Shoulders Make The Man!

Golden Era Legend Boyer Coe developed the following shoulder workout routine around the 70’s. Use my great tag-system at the bottom and click ‘Boyer Coe’ for more articles! – Mr. Berg

“Ask any veteran bodybuilder what they will notice first about a bodybuilder and they will probably answer “overall symmetry”. Nothing contributes more to one’s overall symmetry than broad shoulders, capped off with well developed deltoids. This is absolutely one body part that cannot be overdeveloped.

Just look at the bodybuilders we consider the best by today’s standards. Bill Pearl, Sergio Oliva, Reg Park, all of these champs have outstanding shoulder development which contribute to their overall greatness.

As you know, the deltoid is composed of three separate muscles; the anterior, lateral and posterior muscles. Each must be fully developed to give the deltoids that rounded full appearance.

I will outline several different exercises I feel will give you complete deltoid development.

I believe that the best deltoid developers are the pressing movements; therefore; I always include a lot of pressing movement in my shoulder routine.

1) Handstand Press-Ups
This is my favorite deltoid exercise. Two benches should e placed about shoulder width apart against a wall, then you kick up into a handstand with the feet resting against the wall. Lower the body until shoulders touch the edges of the benches, then press up into a handstand. By the time you can do 6 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions you will have deltoids the size of “cannon-balls”.

2) Widegrip Press Behind Neck

boyer coe press behind neck

The wide grip press behind neck is always a good standby for shoulder development. This exercise has contributed more to outstanding shoulders than any other single exercise. The only tip I would like to suggest about this exercise is the hand spacing. It is of upmost importance that you use a collar to collar grip, this even works better if you have an Olympic bar. By using the collar to collar grip the movement places all the stress on the deltoids instead of allowing the triceps to come into play.

3) Wide Grip Press With Dumbbells
For super lateral deltoids try standing press with dumbbells held out to the sides. Hold the dumbbells out at right angles by shoulder strength only. Now press the dumbbells to arms length overhead. This isn’t an easy exercise and you won’t be able to handle much weight at first but stick with it and watch those delts respond.

4) Seated Lateral Raise

boyer coe lateral raises

The movement in this exercise is basically the same as the standing lateral raise except it keeps the upper body motionless so that there is little chance of cheating. In order to get the maximum in deltoid development you must do as little cheating as possible. Start with the arms hanging at the sides, slightly bent at the elbow. Raise them slowly and steadily to slightly above the shoulder level. Do the movement without a fast start and try to hold the dumbbells at the high position for a second before lowering. Lower the dumbbells slowly and steadily resisting the weights all the way down.

5) Incline Lateral Raise, One Arm

boyer coe shoulder workout bodybuilding
This is the exercise that the great Steve Reeves used to do all of the time and when done correctly it works solely on the side deltoid head.This is one exercise where weight is of minor importance compared to the exercise form, so you must do it properly for best results.

The arm is never locked out during the movement, rather always keep a slight break in it. The most important form factor is the position of your palm…everyone tends to bring up inside of the palm, the thumb side and this is where everyone goes wrong. This will only work the anterior deltoid head and not the lateral one. And it’s the side you are striving to work.

Well, the answer is to keep the rear of the plan higher than the front. This will severely limit the amount of weight you can use, but it also is the only way to correctly activate the side deltoid.

6) Rear Incline Lateral Raise

This is an excellent exercise for the rear deltoids and without this portion of the deltoid fully developed you will never achieve well rounded deltoids. Sit face down on an incline bench. The bench should be on a 45 degree angle, no higher. Take a dumbbell in each hand and slowly raise them out to the sides. Return to starting position resisting all the way down.

7) Dumbbell Circles
One of the best all-round shoulder exercises, one that develops all of the deltoid heads; anterior, lateral and posterior, is the Dumbbell Circles.

Stand erect and hold a pair of moderately heavy dumbbells at arm’s length out to the sides and rotate them in circles.

This circular movement activates all the deltoid heads. As the dumbbells are raised upwards the lateral head gets a good workout and as they rotate backwards the posterior are brought into play. When the dumbbells move forward the anterior head receives the benefit.

After reading over these exercises I suggest you pick out several and give them a try. The important thing to remember is to perform your exercises in a strict manner. Really concentrate on the exercise you are doing, this should be remembered while doing all exercises. Another thing to remember is to change your routine at least once every six weeks. There is no one best exercise, and change will keep your interest at a peak.

And if your enthusiasm for your workouts is always high, half the battle is already won.”

photos by Cliff Swan

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