Let’s Spread Our Shoulders

You will agree that an excessively developed muscle group compared to adjacent sections creates symmetry problems rather than offering aesthetic advantages. In our opinion, however, the muscular section of the delts escapes this “law”: have you ever heard someone “belittled” because their shoulders are too broad? We think not! Before going further and drawing up a training proposal for the deltoids, let’s briefly try to see how this muscle section “works.”

The deltoid is a monoarticular muscle which, by acting on ‘articulation scapulohumeral, determines the following:

1) In the scapulohumeral joint, a series of movements are made, in the various spatial planes, around the main axes having the head of the humerus as a common point. Going into the details, we can distinguish in:

a) Movements around the anterior-posterior axis, with consequent rotation of the humerus on the frontal plane: adduction in interposition up to 45 °; adduction in retroposition up to 20 °; abduction up to 90 °.

b) Movements around the transverse axis: interposition or flexion up to 60 °; retroposition or extension up to 20 °.

c) Movements around the vertical axis: internal rotation of 80 °; 60 ° external rotation.

2) Now, let’s see how the deltoid muscle acts in the movements listed in point “1”.

a) Around the anteroposterior axis: adduction of the clavicular and spinal bundles; abduction of the acromial bundle (0 to 90 °) with the almost immediate intervention of the spinal bundles and clavicular bundles (already after 20-30 °).

b) Around the transverse axis: flexion of the humerus at the expense of the clavicular bundles (from 0 to 60 °); extension of the humerus to the spinal bundles (from 0 to 50 °).

c) Around the vertical axis: internal rotation of the humerus by the clavicular bundles; external rotation of the humerus by the spinal bundles.

Now that we know the anatomy of the muscle a little better, let’s try to draw up a training program aimed at hypertrophy. One of the first considerations we can make is that the deltoid is made up of three heads. This, in our opinion, has an immediate consequence: this muscle cannot be stimulated enough by a single exercise, as is sometimes heard by some hardgainer fundamentalist.

Another consideration that “comes spontaneously” is the following: the three heads of the deltoid do not work together. On the contrary, often, they do it in antithesis. Therefore they can be allied in different sessions. Perhaps in association with muscle sections that in a certain sense “pre-fatigue” them: in this way, we can stimulate the deltoids with a smaller number of sets and do not risk “overlapping.”

Here is an example of how the workouts for the heads of the deltoid could be distributed (in a weekly microcycle) about the other muscle sections:

L. M. M. G. V. S. D.
Dorsal Bibs   Lateral deltoids Quadriceps    
Posterior deltoids Anterior deltoids   Triceps Femoral    
Calves Abdominal muscles   Biceps Abdominal muscles    

On Monday, therefore, after training the lats- which will have contributed to pre-fatigue them – it will be the turn of the rear delts. In our opinion, the posterior section of the deltoid is too often neglected in the various training programs, and this situation, over time, can lead to asymmetries that are often difficult to remedy. Training the heads separately is an excellent way to ensure that this deltoid head receives the proper attention.

Here, in detail, is a training proposal for the rear garment:

Exercise Sets and repetitions Rest between


Raise to 90 ° with dumbbells 3 x 10 60 “ Hold the position of maximum contraction for 1-2 seconds
Raise the cables  90 ° 3 x (6 + 6 + 6) 60 “ Stripping method

On Monday, after training the pectorals – which will have contributed to pre-fatigue them – it will be the turn of the anterior delts. In this regard, our “first choice” falls on an exercise that is not too publicized but with undoubted potential: bench presses (with a barbell) with a reverse grip. This exercise begins with the barbell placed near the lower part of the sternum – with the elbows close to the body to try to limit the action of the pectoral and emphasize the stretching of the anterior deltoid – and ends by extending the barbell upwards, in front of the head. 

We reiterate that this exercise is not to be neglected, as, among other things, it allows you to use more weight of other more “common” activities, such as the slow back, without incurring joint risks.

Exercise Sets and


Rest between


“Reverse” stretches 3-4 x 10 60 “ In this case, it is better not to overdo the series, since the anterior deltoid is very involved in various distension movements for the pectorals (such as, for example, the horizontal bench) and we would risk overtraining it.

On Thursday, we will start training (principle of ” muscle priority “) with the lateral deltoids to be able to “attack” this important muscle section in the best possible way, without being tired from any training carried out, immediately before, for some other muscle.

Here, in detail, is a training proposal for the side garment:

Exercise Sets and


Rest between


Lateral Cable

raises ( supersets with the following exercise)

6 x 6-8 Zero (being a superset) Continuous voltage
Chin lifts (supersets

with the previous activity)

6 x 8-12 60 “ Hold the position of maximum contraction for 1-2 seconds

If you bring (as it must be done !!) the sets to failure from the first set and take a rest between the supersets for around one minute, you will not be able to perform the indicated repetitions in all the settings while maintaining the same load. Therefore, it will be appropriate to apply the method of the decreasing pyramid, where, series after series, you will decrease the weight a little.

And now allow us a necessary consideration: these schemes – although they may have been carefully drawn up – may suit many, but (obviously) not everyone, and above all, they must be framed in a broader context; there are also other muscle groups, periodization, joint limits, etc.

When drawing up a table to be published, one should always emphasize that one thinks of an “average” athlete. For the application on the individual – with all the possible problems that may arise – either you are good enough to “steal” the idea and modify it (by yourself) according to your needs, or you require advice.


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