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Shoulder Workout
by Anthony Millar of dotfitness.co.uk

It could be argued that the shoulders also represent an attractive muscle group to have developed. ‘Shoulders maketh the man’ as the saying goes. It is true that they do symbolise a very masculine image. Evidence of which can be found in the form of shoulder pads in suits etc, which gift the body with a more powerful, aurthoritive look. However the impressive effect they can have on any physique is rarely realised as shoulder training is rarely done correctly or entirely neglected. The shoulder girdle is made up of a variety of muscles, some of which are best trained with the back, this is the case with the trapezius muscles which are situated above the collar bone and go as far down as the centre of the back. The muscles that we are going to concentrate on are the anterior deltoids (front part of shoulder), posterior deltoids (back of shoulder) and finally the medial deltoids (situated at the side of the shoulder). The shoulders are best trained all in one workout, as this will encourage greater intensity.

1. The Shoulder Press. 2 Warm-up Sets. 4 Working sets.
20 repetitions of 10% of 1 rep max.
20 repetitions of 20% of 1 rep max.
1. 10 repetitions of 50% of 1 rep max.
2. 8 repetitions of 70% of 1 rep max.
3. 6-8 repetitions of 80% of 1 rep max.
4. 3-4 repetitions of 90% of 1 rep max.

Description: This is the most compound of all shoulder exercises and should be performed first in 3 out of every 4 workouts. On the 4th session begin with the side laterals, (mentioned later) before any type of pressing. This will pre-exhaust the shoulders so that the assisting muscles such as the triceps will not limit the amount of reps, as they tend to fatigue faster. The side laterals require little to no work from the triceps, so that they are fresh for the challenge of pressing. This exercise can be performed using either a barbell or dumbbells in a standing or seated position (90 degree back support). Be sure to swap and alternate the way in which you complete this exercise in order to provide constant shock to the muscles. At dot-fitness we personally prefer using dumbbells in a seated position but we also acknowledge the importance of the other varieties. This exercise directly stresses the anterior deltoid . It also calls upon the trapezius and the triceps for assistance, because of this they can be referred to in this instance as ancillary muscles.

Technique: This exercise is best performed using ‘free weights’ which always raises issues of technique. If possible also wear a weight lifting belt for this exercise as this will help keep the lower back well supported, avoiding any needless injuries. Start with the weight directly above the head, with elbows slightly bent. Slowly lower the weight, whilst breathing in (if using a bar lower in front of face). Bring the dumbbells/barbells all the way down, so that they are roughly in line with the chin. Once this full range of motion is achieved contract the muscles as you breath out, returning the weight to the original starting position. Always keep your back straight and your head in line, if these small points are neglected you could well suffer.

Intensity: This is a real compound movement, which will help you gain mass in the predominant bulk head of the shoulder. However, once you have mastered the correct technique there is absolutely no reason why you cannot include rest-pause as a sure way to pump more blood into the shoulder region. Although it would be wise for now just to concentrate on reducing the time taken to recover between sets, from the usual 3 minutes to the intenser 2 minutes (over first 3 weeks).

2. Front Lateral Raises. 2 Working Sets.
1. 16 single-arm raises of 60% of 1 rep max.
2. 16 single-arm raises of 60% of 1 rep max.

Description: This exercise is a more isolating one, which has been included to ensure the full breakdown of the anterior deltoids. Although these muscles represent the largest of this particular workout, it is wise only to include 2 working sets as 4 working sets of correct pressing will do a considerable amount of damage. This exercise can be performed with the use of dumbbells or barbells, may we recommend using the opposite apparatus to which the shoulder presses were conducted. For example, a straight bar press is better followed by dumbbell lateral raises.

Technique: The technique for this exercise is pretty much the same for dumbbells as it is for using a barbell. However it has been generally recommended that the dumbbells are best raised once at a time. Start in a standing position with the palms of your hands against the top of your thigh. Breathe out as you raise the weight to roughly six inch above eye level keeping your palms in the same position. It is of vital importance that the elbows are only slightly bent as this provides the range of motion which directly stresses the posterior deltoid. Inhale as the weight is slowly lowered in much the same fashion (one at a time for dumbbells). If done correctly this should provide a fantastic burning sensation across the fronts of the shoulder, which is a sure sign of effective technique.

Intensity: As stated before concentrate on lowering your resting time from 3 minutes to 2 over the initial 3 week period. Although once you have done this and can perform with relative ease include a single ’drop-set’ (see article on intensity). This will undoubtedly take the muscle to exertion, and encourage new growth and development.

3. The Side Laterals. 4 Working Sets.
1. 10 repetitions of 50% 0f 1 rep max.
2. 8 repetitions of 60% of 1 rep max.
3. 8 repetitions of 60% of 1 rep max.
4. 6 repetitions of 60% of 1 rep max.

Description: The side laterals are the main exercise responsible for breaking down the medial head (sides) of the shoulders. This exercise alone has the ability to add an immense amount of width to any physique. No shoulder routine is fully complete without the inclusion of this exercise, it really is that good. The side laterals are best performed using dumbbells and can either start off a workout (if pre-exhausting) of immediately follow the more compound pressing/isolating movements of the posterior deltoids.

Technique: Although this exercise is undoubtedly a great asset as regards the development of the shoulders it has to be said that no fewer than 9 out of 10 people execute this exercise wrongly. This is what happens when a free weight movement also happens to be an isolating one, so much emphasis needs to be placed on technique. We cannot advise enough how the weight of these dumbbells should play a secondary role to the much more important technique. The trick is to know that the medial heads are infact very small muscles and masses of weight are simply not required to significantly break them down. Start in either a seated or standing position (feet roughly shoulder width apart) with the weights hanging by the side of your hips with the palms facing inward, not at the front of your body. Exhale as you slowly raise the weights directly outward to your sides. Keep the elbows slightly bent and do not allow them to drop below the level of your hand. Raise the weights to approx. eye level, during the last six inches of this phase raise your little fingers above your thumbs. This is a great way to squeeze more blood into the target area. This just about concludes the concentric phase of the movement. The eccentric phase (the lowering of the weights) should be performed in exactly the same manner only this time taking a deep breath in. Do not allow any unwanted movement in the legs or back, as your body will want to cheat and encourage these muscles to assist with the lifts. Finally keep your head in line and your back straight, which always sets up a safe exercise environment.

Intensity: This is one exercise which you can really throw the book at with regards to intensity. As soon as you have mastered this tricky form and reduced your resting times from 3 minutes to 2 minutes experiment with the whole range of recommended intensity techniques to see which ones provide you with the best results.

4. Bent Over Rear Lateral Raises. 3 Working Sets.
No Warm-up Required.
1. 10 repetitions of 50% 0f 1 rep max.
2. 8 repetitions of 60% of 1 rep max.
3. 8 repetitions of 60% of 1 rep max.

Description: The development of the rear heads of the shoulders can be developed by a variety of ways. When training the back for example, stress is placed upon these muscles when ‘chinning’ and performing the bent-over rows. That is why only 3 working sets are needed and in your case are best performed with the use of dumbbells.

Technique: This represents a serious issue for this exercise as the correct technique can actually make breathing slightly uncomfortable. Start this exercise by sitting right at the edge of the bench, so that there is just enough of your gluteus muscles (bottom) to ensure adequate balance. Sit with your knees inline with your hips and your feet inline with your knees. Then bend over to the point where the chest is approx 8 inch above your thighs. It is important to keep the upper body in this position throughout the duration of the exercise. Begin the lift by holding the dumbbells directly under the hamstrings (back of leg). Exhale as you raise the weights, to the level of your head keeping the body relatively motionless and the elbows only slightly bent. This allows for a fuller contraction of the rears. Then slowly lower the weights in the same controlled fashion as they were originally lifted.

Intensity: Concentrate solely on mastering the tricky technique before reducing the rest times to 2 minutes from 3. As this movement concludes your workout you are likely to be feeling the effects of fatigue. Reduced resting times as well as good form plus the involvement of the rears in most back movements is adequate enough.

In conclusion then this workout is aimed at the average person who wishes to add muscularity to the shoulder girdle. Please note that over time these muscles will adapt to the various stimuli so therefore it is essential that both the weights and movements are constantly changed. The weights for example should be slightly increased when the final set can be performed with perfect technique for more than the designated number of repetitions. As for the movements stick to the designated number but every now and again include, different forms of pressing, from different angles. Also experiment with intensity techniques (see article on intensity). Remember to make each workout slightly different to the previous one ensuring constant stimulation to the working muscles. Make each rep and each set count, this way the muscles will continually be broken down, to the level that is necessary.

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