seated behind the neck presses and the seated front presses can be done either with a barbell or on a Smith machine, but I prefer the Smith machine because the action is purer and you don't have to worry about balancing the bar. Either way is effective.

To do incline dumbbell front raises, grab two fairly light dumbbells and lie back on the incline bench. Hold the bells at your side as if you were going to do hammer curls -- that is, with the thumbs pointing up. Start with the dumbbells behind your body (the farther behind the better to get more stretch on the front head). Now slowly raise the bells with arms locked until they are over your face. Resist all the way down to take advantage of the negative. In my experience this exercise is better than regular dumbbell front raises and gives a superb burn in the front delts.

Remember, too, that you're doing supersets, so rest only after you have done both exercises. After each superset, rest no more than 60 seconds, and 45 might be even better. If you wish to intensify even more, you can utilize two or even three pairs of dumbbells, each progressively lighter, and perform a drop set each time you do the isolation part of the superset. If you have a training partner, he can help you do forced reps and negatives on the heavy, compound exercises.

That's one way to give all three heads of your delts a good workout. However, because it is so intense, I'd recommend you follow this routine for only six to eight weeks before resuming more normal, heavy training; otherwise, you'll end up going stale.

If you train on a 4-on 1-off routine, you can break up your delt training so that different heads are trained on different days. Again I must warn you that this type of training is only for the fairly advanced bodybuilder. Beginners and less advanced intermediates will be better off sticking with more basic routines.

Assuming you are fairly advanced, let's say you have been training on a 4-day on/1-day off routine and you split your body this way: 

Day 1: legs (calves, hamstrings, quads)
Day 2: chest and triceps
Day 3: back and biceps
Day 4: delts and traps

And let's assume you have finished the suggested delt routine I gave a little earlier, training all three heads and the traps on day four of your training routine. Three months have gone by, during which you resumed a more basic delt routine, but now you want to give your delts another good blasting. Here's another way to do it: 

Day 1: legs only
Day 2: chest, front delts, triceps
Day 3: back, rear delts, biceps
Day 4: side delts, traps

Going back to day 2, the bench presses, incline presses, flyes, dips and/or pullovers will give the front head of the delts a good workout, so take advantage of the situation and really finish off your front delts by doing the following tri-set: 

Tri-set - 
High incline (80 degrees or more) presses
3-4 x 10 ->
High incline flyes
3-4 x 10 ->
Incline DB front raises
3-4 x 10

After this tri-set you will feel as if someone had taken a blowtorch to your front delts, and after a few weeks on this routine you should notice new roundness and thickness.

The next day, your back-biceps day, train your rear delts. After the various chins, rows, cable rows and pulldowns you do the following giant set: 

Giant Set - 
Behind the back upright rows
3-4 x 10 ->
Bentover DB laterals
3-4 x 10 ->
Rear delt machine
3-4 x 10 ->
Wide grip bent barbell row or cable shoulder rows
3-4 x 10

If you train at home, or if your gym does not have a rear delt machine, just do a tri-set of behind the back upright rows, the bentover laterals and either the wide grip bentover barbell row or the cable shoulder row. Some of you might not be familiar with the BEHIND THE BACK UPRIGHT ROW. Use a Smith machine or a cambered curling bar. Hold the bar behind your back and push your hips forward so the bar doesn't hit your behind. Raise the bar as high as you can, tense and hold for a count of two, and then lower slowly.

The CABLE SHOULDER ROW is a John Parrillo beaut. Use the same cable rowing machine you would use to do seated cable rows for your lats. It's best done with a special wrist strap attachment, but it can be done with a triceps rope, a towel looped through the S-hook, or a two-handed cable attachment. Sit down and get into the position you would if you were going to do cable rows for your last, but instead of pulling your hands into your chest or stomach, pull your hands up past your ears. Then in a slow, controlled manner, return tothe start position. It helps if your training partner stands behind you and pulls back on your elbows so the rear delts get more stretch and contraction. 

Day 4 is delt and trap day, but concentrate only on the side head of the delt. This is the delt that makes you look wide, and putting a round cap on your side head will add lots of impressiveness to your physique. 

Start your side delt routine with 4 sets of Larry Scott dumbbell presses, 8-10 reps a set. To do these presses correctly, stand in front of a dumbbell rack and lean into the rack. Anchor your body so you feel secure. Start your presses with your palms facing forward. The key to making your side head do the majority of the work, instead of the stronger front head, is to pull your elbows well back. As well, you must tip the bells in such a fashion that the outside plates of the bells are higher than the inside plates. The thumb of each hand must be pointing at/or below your ears. As you press the bells, do only the middle portion of the movement -- that is, do not lock out and do not lower the bells all the way down. If you are doing the movement properly, your side heads should be burning after four sets. 

Note: for more on some of Larry Scott's shoulder training techniques, see the 
link under his name above: advanced deltoid routines. 

To really give the side heads a blast follow the Scott presses with the following tri-set: 

Tri-set - 
Dumbbell laterals
4 x 10 ->
Cable upright row
4 x10 ->
Behind the neck press
4 x 10

To totally finish off the side head do 5 sets of one-arm cable laterals in drop set fashion. By now your side heads should be pumped like balloons and on fire.

After you finish off your trap work, take advantage of the fact that the delts, traps, upper back and shoulder girdle are well warmed up, and try to stretch out your clavicles. Do the following tri-set: 

Tri-set - 
Ultra wide grip chins
3 x max reps plus hang for 30 seconds ->
Ultra wide grip behind the neck press
3 x 12-15 ->
Wide grip or Reeves shrugs
3 x 10-12

Here are a few points to keep in mind. The ultra wide grip chins are not meant to develop the lats, as normal wide and medium grip chins are. These are just to stretch your clavicles. They may feel uncomfortable at first. Make sure you use straps or sponges to reinforce your grip. Grip the chinning bar as wide as you possibly can. At the end of each set hang for a count of 30 to further stretch the clavicles and the whole shoulder girdle.

When doing the ultra wide grip behind the neck presses, use a lighter weight than you normally would. You should really feel a stretch in your clavicles as the bar is lowered. Try to use a grip almost out to the collars! 

To do the wide grip or Reeves shrugs, you either have to have Olympic plates with the big lip on them, or you need a pair of kettlebells that you can place outside the collars of your regular barbell. If you have the big-lipped (deep dish) Olympic plates, put them on the bar backwards so the lips face out. You then grab the plates by this lips -- not the barbell itself -- and do regular shrugging movements. Your grip should be so wide it feels as if your whole upper body is being stretched just holding onto the bar. 

If you do not have an Olympic set, or you don't have deep dish plates, try this with kettlebells. Set the collars of your barbell very wide and then put the kettlebells outside of the collars. Now grab the kettlebell handles and do the shrugs. You should feel as if your shoulders are undergoing stretch therapy! 

I remind you once again that these routines are specialization routines; they are not meant to be used year round, only for short periods of time to shock your delts into new growth. Most of the year you should stick to heavy, basic training. If you do decide to follow any of these routines, I suggest you get extra rest and sleep, and increase your nutrient intake, duh, eat more. 

Also cut back a bit on the sets you do for your other muscle groups. These routines are not for the beginner, but if you are fairly advanced and you've reached a sticking point in your delt development, they might be just what you need to get yourself growing again.

Enjoy Your Lifting! 


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