By Cavino Johnson Athletic Xtreme
Many people believe that the V-taper of a physique lies solely in the lats (latissimus dorsi). Though this has validity, the lats are just a part of what makes any physique appear to have that letter V shape. Let’s factor in the size of one’s torso and the outer pecs. But, more importantly, let’s not ever forget– the delts. Consisting of 3 “heads”, the deltoid muscles are seperated into the anterior (front), the lateral (middle, or outer), and the posterior deltoids (rear). Well developed delts will cap off any strong physique, making it look wider and stronger.
Delts are my favorite training day. I love the pump and the striations are crazy! Not to mention, the amount of work that go into them in a reletively short amount of time in the gym. Some weeks I superset or giant set during training, depending on what I need to accomplish that day. There are 5 moves I use as a base for a majority of my delts training days.
1) Barbell Overhead Press (or Military Press)
Seated, using a barbell, hand positions at about shoulder width apart, press the bar overhead from upper chest level and down. By doing these seated, you take away the momentum that may be used with the legs when standing, making this a sure way to focus on the delts. Also, use a high backed bench so that your form is steady and strong, and you’re not tempted to lean back over a lower backed chair. Most gyms have a shoulder press station equipped to utilize this exercise. Target muscles: Lateral deltoids, trapezius muscles (*Can also be done using a Smith Machine)
2) Dumbbell Overhead Press
Much like the Military Press, this is an overhead pressing motion. Using dumbbells allows for a greater range of motion, and also for isolation. Using much of the same mechanics of the Military Press, press the dumbbells overhead, not allowing for them to make contact at the top of the movement, then lower them back down. Some prefer the range of motion to begin with the upper arms parallel to the floor, which does allow for constant tension on the lateral delt heads, but some, like myself, prefer a greater range, dropping the elbows further down toward the rib cage, giving the muscles a bit of a stretch before the next contraction. Target muscles: Lateral deltoids, trapezius muscles
3) Dumbbell Front Raises
This exercise can be done seated for a more challenging movement, taking the momentum out of the equation, or it can be done standing. Holding dumbbells at your sides, palms facing the body, you may alternate the lift or raise the dumbbells, simulataneously. There are a couple of variations in the range of motion that I use in this movement. Sometimes, I may raise the dumbbell from the front of the body to slightly above the head. if you have ever watched the movie, Pumping Iron, then you have seen the legendary, Arnold Schwarzenegger, use this range. Other times, I begin the ROM, or Range of Motion, from the side of the body and lifting the dumbbells to about eye level or even higher. Both should be used, alternatively. Target muscles: Anterior (or front) deltoid *(Can also be done using cables or weight plates.)
4) Bent Over Dumbell Raises
This movement can be difficult. It’s main target is the posterior (or rear) deltoid heads. Using a weight to heavy will certainly cause one’s form to shift, therefore missing the targeted muscles, and easily becoming a lats exercise. There are several positions that the rear delts can be engaged. One being the standing version where you stand, feet together, bent at about a 90 degree angle at the waist. Begin the move with the dumbbells in hand, palms in, hanging below your torso. Simultaneously, raise both dumbbells out to your side, paying close attention to squeezing your scapulae (or shoulder blades) at the top of the movement. eliminate as much bounce as possible by keeping your core tight, chest out and head in line with your spine. There’s really no need to stare into the mirror. I promise, you will not disappear. Instead, go for the feel of the target muscles. Target muscles: Posterior deltoids, trapezius, and rhomboids *(May also be executed using cables.)
5) Shoulder Shrugs
Although the trapezius muscles are completely different than deltoids, their immediate connection can not be ignored. There’s a certain beauty in the way the traps tie into the delt heads. Don’t believe me? Check out the traps on Johnnie Jackson aka The World’s Strongest Bodybuilder. He looks like he has 3 necks. The movement of the shrug is simple and of very little ROM, but if done correctly, it does not take much. Load a barbell with adequate weight. Holding the dumbbell, which, hand positioning can be alternate to ensure complete coverage of the traps, shrug your shoulders up to your ears, squeezing then releasing back down. Repeat several times. It makes no sense to load 600lbs onto a barbell only to completley lose form and ROM. Actually, in my opinion, doing so is just asinine, and I will tell you why. Shoulder shrugs will certainly hit the trapezius muscles BUT, using to Honorable Mention Movements, the Deadlift and the Upright Row, you actually boost your traps’ growth instantly. I will warn you, though, through experience, I learned that you need to keep your head stationary. The delts to the traps, are all connecting to the neck muscles. If you’ve ever had a kink in your neck because you slept on it wrong, multiply it by 100 and that’s the pain level you get if you aren’t careful with these moves.
Check out the videos (and the bonus video below) and build those boulders.