Symmetrical Shoulders

Deltoid muscles are a particularly important element of our silhouette, since they provide it with significant width. Imagine you are at a bodybuilding competition, where 15 contestants come to the stage. Who do you think will attract your attention first? Those with greatly developed deltoid muscles or those whose shoulders are much narrower? Everybody would like to have beautiful, round, bulbous shoulders but not everybody has. Some people are not so endowed with good genes, while others are not so diligent when training. They make lots of exercising mistakes or neglect some muscle parts considering them as not so important. I used to be one of such persons. I focused very much on various kinds of presses and lateral raises, neglecting the posterior deltoids that stood out from the other muscles after some time. Fortunately, I came back to my senses and at the beginning of my adventure with bodybuilding, I decided to focus very much on the posterior part of my shoulders. The majority of training people do posterior deltoid muscle exercises first, while I started training it at the very beginning, since the posterior part was my priority. After some time I noticed significant changes in the build of my muscles – they became more complete. The referees are very vigilant and notice all silhouette drawbacks, while I cannot afford to fail at a competition due to my training negligence. Now I suppose that my deltoid muscles are quite good. Below you can find some tips on how I worked on them.
Please note: Make sure to warm up properly before every training of your shoulders. Shoulder joints are very often subject to injuries that can prevent us from training in a gym even for several months!

Exercise 1: Dumbbell bench press
Correct technique: Sit on a bench with backrest position at right angle. Lift the dumbbells, keeping the elbows aside. Press the dumbbells up but do not lock the arms in the elbow joints, then slowly start lowering the weights to the initial position. The dumbbells have an advantage over a barbell since they provide a greater scope of movements and hence better isolated deltoid muscles.

- elbow locking in elbow joints
- the movement is too short
- the load is too heavy
- lack of control over the weights in the eccentric phase (return movement)
Muscles involved in the exercise: anterior and lateral deltoid muscle

Exercise 2. Standing front barbell press
Correct technique: Stand with your legs slightly apart, one leg positioned a bit forward to maintain better balance. Grip the barbell at the width of your shoulders or a bit more. Try to press the barbell only using your shoulders and arms, not involving the legs, which is a common mistake in this exercise.

- throwing using your legs – by cheating you unnecessarily involve leg muscles, which leads to the deltoid muscles working less in the exercise
- the load is too heavy – an overly heavy barbell may cause loss of stability and consequently injury of shoulder joints or spine
Muscles involved in the exercise: lateral and anterior part of deltoid muscles

Exercise 3: Standing lateral raise
Correct technique: Raise the dumbbells laterally when standing. In the initial position the dumbbells are on the sides of the thigh muscles. Perform the movement upwards using only the deltoid muscles, to the height of the top line of the shoulder girdle muscles.

- barbell raising above the shoulder line causes unnecessary involvement of the trapezius muscles
- incorrect position of the palms – if the thumb is higher than the little finger when raising the dumbbells, the work of the anterior part of the deltoid muscles increases, while lateral heads of the shoulders are involved less
- "swinging" the body when lifting the weight reduces the work of deltoid muscles and increases involvement of auxiliary muscles
Muscles involved in the exercise: lateral and anterior part of deltoid muscles

Exercise 4. Wide-grip barbell raise along the trunk
Correct technique: Another very popular exercise that I do for my deltoid muscles is raising a barbell with a wide grip along the trunk. Stand with your trunk leaning slightly forward, hands with the barbell lowered to the maximum but not touching the thighs. From this initial position, start the movement upwards, which is performed only with the shoulder joint and deltoid muscles. When the barbell is in the concentric phase, hold the weight for a fraction of a second and then lower it, trying to maintain control over it.

- the load is too heavy which makes it impossible to control the barbell
- pushing the load from the legs – deltoid muscles are less involved
- the grip on the barbell is too narrow – trapezius muscles are involved too much while deltoid muscles are involved too little
Muscles involved in the exercise: lateral part of deltoid muscles

Exercise 5. Bent-over lateral dumbbell raise on incline bench
Correct technique: Lie down on an incline bench, on your stomach, hands hanging freely with the dumbbells, elbows slightly bent. Start raising the dumbbells, keeping the arms aligned with the shoulders. Hold the weights for a while in the top phase of the movement, trying to keep slight resistance. The load we use in the exercise should not be too heavy.

- the load is too heavy, involving other muscles e.g. back
- failure to lead the dumbbells along the shoulder line, with the movement directed more towards the hips – back muscles are more involved
Muscles involved in the exercise: posterior part of deltoid muscles
My shoulder training plan
Below I describe a good training plan you can set up based on the presented exercises. If your goal, similarly to mine, is to develop symmetrical shoulders with a great emphasis on the development of the posterior part of the deltoid muscles, you should start your training with this part. Below you can find a plan of the shoulder training that I do now. As you can see, it brings very good results.
1. Bent-over lateral dumbbell raise on incline bench – 5 series x 12-15 repeats.
2. Seated dumbbell press – 5 sets x 10–12 repetitions
3. Seated lateral dumbbell raise – 5 sets x 10–12 repetitions
4. Wide-grip barbell raise along the trunk – 5 sets x 8–10 repetitions




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