BOULDERS SHOULDERS ( 6 GREAT SHOULDER) : EXERCISES YOU’RE NOT DOING
Bitter truth: we’re not born with genetically large deltoids. Thankfully, that does not necessarily mean you can’t work your way to create massive defined shoulders. Shoulders can really draw attention to the arms and the chest, and when developed symmetrically, the tie in between the muscle groups gives the physique that artistic quality. Massive shoulders are a staple if you want to build that sought after X frame, and trust us, you want that X frame.
Orthodox workouts are great to get you started, but it is important to step things up. If you’ve been following the same old routine and not seeing results, perhaps it’s time to work some of these novel exercises into your delt workout.
Leaning Dumbbell Lateral Raise
This is a single-joint movement for the middle delts in which the range of motion is slightly redefined. Leaning away from a stationary post increases the middle delt head’s time under tension. That’s because when done standing, the first 15-30 degrees are governed by the supraspinatus of the rotator, but now that you’re leaning, you remove the supraspinatus and engage the middle head right from the start. By the time you reach shoulder level or higher, you’ve stimulated the middle delt head fibers through a greater range of motion than you can during the standard version.
The Move: While maintaining the torso in a stationary position (no swinging), lift the dumbbells to your side with a slight bend on the elbow and the hands slightly tilted forward as if pouring water in a glass. Continue to go up until you arms are parallel to the floor. Exhale as you execute this movement and pause for a second at the top. Lower the dumbbells back down slowly to the starting position as you inhale.
Kettlebell Shoulder to Shoulder Press
This is a multijoint movement that emphasizes the front and middle delts, alternating the stress from one side to the other on consecutive reps. This exercise can also be performed using a dumbbell. This exercise works the shoulders a bit differently because your shoulders are somewhat forward
of your body rather than out to the sides. You also get a bit of core work because the weight is offset. It also shifts the weight such that one arm is the primary mover and the other is secondary, whereas for the next rep it’s reversed. That creates a different stimulus where it’s not a one-arm or two- arm press—it’s somewhere in between.
The move: Hold the kettlebell with your thumbs hooked around the handle at your right shoulder with your elbows underneath it. Press it above your head, then lower it to your other shoulder, then reverse it. The motion is in the shape of a triangle.
Single Arm Landmine Press
This is a single-arm (unilateral) multijoint overhead press that emphasizes the front and middle delts. It is a fun effective substitute for the overhead presses. The main reason being, that some people find it painful to these overhead presses. Also, the repetitive nature of going directly overhead can inflict cumulative damage to shoulder joints. And because you are only pressing one side, you are off-center and that helps you activate your core.
The Move: If your gym doesn’t have a landmine installed, wrap a towel around the end of a barbell and wedge it into a corner. Load the bar to an appropriate weight and raise the bar from the floor, taking it to your shoulders with one or both hands. Adopt a wide stance. This will be your starting position. Perform the movement by extending the elbow, pressing the weight up. Move explosively, extending the hips and knees fully to produce maximal force and return to the starting position.
Landmine Shoulder to Shoulder Press
This is a multijoint movement that emphasizes the front and middle delts, alternating the stress from one side to the other. Instead of using just one side at a time during the movement as with the single-arm landmine press, you’re using both arms, pressing up to your midline and then lowering to the opposite side. Here, you’re doing a triangle motion again. You still have an offset load, but you’re not pressing it vertically. The load is pressed in more of a diagonal fashion and back and forth between sides.
The move: Load the bar to an appropriate weight and raise the bar from the floor, taking it to your shoulders with one or both hands. Adopt a wide stance and grip the bar with both hands while keeping the weight on one shoulder. This will be your starting position. Perform the movement by extending the elbow, pressing the weight up and shifting it to your other shoulder. Move explosively, to do a triangular motion then repeat to finish a rep.
High-incline Shoulder Press
This is a multijoint overhead press that emphasizes the rear and middle delts. You won’t find many (if any) shoulder presses that recruit the rear delts as a primary mover, but here’s one. Set the incline bench to a steep angle, and lie prone against it (chest facing the bench), performing a shoulder press. It really engages the rear delts along with the middle and upper traps.
The Move: Set the incline bench to a steep angle, and lie prone against it (chest facing the bench). Place the dumbbells upright on top of your thighs. Now raise the dumbbells to shoulder height one at a time using your thighs to help propel them up into position. Make sure to rotate your wrists so that the palms of your hands are facing forward. This is your starting position. Now, exhale and push the dumbbells upward until they touch at the top. Then, after a brief pause at the top contracted position, slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position while inhaling.
Bent-Over Rear-Delt Fly With Neutral, Offset Grip
This is a single-joint movement for the rear delts that brings a variation to the bent-over lateral raises. A recent study showed that the EMG activity for the posterior deltoid and infraspinatus was greatest when performing a reverse fly with a neutral hand position (palms facing each other) compared to a pronated (palms-down) grip. By gripping the dumbbell such that your pinkies butt against the inside plates forces you to resist shoulder internal rotation by using more of your posterior delts as external rotators. That creates higher activity for the rear delts.
The Move: Stand with your legs shoulder width apart. Bend at the waist while keeping the back straight in order to pick up the dumbbells. The palms of your hands should be facing each other as you pick them. Grip the dumbbell such that your pinkies butt against the inside plates. This will be your starting position.
Keeping your torso forward and stationary, and the arms slightly bent at the elbows, lift the dumbbells straight to the side until both arms are parallel to the floor. Exhale as you lift the weights. (Note: avoid swinging the torso or bringing the arms back as opposed to the side.) After a one second contraction at the top, slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.