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  • Pressing for lateral deltoid

    author Puma

    Meet four badboys that can add width to your frame.

    First things first, let’s clarify not so obvious things. Pressing overhead in the upright position is dominated by the front deltoid. Depending on the angle of push and the correctness of the posture, it can and should shift some work on the segments of lateral deltoid.

    Most people these days suffer from serious postural pathologies that render them unable to recruit lateral deltoid in common pressing exercises. Their recruitment pattern simply forbids them in using the desired muscle head. Period.

    In perfect scenario, most of the work will build thickness, and the “leftovers” will add stimulus to build width. This stimulus is sufficient, paired with rises and highpulls to build wild width in your shoulders department.

    And there comes… you, and you puny posture. You cooperate with your fisio, do your rehab, do lots of rises variation, pulls here and there – and then it strikes you. Everything you do is the variation of the same thing. Of course – angle does matter, different leverage does matter, but still – it’s doing the same thing all over again. You need some variety.

    As ours readers already know, front shoulders are often overloaded with stimulus, so doing permanently “clean isolation” front exercises had no bigger meaning then “cutting out the width” from yours frame.

    You have got two ways. First is simple. Wait 1-2-3-10 months till your posture is ok, then start building width from the scratch. Or – improvise.

    Unholy four.

    In this article I will present you four hand picked variations of the press that actually can make you wider. Still – their main goal is emphasized on the front deltoid, but the punch their deliver will also build width in the proper ratio. They cannot be used as a standalone exercises, but implemented in good workout routine, will kick start your progress.

    Keep in mind – not everything is for everyone. Match exercise with your current posture. You don’t want to use anatomical function that your body is currently not able to execute safely. Every exercise listed here is safe by design. It is not like BTN press. Just measure your goals with your actual body state. Common sense is the key.

    None of the exercises, except the last one should be done with maximal weight for a desired repetition number. Keep 25-15% strength buffer.

    And as usual – if you have got acromion type 3 – stay away!

    SWS Band Press

    That’s a really precise tool. Everyone loves to do SWS. You, your neighbor, your president and even his dog. There is something sexy in being upright with a proper body position – wide and high.
    In order to perform this exercise you need a wall, band, tubing or a pair of expanders. If you want to progress, you should have a couple of them to increase resistance over time.

    Know How:

    1. Stand back to the wall, feet 20 cm forward
    2. Double chin, chest high, buttock on the wall, upper back on the wall
    3. Assume T position. Elbows and wrist must be touching the wall all the time
    4. Again, back of the head, glutes, upperback, wrists, elbows must have constant contact with the wall, if they will ever unglue – stop the exercise. No other part of the body can touch the wall. Abs should be very tight, don’t allow forward excessive arch.
    5. Keep band handles [or only band ends] in your fist, knuckles facing forward [overhand grip]
    6. Perform exercise as normal SWS, just in reverse order
    7. Push your elbows as low as you can, retract and squeeze
    8. Press to Y position, not II.

    Start really light. Pick a band length that allows you an easy start, with resistance kicking in at 90 degrees. As you see, we are starting form a very low position. Do not force your shoulders down there.
    This press is designed to be working in the 12-20 repetition zone. Don’t go any lower. It is an easy to go, high rep builder/pumper.

    Depending on the tool you use:
    a) Long band – stand on the middle of it
    b) Short band and expanders – use one pair hand, stand on the other end

    -Its SWS, two birds with one stone
    -Unholy pump
    -Easy to perform, bulletproof after one trial

    -If you can’t do SWS, of fill any hypersensitivity, ditch the exercise at once
    -Bands are suited for one phase only, after which you should change resistance to stable like DB, never ever overuse elastic resistance. 4-5 weeks tops!
    -You need bands or expanders, even more of them to progress


    We all know Larry Scott. Combine Scott and the master shaft of Vince Gironda and you get superior quality shoulder builder. With a little addition from your favorite natural writer – me.

    In order to perform this exercise you need just a set of dumbbells.

    Know How:

    1. Stand upright in the technical position [double chin, chest up, abs and glutes tight]
    2. Slightly bend forward at the hips
    3. Start with the DB low and in front of you [knuckles facing you]
    4. Start simultaneously pressing the DB up and externally rotating to the back
    5. Plan what you do. Never achieve full external rotation below 90 degrees. It will tear your shoulders!!!
    6. As soon as you achieve retraction and full external rotation past 90 degrees – press up, but don’t allow lockout.
    7. Press wider then in classic DB press. Knuckles facing away from head at the top.
    8. Return to position 6.
    9. Return to position 3.

    That one is a little piece of art. Mastering it takes time, but it is worth – cause it is the only static pressing exercise that actually build whole shoulders via combining force of two anatomical functions.
    Do not swing, shoot from hip, use body English, use excessive loading, lockout, reach full external rotation below 90 degrees, use excessive retraction, stay upright. Simple as that.

