Q: I'm having a lot of trouble with delts. I don't feel any of the exercises, and my delts never get sore. Right now I'm using a [Positions-of-Flexion] routine. Should I add exercises for some new muscle growth in my shoulders?

A: One of the big problems with delts is that they don't get enough eccentric, or negative stress. And science says that lowering is the most important for muscle growth (the negative is what causes muscle soreness)...

Think about it. On lateral raises, the leverage shift is extreme, with high resistance through the top third of the stroke and almost zero through the bottom third.

Lateral raises - Do One Set Slow For New Muscle Growth

In addition, trainees tend to use too much weight on that direct lateral-head exercise, so they can't control the lowering action at all. They heave the dumbbells up, then drop them through most of the negative.

It's the same with wide-grip upright rows or rack high pulls…

Jonathan Lawson rack pulls - Do One Set Slow For New Muscle Growth

The resistance is high during the top third of the stroke and very low through the bottom thirds. Once again, trainees tend to heave the weight up and drop it through the negative. Zero negative stress means little mass-building success...

What about presses? Overhead presses are simply not a good direct lateral-head exercise. You train more front delt with only minor lateral-head involvement.

Even so, the solution on any of those exercises is to slow down the negative stroke, but most trainees don't want to sacrifice the poundage. In that case, do two sets standard style, then reduce the weight for your last set and do it in negative-accentuated, or X-centric, style—that is, raise the weight in one second and lower in five to six…

Also, on laterals and rack high pulls, stop short at the bottom of the stroke. That will keep the lateral-heads fully engaged through the entire set. In other words, do only the top two-thirds of the stroke so resistance stays on your lateral-delt heads...

With seven seconds on every rep, you will be putting about 50 seconds of tension time on that critical delt section—the head that contributes most to your big, wide look. You'll be doing your negatives slow and activating significant new muscle growth.

Note: For more on negative-style training and complete programs, including POF, see The X-centric Mass Workout e-book. The official Positions-of-Flexion mass-building manual is the 3D Muscle Building e-book, also only $19.99. It contains more on how POF works, workouts for every bodypart, complete POF programs, and an analysis of Jonathan's Size Surge workouts with variations, such as the Mass F/X program.

Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.

—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson

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