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SUPERMAN SHOULDERS by IFBB Pro Joe Palumbo
NO physique is complete without a nice set of properly developed shoulders. To have powerful looking shoulders, the size of all three heads needs to be maximized in order to attain a wide and three-dimensional thick look. Well-developed shoulders always stand out and look impressive not to just bodybuilders or sports athletes but to the rest of the world as well. Well-developed shoulders give the impression of STRENGTH. Strong broad shoulders are noticed immediately. When a person has large developed shoulders the first thing that comes to mind is, WOW! …He must be strong, and that’s fine, this is what large developed shoulders is…Strength. With traditional training any one can lift a weight but for what duration? Strength and muscular duration are two different subjects, a person needs strength to pick up and hold an object. Muscular duration is the amount of time you can hold the object. Muscle duration requires a specific training routine. This is important and something that cannot be over looked. Training your shoulders is only half of the process the second half is training the tendons and ligaments. Look at eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman, he has amazing feats of strength. He has been known to train after a two-hour photo shoots that are grueling endeavor of performing nonstop isometric contractions basically the same as when were posing on stage for a contest. This ability is from endurance training; times have change and many bodybuilders have abandoned this training unfortunately only having to go back to it after receiving an injury.
In the year 2005 I had my shoulder surgery for a rotator cuff tear as well as a biceps tear. This was an injury that started out slow, way back in my early years of training when strength and power lifting was all I cared about. Now my shoulder comes equipped with three screws… After the surgery I slowly started my way back to recovery. My intent was not only to bring back my shoulder to a normal strength level but also to take it further; I wanted to bring my shoulder back to a recovery as if I never had an injury. With in time I was able to come back to a full 100% in my training. Or so I thought… It was training day at the range for the Police Swat Team and I noticed when holding and firing long guns my shoulder would fatigue quickly it was even worse holding a ballistic shield. At the time, I left it to as having a bad day. The second time I noticed the quick fatigue I was dieting for a bodybuilding show and my training is more focused on the squeezing and holding the movements, I could barley get through. I still had the strength but the duration was weak. I needed to do some troubleshooting and correct the weak area and get my edge back. After finding the cause I simply modified and applied the necessary exercise to strengthen the areas.
A great set of shoulders will look equally impressive on stage, or in the gym. However, good shoulder development takes a great deal of effort given that shoulders tend to be a very stubborn muscle group. The shoulders need to be targeted with a wide variety of exercises, for both overall mass and the detailed definition that illuminates the separation of all three deltoid heads. The shoulder is a complex area; it has a Ball and Socket type joint, which allows you to move your arm around in a circle with a wide range of motion. In order to cope with this range the shoulder muscles are divided into 3 separate “Heads of Muscle”, the Anterior (front) Medial (side) and Posterior (rear) Deltoid. No one exercise really works all three sections at once.
I have designed a shoulder routine with dumbbells only, working all three “Head Muscle” to enhance muscular duration, strength, endurance and stamina.
Keep in mind this is a totally different concept of training. This type of training will require you to adapt and overcome the burning pain. Thinking with a different strategy with concentrating on holding and counting the time. Control and willpower will be your goal. No big machines no pulleys, no cables, just a set of dumbbells is all you need. The beauty of this program besides its simplicity, you will receive benefits almost immediately and when you go back to the tradition training, you will recognize the benefits of this program especially for the endurance and stamina. I always go back to this routine when I become stale and the improvements are getting slow, it is a great jump-start, and it will give your training a “shock.” It’s also a great program to use before a competition because all that holding and squeezing/flexing it brings out vascularity and striation as well as the endurance needed while posing on stage.
This program can be done in standing or sitting position. I prefer to use the standing because it has the most important elements for control, coordination, form and most importantly stabilizing your balance.
ROUNTINE Use dumbbells with a weight for 25-30 reps
Front dumbbell raises (Anterior)
Standing, back straight, feet shoulder width apart, knees slight bend
Grasp the dumbbells with an over hand grip
Raise your arms straight out in front of you until your palms are facing the floor
Pause and hold for 2 seconds
Lower to the start position and repeat
Side Laterals (Medial)
Standing, feet shoulder width apart
Slight bend at knee
Grasping the dumbbell, holding them in front of the thigh
Slight bend at the elbows
Raise the dumbbell out to the side until palms are facing the floor or parallel (for an even more direct isolation of the medial head, as your raising the dumbbells out to the side, slightly turn your palms inward so your thumbs are slightly facing the floor)
Hold and pause for 2 seconds, lower slowly to start position, and repeat
At time of extreme effort you can lean forward slightly “into” the exercise, thus relieving the stress of your lower back
Bent over raises (Posterior)
Standing with feet shoulder width apart
Bend forward at the waist, knees slightly bent
Hold the dumbbells in front with palms facing each other
Elbows slightly bent, back is flat, not arched
Raise the arms out sideways until palms face the floor
Hold and pause for 2 seconds
Lower slowly to start position and repeat
Bonus Exercise for the brave at heart; this exercise is a pure body building movement. It was used in the “golden age” of bodybuilding. Arnold Schwarzenegger used it so successfully that it became known as the “Arnold Press.” Because the mechanics involved are not the “natural” way to lift a weight over head, it is not widely used.
Standing or sitting
Hold dumbbells with palms facing shoulders*
The same as the end of a dumbbell curl position
Raise the dumbbells up and overhead while rotating the thumbs inward
Do not lock out at the top
Continue the up and down movement with out pause until exhaust, you can choose between less reps with heavier weight for strength, or light weight with higher reps for conditioning.
This is not an easy position, it is best to start out light and concentrate on correct form, if this position is to difficult, use the traditional dumbbell press up with palms facing each other. Reverse Press ups need to be performed at the end of your shoulder routines as a finishing exercise.
How often, how long and hard you exercise, should be determined by what you are trying to accomplish. Your goals, your present fitness level, age, health, skill, interests are among the factors you should consider.
Front dumbbell raises 4 sets 10-12 reps
Side Laterals 4 sets 10-12 reps
Bent over raises 4 sets 10-12 reps
Reverse Press ups 4 sets to exhaust
This program is for muscular duration; therefore the importance is more in the ”pause and flex” you need to increase this as you advance more so then the resistance. Concentrating on the holding and counting the time. Starting out with a pause and flex for 2 seconds. Try and increase the resistance and duration on the pause within time. Control and willpower will be your goal.
Start out slow and light, I followed the program for 4 weeks, the four weeks were for my personal goals, this program should be used for individual goals. Keep your focus on correct FORM and BREATHING; do not hold your breath on the pause. Master this and benefits will be noticed immediately. For best results train with a partner for assistance and motivation.
Director Of Physical Performance, Infinite labs
IFBB Professional Bodybuilder
Certified Trainer (SMART)
Advance Sports Nutrition Specialist (ASNS)
Certified Navy Seal fitness Instructor
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