Shoulder Workout: Strength and Volume

The shoulder muscles are located at the ends of the clavicle bone and are what links the upper body to the arms. The muscular structure of the shoulders are a group of muscles known as the deltoids and their development is vital for improvement of aesthetics, strength, size and athletic performance. The shoulders are primarily comprised of the posterior deltoid (rear of the shoulder), the middle deltoid (lateral deltoid), and anterior deltoid (front of shoulder). All of these muscles move harmoniously to rotate and translate movement. Visually these muscles define and outline the upper body by dictating the width of the upper torso, which counterbalances the lower body, and helps to defines the size of the frame to which muscle can be added. With respect to strength the shoulders are how the strength and torque of the chest/back/core are translated through the arms, in addition to being responsible for the movement of the arms themselves.  Read on below for one of the strength and volume SwoleScience shoulder workouts.

The Deltoid Muscle Groups

The Internal Intricacies of the Shoulder Joint

Despite their multiple roles the shoulders are an extremely complicated and delicate balance of three small muscles groups that are connected via intricate system of ligaments, tendons and cartilage. The reason for their delicacy and complexity is the sheer freedom of movement that the arm can be rotated and moved, but with this comes the extremely heightened risk of structural joint damage with overuse and exertion. The development of the shoulder is commonly misguided by failing to realize the extreme stresses being put upon them by multiple auxiliary muscle groups. An athlete must understand that with any chest and back movement, the shoulder is the fulcrum to which the power and torque of the chest/back is being delivered through the arm, therefore the shoulder is being exercised as a direct corollary muscle. Furthermore, when doing arm workouts the shoulders stabilize the arm to isolate and support the development of the biceps and triceps. If for example, your training split includes a chest, back, shoulder, arm and leg day, the end result is that a relatively small group of muscles and fragile joint are ,being constantly stressed. With a balanced training schedule, strict form, proper weights and a faultless shoulder workout, an athlete can develop their shoulders properly to improve upon all of the aforementioned beneficial aspects with a significant reduction of chance of injury.

Deltoid Muscles

1) Dumbbell Lateral Raise- Stand with your feet slightly narrower than shoulder width apart with your knees slightly flexed. Grasp two dumbbells in each hand and place them at your side with your palms facing your body. Slowly raise the dumbbells up while keeping your arm only very slightly bent at the elbow. Lead with your elbows and thus your elbows should be higher than the hands at all times. Do not come up higher than shoulder height and do not raise up on your toes to assist with the weight at any time. Lower the weight back to your sides and repeat.

  • Warm up very light on this first set, especially to avoid any strains on the shoulders.
  • Increase the weight to a weight that you are able to perform 12 repetitions. The weight should be hard enough to just do the full 12 repetitions but without any deviation from form.
  • Increase the weight 5-10 pounds to perform 10 repetitions.
  • Increase the weight 5-10 pounds to perform 8 repetitions.

2) Front Dumbbell Lateral Raises- Use the exact same form and structure of the previous exercises in all aspects except hold the dumbbells with your thumbs facing the sides of your legs and thus the inside of the dumbbell should be also facing your sides with the top of your hand facing forward. Raise the weight up using the same range of motion and technique as the lateral raises.

  • Warm up very light on this first set, especially to avoid any strains on the shoulders.
  • Increase the weight to a weight that you are able to perform 12 repetitions. The weight should be hard enough to just do the full 12 repetitions but without any deviation from form.
  • Increase the weight 5-10 pounds to perform 10 repetitions.
  • Increase the weight 5-10 pounds to perform 8 repetitions.

3) Seated Dumbbell Press- Sit at a 90 degree angles (with back support) and kick up the dumbbells to your shoulders (or have a spotter load them for you). Press the dumbbells straight up above you. Watch your arms and do not go any lower than a 90 degree angle of your elbow joint, especially with higher weight. Although this range of motion has it’s place such as in standing barbell press, with the isolation of seated dumbbell press it can put excessive strain on the shoulders. So go only 90 degrees down which should be around eye level and press the dumbbells together over your head. Do not round your back or jerk the weights.

  • Perform 8 repetitions. The repetitions should not be ‘stopped’ at 8 but you should choose a weight exhausts you for just 8 repetitions while maintaining strict form.
  • Decrease the weight and perform 10 repetitions with strict form and failing at 10.
  • Decrease the weight 5-10 pounds and perform the weight until failure without regard to repetitions.

4) EZ Curl Upright row- This exercise must be done very carefully with regard to the weight and form due, to the ability to easily injure the shoulder over time. Stand slightly shoulder width apart with knees slightly relaxed and grasp an EZ bar at the middle grip (not the inside) and hands shoulder be about 8 inches apart. With the bar resting on your thighs, raise the bar up along the body leading with the elbows. The hands should stop right below the chin with the elbows at ear level. Do not swing, bounce, or lean to get the weight up.

  • Perform 12 repetitions. The repetitions should not be ‘stopped’ at 12 but you should choose a weight exhausts you for just 12 repetitions while maintaining strict form.
  • Increase the weight and perform 10 repetitions with strict form and failing at 10.
  • Increase the weight 5-10 pounds and perform the weight until failure without regard to repetitions (should be around 6-8 repetitions)

Posterior Deltoid

As with all workouts there are infinite combinations and organization of repetitions and exercises for your chosen athletic goal. This is a basic strength and volume outline that can be modified and/or combined with other SwoleScience workouts or exercises.

- Papa Swole

(This is an original post copyright to SwoleScience.com, credited to the aforementioned author. Its reproduction is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved to the original authors of any quoted or embedded material)

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