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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO BUILDING INCREDIBLE SHOULDERS


The best thing you can do for your physique is get a set of 3D shoulders. Although they are relatively small muscle groups, neck, trap, and shoulder thickness can significantly impact the flow and balance of your physique.


Therefore, it is critical in bodybuilding to use every tool in your toolbox to create the illusion of an "X" frame. The delts are the widest points of your upper body.


Your goal is to exaggerate the size and shape of your shoulders through hard training and a diet conducive to muscle growth so that your back appears smaller.


It will be up to you to put in the effort to make it happen. Once you understand what the shoulder movers are responsible for and how to best isolate each region of the muscle group.


Because the shoulders are small muscles in comparison to many other muscle groups, you don't need to do a lot of volume per session.


They should recover quickly, allowing you to increase the number of shoulder training days you do. Hit it hard and leave the gym to begin the recovery process.


With that being said, you'll want to separate your shoulder training from your other upper body training. By doing so, you'll allow your shoulder joints to recover.


However, since your upper traps and shoulders are small muscle groups, they require minimal recovery time, even if you destroy them every workout, assuming your nutrition is perfect.


However, as you'll see later, we'll be strategically dividing our weekly training volume into two shorter, more intense training sessions spread throughout the week, allowing you enough recovery time without wasting too much time between workouts when you're breaking down muscle tissue and growing again.


THE FUNCTION OF THE SHOULDER

As you may be aware, the shoulders are a complex set of muscles that work in tandem to allow you to perform almost all upper body movements.


As a result, it stands to reason that you should understand precisely how they work to use various exercises to help you grow. We primarily desire that they grow as much as possible while remaining balanced for our purposes.


However, a more efficient function will result in better movement patterns, which will increase growth capacity internally.




Before we discuss the front, medium, and rear heads of the delts, let's talk about some of the other muscles that make up a functional shoulder.


There are supporting muscles of the shoulder that are important for a proper function to occur.


For example, the rotator cuff is in charge of your ability to reposition your shoulder to perform various movements. Because the rotator cuff is a complex of muscles that are not capable of being put under extreme loads, you should be extremely careful not to internally or externally rotate your shoulder while carrying much weight, as this is a major cause of rotator cuff injuries.

You should, however, use some light resistance to warm them up and keep them strong.


When you put your arms in position to do a military press, for example, your back muscles and rotator cuffs are in charge of externally rotating and elevating your arms.


The traps are then in charge of tracking the upper back and locking it into a safe position for pressing.


As you can see, it is also critical to have strong and stable muscles surrounding the shoulders to keep them safe while they grow.


The primary function of the front delts is flexion, which means raising your arm in front of your body, and the secondary function is raising your arm across your chest.


The middle delt abducts your arm, and the rear delt abducts your arm transversally, as in a reverse fly.


When you train, one of these muscles will be activated, allowing better joint movement and body position to target the exact area of your shoulders that is weaker and underdeveloped.



THE FULL DEVELOPMENT OF DELTOIDS


Each head of the shoulders is relatively small, so it does not require much effort to be sufficiently stimulated for growth.


The best approach to take with smaller muscle groups like these is to stimulate them every three days or so, which will allow enough time to recover, assuming your nutrition is on point, but not allowing too much time to a lapse between training sessions, so that you miss the the chance to make them grow again.


What does this look like, session by session?


That means you'll be cutting the training volume down by roughly half. But make sure your intensity is high. So push yourself to near failure, and choose 1-2 sets towards the middle or end of your workout to push past failure.


Keep your rep range for a given set between 5-20 reps; any amount of reps between 5-20 will elicit growth as long as your intensities are very high.


When it comes to the number of exercises, start with the smallest number of working sets possible.


As you progress, make you grow and add more volume until you notice that stimulation is no longer causing a growth response.


A great way to strategy is to train shoulders twice a week using two slightly different techniques.


The first day will be a heavy, fundamental day for overall mass building.


The second day will incorporate additional intensifying methods such as drop sets, supersets, and forced reps.


You are using both training types to ensure that you have a local response and a systematic, central nervous response that will allow you to increase your overall work capacity over time, as long as you're recovering adequately.


Regardless of how you divide your training throughout the week, it would be best if you aimed to complete 12-20 working sets over the course of seven days.

These can be applied to any exercise that requires you to strengthen weak areas of your shoulders.


Unless you have a significant problem area, I recommend that you continue to hit everything reasonably evenly.


If you're like many people and your rear delts are still lagging, you can add more working sets for your rear delts on your back days.


If you choose to do this, make sure you have at least 24 to 48 hours between training sessions to allow your body to recover.


You risk overturning the muscle and regressing if you don't do this.


BUILDING INCREDIBLE SHOULDERS


The shoulder-to-waist ratio is the most critical make or break for bodybuilders, followed by weak legs and a shallow back.


The following program is a no-nonsense, tried-and-true approach to building round, popping delts that will enhance the overall look of your physique.


