Train the Olympia Way: Shoulders

You’ve likely heard the phrase “head and shoulders” above the rest. In bodybuilding, if you want to be at the top of the lineup, then the a pair of boulder shoulders are definitely required. Round and wide delts are a must if you want to be the last man standing at the Olympia — or…

You’ve likely heard the phrase “head and shoulders” above the rest. In bodybuilding, if you want to be at the top of the lineup, then the a pair of boulder shoulders are definitely required. Round and wide delts are a must if you want to be the last man standing at the Olympia — or if you want to stand out in your local gym.

Having big shoulders won’t just help you look better, but also make you stronger and healthier, too. You’re more likely to have stronger lifts, be more useful in everyday life (i.e. be able to lift heavy boxes with ease, compared to your small shoulder friends) and avoid injury easier. Nothing sucks more than a shoulder injury, so why not avoid that by making them as strong as possible.

The shoulder muscles, as you may or may not know, or separated into three main parts: the anterior deltoid (front of the shoulder), medial deltoid (middle of the shoulder), and posterior deltoid (the back). Certain exercises may stimulate one part of the shoulder over the other, which is why it’s vital to have a diverse shoulder workout routine. You can’t just stick to one move and expect to grow this vital body part out.

We’ve gathered the best exercises that five Mr. Olympia winners have relied on to take their shoulder development to world-class levels. Pay attention to the details as they have and you’ll reap your own rewards. To help with this, check out the workout at the bottom and try it out for yourself.

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Jay Cutler – Seated Lateral Raise

Cutler’s impact on the sport continues to be felt seven years after he last competed on the big stage. One of his trademarks that stood out throughout his career was how round and wide his delts look. They made his waist appear even smaller than it already was. One key to those delts was doing lateral raises seated. When Cutler talked training with Flex, he expressed why this was important.

“When you’re sitting, there’s less tendency to cheat. You can also angle your torso in the exact way that the exercise works best for you without having to worry about balance.”

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Arnold Schwarzenegger- Arnold Press

There simply can’t be an Olympia shoulder program without this movement that was designed by “The Austrian Oak”. The seven-time champion created this exercise in his competitive days and it’s still used by athletes over 40 years later. While it activates all three heads of the shoulder, Schwarzenegger broke down the Arnold Press to Flex and shared why he liked it for one certain area.

“The low starting point offers a much longer range of motion and, in my opinion, greater muscle building benefits and better development of the front deltoids.”

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Dexter Jackson — Reverse Pec-Dec Machine

“The Blade” has won more shows (29) than any other bodybuilder in history. The most significant win was the 2008 Mr. Olympia when he upset Cutler to take the title. He is still a top contender 12 years later thanks to how he had adapted his training. For shoulders, he opts for machines when doing rear delt flyes.

He told Flex that he learned from the champions that came before him. “As I got older, I changed my training. Guys like Ronnie [Coleman] and Dorian [Yates] kind of fell apart at the end because they didn’t change their training. I do more isolation and machine exercises now. It works for me, as long as I train hard with good form.”

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Phil Heath — Face Pull

“The Gift” was renowned for the genetics he already brought to bodybuilding but one knock on him was narrow clavicles. So he had to commit extra time to making sure his delts looked “3-D” onstage. For his rear delts, he explained to Flex that face pulls were the gift that kept on giving.

“Not everyone uses this move, but I love it because I get better pumps out of this than with any other exercise for my rear delts. This is basically a multi-joint move for rear delts the way dips are for triceps. Rear delts can never be overworked.”

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Dorian Yates — Dumbbell Shrugs

Most bodybuilders train traps with shoulders while others do so with back. “The Shadow” simply knew he had to develop them to the best of his ability and found later in his career that dumbbell shrugs were the answer. He shared why dumbbells were his preference with Flex.

“The dumbbells allowed a range of motion I couldn’t experience with a barbell. The result was growth and unprecedented traps stimulation from bottom to top. As with all of the other exercises in my routine, there is a specific form that must be adhered to for the dumbbell shrug to be maximally effective.”

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Olympia-Winning Shoulder Routine

  • Seated Lateral Raise – 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Arnold Press – 4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Reverse Pec-Deck – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Face Pull – 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Shrug – 3 sets of 12 reps

*Try to add weight each set, taking the final set to failure. Rest for 90 seconds between sets.

This story originally appeared on: Muscle & Fitness - Author:Roger Lockridge