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SHOULDERS and TRAPS

 

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Nothing completes a physique like a good set of deltoids ("delts", the shoulder muscles), complimented by strong looking Trapezius (Traps) muscles!  There are 3 heads (sections, front, side, and rear) on the deltoid and although they all participate in any shoulder exercise it is best to work them from all angles so nothing is left out.  The front delts get worked the most from other exercises such as Bench Press and Incline Press.  They still must be worked separately but the main focus should be on the side and rear delts.  On to the exercises!


Dumbbell Press:  Stand or sit on a bench (a bench with a back at a slightly backwards angle is recommended).  Hold a dumbbell in each hand on top of your shoulders then press the dumbbells straight overhead and lower back to starting position.  (see picture)


Military Press:   This can be done standing or seated.  If standing, either clean a bar to chest level, or lift it off supports on a power rack.  The bar should be resting on the upper chest and the grip should be shoulder width or wider.  Press the bar straight up until your arms lock out and lower back to the chest.

If seated, lift the bar off the overhead supports and hold at arms length.  Lower the bar to the chest and press back up to lockout.


Behind the Neck Press:  This is similar to Military Press but the bar is lowered behind the neck instead of to the chest.   This helps bring the side and rear delts more into play.

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Standing Behind the Neck Press


Upright Rows:  This is one of the best for the rear and side delts.

Pick up a barbell from a rack or the floor using a wider than shoulder width grip.  Lean slightly forward and pull the bar up to the upper chest or neck level.  At the top of the motion, "dip" your body down and squeeze the shoulders, try to hold it there for a second, then lower slowly.


Laterals:  These can be done from any angle (front, side, and rear) using dumbbells or a cable on a low pulley.  A great "finishing" exercise after doing the pressing movements.

Front:  Use two fairly light dumbbells, about half of what you press with, or less.  Hold the dumbbells with your arms hanging down, but slightly bent using a pronated (palms toward you) grip.  Lift one arm straight forward away from you keeping the elbow almost straight until it is 90 degrees to your body or higher.  Hold it for a second, then slowly lower and do the same with the other arm.  Alternate arms.

Side:  Start in the same position as for Front.  Lean slightly forward and lift both arms out to the sides away from you keeping your hands pronated (thumbs down, little finger up) until the arms are at 90 degrees or more to the body. Imagine you're holding 2 cans of beer and you're dumping them out, because it's fattening.

Rear:  These are best done sitting on a bench but can be done standing (bent over).  Start with a dumbbell in either hand and if standing, bend forward at a 90 degree angle.  If seated, bend forward until your chest is against your knees.  Keeping the arms almost straight, raise the weights in an arc out to the sides, hold for a second, then lower slowly.


Shrugs:  Shrugs work the Trapezius, or "Traps" muscles which are between the shoulder blades at the base of the neck.   Shrugs are about the only exercise that works them directly although Bent-over Rows work them quite well indirectly.  Use as heave a weight as you can but make sure your using your traps and not just bouncing with your knees.  This can be done with a barbell or dumbbells.  If you have them, use wrist straps to secure your grip as you will eventually use very heavy weights for this one.

Pick up a barbell using an over-hand grip about shoulder width or less apart.   Let the weight pull your shoulders down, and then lift the weight using a "shrug" motion, try to touch your ears with your shoulders. Hold in the upper position for a second or two and lower.


Farmer's Walk:   This exercise simply involves picking up two heavy dumbbells (as heavy as you can lift) and holding or walking with them until you drop them.  These will greatly improve your grip strength and help build the forearms as well.


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