Nothing enhances the appearance of any physique like cannon ball shoulders adding a distinct wide look for a truly “V” shaped torso. Nor can any upper body moves be made without strong shoulders. Here is what I have learned about adding size and shape to my shoulders. First let me tell you that like my father I developed bursitis in both shoulders. Like most people my front deltoid was over developed compared with the side and rear deltoid. As you probably guessed it there are three heads in the deltoid with the rear head being the least developed. This of course leads to the shoulder girdle being pulled forward off balancing what is an already unstable body joint.
The solution was the utmost in simplicity, develop all three heads equally. I started with very light dumbbells and good form. Oddly enough the same exercises I received from physiotherapy were the same as I saw in bodybuilding magazines. Following is my present shoulder routine.
Giant set of side laterals with 22 lbs. then immediately a set with 20 lbs. then 17 lbs. Each set consists of 10 to 12 good form reps. This is three sets performed back to back to train the muscles for pump and strength. Side laterals are simply raising your straight arms from your sides to the horizontal position like an airplane imitation. Next I do the same exact format for front laterals. Like the previous exercise you perform stiff armed except you raise your arms in front of you to horizontal. Next I sit down bent slightly forward not quite at a 45 degree angle and raise my stiff arms from my hips to horizontal. It is important that all three exercises be performed with the same weight; repetitions and sets. You will notice that the front laterals seem the easiest with the back laterals as definitely the hardest. An imbalance of strength in the three deltoid heads is common; this could be one major reason why there are many shoulder injuries in the population next to back injuries. Resist the urge to train only the strongest head of the deltoid. Limit your progress to the slowest developed head so your deltoid development will be equally balanced between the three heads.
I am a small man (160 lbs.) but with strong shoulders. Many 200 pounders cannot do this routine with these poundages, with good form, no swinging and with perfectly straight arms. It took years to develop this strength, starting with 3 pound dumbbells. Starting out my balanced shoulder routine even with ridiculously light weights still resulted in a swollen bursa and the accompanying pain. After every shoulder workout I had a bag of ice on each shoulder to reduce the swelling and numb the pain. I could NOT do any pressing motions like standing overhead presses or bench presses and I still do NOT do any pressing moves. My only exception is dips on parallel bars.
EJ’s Personal Shoulder Rules
#1 Equal weight on front, side & bent over laterals.
#2 No pressing moves like standing presses or bench presses.
#3 Complete warm up of shoulder before using working weights on any upper body moves.
#4 Ice therapy after ANY workout that causes any shoulder pain.
Notice :#3 & 4 are rules ALL major league pitchers use in every game they pitch.
#5 Limit range of motion till half way through working sets of most exercises.
Complete range of motion is advocated by all trainers for complete benefit from any exercise. In my case I must only allow myself full range of motion with that nice stretch at the bottom of most moves after I am well into my working sets. This rule is important to me because:
#1 My shoulders are 62 years old with 50 years of workout miles on them.
#2 My incline bench flys are performed with 60 lb. dumbbells.
#3 My workout volume in pull ups is about 1000 repetitions per year.
#4 I have not have shoulder surgery in my life nor do I expect to.
Many of my friends have had some form of arthroscopic surgery on their shoulders, both men and women ,both avid weight trainers and the untrained. This can be avoided even with poor genetics like me ,if you bulletproof your shoulders with a balanced strength training program.
Try some of my shoulder “rules“as both prevention of injury as well as great shoulder development.