If you want to look big, you have to have commanding shoulders.
Big, round deltoids, with a wide separation in between, are the keys to that superhero, larger-than-life look you crave. But this super soldier physique isn’t easy to obtain. Luckily, we know the secrets to turning shoulders into boulders.
To keep it simple, we're going to focus on the deltoid - specifically the anterior (front), posterior (rear), and medial (middle) deltoids - and those movements that will trigger a huge response from these heads. Try these tips to blow up all three.
Posterior Deltoids (aka Rear Delts) One of the most underworked muscles in the shoulder is the posterior deltoid. Granted, seated reverse flys do a great job at working the rear delts, but we often do them too early in our routine to get the most out of them. When performed in the first two-thirds of a shoulder workout, your rear delts are outworked by your triceps, traps, and possibly even your mid delts (due to poor form and/or lack of exhaustion in the front half of your delts). Adding flys towards the end of your routine will give you that extra bit of focus; because by then, that’s all you should be able to move!
SEATED REVERSE FLYS
Keep your chest up, traps disengaged, arms straight and at shoulder-height, and shoulders down and back. Reach out instead of moving the handles backward during the movement to keep stress off your middle trapezius – drop the weight if you have to, you want high reps.
Anterior Deltoids (aka Front Delts) Along with the posterior deltoids, the front delts also contribute to a thick, monster-like look - but from the side. They are the most prominent of the three heads and tend to be the most worked throughout a typical shoulder routine. But if you are hitting a plateau with your front delts, try this:
Start with front dumbbell raises, roughly 10-12 reps at a moderate weight. Keep in mind strict form: arms straight, no bouncing, lift up slowly with the front deltoid, follow the same rhythm with the negative part of the movement. Superset this with a hammer strength military press at moderate-heavy weight, hitting failure around 8-10 reps. This superset promotes huge size and strength gains with deep striations (with the proper cut down phase).
Medial Deltoids (aka Mid Delts) The medial deltoid is what gives you cannonball-capped shoulders, but it’s commonly worked incorrectly - leaving you exhausted before any real progress is made. Lateral cable raises are phenomenal for hitting the middle head (if you know how to do them).
LATERAL CABLE RAISES
A common mistake in technique often results in hitting less mid delt and more trapezius - lifting upward, not out, causing stress under the traps. Try grabbing the pole with the arm you aren’t working to perform a lean-away from the pulley while you do this movement. Keep the cable in front of you to focus the stress on the front of your body.
This, plus reaching out not up, will help you hit the middle deltoid and give you that wide, boulder effect. Switch up the rep count but keep it high. General rule of thumb: the smaller the muscle the better it responds to high repetition activity. This is why calves, abs, rear delts, and mid delts do so well under higher reps.
The shoulder to waist ratio is vital for a commanding physique. It’s absolutely necessary to have bombing shoulders in order to set your “V” taper over the top into superhero status. Happy Building.