This is the most famous and popular middle-delt exercise.
Starting position: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or closer. Bend your knees slightly to lower your center of gravity, and tilt forward at the hips.
At this point, your elbows should be directly below your shoulderjoints, not behind them and not in front of them. Keep your elbows in a slightly bent position. Tighten your abdominals, and keep them that way throughout the exercise. Finally, keep your chest elevated (this is something you should do forjust about every upper body exercise).
The exercise: Slowly add tension to the deltoids by mentally flexing them. I usually tell my clients to "engage the deltoids." This step ensures you'll be working the deltoids from the very beginning. Now, while maintaining the forward tilt of your upper body, slowly raise the arms out to the sides and up. Stop when your elbows and the weights are parallel with your shoulders. Then, lower the weights slowly to the starting position. The elbows should stay directly in line with the shoulder joint throughout the concentric and eccentric parts of the exercise. Don't rotate your shoulder externally as you raise the dumbbells.
One of my pet peeves—something I see happening again and again—is people who use their legs to help them do lateral raises. In other words, they spring up and down on their legs to get a little momentum going so it's easier to get the weights up. Remember, this is a delt exercise! If you have to use your legs to get the weight up, you're using too much weight!
This exercise is designed to work the posterior (rear) head of the deltoids. In my opinion, it's probably one of the most efficient and effective rear-delt exercises. It differs from a conventional seated row in that you keep your arms very high, thereby targeting the posterior delts instead of working the lats.
Starting position: Position the seat height so your shoulders are in line with the handles. This is very important; if the resistance isn't in line with your shoulders, you'll turn this into more of a back exercise than a rear-delt exercise. Set the chest pad far enough away so when your chest is in contact with the pad, you can barely touch the handles with your fingers. Once you've made all the necessary adjustments, grab the handles, pull back the weight, and sit down on the pad. Bring your upper body into proper spinal alignment by sitting up straight. Place your feet firmly on the ground to stabilize yourself. Position your scapulas (shoulder blades) in a neutral position (don't shrug your shoulders), and keep them there throughout the exercise.
Visualize a glass barrier directly underneath your arms so you'll keep your elbows up and in line with the joints, thus keeping the fibers of the posterior delts properly aligned with the resistance.
The exercise: Slowly row your elbows straight back while keeping them in line with your shoulders. In effect, your elbows will move directly out to the side of your shoulder joint when you row the weight back. Be sure to slowly contract the deltoids as much as possible. As you move through the eccentric portion, try to concentrate on activating the rear delts while relaxing the front delts. If the anterior heads are "frozen" or too tight, then your whole shoulder area will move.
As you pull the weight back, keep your wrists in a neutral position.
You've probably realized there are a variety of methods to train a muscle. By variety, I mean using high reps, low reps, and different tempos. The point I'd like to make is you should try all the methods at some point. You want to keep the body guessing, so it won't be able to adapt to any one method or style. As mentioned previously, you should change your routine at least every six weeks and much sooner if you're a more advanced trainer.
On the other hand, if some of these exercises are new to you, or if you're trying to master form, I'd recommend using a lighter weight (and consequently, a higher number of reps) until you feel confident you're doing the exercise correctly.
Regardless of whether you choose to do all, some, or none of these exercises, I sincerely hope you take to heart the most important point of this book, and that's using proper form. I guarantee if you do your shoulder exercises in a controlled fashion, without all the herky-jerky motion so common to a lot of bonehead bodybuilders, you'll make twice the progress in half the time, and you can start your own collection of discarded shoulder pads.
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The use of dumbbells gives you a much more comprehensive strengthening effect because the workout engages your stabilizer muscles, in addition to the muscle you may be pin-pointing. Without all of the belts and artificial stabilizers of a machine, you also engage your core muscles, which are your body's natural stabilizers.