The shoulders along with the calves and abdominals are key muscle groups of the body. These muscle groups form the basis for the classic "X-Frame": wide shoulders, small waist and large diamond shaped calves.
Before we can train the shoulders we must first know the mechanics. The deltoid is a complete area, made up of a three—headed, thick, triangular muscle which originates from the clavicle & the scapula at the rear of the shoulders and extends down to its insertion in the upper arm. The basic function is to rotate and lift the arm.
The anterior deltoid lifts the arm to the front; the medial deltoid lifts the arm to the rear.
TRAINING THE DELTOIDS
For beginners: There are two kinds of exercises for the shoulders – Straight arm raises and presses. Straight arm raises or Front Delt Raises as they are commonly known are usually performed with dumbbells or pulleys. I personally prefer dumbbells. Holding a pair of dumbbells while in the standing position. Raise one hand directly forward until it is just above your eyes, hold for 2 seconds, as you lower it slowly, raise the other hand. Continue this seesaw motion. I prefer lighter weights and about 20 reps each arm, 3 sets.
The Shoulder Press can be performed a number of ways. To the front, to the rear, using barbells, using dumbbells or various machines. Once again, I prefer dumbbells. I believe dumbbells help strengthen stabilizing muscles and this helps reduce injuries. Work in the sitting position, your back flat. Start the movement with a pair of dumbbells held at the shoulders, palm of your hands facing forward. Hold your elbows back to maintain stress on the side deltoids. Lift the dumbbells up until they touch at the top, then lower them again to the starting position. 8-10 reps, 3 sets.
When you get to the level of advanced training you will need more than raises and presses. You will need to work towards overall shoulder development. All three heads of the deltoids must be worked. Therefore in addition to raises and presses, we have to include Bent Over Laterals for the rear delts. You must design your own program to suit you. A program that will bring up your weak points, create symmetry, proportion and balance, as well as size and mass.
These are a few deltoid exercises to help you design your advanced deltoid program:
Three basic exercises work the traps – shrugs, high pulls or power cleans and upright rows. I believe in training traps at the same time as shoulders. For those who believe that the trapezius muscles are more associated with the back than the shoulders must remember that once you lift your arms higher than the level of your head in any lateral or press movement, the traps come heavily into play, pulling the shoulders up and in and allowing you to complete the full range of motion.
The trap responds best to heavy weights, but always try to do full reps. I prefer to do dumbbell shrugs because I get a greater range. I raise my shoulders and traps as high as I can and try to get my traps to touch my ears (still haven't done it yet). Pausing at the top to squeeze and tense my traps. Then I slowly lower them to the standing position. The slower I lower them, the better the burn.
I do five sets of shrugs with dumbbells, heavy 10-12 reps followed by 3 sets of upright rows. Again, nice and slow 10-12 reps. Sometimes when no one is looking, I'll go to the standing calf machine, stand as you would to do calf raises but instead of raises, your toes raise your shoulders up like shrugs, go heavy but strict form. Try it and watch how many follow your lead.
Deltoid and traps look simple to the eye but are much more complex than they appear. Pay attention to details, position of hand, wrist, elbows, palms, thumbs an little fingers. Train progressively and constantly. Each time try to add more weight but never at the expense of good form. Follow these simple rules and you will be sure to have eye popping cannonball delts and traps.
So get to the gym and start working for them. You can do it!
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