Q: In The Ultimate Mass Workout e-book, you identify the Ultimate Exercise for delts as dumbbell upright rows. I’ve always read that overhead presses are best for building massive shoulders. Almost everyone I talk to says to press for delt size. Can you explain your thinking?
A: Our thinking was that any type of overhead press over-emphasizes the front-delt heads. Jonathan has overpowering front delts, so presses hit his side-delt heads even less than most trainees; however, a recent experiment has us revising our thought process somewhat.
In our Power/Rep Range/Shock X-Rep program, we decided to try standing dumbbell presses first—not seated, as most bodybuilders do them. Previously, we had relied on the seated version…
By assuming a standing position, we immediately noticed that we were forced to use less weight because we couldn’t lean back against a back support—meaning we had to maintain a more upright-torso position. Result: Our front- and side-delt heads got sore—something which hadn’t happened in a very long time. That soreness, which is tough to achieve in the side-delt heads, indicates that the standing dumbbell press is good for delts—at least temporarily…
We believe that as you adapt to a specific type of press, your body naturally learns to lift with better leverage. In Jonathan’s case, he eventually starts using his front delts more than his side heads as the poundage starts creeping up. When that happens, it’s time to move dumbbell upright rows to the front again.
Adaptation is the very reason you should mix up your program often. Many training experts have said that the body adapts to a given workout after only four or five training sessions, and that despite getting stronger, you’re using fewer fibers. How can that be? It’s due to learned leverage. That means to keep your size on an upward trajectory, you must keep mixing things up, experimenting and trying new variations. As we’re fond of saying, you have to change to gain.
[Note: The X-Rep P/RR/S Workout is listed in its entirety in the 3D Muscle Building e-book, pages 103-114.)
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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