T Nation

Direct Delt Work


For those athletes who cannot/should not do overhead pressing movements: what do you recommend (if anything) for direct delt work?

Also, do you recommend any pre-hab exercises for the delts, that should be in every athletes arsenal?

Overhead pressing and delt work seem to be a hot topic these days! As I stated in a post earlier, I personally haven’t done any overhead pressing in over 3 years and it looks like I’ll never do it again. My personal experience does make me cautious when training my athletes with regards to their shoulders.

I would suggest you hit the external rotators 2X a week. Make sure you’re working both the teres minor and infraspinatus by varying your upper arm position when training the rotators. (Arm at your side and arm abducted)

Also hit your rear delts with bent-over laterals, cable “scarecrows”, reverse pec deck, etc.

We also do a lot of work for our traps with thick bar and dumbell shrugs, seated dumbell power cleans, etc.

You can do some front delt work, but we don’t do many. With all of the heavy pressing variations that we perform, it doesn’t fit into the training economy.

I used to do a lot of behind the neck pressing with no pain. Poliquin always said that this was one of the best exercises to improve your bench. Recently, the top of my shoulders have hurt for 2 days after any overhead pressing. After reading these posts, I think I may stop overhead pressing as well.
I was checking out the pic of coach DeFranco on this guest forum and if he built those massive shoulders of his without any overhead pressing, why risk it.

If your shoulders are hurting for 2 days after overhead pressing, I would remove them from your program. It’s just not worth it. I know it’s tough at first, especially if you enjoy doing them, but beleive me, surgery is tougher!
You can still build a big bench without your behind the neck presses. As you get older, you learn to train around certain injuries. It sucks, but that’s the way it is. There are so many exercises that I miss doing, but the fact of the matter is I can’t afford another surgery. Training is my livelihood and I couldn’t even imagine taking 8-10 weeks off for surgery.

Anyway, enough of the negative talk! Get back in the gym and train your balls off! Following a westside template or a variation of it is guaranteed to improve your bench - and you don’t have to perform any overhead pressing. As I stated above, I would suugest that you incorporate external rotator work into your program 2X a week. Vary your upper arm positions to hit both the teres minor and infraspinatus and static stretch your pecs and lats between sets. This made a tremendous difference in my shoulder function as well as eleviating a lot of my AC joint pain.
Give it a shot!