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IRON MAN E-Zine: Issue #318: Press Here for Shoulder Size

IRON MAN E-Zine: Issue #318:
Press Here for Shoulder Size


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Press Here for Shoulder Size

Q: I’m using Jonathan’s 10-Week Size Surge Workout [in the 3D Muscle Building e-book], and for shoulders it has dumbbell upright rows as the first exercise for midrange work; then I do incline one-arm laterals for stretch and standing laterals [contracted]. I added two sets of dumbbell presses after that, as you’ve suggested, for some overhead shoulder work. My question is, Why are you now recommending presses first? I see at your training blog that you do Smith-machine behind-the-neck presses as your first shoulder exercise. Aren’t those dangerous for your shoulder joints?

A: We only do behind-the-neck presses first if we use a technique that allows lighter weight, such as negative-accentuated (six-second lowering) or 10×10 (10 sets of 10 reps, all sets with the same weight). As you said, heavy weights on behind-the-neck exercises can wreck your rotator cuffs.

For heavy pressing at the start of a shoulder workout, we use either Smith machine military presses (to the front) or dumbbell presses…

So why presses first all of a sudden? Variation. We simply got burned out doing dumbbell upright rows first. We still feel that DB upright rows is the Ultimate Exercise for the medial-delt heads; however, pressing is a decent midrange option for the shoulders every so often, even if they emphasize the front heads more than the sides.

The side heads do come into play on any type of overhead press, whether you do them to the front or behind the neck. But the behind-the-neck version tends to emphasize the side head more than front presses because your arms stay back in line with your torso. That’s why we use the behind-the-neck version when we can–but, like we said, only with lighter weights. In other words, not on Power week in the P/RR/S program.

Q: I’ve been following your Quick-Start Muscle Building Guide [for beginners]. I’m currently on week 4, and it’s a great program. I’m already seeing results, but I’ve been reading about X Reps and the Positions-of-Flexion approach to lifting. I want to start using those soon. I currently have only a pair of dumbbells, an EZ-curl bar and an adjustable bench. Which program I should follow next? I’m not sure I can do POF with my limited equipment.

A: That’s a limited gym alright, and if you’re going to continue working out at home, consider adding some essentials. For now you can continue progressing with what you have–although you didn’t say if the dumbbells are adjustable or selectorized (so you can change the weight by moving a pin or twisting a dial; you may want to check out the PowerBlock if you’re going to keep training at home; it’s pictured and explained on page 42 after the home-gym version of the Quick Start program).

A good program to move to next is Jonathan’s 10-week Size Surge, but you may need to add some equipment to get the best gains. The first five weeks is a big basic program, three days a week; the second five weeks is full POF workouts for every bodypart (there’s also a chapter in the 3D Muscle Building e-book on X Reps and how to use them). Here are a few substitute exercises for a home gym:

•Leg extensions: Do old-style hack squats instead, heels on a 2×4 and bar held at arm’s length behind your butt; do squats, but flex your quads at the top of each rep.

•Leg curls: If you train alone, you may have to get some bands and connect them to an upright so you can hook your feet in them, lie on a bench and do band leg curls; if you have a partner, he or she can wrap a towel around your ankles and provide manual resistance through the leg curl stroke.

•Crossovers: Do flat or decline flyes with dumbbells, but squeeze your pecs for two seconds at the top of each rep.

•Incline cable flyes: Do incline flyes with dumbbells, but squeeze your pecs for two second at the top of each rep.

•Pulldowns: Do chins (you need some type of chinning bar–there are some good doorway-mounted ones).

•Machine pullovers: Dumbbell pullovers; then undergrip chins (like we said, you need a chinning bar).

•Behind-the-neck pulldowns: Delete these (the reasons why are explained in the e-book).

Ab Bench crunches: Full-range crunches on a bench, your feet on a bar across the uprights and your upper back hanging off the end somewhat so you can get a stretch in the rectus abdominis.

All the other exercises in the program you can perform with heavy dumbbells.

If you’re going to continue training at home, we highly recommend adding more equipment so you have more variety and can train heavier (for suggestions see IRON MAN’s Home Gym Handbook–there’s also a home-gym POF program in that book; note that it’s a book, not an e-book).

Taking your gym and workouts up a notch will be worth it. Using heavy basic work in Phase 1 and following with five weeks of full-range POF training is how Jonathan packed on 20 pounds of muscle in one 10-week period with the Size Surge program

Till next time, train hard.

—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson

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This Special Report was submitted by Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman.
The IRON MAN Training & Research Team
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