T Nation

Medial Delt Progression


#1

Alright, this has been confusing me for a while now. Looking around, reading around, and from my own experiences, there doesn't seem to be a significant progression in weights people use for medial delt exercises, particularly for DB laterals. I mean, reading old posts from this forum most people seem to be using 25-40 pounds for their lateral raises.

And while I'm sure all of them have different levels of "cheat" to their form, the take home point I see is it's not a muscle group and exercise that tends to lead to much actual weight progression. Especially since what seems like progression very likely ends up being you're just using a little looser form.

So I guess my question is, given the difficulty of really "progressing" with most medial delt lifts, how is it that people are obviously able to build up their shoulders when the weight they use doesn't change much? Week in and week out you'd basically be using the same weight for the same reps. Even if you have a good MMC, it's still the same load and TUT and everything.

A lot of people mention focusing on really pumping the muscle up. My issue with that is at some point you have to have some progression, in some manner, to stimulate growth right? I can't just do 3x15 with 25 lbs week after week and expect continued growth, wouldn't there have to be some stimulus/reason given to the muscle to get it to grow to adapt? Yet many guys with respectable physiques are still using 25-40 lbs, with relatively similar form.


#2

As a practical matter, the DBs carried by most gyms do not lend themselves to using a weight-based approach to measuring progression on lateral raises, because the weight-intervals available are simply too great. Consider: Going from work-sets with the 15s to the 20s on lateral raises represents an increase of 33%. That would be akin to, say, increasing one’s work-set weight on bench-press from 300 to 400 pounds–not something most would attempt. For purposes of doing laterals, it would be nice if gyms carried DB weights of 10s, 10.5s, 11s, 11.5s, etc; but this is impractical. (Although IIRC, magnetized doohickeys can be purchased that allow one to increase the weight of a DB in <1# increments.)

Be that as it may, ‘progression’ need not be thought of only in terms of how much weight is lifted. With respect to getting bigger/stronger, it’s better to think in terms of power than weight. With regards to weightlifting, power can be defined as

Power = Work/time,

where ‘work’ is defined:

Work = Weight x reps.

Putting them together, we see that

Power = (Weight x reps)/time.

As the equation makes clear, power output can be increased by either a) doing more work, or b) doing the same amount of work in less time. And ‘doing more work’ can be accomplished by lifting more weight for the same number of reps or doing more reps with a given weight.

As discussed above, so far as lateral raises are concerned, increasing power output via increasing weight is often impractical. Thus, one should focus on increasing output via manipulation of the other components of the Power formula; ie, with a given weight, try to get more reps in the same amount of time, OR get the same number of reps, but in less time (ie, with shorter rest intervals).

tl;dr Use a weight you can handle with good form, and progress by getting more reps and/or shortening your rest intervals.

(As an aside, and IIRC, Charles Staley refers to ‘density’ rather than power in the formulation above.)


#3

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:
As a practical matter, the DBs carried by most gyms do not lend themselves to using a weight-based approach to measuring progression on lateral raises, because the weight-intervals available are simply too great. Consider: Going from work-sets with the 15s to the 20s on lateral raises represents an increase of 33%. That would be akin to, say, increasing one’s work-set weight on bench-press from 300 to 400 pounds–not something most would attempt. For purposes of doing laterals, it would be nice if gyms carried DB weights of 10s, 10.5s, 11s, 11.5s, etc; but this is impractical. (Although IIRC, magnetized doohickeys can be purchased that allow one to increase the weight of a DB in <1# increments.)

Be that as it may, ‘progression’ need not be thought of only in terms of how much weight is lifted. With respect to getting bigger/stronger, it’s better to think in terms of power than weight. With regards to weightlifting, power can be defined as

Power = Work/time,

where ‘work’ is defined:

Work = Weight x reps.

Putting them together, we see that

Power = (Weight x reps)/time.

As the equation makes clear, power output can be increased by either a) doing more work, or b) doing the same amount of work in less time. And ‘doing more work’ can be accomplished by lifting more weight for the same number of reps or doing more reps with a given weight.

As discussed above, so far as lateral raises are concerned, increasing power output via increasing weight is often impractical. Thus, one should focus on increasing output via manipulation of the other components of the Power formula; ie, with a given weight, try to get more reps in the same amount of time, OR get the same number of reps, but in less time (ie, with shorter rest intervals).

tl;dr Use a weight you can handle with good form, and progress by getting more reps and/or shortening your rest intervals.

(As an aside, and IIRC, Charles Staley refers to ‘density’ rather than power in the formulation above.)[/quote]

Good post.

Another way to progress is to adjust the amount of elbow bend, body position, and start position of the DBs.

