The deltoids, the muscles on the point of the shoulder, are important. They control the arm, aid in applying the power which makes it possible to box, wrestle, lift, throw or hit a ball, play any game, swim and every other athletic endeavor or type of work. We are not wrong in considering the deltoid to be the chief shoulder muscle, through its importance in moving the arm, but it does not move the shoulder. The shoulder is raised chiefly by the trapezius muscles, the muscles which extend from the base of the neck to the point of the shoulder, it is assisted by the sterno mastoid, the rhomboideus, the levator scapulae; the forward movement by the pectorals, the backward movements by the latissimus, trapezius and rhomboideus, the downward movement by the latissimus and the pectorals, the rotary motions by a combination of all these.
Some of these muscles are very, very powerful so are never developed to more than a fraction of their strength by the average man. For the advanced barbell man finds it easy to shrug one shoulder whole standing astride a 400 pound barbell which he holds with one hand; some of the outstanding strong men of the past who made a specialty of carrying heavy weights on one shoulder, carried over a thousand pounds in this manner. Horace Barre, to win a small wager, walked across the gymnasium with 1200 pounds upon one shoulder. Using a harness, with the weights supported by one shoulder, men have shrugged the shoulder with over a thousand pounds suspended from it. With this brief description of the strength possibilities of the shoulders, you are beginning to realize that you have a task cut out for you if you wish to have shoulder development which even approximates that of the famous men of might and muscle. It is necessary to practice a variety of exercises, with the accepted training appliances, using light and heavy resistance to develop as many as possible of the millions of muscular fibres, of the scores of complete muscles which make up this section of the body.
In the book “Big Arms” the movements were offered as dumbell exercises, barbell exercises, expander exercises, as well as chinning, dipping and climbing exercises. In this book I think it advisable to offer the exercises in a bit different manner. We will include them in four categories as follows:
Group 1. Leverage exercises, primarily designed to develop the deltoids.
Group 2. Repetition exercises which bring the entire shoulders into action.
Group 3. Combination movements which bring the muscles of all the body as well as the shoulders into action.
Group 4. Special exercises.
The two best known of the exercises in Group 1 are the forward raise while standing, and the lateral raise standing. The forward raise can be performed with a barbell, but it is customary to use dumbells in practicing these movements as good results will be had with moderate weights. To perform the forward raise, stand at attention, hold a dumbell in each hand, knuckles front, bells against thighs, keeping arms straight raise slowly and steadily until they are extended overhead. Breathe deeply as the weights go up, exhale as they are lowered. Raise and lower the weights with comparative slowness, so that the resistance can be felt every inch of the way. It is more important that the exercise be performed correctly than to use a heavy weight. If “cheating” is done with a heavy weight, if the bells are swung upward instead of being lifted primarily by the deltoids, instead of being a good deltoid movement, it will be a combination back, shoulder and deltoid movement. The instruction I am offering with this exercise should be kept in mind while practicing all the other movements of this class of leverage exercises.
Advanced weight men seldom use more than 20 or 25 pound bells in this movement. Siegmund Klein, one of the greatest of middleweight strong men, long famed for his splendidly developed physique, uses 20 pounds 15 repetitions in this movement. Henry Steinborn, the strongest man in wrestling, who has the ability to perform many outstanding feats of strength, also uses 20 pounds in these leverage exercises. Steve Stanko, the 1944 Mr. America, world’s lifting record holder, the world’s strongest man when was concentrating on lifting and breaking world’s records, having hoisted 382 pounds overhead in the clean and jerk (this is the world’s record), having pressed 320 pounds, habitually practices with 20 or 25 pound dumbells. And while doing so he greatly improved his physique and built a magnificent pair of shoulders, arms and a wonderful chest. So don’t feel that you must use very heavy weights in these movements. Performing the exercises correctly is most important. The bells should extend over the widest possible range of movement, stretching, building, strengthening the muscles from one extreme to the other. These exercises are quite fatiguing, so moderate resistance will suffice.
Lateral raise. After loading the dumbells amount or selecting the weight you wish to employ if you are using solid dumbells, stand in the position of attention as in the previous exercise, heels together, toes out, forming an angle of 45 degrees, the dumbells resting at the side of the thighs, knuckles out, arms hanging loosely at the sides. From this position, keeping the knuckles up and the arms straight throughout, raise them well above shoulder height. Pause for two seconds, then lower. Inhale as the weights are raised slowly, exhale as they are slowly lowered.
One of the favorite exercises practiced by John Grimek is the alternate forward raise. He habitually performs this movement with a heavy pair of dumbells, for while it is practiced chiefly to develop the front of the deltoids, when heavy weights are used many other muscles are benefitted.
One of the preferred exercises of many of the champions of lifting, strength and development is the forward raise with barbell. Practiced strictly as a deltoid exercise, the bar should be loaded only to a moderate weight, and raised and lowered slowly as in the dumbell exercise, entirely with deltoid strength. Then, as in the alternate dumbell forward raise, a la Grimek, at times a much heavier weight can be employed. Frank Rollet, of San Francisco, who teamed with his wife, makes one of the most famous and highest paid dance teams in the nation, specializing in advanced adagio dancing, lifts his wife overhead and spins her around in seemingly impossible manners, practices this forward raise with barbell more than any other exercise. I believe more than any other five exercises. He employs quite heavy weights for him – 125 pounds (he is not a very large man, about 5-8, 180 pounds bodyweight). He keeps his arms straight but puts considerable body movement into the exercise. It has aided him in building a magnificent deltoid development.
