The Taper Turns Heads
MODEL: TIFFANY CAMPBELL
WRITTEN BY: By the Editors
PHOTOS BY: ROB HOLDEN
MAKEUP AND HAIR BY: BRITTANY KENNEDY
It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female: Bigger delts make the waist look smaller and give you a coveted V-taper that tells the world you are committed to working out. Broad shoulders turn boys into men and girls into athletic women. The best physiques display shoulder spans that dwarf the width of the waist. Some have even gone as far as calculating the perfect shoulder-to-waist ratio using the proportions of classic bodybuilders. The best “look” is where your shoulders measure 1.618 times your waist. You don’t need to bust out the tape measure though. Just know that one of the most important things you can do to improve your physique is to build those delts. And for those of you that are genetically cursed with slow-to-grow shoulders, you can make the most of your genetic potential in the delt department by avoiding some of these training pitfalls.
The pump is functional It’s not just for selfies and posing at the mirror – achieving a muscle pump actually serves a purpose. The better you are at pumping a working muscle group with blood, the more potential that muscle group will have for growth.
Reasons Delts Stop Growing
- Forgetting to body build. Having one go-to movement for shoulders won’t cut it. That approach may be fine for strength, but not so much for hypertrophy. So if you’re married to overhead pressing, and only overhead pressing for shoulders, then your delt size and shape will stagnate after a while.You’ll need a variety of movements to hit all three heads (anterior, posterior, and medial) maximally. You’ll also need to use as much weight as you can tolerate for a variety of rep ranges, not just the 1-5 range.
- Lifting like grannies. Yes, a controlled (and even slow) eccentric – the lowering or negative phase of the lift – is an important component of hypertrophy. But delt-challenged lifters often forget about the concentric or lifting phase. They move the weight up granny-slow. Remember, faster concentric tempos can recruit high-threshold motor units that have big potential for muscle growth.
- Forgetting to increase the training load. Do you habitually grab the same sets of dumbbells when working your shoulders? If you’re using the same exact dumbbells from week to week, then commit to trying just a few reps with dumbbells that are one step heavier than you’ve been using.You might surprise yourself and find that a few reps turns into a whole set of 8-10.Don’t worry if you can only get two or three. Just do what you can, then drop-set to weights that are more manageable. Next time, go for 4 reps before you drop down, then 5, then 6, etc.
Pro Tip: Yes, there may be value in having an even cadence when performing multiple reps, but if you’re letting an extra-slow tempo keep you from increasing to weight you’re capable of lifting, you’re doing it wrong. THE WORKOUT: “There are shoulders, and then there are DELTS! You want a pair of your own? Here’s the workout that can help you build them! See if you can keep up.”
1. WARM UP WITH SOME LIGHT DYNAMIC MOVEMENT
- a.Use battle ropes, or if they aren’t available, a garden hose might work.
- b.Slam the battle ropes for 3 sets of one minute to get blood pumping.
- c.Bonus, this movement engages core muscles to keep posture.
2. STEP UP THE WEIGHT WITH A SEATED PRESS
- a.Starting position is where elbows are just below the shoulder
- b.Finish position is with arms extended and core strong, chest up
3. TURN IT AROUND AND PULL DOWN A BIT
- a. With a wide grip and chest pointed toward the ceiling, feel your rear delts and lats stretch and focus on them before pulling down
- b. Keeping strong in the midsection with shoulders back and chest up, pull down by concentrating on using the rear delt in a slow deliberate motion
4. UPRIGHT ROWING FOR A BURN
- a. Standing solidly near a low pulley, or using a barbell, keep your shoulders back to start
- b. Pulling up and not allowing your body to sway forward, emphasise contraction of the side delts
- c. Bring the bar in line with your clavicle, keeping your elbows up to fully contract the muscles
5. DROPSETS ON THE LATERAL RAISE
- a.Keeping a strong posterior chain, and your shoulders back, begin the lateral raise with fully extended muscles.
- b.Feeling the width of your shoulders as you slowly move the weight up to where your hands are parallel with your shoulders, squeeze at the top for a pause.
Here’s what you need to know…
The Deal on Delts
- Powerful looking shoulders will have the greatest overall impact on your appearance, even making your waist look smaller.
- Remember to body build and avoid lifting like a granny. To get stubborn delts to grow, use a variety of intensity techniques.
- The pump serves a purpose. To get the most out of it, you need to activate the muscle and pre-load it with nutrients.
- Build slow-to-grow delts by giving them at least one dedicated day in the gym.