From easiest to hardest (YMMV, but this is what I’ve found):

  1. Standing, DBs start in front, elbows at 90°
  2. Standing, DBs start at sides/straight down*, elbows at 90°
  3. Standing, DBs start at sides/constant tension**, elbows at 90°
  4. Seated, DBs start at sides/straight down, elbows at 90°
  5. Seated, DBs start at sides/constant tension, elbows at 90°
    6,7,8,9,10. Same as above w/elbows at 120°
    11,12,13,14,15. Same as above w/elbows at 150° (IE “slight bend”)
    16,17,18,19,20. Same as above w/tris contracted (IE “straight arms”) - this can be rough on the elbows so use with caution; crushes the delts though

*straight down = at the bottom of each rep the upper arms are perpendicular to the floor, removing tension from the delt
**constant tension = the upper arms do not lower enough to release tension from the delts; this is somewhere around 15° from perpendicular to the floor


#4

Most of the large chain commercial gyms I’ve seen have db’s that go up in 2.5 lb increments from the 5’s to at least the 50’s, so you don’t have to be dramatic with your jumps. Honestly, heavy laterals are a dumb idea for most. It’s the definition of a pump movement. If you can get the same benefits (or better) controlling the 30’s why risk it with being sloppy with the 50’s?


#5

Haven’t progressed in weight on laterals in year. Delts keep growing weird


#6

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:
Haven’t progressed in weight on laterals in year. Delts keep growing weird [/quote]

Indeed. Thus, my post.


#7

Useful stuff guys, thanks. Something I’ll keep in mind as time goes on.


#8

[quote]staystrong wrote:

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:
Haven’t progressed in weight on laterals in year. Delts keep growing weird [/quote]

Indeed. Thus, my post.[/quote]

Yep just saying I’ve never progressed on anyting with lateral delt training other than Mmc. Most people suck at it and so did I. Too much trap is used by most people. You should be able to feel very worked with 15-20lb DBs if you can’t then working on using your medial delt better would be best


#9

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:

[quote]staystrong wrote:

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:
Haven’t progressed in weight on laterals in year. Delts keep growing weird [/quote]

Indeed. Thus, my post.[/quote]

Yep just saying I’ve never progressed on anyting with lateral delt training other than Mmc. Most people suck at it and so did I. Too much trap is used by most people. You should be able to feel very worked with 15-20lb DBs if you can’t then working on using your medial delt better would be best [/quote]

Heard or read somewhere to start from your pockets (instead of your sides) and stop right below your arms being parallel to the floor. That and using exaggerated pauses has been the biggest difference maker for my shoulders. Never gone above the 20’s since doing it and my shoulders are the best they’ve ever been.


#10

Thought this was pretty cool:

I’ve also watched a lot of Ben Pakulski’s videos, and the way he describes the performance of shoulder isolation movements is pretty awesome. I’ve been getting a lot better MMC on lateral and rear delt training since.


#11

^ I tried these today; liked them but didn’t love 'em. They turn the movement into a isometric hold and a negative.

Then I had the idea of pairing them with a more traditional lateral raise and I hit on something I love. I did 8 of the raises the way Poliquin shows, then I dropped the weights and immediately grabbed lighter weights, did 12 reps and smoked my delts.

So, 5 sets of:
8 Poliquin laterals x 25lbs/12 traditional laterals x 17.5 lbs

My delts were on fuego.

Great find, SN, thanks for sharing.


#12

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:
^ I tried these today; liked them but didn’t love 'em. They turn the movement into a isometric hold and a negative.

Then I had the idea of pairing them with a more traditional lateral raise and I hit on something I love. I did 8 of the raises the way Poliquin shows, then I dropped the weights and immediately grabbed lighter weights, did 12 reps and smoked my delts.

So, 5 sets of:
8 Poliquin laterals x 25lbs/12 traditional laterals x 17.5 lbs

My delts were on fuego.

Great find, SN, thanks for sharing.

[/quote]

how long will it take doing your new exercise,to know if it will make your shoulders grow?


#13

[quote]confusion wrote:

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:
^ I tried these today; liked them but didn’t love 'em. They turn the movement into a isometric hold and a negative.

Then I had the idea of pairing them with a more traditional lateral raise and I hit on something I love. I did 8 of the raises the way Poliquin shows, then I dropped the weights and immediately grabbed lighter weights, did 12 reps and smoked my delts.

So, 5 sets of:
8 Poliquin laterals x 25lbs/12 traditional laterals x 17.5 lbs

My delts were on fuego.

Great find, SN, thanks for sharing.

[/quote]

how long will it take doing your new exercise,to know if it will make your shoulders grow?
[/quote]

Roughly from the time you first try 'em til you notice shoulder growth. Somewhere in there.


#14

[quote]confusion wrote:

how long will it take doing your new exercise,to know if it will make your shoulders grow?
[/quote]

I’ll give it 6 weeks. I’ll see progression in reps, weight, TUT, etc before I even see any physical changes. I just have to trust I’m doing the right thing and keep going.


#15

[quote]WhiteFlash wrote:

[quote]confusion wrote:

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:
^ I tried these today; liked them but didn’t love 'em. They turn the movement into a isometric hold and a negative.

