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Brad Schoenfeld, CSCS is the author of six books, including Sculpting Her Body Perfect, 28-Day Body Shapeover, and Look Great Naked. He’s certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and by both the American Council on Exercise and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America; he’s also been named “master trainer” by the International Association of Fitness Professionals.

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Look Great Naked! with Brad Schoenfeld, CSCS
by Brad Schoenfeld, CSCS, Fitness Expert

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It takes hard work to develop strong, well-shaped shoulders. More than anything, though, it takes smart training. If you have the desire, here is a plan to get the most out of your efforts.

Most people think a complete shoulder routine consists of performing a few sets of shoulder presses. Not! Although the shoulder press is a terrific upper body exercise, you need a more varied routine to achieve complete shoulder development. Understand that your deltoids - the primary shoulder muscles - have three "heads" (anterior, medial and posterior), whose fibers run in different directions. In effect, this essentially allows them to function as three separate muscles and provides the ability target them with different exercises.

Contrary to popular belief, the shoulder press is mostly a front delt movement - not an overall shoulder developer. Here's why: A muscle is most active when it's placed in a position to directly oppose gravity. When you perform a shoulder press, what portion of your delts is in a straight line with the direction of gravity (i.e. sits on top of the shoulder)? Go ahead and see for yourself, it's the front delt! That's right, the medial head is angled backward and the posterior head lies back further still. Take home message: exclusively using shoulder presses to train the shoulders ultimately results in overdeveloping the anterior delts while leaving your other two heads lacking.

In order to achieve your goal of increasing shoulder width, you need to focus your efforts on the medial (middle) head of your delts. The medial delts are most active in movements that involve shoulder abduction (bringing your arm out and away from the midline of your body), and the primary shoulder abduction exercise is the lateral raise. But it's not enough to simply add a few sets of lateral raises into your routine; you need to perform them properly to achieve ...    Continue

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