I do not like this exercise. Done badly it can cause shoulder injury very quickly. However, it is popular; if good technique can be mastered and the desire to lift too heavy a weight can be overcome, it helps develop broad shoulders. Key points.
- Dumbbells by your sides, but slightly AHEAD of the hips
- Really flatten your shoulder blades into your back.
- Keeping a slight bend in the elbow, press the dumbbells towards the floor.
- Raise the dumbbells out to the side, but with an approximately 160° angle between the arms as opposed to the 180° that there would be if your arms were beside you.
- Raise them for a count of ‘one thousand’ – ie taking at least 1 full second over raising them.
- You should feel as if you are slightly pushing the dumbbells away from you, whilst keeping a slight bend in the elbows.
- Lower them for 2 seconds upwards.
- Press the dumbbells towards the floor before raising them again.
Because of the injury danger to this exercise, then it suits higher reps which will lighten the weight. Also the delts of the shoulder respond better to higher reps. We are talking minimum of 8 reps, but 12 is better.
This exercise works the medial delt. For exercising terms, the delts are split into 3 groups, anterior, medial and posterior. The anterior group is worked by pressing actions. The posterior group by pulling actions with elbows out.
The reason I suggest the hands being slightly ahead of the side of the body is to engage the all important shoulder stabiliser, the serratus anterior. Physiotherapists refer to this angle as the angle of scapation. So with the shoulder blades flattened onto the back and feeling slightly broad, plus the downward push with the dumbbells, hopefully problems at the shoulder joint will be avoided. Some trainers advocate slightly turning the dumbbells downwards – as if pouring out beer is the usual analogy – at the top of the movement. Whilst this certainly does further engage the delts, it does this at an increased risk of shoulder injury. The choice is yours.
Of course, there must be no swinging. The abs should be working hard to stabilise and lengthen the back. If in doubt, bend your knees a bit and do this exercise with your back against a wall. Whilst lengthening the back of the neck, do not force the back of your head on the wall. If it goes there easily – good.
An exercise to be treated with great respect.
The safest way to do this exercise.