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Thread: Shoulder Training

  1. #1

    Default Shoulder Training

    To train the shoulder,we must first know what the "shoulders" do.The shoulders are made up of three separate heads,the anterior (front) lateral (side) and posterior (rear).The function of these are to raise the arms to the front,side and rear.There is also the rotator cuff.The rotator cuff is a group of flat tendons which fuse together and surround the front, back, and top of the shoulder joint like a cuff on a shirt sleeve. These tendons are connected individually to short, but very important, muscles that originate from the scapula. When the muscles contract, they pull on the rotator cuff tendon, causing the shoulder to rotate upward, inward, or outward, hence the name "rotator cuff." Most shoulder injuries are related to these tendons.

    Shoulder Presses.This exercise allows you to use a lot of weight,primarily because your triceps are doing the bulk of the work.This is because your shoulders do not straighten your arms,obviously.A percentage of the weight is transfered to the shoulder and that is why you get results.The shoulders are relatively small,and don't need a lot of weight.I use a move that is like a shoulder "flye".This allows you to use more weight than you can use for a "raise".This is due to having more leverage.

    To perform this,take two dumbells of moderate weight.Support your body by leaning your thighs against the dumbell rack.Raise the dbs,as if you were going to press them.Your upper arms are parallel to the floor,with your forearms bent at a 90 degree angle.Your palms face forward.The inside ends of the dbs are lower than the outside ends.Now,without straightening your arms,raise the dbs,using the lateral head.The angle between your upper arm and forearm remains 90 degrees.The dbs will move closer to one another.

    Here I would like to make a point.Once the lateral head is contracted to it's maximum,that is the end of the range of motion(ROM).This move is an overhead flye.I recommend starting your workout with this.

    Lateral Raise
    One of the basic principles of my method is to keep a constant tension on the muscle being targeted.Another is to initiate the move using the target muscle.For a lateral (side) raise.Take a light db.Keep your shoulder girdle DOWN.Contract the lateral head,and from that contraction your arm will rise to the side.Under control.No momentum.Once your muscle is contracted to the fullest,that's it.DO NOT raise it further.That would involve the trapezius,a brutally strong muscle ,that is not invited to the party.
    Lower,under control,only to a point where you feel the tension leaving the muscle.Now, WILL your arm up again,squeezing the side head to it's maximum.Keep your pinky up as if pouring a glass of water.If you simply must have some "advanced" info,try cocking your wrist back and imagine "pushing" your hand out,directly from your shoulder,as if you had no arm.Use a weight that you can get 10 reps with and do 15,NO MATTER WHAT.Then using the same weight pump out 15 one-handed overhead flyes.Fun stuff.

    Rear Raise
    As with the lateral head,the rear head functions similiarly to a hinge,with your upper arm being the "door".If you observe most people doing bent-over raises,you will soon notice that they are using a lot of weight,and squeezing their shoulder blades together.Your rear delts do not squeeze your shoulder blades together.Your rhomboids do.Again,some of the weight is transferred and that's why they work.I focus all my energy on the muscle being trained.If you hold a piece of paper in the sunlight,will it catch fire?I doubt it.If you focus the sun's rays with a magnifying glass? I believe in focussing all my energy,physical and mental on the muscle I'm training.
    I do these one arm at a time,as with the lateral raise.Bent over,sitting or kneeling on a bench,hold a light db out to the side.Follow all the directions given for the lateral raise,this time raising the arm to the rear.The "flyes" in this case could consist of doing traditional bent-over raises.This would amount to a "pre-exhaust" where the rhomboids would force the tired rear delts to perform more work.This is optional and I don't do it.

    Front Raises
    There are many factors that may predispose one person to impingement and rotator cuff problems. The most common is the shape and thickness of the acromion (the bone forming the roof of the shoulder). If the acromion has a bone spur on the front edge, it is more likely to impinge on the rotator cuff when the arm is elevated forward. Activities which involve forward elevation of the arm may put an individual at higher risk for rotator cuff injury.If you have cuff problems,you may wish to consider this.
    I personally don't train front delts,for several reasons which I don't need to go into to.If you want to do front raises,the basic idea is the same as the other raises.Once again,the muscle is a hinge.Initiate the move with the muscle.Keep constant tension on the muscle.Don't use momentum.

    I'm not saying not to do military presses,etc.I assume most people are familiar with these.I'm just trying to bring some things that I find effective,that people may not be aware of.One thing about the miltary press that I would say is that if you do these behind the neck,do not go lower than the middle of your head.This places you shoulder in a most precarious position that could be trouble if you're using a lot of weight.I prefer to do these to the front.