    - Dumbbells are in every gym
    - Whole shoulder development
    - Instant pumping
    - You can go heavier than in SWS press
    - Constant tension

    - Hard to master
    - Easy to bastardize
    - No wall to support, means less bulletproof if you are clumsy
    - Most of videos on YT are plain wrong. Actual Larry Scott performance is “spine unfriendly”, stick to my variation.

    This press is designed to be working in 8-20 reps range. You can give a little bit of fight, but still remember its advanced exercise and as such can tear your shoulder when performed badly or to extreme.

    Extremely wide back press

    This is not behind the neck press. It is as different from BTN as BTN is different to front press. Whole function is different. It is extreme agility max snatch press with no repercussions on the spine.

    In order to perform this exercise you need full scale Olympic barbell. It is not possible to execute it safely with anything narrower.

    1. Stand in technical position
    2. Grab the barbell from the rack using !end to the end! Grip on the Olympic barbell
    3. Slightly bend at hips
    4. Slowly, using full control descend the barbell on your traps
    5. Slowly, using full control press the barbell up

    First use of this exercise will determine your compatibility. Any pain, any discomfort – ditch this exercise forever.
    This one will give you either unholy pump from the first set, or will show you that you cannot perform it.
    The most common mistake is to let the barbell fall on your traps. If you cannot control it, or pains occur – it is not for you! Pick other one.
    Do not use leg push. If you cannot press it up at the low position – work for weeks on your rotator cuff first.
    If you are beginner – basic 20 kg Olympic barbell might be too much for you. Buy or borrow a training Olympic barbell. It is lighter but with the same width.
    The fun part is – if your body can handle it – you will reach 2/3 of your front press in no time while still pushing your lateral deltoid to pumping limit.
    Just remember about forward bend.

    -Pump, weight, pump, weight
    -Safe alternative to BTN if your body can handle it

    -2/3 of mortals cannot perform it safely
    -Need full size Olympic barbell or a training variation

    This baby is designed to be working on 6-20 reps but progress really slowly

    Overhead 1/3 deadstart press on the rail

    This exercise is a real loading monster. Expect to double your weight expectations in a few sessions. The safest from all four – iron hog. Its deadstart, short ROM variation which will work yours pushing muscles in the top position, fulfilling the roundness of the shape. Actually, using this one gives you a healthy boost if performed correctly. Half of your rotator cuff muscles will go out of balance, if you are constantly pressing omitting top range.

    In order to perform this exercise you need a rack and a barbell.

    Know How:

    -Place the barbell on the long pin of the rack, at the last 2/3 height of your full press
    -Load the bar with desired weight [that can be a really fun part, whole training by itself]
    -Assume technical position, slightly bend at hips
    -Press the bar from deadstart off the pin
    -Press until your head will be between your arms, not by bending a neck, but by pressing up!!! Any other press resulting in the arms in front of the head will be 99% front deltoid exercise!
    -Press against the rails of the rack. It will greatly boost the weight, taking out some needs of stabilization.
    -Slowly return to the deadstart position, do not drop the weight

    This bastard is power hungry evil devil. Even a novice after some time can go to 150 kg. I’ve seen many intermediates pressing 250 kg in this manner many times.
    Just keep in mind that you must maintain technical position or it will reap your spine in no time. Do not shrug, do not use leg kick. Plain static press work. Use only safe and reliable rack with safety pins from front rail to the back rail – you don’t want 250 kg drop down from 2 meters on the floor.

    -Working critical ROM
    -Loading hog
    -Easy to use
    -Safe if performed using common sense

    -Short life span of exercise
    -Easy to bastardize using leg drive and excessive shrugging
    -The least precise in targeting of the lateral deltoid in “four badboys” list

    …And there you go, four exercises that if performed correctly will jumpstart your shoulder width.

    Simple long term schedule

    Do not use this exercises as an opener in your workout. Place it second, third, but the best place is the last in order. It is simple – if you need width, start with lateral deltoid, then do your rear deltoid work, than put a dot on the “i” with one of those.

    Phase One – Three weeks – SWS Band press 3 x 20 reps – Progress using stronger bands
    Phase Two – Three weeks – Scott Press 4 x 12 reps – Progress using heavier DBs
    Phase Three – Three weeks - Extremely wide back press 5 x 10 reps – Progress using heavier loading
    Phase Four – Three weeks - Overhead 1/3 deadstart press on the rail 14 x 3 reps – Heavy progression

    Simple pressing specialization workout

    If you wanna try this badboys after reading, or need pressing specialization day in bodybuilding manner, try this:

    1. SWS Band Press 3 x 20 reps
    2. Scott Press 1 x 20, 1 x 15, 1 x 10 reps
    3. Extremely wide back press 3 x 10 reps
    4. Overhead 1/3 deadstart press on the rail 6 x 6 reps

    Final Note

    Everything comes with a price. If the price is a lowered poundage – it is ok. If the price is a risk injury – don’t ever think about it. Consult your coach or a dock before going heavy on them. It might happen that some will give you a healthy benefit, while other will enforce bad posture.
    It’s not easy to be on rehab. Treat the list above, as a tools that might be on pair with your destination.

    For the rest of you – variety is a cool thing – an eye opener for a future workouts.

    Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net