John Davis, of the York Barbell club, who as a young lad of 17 startled the world by winning the world’s 181 pound class championship at
Jules Bacon, 1943 Mr.
The forward raise develops the front of the deltoid, the lateral raise the largest part of the deltoid, the middle muscle, to develop the back of this powerful three part muscle, start with a pair of dumbells in each hand, knuckles to the rear, then extend the arms backward and upward as far as you can, while keeping the elbows straight. While this is one of the best triceps exercises you will feel that it does things to the back of your shoulder.
One of the best shoulder developing exercises one which develops all the upper back muscles in addition, is practiced while bending over at right angles. Stand with legs straight, arms hanging downward, keeping the arms straight raise them up to or past shoulder level. Continue until tired. While 25 pounds in this movement will provide plenty of exercise for most body builders, some of the best strength athletes use 45 pounds. Be sure that you raise and lower the arms slowly so that you can feel the weight every inch of the way. At times you can practice the swinging movement with more speed and heavier weights, but then it will be an upper back exercise as much as a deltoid movement.
There are two weight lifting movements on which records are kept in
The crucifix as it is usually termed or the Horizontal Equipoise with weights as it is called in
An outstanding record which has been created in the performance of this feat is Georg Hackenschmidt’s support of 90 pounds in the right hand and 89 in the left. Although this record was established in 1902 it has not been exceeded more than a pound or two to this day. This was performed with the weight in hand, palms up. The late George Petroski, killed in the invasion of the
Various combinations of the forward and lateral raise are practiced at times. This movement could start with the weights, as in the forward raise, up to shoulder height, then out to the side still with the weight at shoulder height, then down front, out to the side and down to the sides. The movement could be varied as desired.
The swing bar permits of a very wide variety of movements which build the deltoids from every possible angle. This outstanding body building device, which has been used regularly by so many champions of lifting and development, may be used in the forward raise as with dumbells or barbells and in a variety of swinging movement which rightfully should come under the head of repetition exercises, group two.
Take a pair of dumbells in the hands of moderate or light weight, extend them to the front, and then swing them in circles while holding the arms straight in front at shoulder height. A similar movement may be performed while holding the arms out to the side at shoulder height. You will soon feel that these movements provide considerable exercise for the deltoids.
With the swing bar somewhat similar movements are performed. Hold the swing bar front, at shoulder height, twist as far as you can to one side, then to the other. Hold the swing bar overhead and swing first to right and then to left. If you don’t own a swing bar, this movement may be performed with a barbell, probably the bar alone will be sufficient to start, extend to the front and twist as with the swing bar.
In series two of group number 1 are a great series of movements which are performed while lying in the supine position either on floor or preferably on a bench. The bench permits a greater range of movement. Although these exercises are normally considered to be chest building exercises, while they are the best chest developers known, as all are performed with arm movement, the pectorals are brought into vigorous action. They are prime developers for the entire upper body, rib box, pectorals, upper back, and of course the deltoids and as we are primarily concerned with deltoid development in the book, they should be made an important part of the training of every body builder. These exercises are easy to perform, only moderate weights are used, and they bring a fine reward in development.
Those who are familiar with the life and deeds of Steve Stanko will know that first he was a famous football player and when America needed a heavyweight lifter to compete against the Germans in 1938 both in this country and abroad, Steve Stanko leapt into the breach caused by an injury to our then heavyweight champion Dave Mayor. In his first year of lifting competition he wan the district championship, the junior national championship, the senior national or United States championship, making new American records in the process, and was second in the world’s championship, making the highest clean and jerk and two hands snatch performed by any of the world famous lifters who were in action. He improved as a lifter and soon established world’s records in the press, snatch and clean and jerk, as well an the total. He increased his press from 236 pounds in 1938 to 320 pounds in 1941, his snatch from 253 to 310, his clean and jerk from his record of 330 in April of 1938 to 347 ½ in June of that year, finally to 382 pounds cleaned and jerked ten times one afternoon in training in the York Barbell gym. Steve was definitely the world’s strongest man, the world’s strongest weight lifter, he was lifting a total of nearly one hundred pounds higher than the Olympic champion. And then gradually at first and more rapidly as he continued to extend himself to the limit, breaking world’s record after record, an old injury which had first manifested itself when he was playing football, became worse and Steve was through as a top flight lifter for the time at least. His trouble was phlebitis, or a blood clot of the leg, the flow of the blood in the legs was impeded and if Steve exercised his lower extremities the legs would become almost as hard as wood and be very painful. He had to give up training for a time and during that period his weight dropped from a top of 230 to 176. After about a year of inactivity while in a generally bad state of bodily condition he started training again, this time and for several years to come, all of his exercises were performed while lying down. Not single exercise in the standing position. Nearly all the movements performed were with dumbells of moderate weight, usually twenty pounders, rarely more than a pair of twenty-fives. Steve improved at once, he gained weight, soon weighed 209 and looked good enough in the upper body that he showed up very well in posing for the exercises of the Simplified System of Dumbell Training. He continued to improve and finally culminated his efforts by outscoring all other men in the junior and senior Mr.
