At the ’10 Arnold Classic we saw one of the most exciting pro debuts in years in the form of Roelly Winklaar, a dual resident of the Netherlands and the island of Curaçao off of Venezuela. Roelly’s 240-pound physique was a true breath of fresh air in a sport that grows stale fast at times.
Chief among his standout body-parts were his incredible shoulders and triceps, which had many people drawing comparisons to IFBB legend Kevin Levrone. I was able to speak to Roelly shortly after the contest and learn how he trains his delts. To my surprise, it was quite unlike what most pros do—and something that would be very suitable for older, more experienced trainees who may have issues such as rotator cuff problems or arthritis. Heavy weights are not only unnecessary but practically impossible.
Though the following routine is more representative of what Roelly would do during contest prep, I gave it a try and found it perfect for more mature trainees. The bulk of the workout consists of three or four rounds of the following tri-set:
Exercise 1: Seated dumbbell presses with no back support. If you’re used to doing all your shoulder pressing with back support, as I am, prepare to be humbled. I can put up a pair of 100s or 110s any old day for a good set with back support, but sitting on a flat bench, I found that 40s were kicking my ass! Maintaining your balance and control is what makes it so much more difficult, but you do feel your shoulders working harder. Roelly believes in a very full range of motion, actually touching the ’bells to the shoulders at the bottom. Going lighter, as you’re forced to here, makes that enhanced range of motion possible and safer.
Exercise 2: Alternate front raises. Theoretically, you should use the same dumbbells for these, as there should be no rest after the presses; so you can go right into alternate front raises using a hammer grip.
Exercise 3: Bent-over laterals. Finally, after hitting failure on front raises, you bend forward and proceed to whack your rear delts. You can use the standard hand position in which your knuckles face each other at the start of every rep, or you may get a better contraction in the rear delts by rotating your palms forward so your thumbs face each other in the bottom position. Rest about 90 to 120 seconds, and do the tri-set all over again.
Don’t be ashamed if you have to select a lighter pair of dumbbells at any point. Three or four rounds of this, and your shoulders should be lit on fire—but it’s not over yet. Finish with a superset of two more dumbbell movements.
Lateral raises. Nothing too fancy here; just do your best to maintain good form. Winklaar does them with very little bend in his arms to stress the medial delts to the max. Forget about heavy weight. He rarely goes heavier than a 40 in each hand, so 20 pounds would probably work fine for most mere mortals.
“Shoulder Bombs.” I’ve seen slight variations of this exercise on rare occasions over the years. Sit on a flat bench with a fairly light dumbbell in each hand. To begin, your palms face the mirror and your thumbs point to the ceiling. The start position is just below parallel to the ground. Then, you raise the dumbbells up and together in an arc until they touch, attempting to get your thumbs pointing to the ground. I doubt many of you would want or need more than three of these supersets.
The entire workout shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes or so, but the pump and resulting soreness will be all it takes to convince you that Roelly Winklaar’s unique shoulder training methods can indeed be a Dutch treat for your own delts!
Editor’s note: Ron Harris is the author of Real Bodybuilding, available at www.RonHarrisMuscle.com.