By Chris Wilson, Head Strength Coach
I have been involved in the iron game for 20 plus years and I have never been able to understand why certain bodybuilders/weightlifters possess an immense faculty for making exercise difficult.
So here’s a crazy statement, “Successful bodybuilding isn’t that difficult!”
It’s just most people aren’t willing to commit to the four principles that are required. All you have to do is observe the common sense rules of Exercise, Diet, Rest and Relaxation, and in addition, possess a very basic knowledge of the working of the muscles and that’s all there is to it.
Simple just not easy.
Commitment to these 4 principles long term is what leaves people in the dust. Only a few brave souls can hang on for the ride.
That is why all of the mainstream bodybuilding magazines and websites go over these common sense rules every single month in new and exciting ways…because people are always looking for a way to get there that isn’t so long and arduous.
But the principles never change.
That being said, let’s tackle a very real issue plaguing guys in gyms everywhere: How to get bigger, wider shoulders?
There is no doubt that massive deltoids are the distinction of a man. I have to say though that the deltoids are slow-growing, sometimes frustrating to train, and often meager in the observable development as you have personally noticed with regard to your own development.
Shape training and or isolation movements have their place but none will stimulate the whole deltoid complex as completely as compound movements. The good news is so long as you have a power rack (cage), here is what I propose to strengthen and thicken your deltoids.
If you want to work the deltoids brutally hard, begin your first exercise with the standing Military Press or Overhead Press (OHP) with a barbell but with a twist. This exercise should be performed in isometric style in a power rack, doing isometric stops and at 3 different stages or positions of limited movement.
The 3 stages or positions are:
- pressing the barbell from shoulder level to eye level
- pressing the barbell from eye level to 6 inches from a lockout position
- pressing the barbell from 6 inches from lockout to lockout position
Do the most difficult stage of the isometric stop first, then the next hardest, and finally the least difficult.
Let’s assume that the most difficult position for you is stage 2 of the standing military press. Place a barbell on the set of starting pins (where the movement will begin) at eye level, beginning with a poundage that is approximately 70 percent of your current one-rep maximum of unlimited movement (full extension and full contraction) in this exercise. As your workouts progress, you will want to use training loads of 80-90 percent of your one-rep maximum.
A second set of power rack pins (called holding pins) should be placed at approximately 6 inches from the actual lockout position of the standing military press. These are the pins that you will be pressing the barbell against.
Begin the exercise by pressing the barbell off the starting pins. As the barbell makes contact with the holding pins, begin applying a measured resistance of 3 seconds to reach a peak sustained contraction. Hold this sustained contraction for 9-12 seconds. At the completion of the measured sustained contraction, take 2 additional seconds to release the tension as you lower the barbell down to the starting pins. This completes stage 2.
Now set up for the next hardest position (it could be #1 or #3) and finally the least difficult position, using the measured time factors described for stage 2.
After you have completed the Standing Military Press (done in isometric style, performed once only at each stage), you can begin to do Seated Dumbbell Presses for a total of 3 sets of 6 reps each. I favor the use of dumbbells for a couple of reasons.
First, they develop a greater stabilization of the muscular structure of the deltoid region than the barbell. Second, the deltoids are best exercised from a range of 45° below shoulder level to a range of 45° above shoulder level (after which the synergist muscles of the scapula, trapezius, and the triceps muscles do the rest of the work), and this is easier to perform with a set of dumbbells than with a barbell.
Press either the dumbbells from 45° below shoulder level to the top of your head in non-lock style. I am not going to get into frequency of this type of training as you should know that already.
My closing thoughts would suggest first that you concentrate on contracting the thighs, glutes and abdominals and by doing so you will be able to press more weight overhead.
Our legs and core drive our success in all upper body exercises, large or small, so let them assist you in your mission to grow bigger, stronger shoulders.
By Chris Wilson, Head Strength Coach
If building muscle and getting ripped is your goal BUT you don’t have access to a gym, you prefer to workout at home or you just prefer to do body weight only exercises, you’re in luck.
But let me be clear, building muscle is simple, it’s just not easy as they say. Simple meaning you A. need to workout consistently, B. eat a healthy, high protein diet and C. get some quality Zzzz’s every night.
In theory, if A, B and C are dialed in, you’re going to see some terrific results. But as I said, simple, just not easy.
So let me make this as “easy” as possible for you and focus only on building a better back.
Guys in particular hold a significant amount of fat in their back (especially after they hit 30) yet the back can be the most aesthetically pleasing part of the human body. Think of all the musculature in the back and how amazing it is to see definition in a man or woman.
A sculpted defined back usually translates to everything looking better and giving you that tapered look so many elite athletes have and top level physique competitors strive for.
The question then becomes: Is there any way to build the strong, muscular back you envision without weights?
Well, there is one routine in particular that I can think of that will help you get into excellent shape using just bodyweight only exercises to help you get leaned and strong with developed back muscles.
Several years ago a Dr. Frank I. Katch and his brother Victor (both of whom hold EdD, and PhD in exercise science and physical education respectively) developed a unique formula as it applies to bodyweight only exercises.
The formula is based on the Exercise / Rest principle and it goes something like this:
As a starting point you must pick out a non-apparatus exercise(s) such as the bodyweight Pull-up. I’ve chosen the pull up because it’s a compound movement targeting a large number of muscles and joints at once and is super beneficial for all people in life.
Note: You can also do this with Push-ups, Dips, Deep Squats, Pistol Squats, Sissy Squats, and Hand Stand Push-ups to name a few more bodyweight only exercises that target a large number of muscles at once.
Using the Pull-up as an example, begin by performing these exercise for as many ultra-strict repetitions as possible within a 10 second time frame. Now rest for exactly I0 seconds; after the 10 second rest, immediately begin to perform some more Pull-ups for I0 seconds, then take another 10-second rest. Continue this pattern of I0 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest for 9 more complete cycles, for a total of 10. On each of the succeeding five days you increase the number of cycles by two.
This stage, as well as stages 3, 4, and 5, consists of 6 workout days and begins with 10 cycles of work and rest, increasing to 20 cycles by day six. The noted difference in this stage and the stages to follow are varying degrees of rest between each cycle. Within this stage (2) you will perform 15 seconds of exercise and take 10 seconds of rest per cycle,
At this stage you switch to 20 seconds of exercise and take 10 seconds of rest per cycle.
Now you do 30 seconds of exercise and take 10 seconds of rest per cycle.
In the last stage you do 30 seconds of exercise and take 5 seconds of rest per cycle.
To summarize, here are the steps for successfully completing the FIVE stages of the exercise/rest principle.
- Each individual stage (I-5) consists of 6 non-consecutive workout days in a two-week time frame. The workouts could be performed on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Rest days include: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
- Begin each new stage on Day 1 by doing a minimum of I0 nonstop sequences of the exercise/rest principle, then on each scheduled workout day thereafter be sure to add 2 nonstop sequences (as in the detailed stage 1 example).
- Always do as many ultra-strict repetitions as possible during the work phase.
Follow the Exercise/Rest Formula as described and you discover a renewed interest in performing Bodyweight Only exercises especially as it applies to Pull-ups and the development of the musculature of your back.
If you get GREAT at doing pull-ups applying the Exercise/Rest principle, here is a Challenge for you!