Building Massive, Powerful Shoulders

The goal of most bodybuilders is to build really massive shoulders. They don’t care how, just as long as they have shoulders so wide that they have to widen their doorways to walk through!
Unfortunately, this is just about all the average bodybuilder knows about the deltoids. Most are completely unaware of the three heads of the deltoid and how to develop each one. They are:

The Anterior, or frontal deltoid
The Lateral, or side deltoid
The Posterior, or rear deltoid

The lateral is the most popular deltoid head, as it is the one that contributes the most to shoulder width. Steve Reeves was one of the leading proponents of developing this muscle. He used to do Inclined Side Laterals until the area almost burst with blood!

Although the lateral head of the deltoid is the most popular of three, it is not the one worked the most… the anterior head gets that honor. Sounds rather confusing, doesn’t it? Well, the answer lies in both the fact that Dips, Presses and Bench Presses work the anterior head very strongly, and also the fact that most bodybuilders simply use improper form in doing their lateral deltoid work.

Finally we come to the posterior deltoid. This neglected muscle hardly gets any work at all, it’s just left to fend for itself, growing through auxiliary exercises alone.

Yet this lowly muscle is extremely important in developing depth in the shoulder region, because without it the shoulder will appear flat from the side. And, it appears flat because that’s just exactly what it is: flat.

There used to be a saying around Vince’ Gironda. s Gym… “Sure, he looks good from the front but is he a surfboard?” You’ve all seen surfboards, or pictures of them… they are wide and very, very flat. A “surfboard” bodybuilder is just the same… wide, but flat. They have no posterior deltoids at all. If you want this thin and round-shouldered appearance, OK, but if you want the well-rounded look of a champion, then posterior deltoid work is a real must.

The trouble encountered in deltoid work is complex and requires a real study of the movement of each individual head of the deltoid throughout an exercise motion. As mentioned before, the anterior deltoid is usually worked while the trainee is allegedly bombing his lateral deltoid head. The reason for this is the position of the elbows… it takes only a slight shift in their angle to transfer the stress of the exercise to the wrong deltoid head.

To help correct this, you should watch the movement of the muscle as you are working it. This is one time to really use the mirror and watch the three heads and make sure you are properly working the muscle.


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