By: Joel Stubbs, IFBB Pro; Photography by: Robert Reiff; Model: IFBB Pro Joel Stubbs
[Q] I like to train all my bodyparts hard and heavy, but a lot of pros say that training shoulders with heavy weight is too much of a risk. What exactly is the risk?
[A] I train shoulders as I do any bodypart – hard and heavy. Proper warm-up and some stretching is most important before attempting a heavier weight, but your shoulders must be developed like any other muscle group. With shoulders, the problem for some is that they’re used in just about every upper-body exercise. Because the joint allows for considerable movement, it also compromises stability. A number of smaller muscles are also involved, including the rotator cuff, which can be unforgiving if you don’t train properly. The bottom line is that heavy weights combined with sloppy form can result in a shoulder injury, specifically to the rotator cuff. The key is to find a safe way to consistently challenge your shoulders with heavier loads while still using strict form. The best way you can ensure long-term shoulder health is to warm-up properly, use an experienced and attentive spotter, train hard and make stretching a regular part of your routine.
[Q] I don’t mix in any specific exercises for my front delts because I figure they get enough work on chest day, especially with incline movements. Is this a mistake?
[A] I think the chest workouts will enhance the appearance of your front delts, but you must cater to your front delts separately if a complete physique is your goal. I do barbell and dumbbell front raises, but as contest time approaches I’ll add straight-bar cable raises. By keeping chest and shoulders a few days apart in your split, you won’t compromise pressing strength on one or the other, or overwork the front delts by training them on consecutive days.
[Q] What’s the best exercise for targeting my middle delts? Do you prefer lateral raises with a cable or dumbbells? I’m having trouble developing that nice, wide look.
[A] Both moves are useful, but I mostly use dumbbells to target my middle delts. To really get the burn, I’ll set up three pairs of dumbbells ranging from 30–50 pounds in 10-pound increments. Then, I’ll do four drop sets – 15 reps with each weight. You won’t be able to raise your hands afterward! Still, after that I’ll go to the cables and do raises for 15 reps per set, for up to four sets.