Shoulders can be tough to train in isolation, given the joint’s complexity—but that doesn’t mean that you have to keep your upper body workout days completely vanilla to stay healthy. With smart programming, you can build up 3-D deltoids without much worry.
Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. uses this shoulder finisher to rock his delts and core, while keeping the issue of safety in the forefront of his mind. “In general, you shouldn’t need to slam your shoulders too hard with isolation movements,” Samuel says. “Especially if you’re bench pressing, your front delts are getting a ton of stress, and the last thing you want to do, for the long-term health of your shoulders, is overtrain them and get them rolling forward; that’s an invitation for shoulder impingement issues.”
Rather than following your bench with more heavy shoulder-specific exercises on your next chest or upper body day, just finish off your workout with this routine.
To perform the L-to-Lateral Raise Finisher you’ll need an incline bench and a pair of light dumbbells. Don’t go too heavy here; Samuel recommends only using 12 to 12-pound weights. You’ll get plenty of work in from the move’s unique positioning.
Men’s Health/Eric Rosati
- Sit on the incline bench with your chest against the pad, holding the dumbbells in each hand.
- Perform an L-raise by lifting your right arm straight out in front of your chest while simultaneously lifting your left arm laterally.
- Repeat the L-raise, then pause at the top for a count to create tension.
- After 2 reps, switch arms so that your left is forward and your right lateral, then repeat the cycle, holding for a count on the second rep.
- After both reps, perform 2 standard lateral raise reps.
By going light and focusing on your form, your able to affect every part of your shoulder. “You’re hitting the lateral head with those lateral raises, getting a little bit of anterior delt work, and you’ll hit the rear delt more than you expect on the lateral raises thanks to the position of the bench,” says Samuel.
But your shoulders won’t be the only muscle group straining. Due to the imbalanced L position, you’ll work your core, too, as you strain to keep your arms steady and level.
Add the L-to-Lateral Raise Finisher to the end of your upper body workouts with 3 sets of 3 to 4 clusters. For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.
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