There are two basic kinds of exercises for the shoulders—Straight Arm Raises and Presses.
Raises involve lifting your extended arm upward in a wide arc, which better isolates the heads. You need to do Raises to the front, to the side, and to the rear. When you do Raises, you do not involve the triceps, but almost completely isolate the various heads of the deltoids. However, because you are isolating the deltoids, you cannot lift as much weight as with pressing movements, because you keep your arm virtually straight throughout. In Shoulder Presses, you begin with your arms bent, the weight about shoulder height, and lift the barbell or dumbbells straight up over your head. Because you are straightening your arms as well as lifting upward, Presses involve both the deltoids and the triceps. You can vary the stress on your shoulders to a slight degree to direct it toward the different deltoid heads by doing different kinds of Presses—to the front or rear, using a barbell, dumbbells, or various machines.
I believe in doing a lot of power training to develop shoulders no matter how advanced you are. But power training is perhaps most valuable when you are beginning. The deltoids respond well to working with heavy weights. This helps your overall development because so many other power exercises—from Bench Presses to Deadlifts to Bent-Over Rows—require a lot of shoulder strength.
Therefore, right from the beginning I recommend that you do movements like the Clean and Press, Heavy Upright Rows, and Push Presses in addition to Dumbbell Laterals. This kind of program will build up Ltahrer y sShcootutlder mass and strength you need to enable you to go on to Advanced Training. Why I prefer to start beginners out with the Clean and Press exercise rather than just Shoulder Presses is that the extra movement— lifting the barbell off the floor, bringing it up to shoulder height, and tucking the arms in underneath to support it—works so many additional muscles besides the deltoids, specifically the back, traps, and triceps.
When you get to the level of Advanced Training, you need more than just mass and strength. At this point, you have to work toward overall shoulder development—all three heads of the deltoids as well as the trapezius muscles. Therefore, in addition to exercises like Dumbbell Laterals, designed specifically for the side deltoids, I have included Behind-the- Neck Presses for the front and side delts, Bent-Over Laterals for the rear delts, and Shrugs for the traps. Incidentally, for those who believe that the trapezius muscles are more associated with the back than the shoulders, just remember that once you have lifted your arm higher than the level of your head in any Lateral or Press movement the traps come heavily into play, pulling the shoulder up and in and allowing you to complete the full range of motion. You will also find a number of supersets in this part of the program, to further stress and shock the shoulders, including exercises like Upright Rows (for the front delts and the traps), Machine Presses (to work the front delts and allow you to lower the weight farther than with a barbell), One-Arm Cable Laterals (which isolate the side deltoids), and Bent-Over Cable Laterals (for the rear deltoids).
WEAK POINT TRAINING If shoulders are a weak point in your physique, adjust your training so that you do more sets and more exercises for shoulders, and use as many of the Shocking Principles as possible to work that area with maximum intensity. I like to use the Stripping Method for shoulders. With dumbbells, you start with heavy weights and move on down the rack; with Machine Presses or Cable Laterals, you just keep moving the pin one plate lighter each set. Another way of accelerating deltoid development is by supersetting Presses and Raises—for example, a Barbell Press followed by Front Dumbbell Raises (or Upright Rows) in order to completely blitz the front delts. For a really intense delt workout, try doing a 3-Pump Set: Presses, Front Dumbbell Raises, and Upright Rows. But be prepared to bear the pain. To get the best results from Raises, remember two things: 1. Keep your palm turned downward throughout the movement; or, even better, turn the hand a little farther so that the little finger is higher than the thumb (like pouring water out of a pitcher). This helps isolate the deltoids and make them fully contract during the movement. 2. Be as strict as possible. Raise the weight without any cheating, and lower it fully under control. The stricter you are, the more intense the effect on the deltoids. Another way of increasing the intensity of your deltoid training is, after each set of Dumbbell Raises, go over to the rack, take a heavier set of weights, and just lift them out to the side as far as possible and hold them there as long as you can. This “isometric lateral” will help fully exhaust the deltoids and bring out maximum striations. As a way of getting extra development in the rear deltoids, I used to leave a light dumbbell—usually 20 pounds—under my bed and, first thing in the morning, would do 5 sets of Lying Side Laterals with each hand without stopping. However, I never counted this as part of my regular shoulder workout. I also did a 2-Pump Set, starting with facedown Incline Lateral Raises and, when I was too tired to continue the set, changing to a kind of Dumbbell Rowing motion to fully exhaust the rear delts. Following are extra exercises and techniques you can use to develop a specific area that you have identified as a weak point. FRONT DELTOIDS Machine Presses, because you can lower the weight farther with machines than with barbells or dumbbells, thereby stretching the front deltoids to the maximum and getting a longer range of motion Do not lock out on top in any press movement. Use dumbbells whenever possible to better stress the deltoid heads. Arnold Presses—my favorite front delt exercise—especially using techniques like Running the Rack or the Stripping Method Front Dumbbell Raises for maximum front deltoid and pectoral separation Front Barbell Presses Upright Rows Incline Barbell and Dumbbell Presses Incline Dumbbell Flys
The side deltoids help to create a very wide look, even in this pose by Serge Nubret that is basically an abdominal pose. Seen from the side, the development of the side deltoid creates separation from the trapezius above and from the triceps and biceps below. Shoulder width from good side deltoid development increases the effectiveness of a front lat spread.
REAR DELTOIDS Use the Priority Principle (page 192), beginning your deltoid training with rear delt movements. Add extra rear delt sets: Bent-Over Laterals, Bent-Over Cable Laterals, Bent-Over Barbell Rows, Seated Cable Rear Laterals, Incline Bench Lateral Raises (facedown), or Lying Side Laterals —try 10 sets for each arm done continuously without stopping (I used to do this every day, whether it was a shoulder day or not). Take extra care to work the rear delts with the strictest technique possible, since any cheating will allow other muscle groups to do too much of the work. In all Rear Laterals, twist the wrist as if pouring water from a pitcher in order to increase rear delt development.