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[ Top 100 training tips ] -[ Programs] -[ Coach Ron explains ]



1. Warm up thoroughly.
The importance of stretching and rotating your shoulders through all planes of motion before a challenging workout cannot be over-emphasized. A supple, flexible shoulder responds better to resistance training and helps prevent injury.

2. Favor dumbbell work over barbell work when pressing.
Though I incorporate overhead barbell press motions as a foundation to most shoulder routines, dumbbell work is slightly more favorable in terms of rounding the deltoid. Perhaps this is because the range of motion is longer and more exaggerated. By using dumbbells, the shoulder itself may be working harder to get the wrists to the top of the motion. The result is a deeper fiber stimulation or "burn." Don't work this motion too heavy; excess poundage exposes the rotator cuff to injury.

3. Concentrate on lowering the weight slowly.
The lowering of the weight ("eccentric" motion) should be strict and slow. Controlling the weight on the way down forces the deep muscle fibers to work; you get more out of the motion. The old Nautilus adage of "two seconds to lower, one second to push" is still applicable.

4. When pushing the weight through a press, concentrate on contracting the deltoids.
Even seasoned weight trainers can push too quickly through the contraction phase of the overhead dumbbell press. This phase, also known as "positive" or "concentric" is essential to performing correctly, especially for building wide shoulders. If you don't concentrate on using the deltoid to raise the weight overhead, a ton of accessory muscles will gladly do the work for your delts.

5. Find intensity when doing dumbbell side lateral raises.
Make sure you're working hard on this motion. Often, inexperienced lifters think they're training hard, but work to failure because the weight is too heavy, not because of muscular fatigue. Pick a weight that lets you feel the intense burn of the muscle. A small five-pound increase on lateral raise can take the burn right out of the delts and leave you feeling nothing. One trick is to find the proper weight for dumbbell side lateral raises, stick with it for multiple sets, and let the fatigue and burn catch up.

6. Put your time into doing cable work.
Cable side lateral raises are outstanding in terms of continuous tension on the delts, if your body position is correct. Unlike dumbbells, which exert resistive force in the direction of gravity, cable motions can be positioned in such a way that resistive force is always opposite the direction of the deltoid contraction. I prefer single arm raises as opposed to both arms at the same time. I do these in variety of ranges of motion, incorporating not only side delts, but also rear and front delt tie-ins.

7. Vary your wrist position when doing side lateral raises.
Slight variations in wrist position can dramatically alter the feel you get in the area of the side deltoid (where development is key to wide shoulders). By turning wrists either upward into flexion, the degree to which you'll fell a "capping" of your side deltoids will change. The reason probably has to do with rotation of the elbow, but it's a difficult concept to teach without being with you. So, alter your wrist position, allowing your elbow to rotate either down or up, whichever is comfortable. With time, you'll find the position that digs deepest into delts.

8. Contract your deltoids hard at the end of each set.
One of the quickest ways to achieve sculptured and striated deltoids is to strongly contract them between sets. Stretch arms out to the sides with hands a little higher than the level of your elbows; keep shoulders back and chest forward. Squeeze your deltoids. This maximum contraction should be achieved with minimal arm movement. It's a matter of concentration; though you tend to sacrifice some degree of strength as a result of muscular fatigue from this kind of intense contraction, the results can be rapid an staggering.

9. Avoid overtraining.
Too many sets or simply hitting a shoulder workout with too much frequency is the surest way to limit development and predispose you to injury. As a rule, training shoulders more than twice a week is probably overtraining. If your intensity is high enough, once a week is adequate.

10. Stay with free weights and avoid machines.
For the quickest, most dramatic wide shoulder results, demonstrate a clear preference for free weight motions. No matter how hard you work on even the most challenging shoulder machines, the body is quick to adapt to the relatively limited range of motion they offer. In nearly all cases, machine weights are balanced, tressled and already in the "down" position prior to exerting force. Thus, free weights are superior for nearly every body parts.