The deltoid has three heads – Anterior, lateral and oosterior, each with specific functions.
Here we will discuss the main actions of each head during resistance training.
- Anterior head: Involved in flexion and internal rotation of the arm (imagine reaching forward and covering your belly with a 90-degree angle at the elbow).
- Lateral head: Involved in abduction of the arm (imagine reaching outward to the side of your body).
- Posterior head: Involved in extension and external rotation of the arm (imagine drawing your arm backward and your hand outward to the side with a 90-degree angle at the elbow).
In this programme, we will aim to work each head individually by intentionally isolating them through a full range of motion. This is key in building well-balanced and developed shoulders – that ‘3D’ look that is sought after by every iron disciple.
The common misconception would be to hammer out presses on top of presses and then do an extra set of presses just for good measure. This can be detrimental not only to your delt gains, but also emphasise imbalance and risk of injury.
The anterior delts receive a decent amount of stimulus from virtually all pressing movements (including the chest ones that many people are already doing from 16 different angles). This means that even though direct work is needed, we are likely already accumulating a high degree of stimulus to your front delt as it is.
Therefore, in this program we will be applying slightly more focus on the posterior and lateral delts, with only a single heavy compound lift directed at the anterior head. The extra attention given to the posterior and lateral heads will likely improve shoulder joint integrity and reduce shoulder rounding forward which usually arises from excessive pushing as opposed to pulling movements. And for the cherry on the cake, good old vanilla barbell shrugs for the traps.
Weight selection: With delt training, always prioritise form and tension over trying to go as heavy as you possibly can, but keep in mind that loads should still be challenging within the given rep range. Not only will this help you manage fatigue so you can train the muscle more frequently, it will also allow you to learn how to properly isolate and activate the smaller lateral and posterior delt muscles.
The aim of this session is to apply stimulus to the rear and side delts via one ‘heavy’ movement each followed by a high-rep superset each. The workout ends with heavy presses and shrugs. With the goal of isolating and driving as much blood and stress to the smaller and often less trained posterior and lateral heads. For anterior delts and traps, a few effective heavy sets would suffice as they are both highly activated in many other compound movements. Do this workout twice a week and get stacked like Drax.
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