Saturday, March 11, 2023

Delts -- Spencer Churchill (1953)


Deltoids are called the hallmark of the strong man. This is an old time expression going back into the days when a "strong man" was somebody who could put heavy weights above his head. 

Nowadays, or course, the term "strong man" refers to a man who is capable of using heavy weights with all his muscle groups, usually a top line body-builder.

The point I wish to make is that if deltoids are important to the strong man, they are just as important to the body-builder. 

To my mind they are the foremost muscle group. The first thing that strikes you when you look at a physique is the width of the shoulders in comparison to the waist. It is the deltoids that give you this width, without this shoulder width the physique lacks its most impressive aspect. 

Deltoids, to put their construction simply, are the shoulder caps. There are three heads. Posterior, frontal part, ties in with the upper pecs. Lateral, side part, ties in with the biceps and triceps. Anterior, back part, ties in with the lats. 

Having three heads, that means for maximum development, they have to be worked from three different angles. 

My first deltoid workout consisted of the most popular of all deltoid exercises, the Press Behind Neck. I did this movement standing, legs apart, and with a wide grip. 

Breathing: Exhale as the bar is pressed to arms' length, inhale as the bar is lowered to the neck. 

For six months I did this exercise, for 3 workouts a week, and slowly built up the poundage. This movement is mainly for the posterior deltoid. I performed 4 sets of 10 reps. 

For my next six months deltoids workout I just added the Lateral Raise with Dumbbells. This is a pure action movement for the lateral deltoid, and is great for width of shoulders. 

The starting position is with the dumbbells hanging at your sides with the knuckles facing forward. It is important that they should be stay facing that way throughout the exercise. The bells are raised straight out away from the body -- arms straight -- until they meet above the head -- then the plates will be touching each other. 

Very little weight can be used on this exercise. I thought, coupled with the press behind neck, it was a very good combination, and used these two exercises for the next six months -- with good results. Lateral raise I did 2 sets of 10. 

I now had my deltoids coming on quite well, and was also progressing in strength, so I thought I would try my hand at dumbbell pressing. 

I was surprised to find it was quite different from pressing a bar, and had to use quite a light poundage at first, but it soon rose steadily. When you have cleaned the dumbbells to the shoulders, the palms of the hands should be facing inwards, and will remain so throughout the exercise. 

Breathing: exhale while the bells are at arms' length -- inhale while the bells are returning to the starting position. I performed 4 sets of 10 on this.

I coupled this with what is now my favorite deltoid and shoulder girdle exercise, as it also has a great effect on the traps. The Upright Rowing motion.  

This exercise can be done with dumbbells but I prefer a bar.

The bar is held at the hanging position -- grip about 6 inches between the hands, bend forward slightly from the waist, straighten up and pull the bar into the neck. 

Breathing: exhale as the bar is pulled up -- inhale as it is lowered to the hang position. 

I found that after 4 sets of dumbbell pressing that 2 sets of 10 upright rowing was severe enough.  

Now for another six months change over. I was recommended to try the Press Behind Neck, Seated. I tried it, and made more progress than on any other deltoid exercise. It knocks about 40-50 pounds off your standing press, but it's worth it. When you return to the standing press you will find yourself much stronger.  

As this was such a strict style exercise I thought I would combine it with a cheating one. So I chose the Lateral Raise and cheated on it by bending my knees and swinging the dumbbells behind my back to give them that extra pull. 

Seated pressing, 4 x 10.
Laterals, 2 x 10. 

For the last nine months my training has been very irregular so I have not altered my program, but this is what I am doing at present. 

My first exercise is the Cheating Press Behind Neck. To perform this, as the bar is lowered to the neck you bend your legs then straighten them out quickly, at the same time jerking the bar overhead, then lowering slowly. I do 3 x 10 reps for this movement. 

My second exercise is the Dumbbell Press, a strict style movement following up a cheating one. Again, 3 x 10 reps.  

Lastly, I do the Upright Row, which I consider the best all-round shoulder girdle builder. 

In this article I have put down some of the exercise combinations that I have found of benefit. If you perform them in the manner which I have recorded they should give you some favorable results. 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 




  1. As I became addicted to the iron pill at age 15 back in the primordial mists of 1971, one of my first gateway drugs was a thin paperback with a blue cover titled "Muscle Building For Beginners" by Fallon & Saunders. The cover photo of Spencer Churchill remains one of my drug flashbacks:

    1. Hello Joe! Looks like a cool book and a fine flashback, yeah! They had a copy ages ago when I was a kid combing the libraries for more musclebuilding info. You gotta love the Chapter titles back then . . . Mighty Chest . . . Monster Shoulders . . . Building Fine Thighs . . . Calf Culture . . . Super Abdominals . . . and . . . Brawny Back! Good book to have on hand!

  2. I also had a copy of the Fallon & Saunders "Muscle Building" book, and in retrospect, it depicted an earlier (more sane) time and philosophy attached to pure bodybuilding. As far as sets and reps were concerned, it was a celebration of the 3x 10 workout style. The fact that TTSDB is giving some of Britain's quality bodybuilders, aside from Reg Park, long-deserved attention is also welcome. Both UK and the United States had their icons, but both also had a vibrant "1-A" tier of greats who may or may not have gotten the universal attention they deserved.

    1. People forget that while the various "eras" of bodybuilding were going on, Silver, Gold, etc., they were happening in all different parts of the world, not just the U.S.


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