The illusion of width, power, and further exaggeration is created by the "V" taper.


Keep that in mind as you train, and make sure you're thinking about creating a balanced, capped-off look that you like.


We will use controlled heavy movement to stimulate both the local and central nervous systems.


Today is all about getting stimulation. We'll fine-tune the shoulders with a few lighter and more specialized exercises on day two.


With each rep, it is critical to begin the movement with the muscle you want to stimulate, in an explosive fashion and resist on the eccentric portion of the lift for a two count.


This will both increase the rate at which you can contract the muscle, which is vital for strength gains and gives you enough time under tension to grow.


Ensure you're not shrugging and that your scapula is slightly retracted before performing any shoulder shrugs.


This will position your shoulders in a less vulnerable position for potential impingement.

On any shoulder isolation movement, you do not need to raise your elbows higher than your shoulder joint.


The column lists all of the working sets. You'll notice that the back off set is noted on some exercises.


This is not a drop set.


This is a set with lighter weights where you perform high reps at the same level of intensity.

These are great because if you have to hit your top with such a max effort, you won't be able to do another side, so the back off set allows you to add more volume while maintaining strict form.


While your muscles are engorged with blood, you can really feel each contraction.


Let's start pounding the iron


PROPER FORM: SHOULDER EXERCISES


Dumbbell press over the head


The ability to perform strong and safe overhead presses while keeping the shoulders down and the scapular retracted is to create stability in the shoulders.


To avoid injury, keep your abs tight throughout the exercise and always keep your elbows under the weight.


Push upward, initiating the moment with your delts once you've safely kicked the dumbbells up in the starting position.


You do not need to lock your elbows at the top because this will take the load off your delts and triceps.




LATERAL RAISE WITH A SINGLE ARM


Grab a sturdy object, such as the rail on a cable machine, and hang on so that your torso is at a slight angle. In order to stabilize, engage your abs.


Take advantage of this position's ability to use a bit more weight than usual, but don't let your form deteriorate.


Allow the dumbbell to go against gravity and then engage the medial deltoids to raise it all the way up, keeping your palm facing the floor at all times.


LATERAL RAISES, SEATED OR STANDING


This is a fantastic exercise to give yourself a quick form check. Being seated takes the momentum away from the movement, which means you'll have to do the movement more strictly.


Raise the weights while holding your chest up, so that your arms are not parallel to the floor at the top of the moment.


Excessive movements that are too high can result in impingement, which can cause shoulder pain.


Pretend you're trying to touch your knuckles to the walls as a cue for these. Think horizontally, not vertically.





REAR DELT FLY INCLINE


Lay with your chest on a 45° incline bench. Keep your elbows flared to align with your rear delts and traps, and spread your arms apart as if performing a chest fly. On this one, it's OK to keep your shoulder blades more relaxed, as this will help remove the traps and allow your rear deltoids are the muscles that engage in lifting your arms.


Throughout the movement, keep your arms as straight as possible.

PULLS ON THE FACE

Consider this a compound movement version of the rear delt fly. Pull a rope toward your face by starting the movement with your rear delts, and allowing your biceps to come in halfway through the movement to help you get your rear delts in the most shortened position.


Make sure to flare your elbows so that your rear delts get all the action, and hold the contraction for a quick one count at the top.



RAISE IN THE FRONT

Suppose you recall our previous discussion about the function of the front delts. In that case, you know that the best way to activate the most contractile tissue in the front of your shoulder is to raise your arm up in front of you, but also slightly inward.


So, when performing the front raise, bring your hand up to your shoulder height and into your body's midline. Do not lift the weight higher than the height of your shoulder, or even higher than your head. This can cause shoulder impingement, so it's best to stay safe so you can keep training without problems.



SEATED MILITARY PRESS/SMITH OHP


The smith overhead press is an excellent movement if done correctly. Keep in mind that when you get under the bar, you should be in a position where you can stay under the weight for the duration of the press.


When sitting in the smith machine, a good frame of reference is that your chin should almost graze the bar. This will allow you to push in the most natural way possible, without forcing your shoulder joint through any planes of motion that could injure it.


Maintain a shoulder-width grip with your elbows directly into the bar. Locking your elbows at the top is unnecessary because it takes the load off the delts and shortens the time your muscles are under tension.





Your workouts should always be tailored to your specific goals, experience, and other relevant considerations such as your body type and current training.

If your looking to take your body to the next level, When I design your program, I carefully craft it so that it is accurate, enjoyable and extremely effective for YOU.

No more guessing. No more program hopping. It’s time to get your best body.


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About

My name is Steven Goldstein

With over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry, I have worked with clients of all ages and fitness levels. From professional athletes to individuals aiming to lose weight, I have helped countless people achieve their goals and improve their overall health through customized training and nutrition plans.

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Consistency leaves clues

Hundreds of clients of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities have put their health in our hands over the years and achieved truly remarkable results. 

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