Q: How can I get wider shoulders, and I mean as wide as possible? I want more of a classic bodybuilder look.
A: Wider shoulders will definitely give you a more commanding appearance, but understand that your shoulder width is limited by your clavicle, or collar-bone, width. The good news is that you can still look a lot wider with full, round delts. Larry Scott, the first Mr. Olympia, had narrow clavicles, but he packed a lot of meat on his delts and solved the problem, becoming the best bodybuilder in the world in his day.
We’re both in the same narrow-shoulders boat. Neither of us has wide clavicles, but when we’re training hard with multi-angular Positions of Flexion and in ripped shape, our fully developed delts create the illusion of a lot more width.
To get that full development you need to train the deltoid complex through its full range as well as from a number of different angles. The fibers wrap around from back to front in bundles. To attack all of those bundles from their strongest leverage points, you have to do laterals at a few different torso positions as well as multi-joint, or compound work, to generate maximum force. That makes a solid delt routine a bit more complex than, say, biceps or triceps. Here’s a good full-range Positions-of-Flexion delt workout:
Midrange (front delt emphasis): Overhead presses, 2 x 8-10
Midrange (side-delt emphasis): Dumbbell upright rows, 2 x 8-10
Stretch (side-delt emphasis): Incline one-arm laterals, 2 x 8-10
Contracted (side-delt emphasis): Forward-lean laterals (seated), 2 x 12-15
Contracted (rear-delt emphasis): Bent-over laterals, 1 x 7-9, 1 x 12-15
Notice that your torso is at various angles, depending on the exercise, which is key to getting max-force output from all of the delt-fiber bundles that wrap around the joint. The angle of pull, or leverage, should change slightly on each exercise to get at as many delt-muscle fibers as possible, putting them in their optimal position to fire.
We’ve also had success de-emphasizing the presses by moving them further down in the workout. For example, in the 3D Power Pyramid Program [from the Freak-Physique Stretch-Overload e-manual], the DB upright rows are first, using a progressively heavier weight on each of the 3 work sets—that’s the power pyramid. Then you do one or two sets of the other exercises, with presses last.
Most trainees get plenty of front-delt emphasis from chest work, especially in the Power Pyramid Program; however, it’s good to include some type of overhead press to cover that position of flexion for the shoulders.
POF is very flexible, so you can see why we use it as the core concept in most of our workout programs.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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