The most common exercise practiced in this position is the two hands pull over. The weights are pulled from the thighs to a position well back of head. As the bells go back a very deep breath is taken and as they come forward all of the breath is exhaled. The average body builder executes this movement as a part of his regular training program, after he has performed a heavy exercise which leaves him panting for breath, then better results are obtained. It may be necessary while in this breathless state to extend the arms only over a quarter circle so that more oxygen will be obtained by the lungs for use throughout the body; when you have caught up a bit in your breathing, continue to exercise with the dumbells covering a half circle.
This exercise is usually known as the breathing pull over. When practiced as a breathing exercise, a thorax expander, moderate weights should be used. If heavy weights are employed breathing is difficult and the exercise becomes a combination of a poor chest expanding exercise and a poor muscle building exercise. Practice the movement two ways, with moderate weights to build the chest and the shoulders, and then as an actual muscle building exercise in which little thought is given to the breathing. Used as a muscle builder many leading strength athletes will employ weights of considerably more than 100 pounds.
The lateral raise while lying is the next most commonly practiced exercise of this series. Taking a dumbell of moderate weight in each hand, they are extended to straight arms over the body. From that position they are lowered to a position level with or below the shoulders, the arms should be held straight throughout and in the beginning employ a light or moderate weight until the tendons and ligaments become strong enough to withstand the moderate strain. You may feel this movement on the inside of the elbow joint. Continue the movement until tired. Twenty movements being about the right number, as some days you will repeat the same exercise a number of times. Some men who train with weights will cross the arms over the chest instead of stopping with the weights over the head at the middle stage of the exercise. This will bring a few more muscles into play, notably those of the back of the deltoids.
A third popular movement and one which is a favorite of our Big Champ, Steve Stanko, is started with the weights touching the lower thighs laterally, the palms turned in toward the body. From this position, keeping arms straight and the dumbells at shoulder height, they are swung inn a half circle around and well back of head, continue this movement until tired. It will provide the muscles of the chest with a fine workout but will develop the muscles of the deltoids to a pleasing degree.
Some will vary the two arm pull over at times by widely spreading the arms as they are being brought back of the head, then back to the position on top of thighs. This variation puts the muscle into action in a diverse manner and rounds the shoulder and pectoral muscles.
A good substantial bench or two are essential in your home gymnasium. You need one for the Stanko type of exercises, for the bench press, and the various dumbell and barbell movements. You need two of them for the rowing motion while lying face down and for the two excellent movement I’m about to suggest. The second bench is placed on top of the first for a single bench is too low, the arms will touch the floor before they can be extended to full length under the body. Lie down, with the head extended over the bench. Start with a dumbell of moderate weight in each hand, the arms hanging below the head. Keeping the arm straight raise one dumbell forward until it is in line with or above the body, when ready to lower this dumbell start the other one on its upward journey. You will notice that you will be performing a forward raise, alternately, in the prone position, which will place additional muscles of the deltoid in action, will develop and strengthen them.
There is an advantage in performing the rowing motion in this prone position, for no movement of the body is possible and you can be sure that the entire movement is being performed by the arms and muscles of the upper back rather than the entire back as is done when too many body builders find the weight a bit heavy.
Remaining in the position assumed for the former exercise, with the same pair of dumbells, but with the arms turned slightly so that the knuckles are now to the side instead of to the front, keeping the arms straight, raise the dumbells until they are at shoulder height or above. Although you will note that this exercise is similar to the movement where the dumbells are raised to the side while the body is inclined forward at right angles to the legs, no cheating is possible with this movement, so that better results are obtained.
There are two other exercises which will help the shoulders as well as the pectorals. It does not exactly belong in this group as it is performed with bent arms, but since you are in position, using your bench, you may as well practice them too. The first is known as the flying exercise, it is a favorite of our team member Jake Hitchins, and was instrumental in helping him build an 18 inch pair of arms and a wide spreading pair of shoulders. It is somewhat similar to the lateral raise except that the arms are permitted to bend at the elbows, therefore much heavier weights can be employed. Jake often used a pair of 100 pound dumbells. The movement is performed somewhat similarly to the flying of a bird. The dumbells are brought together above the upper chest, and then as low down as the upper abdomen, this brings the muscles into action over a wider range and of course places more muscles, ligaments and attachments in action. Continue this movement until tired.
The other exercise is somewhat similar to Steve Stanko’s third exercise except that instead of extending the arms forward and back at body level, they are folded over the body and brought forward close to the body in coming forward, in returning to the position at thighs the arms are kept straight and at body level.
These are the best of the leverage movements while lying down. If you desire to put in a day at times practicing only lying down exercises, you can repeat these movements as often as you like. It is not unusual for Steve Stanko to perform 5 series of 10 movements each with every one of his exercises which have been offered here.