An ancient sage once observed: “For every disadvantage there is an equivalent advantage. You just have to be able to see it”. Being a hard gainer posed for me just such a advantage. None of my gains ever came without lots of work. It took years of experimentation. You see, I was competing against fellows that all started bigger than I was. My goal was to somehow stand out in a line up with naturally big bodybuilders. Athletes who were already admired, heroes in high school before they even started training. Not one of the little guys like I was.
Initially, I didn’t believe it was possible for anyone like me to accomplish more than just to make a little improvement in my general size. I had this vague notion that somehow I had been personally cursed to be small and skinny forever.
When I first started bodybuilding I was also on the college gymnastic team at Idaho State College. One day Jim Wise the Rocky Mountain diving Champion walked in as we were practicing backflips. He noticed I was starting to get a little bigger. “Larry, what do you hope to accomplish from all that weight lifting”? he asked. In a burst of candid bravery I replied, “I want to be Mr. America someday”.
“You will never do it, he said. Your shoulders are too narrow.” His comment along with my own awareness of my narrow shoulders burned a hole in my heart which could only be healed by a set of massive shoulders.
Even now, my clavicle width is not as wide as it should be, but I learned how to pack meat on my shoulders so thick and dense that Arnold Schwarzenegger was heard to say “I don’t know how Larry ever put so much mass on a small frame.”
Let me tell you how I found clever ways to add huge amounts of muscle on a narrow frame.
There is not much one can do to increase the width of the bone structure, but there is a whole lot of things we can do to pack meat on a bony body.
It didn’t take me long to discover that the most important deltoid head for adding width to the shoulders was the side deltoid head. I also found the best exercise for the side head was the side lateral raise with dumbbells. It was the best exercise, only so long as I did the exercise in a certain manner. In addition, there are some other details which will help you get the most from your shoulder training.
* You will need a mirror so you can watch your movement.
* I find it best if I have a dumbbell rack in which the rack hits me just below the pelvis. For one thing, I don’t want to burn energy bending over and picking up the dumbbells off the floor each set.
* Deltoids do not obey basic physiological laws that state: “muscles generally grow faster when they are worked through complete range of motion”.
* The deltoids recuperate much faster than most bodyparts. Faster than the arms and much faster than the legs. Deltoid recuperation is almost like red muscle fibre. Especially is this apparent when worked with a constant tension method which I will soon explain.
As I mentioned earlier. I quickly learned side deltoid raises were the best for building the desired deltoid head (lateral). The problem with the side dumbbell raises was, you just cannot use very much weight on this exercise. Consequently the real potential mass of the side lateral head can not be achieved because the weights which we can handle in this exercise are always too light.
I began to reason, “If there was some way in which I could use a similar movement on presses where I am much stronger which I used on side laterals I could build some incredible thickness. I found that by leaning over into the dumbbell rack so I was slightly off balance, I could press the dumbbells in an arc, never locking out on top and never bottoming out, I could achieve a similar movement as used on the side lateral raises. In fact by keeping the elbows back as far or even farther than my head I could activate the side lateral deltoid heads almost as much as I did while doing side lateral raises.
The pump was incredible while doing the exercise in this fashion. Furthermore I was using much heavier weight, so I could build much greater mass. Mass that was not normally seen on deltoids.
As the purpose of this article is to teach you how to build some incredible deltoids, let me explain that movement again.
The dumbbells are held at shoulder height, actually a little higher than the shoulders. Try to keep the dumbbells held throughout the movement with the little fingers higher than the thumb side of the dumbbell.
This will keep the stress on the deltoid rather than transfer the stress to the triceps. (You will notice as you start to get tired how the thumb side of the hand starts to creep up to employ more triceps on the exercise).
First, lean off balance into the dumbbell rack then press the dumbbells up in an arc. The palms should be facing the mirrors with the thumbs wrapped around the bar. (not on the same side as the fingers). Try to keep the elbows behind the head and following a track that would have the elbows meet somewhere behind the head if you continued the arc. Do not lock out on top of the
exercise. Use only the middle 3/5 of the exercise. As the dumbbells start down try to keep them as wide as possible. This will put even more stress on the deltoid heads.
As I mentioned earlier, the deltoids recuperate so fast they are best worked in a “down the rack” fashion. This is done as follows. Start out by warming up the deltoids by using a light weight and doing a set of dumbbell presses exactly as I have described above. Jump 5 lbs and do another set a little heavier. Continue doing this until you have reached a weight which is about 75% of what you are going to be using for your heaviest weight for dumbbell presses.
If you are training with a training partner, let him warm up by working up the rack while you rest and prepare for your first series of dumbbell presses.
Having warmed up you are ready to begin. Select a weight with which you can do about 6 reps max in the fashion described. Having done 6 reps, set the weight down and with no rest do 6 reps with a pair of dumbbells 5 lbs lighter.
Do 6 reps, drop 5 lbs and repeat until you have done 6 sets of 6 reps with little or no rest between sets. Let your partner do his 6 sets while you rest and catch your breath.
You will find this method of doing dumbbell presses extremely effective in building the lateral head whereas most dumbbell presses work only the frontal deltoid head.