Q: I have limited time to train, so I try to use the best exercise for each bodypart. Your Ultimate Mass Workout e-book has been priceless in that regard, and I’m using a version of the basic program you outline with the Ultimate Exercise for each bodypart. Most are right on, but I have a problem with my shoulders. They’re not responding to dumbbell upright rows [the Ultimate Exercise for delts discussed in Chapter 6]. Is there another exercise I can use?
A: First, check your form. You should be starting with the dumbbells almost at arm’s length with your palms facing your thighs and the inner ‘bells touching. That creates a pull on the medial-delt heads in the important semi-stretch position. As you pull the dumbbells up, your hands should move out so that at the top of the stroke they are outside of your outer chest and your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
If you have strong traps and weak medial delts, your back, along with your biceps, will get the brunt of the work if your form is not perfect. Lighten the weight and work on precision execution. Do not shrug and pull your upper arms back. Now, if you have time for one more exercise, add incline one-arm lateral raises—one or two sets…
It’s the best stretch-position exercise for the medial-delt head, and it also involves the rear head to a degree. Don’t try to go too heavy, as you want to start the upward movement just before your arm is perpendicular to the floor so that you keep tension on your medial-delt head. Raise the dumbbell in an arc as close to your body and the bench as possible till your arm is parallel to the floor; then, control it back down to the stretch position—but don’t lose tension on the medial-delt head.
As you can see from this photo, a lot of the fibers in the medial-delt head wraps around from the back of the upper shoulder and inserts down on the middle of the upper arm.
The incline one-arm lateral raise is the perfect exercise to activate those key fibers for a wider-shoulder look. It was an Arnold favorite. Also, remember the animal study that produced a 300 percent muscle mass increase after only one month of stretch overload that we discuss in our e-books. This stretch exercise should pack some new meat on your medial heads, which will radically change the look of your physique for the better.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson