Many guys develop a decent set of anterior (front) deltoid muscles, just from doing enough chest work. However, you’ll never max out your physique development and reach the height of muscle symmetry if you have flat, underdeveloped side (medial) deltoids sitting on your shoulders. Generally, the medial fibers of the deltoid do not get enough stimulation to get that round, full appearance from basic exercises alone. Nevertheless, this is fixable – but you must be willing to train with fire-blazing muscle tension to build the medial part of the deltoid.
If you thicken the medial part of the deltoid, your upper back and chest will look wider from the front, even when relaxed. Furthermore, thick medial deltoids will improve your symmetry, because your waist will look smaller. Seated dumbbell lateral raises are excellent for adding shape and size to the deltoids, without overly stressing the shoulder joint.
Overview of the Deltoid Muscle
The deltoid muscle caps five other muscles and the bony connections, which make up the shoulder joint. This deltoid has muscle sections that arise from three different bony regions on the shoulder girdle. The anterior fibers of the deltoid attach between the lateral part of the clavicle and the humerus bones. The anterior fibers flex the humerus at the shoulder (bringing the humerus bone of the upper arm forward), and also medially (internally) rotate the humerus at the shoulder. The posterior fibers of the deltoid originate from the inferior edge of the spine of the scapula, and insert at the lateral (outside) of the humerous bone (upper arm). These fibers extend the humerus (pull the arm backward). The medial fibers of the deltoid are primarily activated by seated lateral raises. They connect the acromion of the scapula and the humerus bone. Although weight trainers call this the lateral portion of the deltoid, these fibers are anatomically located in the medial region of the deltoid (with respect to the other fibers of the deltoid muscle). The medial fibers abduct the humerus, raising the humerus away from the side of the body.
The supraspinatus is one of the rotator cuff muscles and is activated by seated lateral raises. It begins near the cervical vertebrae, and attaches on the head of the humerus. Like the medial deltoid, the supraspinatus abducts the humerus. It also keeps the head of the humerus in the shoulder joint. The shoulder has been designed for mobility rather than stability. As a result, lifting huge weights has a greater potential to induce injury to the shoulder than other, more stable joints. This does not mean that you should not train the shoulders with decent loads, but the super-heavy stuff should be reserved for squats and deadlifts. Seated dumbbell side laterals provide superb stimulation for the medial fibers of the deltoids, without the need for hoisting super-heavy weights or risking injury to the rotator cuff muscles.
Dumbbell Side Lateral Raises
1. Place a short-backed 90º bench in front of a mirror. Sit on the bench and take a dumbbell in each hand. Turn your palms toward the side of your thighs.
2. Your elbows should be just short of straight, but your elbow joint angle should not change throughout the range of motion. Lean slightly forward, but look up so that you can see your arms in the mirror.
3. Slowly and simultaneously raise both dumbbells from a position that is beside your thighs, and continue lifting until the hands are just slightly above shoulder level. This is abduction of the arms. Both arms should work at the same time, and you should be able to draw a line that runs from one arm, through the shoulders, to the other arm. Your palms should be facing the floor as you are lifting the weight upward.
4. Continue to raise the dumbbells out to the side of the body until they are at shoulder level, so your arms are parallel to the floor. Rising higher than this will stimulate the trapezius, but it will not help develop the deltoid muscles any further.
5. As the top position is approached, begin to pronate the hands until the knuckle of the little finger is at about a 45º angle, relative to the ceiling. Hold the top position briefly.
6. Slowly return your arms to the sides by retracing your steps. This means that you will turn your palms back to a position that is facing the floor, then lower your arms toward your thighs.
6. Do not pause at the bottom, but immediately begin the lift upward. This will keep the fibers in the medial deltoid firing throughout the set. After you have completed 12-15 full reps, you can rest 60-90 seconds before starting your next set.
Many people sit too vertically during this exercise. To maximize activation of the medial fibers of the deltoid, remember to bend forward just a little. However, don’t bend your torso too far forward, otherwise the rear deltoids will get the load.
The next important point about this exercise is to make sure that you rotate at your shoulder (not just at the wrist), to make the knuckle of the little finger move upward as you approach the top of the lift. It is also important that you do the exercise strictly, without jerky movements. It is not necessary to worry too much about lifting superhuman weight. On the other hand, you cannot expect good results if you are lifting pencil weight, either.
The road to shoulder greatness is not easy, and you will have to push yourself if you want to be outstanding. Fully sliced shoulders are within your reach – if you want them badly enough. When the Average Joe wants to quit, you need to do 2 more reps. If you are careful in your exercise form and diligent in your training, over the next few months you should see new thickness and contours emerging from the recesses of your short-sleeve shirts.
Boettcher CE, Ginn KA, & Cathers, I 2009. Which is the optimal exercise to strengthen supraspinatus? Med Sci Sports Exerc, 41, 1979-1983.
Kibler WB, Sciascia AD, Uhl TL, Tambay N & Cunningham T 2008. Electromyographic analysis of specific exercises for scapular control in early phases of shoulder rehabilitation. Am J Sports Med, 36, 1789-1798.
Minning S, Eliot CA, Uhl TL & Malone TR 2007. EMG analysis of shoulder muscle fatigue during resisted isometric shoulder elevation. J Electromyogr Kinesiol, 17, 153-159.
Moore KL and AF Dalley. Clinically oriented Anatomy, Fourth Edition. Baltimore, Lippincott Williams & Williams, Kelly, PJ Editor, 1992, pp. 690-698.
Reinold MM, Macrina LC, Wilk KE, Fleisig GS, Dun S, Barrentine SW, Ellerbusch MT & Andrews JR 2007. Electromyographic analysis of the supraspinatus and deltoid muscles during 3 common rehabilitation exercises. J Athl Train, 42, 464-469.
Yasojima T, Kizuka T, Noguchi H, Shiraki H, Mukai N & Miyanaga Y 2008. Differences in EMG activity in scapular plane abduction under variable arm positions and loading conditions. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 40, 716-72.
Uhl TL, Muir TA & Lawson L 2010. Electromyographical Assessment of Passive, Active Assistive, and Active Shoulder Rehabilitation Exercises. PMR, 2, 132-141.
Have you tried this NEW workout plan that everyone is talking about?
Out with the Old: Change Your Workout to Improve Wellness
Take yourself back to the 1970s when Arnold Schwarzenegger was preparing for the Mr. Olympia contest. Everybody wanted to try his incredibly intense workouts. It has been rumored that Arnold’s workouts were so intense that at least three different trainers would have to give him separate workouts in order to keep up with him.
Following in the king’s footsteps, anyone who wanted to be a bodybuilder or get into shape undeniably thought that working out six days a week, two times a day, was the way to make this happen. Luckily for us and all of America, workouts have evolved from the old-school mindset to the new school.
Varying Your Workout Old School: Sticking to the same workout for months.
Although this was the go-to, this pattern isn’t always going to work. When you do the same sets and reps for every workout, you miss out on allowing your body to change.
New School: Implementing the SAID principle.
The SAID principle is an acronym for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand. When the body is put under different stress, it starts to adapt. In other words, the body is trying to get better. By providing your body with different types of sets, reps, and loads, you are able to tap into more of your muscle fibers, increase strength, and avoid plateaus.
Targeting Training Old school: Focusing only on the trouble spots.
This type of focus won’t work for the majority of people who are coming to the gym to work out or lose weight. When there is variety in your workouts, there is room for growth and development. Focusing only on the areas that are the weakest isn’t going to help the areas that are already strong continue to get stronger.
New School: Correcting trouble spots while also training strong areas.
Correcting a weakness and building on a strong point at the same time will enable you to improve your body as a whole. A way to correct those problem areas is to figure out exactly why they are causing you problems. The Functional Movement Screen captures fundamental movements, motor control within movement patterns, and competence of basic movements uncomplicated by specific skills. It will determine the greatest areas of movement deficiency, demonstrate asymmetries, and eventually correlate these with an outcome.
Cardio vs. Strength Old School: Focusing only on cardio will increase weight loss.
While it’s important to incorporate cardio into your workout regimen to help build and keep your cardiovascular systems stronger, it is not the only type of exercise that is needed for weight loss. Focusing only on cardio will lessen your chances of building muscle.
New School: Getting a healthy dose of both cardio and strength training will improve overall health.
Much like how a car stays warm after it turns off, the same can be said about your body after you finish a workout. EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) explains how your body’s metabolism can continue to burn more calories. Resistance training can provide a greater EPOC effect than running at a steady speed.
Out with the Old and in with the New
Training methods will come and go, and at some point the new-school methods will become old school. At NIFS we offer a wide variety of programs, assessments, and education to help turn those old habits into new routines. Stay positive, be willing to accept change, and explore to find what works best for you!
This blog was written by Ashley Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.
5 Eating Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Workout
As the saying goes: Abs are made in the kitchen. Of course, time in the gym helps, too. “I think nutrition for optimal performance and recovery has gained recent attention because some high-profile athletes have been public about their nutrition strategies. But the science behind this has been around for years,” says Cynthia Sass, MPH, a board-certified sports dietitian who has been a consultant to five professional teams and counsels professional athletes in her private practice.
Chef Lindsey Becker founded Tone House FUEL, a clean-eating program designed to help maximize recovery and boost results for people who work out at Tone House, an athletic-based group fitness studio in New York City. “A balanced, healthy diet with the right key nutrients can help your body become more efficient and enhance your athletic performance [in and out of the gym],” she says. “Consuming the necessary nutrients before and after exerting your body can help replenish energy stores, build muscle, decrease soreness, burn fat and repair damage or inflammation.”
Below Becker shares her tips for eating to get the most out of your workouts, with additional expert insights from Sass. Use their advice to ensure what you’re eating is supporting your exercise.
We often focus on calories, but nutrients also matter, Sass says. “Certain nutrients help your brain and muscles perform more efficiently, and others are crucial for recovering from the wear and tear exercise puts on your body,” she explains. The best macronutrients pre- and post-workout depend on the type of workout you’re doing, as well as the length and intensity.
“Eating the right foods will prevent you from crashing, boost your performance and help your muscles recover and grow stronger,” Becker says. “On the other hand, choosing the wrong foods could cause cramping, nausea, lack of energy and improper muscle recovery.”
Becker recommends beets, sweet potatoes, oats, spinach and eggs for their varied benefits. “Beets increase blood flow to working muscles, which can improve your workout and boost stamina, and are rich in antioxidants, which help fight the oxidative stress that can come with intense workouts,” she says.
She likes sweet potatoes for carbs, antioxidants and potassium; oats for steady energy and B vitamins, which help convert carbohydrates into energy; and spinach because a study found that it may help muscles use less oxygen, which improves muscle performance. And of course the incredible edible egg is a source of easily digestible protein to help rebuild muscles.
Aim to eat something that’s high in carbs, moderate in protein and low in fat, sugar and fiber 2–4 hours before a workout. Some macros aren’t ideal before the gym. “Eating too much protein or fat close to the start of a workout can lead to cramps or a brick sitting in your stomach because protein and fat take longer to digest,” Sass says. “Also, the goal of a pre-workout snack is to fuel the workout. If the food is trapped in the digestive system, it’s not available to working muscles when they need it.”
That’s why carbs are great — they’re generally easy to digest and provide readily available, easily burned fuel. Becker recommends oatmeal with a sprinkling of hemp seeds (for protein) and sliced banana or a smoothie.
Sass recommends eating 30–60 minutes after a particularly tough workout. However, although improper recovery can make you go into your next workout weaker and increase the risk of injury, you only need to refuel within an hour after hard-core workouts. This isn’t so crucial after a walk or moderate-intensity group fitness class, particularly if you’ll be eating a meal soon after, Sass says.
“Consuming the necessary nutrients after exerting your body can help replenish energy stores, build muscle, decrease soreness, burn fat and repair any damage or inflammation,” Becker says.
Good advice for anyone, this is even more important for active people because “nutrients are key to performance and recovery, and unprocessed foods are naturally nutrient-rich,” Sass says.
Becker and Sass agree that refined sugars have zero nutritional benefit and fried and greasy foods can be difficult to digest and cause cramping during a workout. So skip that leftover pizza before your morning indoor cycling class.
Great as they are, you shouldn’t only consume these five foods. “Eat them strategically,” Sass recommends. For example, fuel up with oatmeal, sweet potato, beets or green juices pre-workout, and enjoy eggs with veggies and avocado after a morning workout.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT WORKOUT
Fitness Rescue 911: New Workouts for the New Year
Greetings NIFS friends! Hopefully your New Year’s resolutions are keeping you more active at the gym and less active at the buffet line. All joking aside, getting back to the gym can be challenging, especially if you are not sure what to do when you get there or if you are burnt out on cookie-cutter workouts that are barely working anymore. With that being said, introducing new equipment, ideas, and strategies can be a daunting task. Don’t let that get you down, though, because we are here to rescue your workout!
