Q: I’m having trouble with the incline one-arm lateral raise [stretch-position delt exercise]. I tend to lose my balance when I’m on my side on the incline bench, and I can’t feel my center-delt head working. Any suggestions?
A: It does take some jostling and positioning to get set on the incline bench for incline one-arm lateral raises—but it’s worth the time to get it right since these can really help detail your delts. It was an Arnold favorite, and for good reason: It stretches the medial head as well as the posterior head, both of which add considerable roundness to your delts.
Try using a lighter dumbbell—like a 15-pounder—till you get the form perfect, no slinging. Raise your arm to the point at which it’s parallel to the floor, then lower slowly till it moves in front of your torso—but not so far down that you lose tension on your delts—and reverse the downward action immediately, before your arm is vertical. You don’t want the target muscle to relax in the stretch position.
If you can’t get the form and feel after a few workouts, we suggest you try them on a flat bench or substitute one-arm cable laterals; however, the way most people do those doesn’t quite provide the correct stretch effect. If you stand fully upright, with the handle attached to a low cable in your outside hand, the resistance is pulling your arm down rather than across your torso.
To get a better stretch with one-arm cable laterals, similar to the incline one-arm laterals, either squat down slightly or get on your knees (or you if you have an adjustable cable machine, set it so it pulls horizontally). Either of those positions should allow the handle to pull your arm more horizontally across your torso for a better medial-delt-head stretch.
Incidentally, if you were going to use the fascia-expansion technique mentioned above, you would do a one-arm dumbbell lateral raise first, then immediately move to the stretch-position exercise, either incline one-arm laterals or one-arm cable laterals—with the same arm, of course. You’ll see new roundness in your shoulders almost immediately after that pump-and-stretch attack.
NOTE: The best contracted- and stretch-position exercises to use for fascia-stretching supersets are described and analyzed in the 3D Muscle Building e-book. It includes the 3D Muscle Matrix, a chart that lists exercises under their POF designation—midrange, stretch or contracted (pages 50-51). There’s also the new Freak-Physique Stretch-Overload Workout e-book with training based on the latest research showing the anabolic power of stretch overload.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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