Quick anatomy lesson: The shoulder is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body. The shoulder joint is formed where the humerus (upper arm bone) fits into the scapula (shoulder blade), like a ball and socket. The largest muscle of the shoulder is the deltoid, which is basically separated into three “heads” – the anterior, lateral and posterior. This large triangular muscle covers the glenohumeral joint and gives the shoulder its round shape. It stretches across the top of the shoulder from the clavicle in the front to the scapula in the back. It then stretches downward to near the center of the humerus bone. Different fibers of the muscle are responsible for different actions, including raising the arm (to the front, side and rear) and assisting the pectorals. In addition, the rotator cuff of the shoulder is made up of four distinct muscles, which include the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis. These muscles collectively stabilize the shoulder and hold the head of the humerus into the glenoid cavity to maintain the principal shoulder joint.
Here are eight excellent ways to accomplish all of these things…
- Make sure your deltoid program is complete, containing laterals to the front, side and rear, as well as overhead presses and upright rows.
- For building maximum strength and shoulder stability use free weights (barbells and dumbbells) for the majority of your routine, but do not hesitate to include some cable and machine work as well so all resistance curves are covered.
- Perform some of your exercises unilaterally in order to make sure strength imbalances are evened out between your left and right sides.
- Use a full range of motion on all shoulder exercises so the muscles are strong and stable from a stretch to contracted position.
- Warm-up your rotator cuffs with various internal and external rotation exercises before training chest or deltoids. Also include these movements as part of your actual shoulder-training program with somewhat greater resistance to build strength into these muscles.
- Control the negative stroke of each rep, taking about 2-4 seconds to lower the weight. Use as explosive a concentric (positive stroke) contraction as possible to increase power and muscle hypertrophy.
- Stretch the shoulders thoroughly after every upper body training session, but not before.
- Do not use the same exact movements every time your train shoulders in order to prevent overuse injury.