11 laws of building boulder shoulders: Part 1

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Laws 1 to 5

Bulging biceps, tree trunk legs, we all want different things. But if you want boulder shoulders, then you’ve come to the right place.

Because though we are the dons of protein powder, we know that there is no point in taking supplements if you don’t do the hard work, and that you do it right.

So follow here is part 1 (law 1 – 5) of our boulder shoulder bible. Enjoy.

1. Overhead press is king

Do-a-Military-Press-Intro

Image source: Wiki How
The King that isn’t buried in Leicester…

As you all know the first rule of bodybuilding club is to start with multi joint exercises first. These are usually the most beneficial but also the most energy sapping, so you should do them when energy levels are at their highest at the beginning of your workout. They are also known as compound exercises because they incorporate the greatest degree of muscle mass, and the boss of compound exercises for your shoulders is the overhead press which targets all three deltoids in addition to other assisting muscles like the triceps.

When performing the overhead press, the sweet spot in terms of rep ranges for hypertrophy is using a weight that causes muscle failure at 6-8 reps.

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2. Utilise both seated & standing overhead press

seated-over-head-dumbbell-press

Image source: YouTube
Follow the link for a full video

Although the body motion of an overhead press is identical whether you are sitting or standing upper, when standing you generate more thrust from your hips and knees which typically allows you to use more weight, or do more reps than the seated press allows.

Seated presses are considered better for isolating the targeted muscles because you are unable to utilise the momentum generated during a standing overhead press. You will have to sacrifice some weight when doing seated presses for the same reasons. Each variation has its place in a well-designed shoulder programme.

3. Free weights over machine

dumbbells-on-weight-rack

Image source: Nerd Fitness
Heaven?

Free weight overhead presses, using either a barbell or dumbbells, require extra effort to stabilise the weight, which is not relevant when using a machine. As with most things in life though, you get out what you put in. And you gain more from the extra effort required when working with free weights. This doesn’t mean rule out machines completely, they can be great for drop sets at the end of a session or can be used if initially uncomfortable using free weight equipment.

4. Don’t be tricked into going too heavy

cute-puppy-with-free-weight

Do not try this with your dog…

You may start to really progress your strength and size after training shoulders for a while, but don’t get too overconfident and put too much weight on the bar, understand your current limits and progress your weight slowly and realistically. When performing an overhead press behind the head, at the bottom position of the press where the barbell is directly behind your head the shoulder muscles are in their weakest anatomical position, having too much weight on the bar massively increases risk of injury.

5. Upright rows are your friend

how-to-an-upright-row

Image source: Wikipedia
Let the man help you…

Uprights rows are not just for traps; if you use a moderate width grip where the upper arms point directly out to the side this targets the middle delts. As with any upright row you’re also going to be including the trapezius in this exercise and it’s advisable to do these after your overhead presses or at the end of a session as a burnout.

Read part 2 here

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