Then I had the idea of pairing them with a more traditional lateral raise and I hit on something I love. I did 8 of the raises the way Poliquin shows, then I dropped the weights and immediately grabbed lighter weights, did 12 reps and smoked my delts.

So, 5 sets of:
8 Poliquin laterals x 25lbs/12 traditional laterals x 17.5 lbs

My delts were on fuego.

Great find, SN, thanks for sharing.

[/quote]

how long will it take doing your new exercise,to know if it will make your shoulders grow?
[/quote]

Roughly from the time you first try 'em til you notice shoulder growth. Somewhere in there. [/quote]

hahahaha. As you see,Pangloss gets the question. It was the first time
he has done the workout,so the efficacy has yet to be seen.


#16

Short:
I’m wider than I’d ever been thanks to doing lateral raises the right way and as my only delt exercise.

Long:
Suffered a serious clavicular injury roughly 5 years ago.
Since then, any form of vertical pressing and loaded scapular retraction have become a no-no.
Can’t even do a push-up these days without risking ripping my clavicle off my sternum.

The only delt exercise I’ve ever been able to do since then: lateral raises.

In 2014, I’ve been training for roughly 4 months (April - August) and I picked up the 'bells again 5 weeks ago.
Have been using the same load range for lateral raises the whole time (22 - 33 lbs - don’t mind the odd numbers, I’m used to the metric system). My rep range is 30 - 10 (think TUT). Works like a charm for this battered old lifter.

Today, I’m wider than I’ve ever been (though I’ve lost thickness overall: front delts, pecs, mid-back), although I’ve also been using lateral raises back in the day. With way bigger loads (think 55 lbs - 88 lbs range).

My 2 cents:

#1:
I absolutely have to take care to target my medial delts (as opposed to the traps) and to use appropriate loads and load vectors - lest I rip off my clavicle

#2:
same as #1, albeit for the lats: full awareness and control of loading the target muscle and the joints involved (directly and indirectly)

Caveat:

  • in my experience, delts and lats respond pretty well to TUT
  • I tried to apply the same strategy to my tricipites with less than favorable results

Misc:

  • I’m not badmouthing pressing exercises: I sorely miss them and my training is less fun than it used to be.
  • If we’re talking delt hypertrophy potential vs risk, though, raise variants (front, lateral, rear) rank pretty high on my list.

#17

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:
Then I had the idea of pairing them with a more traditional lateral raise and I hit on something I love. I did 8 of the raises the way Poliquin shows, then I dropped the weights and immediately grabbed lighter weights, did 12 reps and smoked my delts.

So, 5 sets of:
8 Poliquin laterals x 25lbs/12 traditional laterals x 17.5 lbs

My delts were on fuego.[/quote]
Definitely looks like a killer tweak and a nice find. You could also flip it around, doing basic laterals first and then immediately extend the set with the Poliquin form (using the same weight), a’la mechanical advantage work.


#18

[quote]FattyFat wrote:
Short:
I’m wider than I’d ever been thanks to doing lateral raises the right way and as my only delt exercise.

Long:
Suffered a serious clavicular injury roughly 5 years ago.
Since then, any form of vertical pressing and loaded scapular retraction have become a no-no.
Can’t even do a push-up these days without risking ripping my clavicle off my sternum.

The only delt exercise I’ve ever been able to do since then: lateral raises.

In 2014, I’ve been training for roughly 4 months (April - August) and I picked up the 'bells again 5 weeks ago.
Have been using the same load range for lateral raises the whole time (22 - 33 lbs - don’t mind the odd numbers, I’m used to the metric system). My rep range is 30 - 10 (think TUT). Works like a charm for this battered old lifter.

Today, I’m wider than I’ve ever been (though I’ve lost thickness overall: front delts, pecs, mid-back), although I’ve also been using lateral raises back in the day. With way bigger loads (think 55 lbs - 88 lbs range).

My 2 cents:

#1:
I absolutely have to take care to target my medial delts (as opposed to the traps) and to use appropriate loads and load vectors - lest I rip off my clavicle

#2:
same as #1, albeit for the lats: full awareness and control of loading the target muscle and the joints involved (directly and indirectly)

Caveat:

  • in my experience, delts and lats respond pretty well to TUT
  • I tried to apply the same strategy to my tricipites with less than favorable results

Misc:

  • I’m not badmouthing pressing exercises: I sorely miss them and my training is less fun than it used to be.
  • If we’re talking delt hypertrophy potential vs risk, though, raise variants (front, lateral, rear) rank pretty high on my list.
    [/quote]

Thank you for this post. I am getting older and my shoulders can’t take all of the pressing I used to do. It is nice to know that lateral raises, although sucky compared to pressing, can get the job done.


#19

[quote]Steel Nation wrote:
Thought this was pretty cool:

I’ve also watched a lot of Ben Pakulski’s videos, and the way he describes the performance of shoulder isolation movements is pretty awesome. I’ve been getting a lot better MMC on lateral and rear delt training since.[/quote]

Doesn’t look like that lovely young lady needs technique pointers on the Pec Deck!