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Sunday, August 24, 2014
Maximizing Your Shoulder Training Program
I've shared with you many things throughout the year. A lot of it focuses on doing things right and watching out for things that can cause more damage rather than benefits. I've talked about eliciting exercises that work the body as a unit rather than trying to isolate a single muscle.
The shoulders are a muscle that can make you look like you work out or make you look like you aren't doing anything to address them. Broad shoulders look very attractive with a suit. When wearing a tank top they can make you look flimsy and silly if they have no bulk and definition. Throughout my nearly 17 years in the industry I have been to several seminars put on by organizations well recognized and respected in the fitness industry. I always enjoyed taking the courses which would focus on what's right and what's wrong about an exercise. There was a lot of emphasis on exercises that didn't make any sense either because they didn't actually work the muscles all those bodybuilding magazines claim or they the risk to benefit ratio was just way to high.
There are many exercises that are commonly done at the gym and those include dumbbell (or cable) lateral, anterior and posterior raises. Then you have the dumbbell shoulder press, reverse flyes and the upright rows. Let me not forget to mention that you also have an assortment of selectorized equipment utilizing plates, cables, air pressure and so on. The machines I am going to tell you right now are the most completely useless piece of equipment you could spent time working on. Better yet let me use the words waste your time. Machines are great for rehabilitation if anything at all but from a functional perspective they have absolutely no functional but rather dysfunctional benefits. Resistance bands may be useful since they are similar in function to dumbbells but if you are looking into investing on a piece of equipment based on life of use then these are necessarily a good choice because they often snap without warning.
There is still another question to consider. Is it okay to perform it sitting? There may be some undue stress on the spine by doing a seated dumbbell or barbell shoulder presses. That is another story of itself. I would highly recommend you do them standing since the odds are that if this type of movement is ever required of you it will almost undoubtedly require you to do it standing in a real life situation unless you are confined to a wheelchair.
So what are my recommendations. Based on the most recent research conducted by the American Council on Exercise, I will still argue that the best exercises to target the shoulders would be the Standing Dumbbell (or Barbell or Kettlebell) Shoulder Press, the Standing Dumbbell (or Barbell or Kettlebell) Bent-Over Row and the Standing Bent-Over Dumbbell Raises. You may find it boring to do these exercises over and over again but what good would it do for you to do exercises which are going to give you little to no benefit. You may want to do a few exercises that work the shoulders as a form of recovery and to change it up but don't do them very often if your goal is to have a nice set of well defined broad shoulders.
I thought I should mention that the common upright row you see in fitness and bodybuilding magazines and most fitness books are a complete waste of time. Regardless of the type of equipment you use, this exercise has been repeatedly proven to be a waste of time according to years of research rather than someone's personal feelings. Yes, you see them in Arnold Schwarzenegger's books and so forth but that doesn't make it right. The world used to believe that you would fall off the earth if you sailed to far out into the ocean because they thought the planet was flat or that the sun revolved around the earth because it appeared that way. Well guess what? We found out that wasn't true and it cost some people there life when they were right. Just because the majority of the people ignorantly believed those falsehoods to be true doesn't make it a fact.