Breathing life into your workout can have numerous benefits. Sometimes the benefits allow us to break through plateaus, keep us interested in what we are doing (refocusing our goals), and give us variety (aka “the spice”). Highlighted in this blog are three pieces of equipment that may be overlooked by the simple reason that we just don’t know what it is or what it can do for our body. Without a doubt, just trying these exercises will not only be challenging, but also effective as you strive to reach your fitness goals.
Tire and Sledgehammer Workouts
The tire and sledgehammer workout was derived out of simplicity, necessity, and function. There are two main exercises to consider here, tire flips and sledgehammer strikes. With an optional smaller tire, one does not have to possess the strength of Paul Bunyan to complete this task (but there are bonus points if you do). To flip the tire, first squat low and get your fingers under the edge of the tire. As you stand up, use your legs and drive your body into the tire, leveraging it up on its end. The tire should tip over easily and come to rest square on the ground.
The other exercise is called sledgehammer strikes. This is not much different than chopping wood or driving a railroad spike. Because your goals may not include having the strength of a lumberjack, there are several sledgehammer weight options to choose from, ranging from 8lb to 16lb. Strike directly in the middle of the tire to avoid a glancing strike. Try this in your next workout:
5 tire flips, 20 strikes (10 each side) for 4 sets
The slideboard was designed as a means of training lateral movements as well as developing balance and stability in the lower body and core. If done properly, this exercise can also produce a high-intensity workout all while gliding side to side. As an application, the strength and power developed from this lateral movement translates well to the world of speed skating, where athletes are known for incredible leg strength.
Because the gliding might not feel as natural to everyone, there are other exercises to consider, including Slideboard Hamstring Curls and Slideboard Mountain Climbers. For both exercises, you will need to use the booties to decrease friction (otherwise, the exercises won’t work). For Hamstring Curls, position your body toward the end of the board, with your knees bent and heels on the slick part of the board. Keeping your back flat and head down, raise your hips fully. Finally, extend your legs and return to the starting position. For beginners, this can be done with one leg at a time.
The other exercise, Mountain Climbers, is done by positioning the body at the end of the slide board in an “all-fours” position. With your toes on the slick part of the board, rise up so that your knees are off the ground. At a quick tempo, slide your legs inward, being sure to alternate legs. Additional pushups can add some variety to this movement. Try this in your next workout:
12 Hamstring Curls, 30 seconds of Mountain Climbers x 4 sets
One thing to consider when making workouts: most of the good equipment and exercises have already been invented. The slosh pipe, a unique, homemade piece of equipment, is both odd and beautiful at the same time. It allows us to think and work so far out of the box that everyone can benefit in some way from using it. Basically, a slosh pipe is a PVC tube (3 or 4 inches in diameter and anywhere from 40 to 96 inches long) filled halfway with water and sealed on both ends. The water is meant to slosh around inside the pipe, hence the name Slosh Pipe.
Thinking outside the box, the pipes can be used to develop strength as well as core, balance, and stability. Two exercises to try here include the half-kneeling overhead hold and the walking lunges. The first exercise, the overhead hold, is pretty self-explanatory: find a slosh pipe and hold it over your head for time. The pipe needs to be moderately heavy, but if there is a question about safety, always have a spotter on overhead lifts such as this one. As you hold that weight overhead from a half-kneeling position (one knee up, one knee down), seconds turn into minutes. There is a constant rebalance happening with your core, as water tips one way or the other. Grip strength and overall upper-body strength are challenged as fatigue sets in. Lower the weight back to the floor with the help of a partner.
The other exercise is a walking lunge. This is accomplished by holding the slosh pipe in the crooks of your elbows and performing a walking lunge. The same effects as the overhead hold are prevalent. Try this in your next workout:
45–60-second half-kneeling Overhead Hold, 20 walking lunges x 4 sets
As you can see, there are several pieces of equipment at the gym that you may have overlooked. Keep looking; there are more than you think. The NIFS staff of Certified Fitness Professionals strives to give you not only a good workout, but also to introduce you to new exercises and cutting-edge equipment. If you want a new routine to save your resolution from disaster, contact NIFS’ Fitness Rescue to set up a strategy session, testing, and workout.
This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.
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