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Shoulder Development

Articles by Vince Gironda

Balanced Deltoid Development
(IronMan Magazine Jan 1977 Vol. 36 No. 2)

Was there ever a hero who didn't have broad shoulders?

Remember that the shoulders are a three headed muscle. The front, side and rear deltoid heads are joined around the shoulder area to form a rounded, melonlike mass.

For full development, each head has to be trained individually with specific exercises.


The most overworked muscle is the Front Deltoid (presses); bringing out this aspect of the Deltoid does not add to your width, it only makes you look thicker! How do you develop the lateral head of the Deltoid? Lateral Raises. However Lateral Raises improperly performed develops Front Deltoid. the proper way to bring out the Side Strand is to start the Lateral Raise touching dumbbells in front of the thighs with all four bells touching; elbows slightly bent and raise to the side, keeping the weights in front of the body all the way up to ear level (no higher).

Now for the most important part of the movement: The Front Bell must be lower than the Rear Bell. f the Front Bell is higher you are working the overworked Front Deltoid again. Remember, all bench presses and dumbbells work with the dumbbells held with palms facing the lower body are 90 degree Front Deltoid.

Another aspect of Laterals is to round your shoulders forward and also use your elbows as a concentration point. In other words, lead with your elbows - and last, but not least - keep your knees slightly bent during the exercise. And always work in front of a mirror to catch any flaws in your performance.

Seated laterals
(Musclemag Magazine October 1988)

Vince, I can't seem to feel my side head of the delt work when I do standing lateral raises. I try turning the wrists but as the weights get heavier, I don't seem to be able to isolate the side head. Any suggestions?

I recommend you do the lateral raise seated. This is my version of one of the fastest developers of the outside head of the deltoid. This movement cups the lateral strand and brings it to prominence.

Here is how to perform this great movement.

Sit on the end of a flat workout bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Lean forward from the hips and touch both ends of the dumbbells together under the thighs; always touch all four bells under the legs and keep the upper body in the proper position to keep the stress on the lateral head.

Hold your forward position of your body as you raise the dumbbells upward to head height. When the dumbbells reach head height or the top of the movement, be sure the back of each bell is higher than the front. This insures the side or lateral strand of receiving maximum stimulation. Try four sets of 8-12 reps, with no more than 30 seconds rest between sets.

(Musclemag Oct'84)

You seldom recommend pressing movements for the deltoids (shoulders) yet I have noticed that a great number of Olympic lifters of the past who did presses had really great deltoids, and even present lifters who do jerks have huge shoulders. Are you against pressing for shoulder development?

I must admit that I have not got results from pressing, and certainly prefer more isolation-type exercises such as lateral raise for deltoid development. Larry Scott did use a type of pressing movement very successfully. He used dumbells but maintained a constant tension on the deltoids by not "locking out" at the top of the pressing movement. This exercise became known as the Scott Press and later was adopted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and consequently the movement is also known as the Arnold Press.

You mention that Olympic lifters who jerk heavy weights tend to have large deltoids. Has it not occurred to you that they also clean the weight to the shoulders before jerking it? I have great respect for the wide grip upright row motion (a strict form of cleaning a barbell). Use this exercise in your shoulder training routine and see those deltoids grow!

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