  2. #2
    Twistdenigma Guest


    As usual SYL, great read. My only issue is with the lateral raises. I have always read that these are a poor excercise for the shoulders because there is not enough resistance while lowering the weight. I've always been led to believe that it is just as important to place emphasis on the eccentric contractions as well as the concentric. What are your thoughts?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2002


    up you go

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by Twistdenigma
    As usual SYL, great read. My only issue is with the lateral raises. I have always read that these are a poor excercise for the shoulders because there is not enough resistance while lowering the weight. I've always been led to believe that it is just as important to place emphasis on the eccentric contractions as well as the concentric. What are your thoughts?
    You have been led correctly,my friend.I left out some things that I will address now.I use the lateral raise to train the most contracted portion of the rep,ie: constant tension.I believe that it is the "time under tension " that matters more than number of reps.IMO,45 sec. is about right.Therefore,since most exercises don't maintain a constant tension throughout the full ROM,I only perform the portion of any particular exercise that maintains a fair degree of tension on the muscle.
    Even though I lower the weight slowly,and keep a constant degree of tension,there is not a lot of trauma,due to the relatively light weight.The "advanced" tip I gave does help with this somewhat...
    So,what we need to find is a way to put a high degree of stress on the lateral head in the "stretched" position.Hmmmm....let's see.
    Stand at a low pulley station.If you can raise the pulley to mid-thigh position,this will put a more direct "line of force" on the target.Alternately,you could kneel.You want your arm behind you,rather than in front,as it's usually done.Try to position yourself to get as much pre-stretch as possible.Now,initiate the movement using only the target.No jerking and no raising of the shoulder girdle.You will reach a point where you feel the resistance leaving the muscle.Stop.Now s l o w l y lower the weight while attempting to keep some tension on the target.Struggle with it all the way to where it is behind you,stretched to the max.Don't twist your body to make it easier.You should be able to use more weight on this move,causing sufficient micro-trauma to elicit the adaptive response.Also the "flyes" I mentioned should be sufficiently heavy,as well.

    I have something nice and heavy for the rear delts,and I can't believe I forgot this.This is another little treasure I got from John Parillo.
    Sit on a bench at a pulley row station.If you have one meant to hit the lower lats,iene that has the pulley higher than usual,relative to the bench,use that.Holding a "triceps rope" with your palms facing each other,initiate the move by drawing the shoulders back,without bending the arms.This pre-contracts the rhomboids,effectively taking them out of it.
    Now,holding the rope,bring the BACK of your hands to your forehead.There's really only one way to do this,so that should be sufficient direction.As you lower the weight,again turn the palms to face each other.As you start to get tired,it's okay to loosen up your form somewhat and use a bit of momentum,but no more than necessary.My general philosophy on shoulders is 15 ,no matter what.This not withstanding what I said earlier about time under tension.I consider 45 sec to be a minimum effective amount.On the exercises I've mentioned,I generally do 2 dropsets,for a total of 3 sets of 15,no matter what.This was actually a recommendation from Dave Fischer,if anyone remembers him.Anyway,I like it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2003


    in other words that last rear delt exercise you speak of would be the same as face pulls?
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Redmond, WA


    So like this?

    Except that you take your rhomboids out by pulling your shoulders back first.

  7. #7


    It's similiar to that,except that he's not bringing the BACKS of his hands to his FOREHEAD,which lifts your elbows higher and puts the stress more directly on the rear delts.Also,bring the elbows as far back as possible.

  8. #8


    I should actually say the back of the hands to the temples,and it's not really that the elbows are higher.The upper arm is rotated with the palms facing forward,rather than down.I feel this a lot more.Try it both ways and see what you think.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Limassol, Cyprus


    I don't believe that the guy in the picture of "face pulls" is doing them correctly. The rope should be between his fingers and (as SYL said) the backs of his hands should come to his face. The spot on the face varies with each individual as well...takes time to find the right spot for YOU. Make sure that the elbows are high.

    Any of you guys ever do any overhead pressing with your palms facing? I have a 6" log that works great for overheads. Not only do the delts press up but they also press back a little causing more of a delt contraction upon lockout (extension).

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  10. #10


    good info in here, thanks SYL and Bfold & others. I learned how to improve my technique on those pulls. I was going past my head just like that picture. I did not elevate my elbows and pull to my face or temples. I appreciate that, especially since my shoulders often hurt after and during work outs.


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