Gym delt exercises: the best choice


Every man dreams of having broad shoulders. Delta exercises in the gym allow you to do this. Let’s look at the features of shoulder training, exercises for them, and also a possible program option for their regular and systematic training.

Shoulder workout in the gym for men

First of all, you should understand that the shoulders are deltas. Although the shoulders in the anatomical sense are not the same as the shoulders in the common sense.

From an anatomical point of view, the shoulder is the humerus (the arm consists of the shoulder and forearm). From the point of view of ordinary people, the shoulders are the horizontal sections of our body located on the sides of the neck, as well as the muscles located on the sides in the upper part of the arms (deltas).

Thus, deltas are the very “knobs” that, at a certain level of development, have an aesthetic rounded shape, and visually make the shoulders wider (expand the silhouette).

The deltoid muscles are subdivided into anterior, middle and posterior bundles. They should be trained with different exercises. Each bundle is responsible for abducting the hand in different directions:

  • Front – forward and up
  • Medium – to the sides and up
  • Rear – back and up

The main volume of deltas is provided by their middle part. However, the developed front and rear look very impressive and add extra volume.

What exercises can you train deltas

Swing dumbbells to the sides

In our opinion, side swings with dumbbells are the best exercise for the middle delts. Some people claim that presses and broaches work better, but in our opinion they are not.

Although the swings are called swings, it would still be more correct to call them not swings, but lifts or abductions of the hand to the sides.

The fact is that the pure technique of performing this exercise provides for the absence of jerks and accelerations. That is, dumbbells should not be thrown upward with chitting, but raised “honestly”, due to muscle effort, in a strict power mode.

And the word “swing”, in its meaning, more closely resembles the movement “on a grand scale”. Although such a play on words is not of fundamental importance to us, we still consider it necessary to discuss this point separately.

The arms can be kept completely straight or slightly bent when lifting. Both options will be correct. You need to raise your hands to a horizontal position. They should not be raised higher, since this will include not only deltas, but also trapezoids in the work. It’s not scary, but now we are talking specifically about delta training.

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Swings are most often performed with dumbbells, but there are some specifics here. In any exercise, including swing, it is advisable to increase the working weights gradually. Ideally, as small a step as possible.

Specificity of progression in working weights in swings

That is, it is better to periodically add 0.25-0.5 kg than immediately add 5 kilograms and stay at this weight for a long time. This applies to swings to a much greater extent than to such strength exercises as presses, deadlifts, squats, because they use relatively large weights, and in swings – significantly less.

But this is often the problem. Not in every gym you can find a wide row of dumbbells, with a large set of dumbbells of a wide variety of weights. And when there are 3 types of dumbbells in the gym, say, 10, 15 and 20 kg each, then there can be no talk of any gradual weight gain. Even 10 and 15 kilograms is a very big difference for swings.

This problem can be solved by using ordinary barbell pancakes instead of dumbbells. A set of pancakes in most gyms is significantly better than a set of dumbbells, so you can always find the right combination of weights.

You can simply stack a few pancakes together and grab them by the center hole, lifting them just like dumbbells. For example, you want to set the weight at 7.75 kg. Then you just take three pancakes for 5 kg, 2.5 kg, and 0.25 kg. Thus, the load can be dosed very accurately.

Let’s say right away that this can be inconvenient. Especially when you are already approaching large weights, and you have to use a large stack of pancakes and the pancakes themselves are heavy. Sticking your fingers through the holes of the pancakes can be problematic (the hand is large and the hole is small). The pancakes are very thick and difficult to hold. The last pancake has to be held with the very tips of your fingers. The edges of the holes press hard on the fingertips, which leads to painful sensations. And starting with a certain weight, you will come to the conclusion that you simply cannot hold them.

Therefore, we must admit that this approach is a necessary measure. But it is quite suitable for use. Also, you can offer another option for gradually building up weights by combining dumbbells and pancakes.

Alternative way

You can try to hold both the dumbbell handle and small pancakes at the same time. With one hand. Just by pressing the pancakes against the handle. But this is also very inconvenient. This opens and looses your grip, and because of this, you will not be able to fully concentrate on the exercise.

Therefore, we can offer another option that will allow you to firmly and fully hold the dumbbell handle.

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The method is that you take ordinary wrist straps (which are used to perform deadlifts with large weights), and thread this belt through the required number of small pancakes. Then you take the ends of the belt in your palm so that the hanging pancakes are as close to your hand as possible. And already in this way, with a belt in hand, grab the handle of the dumbbell.

At the same time, the grip does not suffer at all, and it turns out to be as dense as possible. This does not cause any discomfort.

Let’s say you have dumbbells weighing 10 kg, and you need to set the weight at 10.75 kg. Then you take these dumbbells, and on the belts on each side you hang small pancakes of 0.5 and 0.25 kg. Thus, by combining different combinations of pancakes, you can gradually reach a weight of 14.75 kg, and then take dumbbells weighing 15 kg, and start the combination again.

It is unlikely that someone told you about such tricks before. These methods were developed as a result of many years of our own training experience in gyms with a wide variety of equipment.

If you do not want to be smart with pancakes, or if you have reached very high weights, then another alternative is to take a barbell and perform barbell lifts on deltas instead of swings. We will discuss this exercise below.

Lifting dumbbells or barbells in front of you

Lifting dumbbells in front of you trains the front deltas. You can perform the exercise both alternately with both hands (left-right-left-right), and sequentially (approach to the left – approach to the right).

All recommendations for accurate dosing of the load are completely similar to the recommendations from the previous exercise.

An alternative to exercise with dumbbells in this case would be to raise the bar in front of you on straight arms.

Swinging swings

Bent over swings are a great exercise for the rear delts. You can do it while standing, but it is better to do it while lying on your chest on an incline bench. In this case, the angle of inclination will always be the same.

An alternative to bent-over swings with dumbbells can be a barbell pull in an incline to the chest (not to the belt, as in the classic bent-over row), with a wide (important) grip.

Draw the bar to the chin

The classic pulling of the bar to the chin is performed with a narrow grip. At the same time, the elbows are raised as high as possible above the level of the shoulders. This option is perfectly acceptable. He will also train deltas (mostly medium ones), but with this option, trapeziums will also work actively.

A specialized broach option specifically for deltas implies a wide grip. If, at the same time, the bar does not move forward (the forearms look down), then the back delta will work actively. If the barbell is brought forward (the forearms lift the bar forward and upward when lifting), then the middle part of the deltas will actively work.

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Barbell presses (dumbbells) standing and sitting from the chest and from behind the head

Presses are basic exercises and work many muscles, not just the deltas. The work includes the upper pectorals, traps, triceps and deltas as well.

During the presses, the front and middle deltas work mainly. The back delta can only be used when doing a press from behind the head.

Shoulder training program

If you do not set the task of training the shoulders strenuously, and the deltas are just one of the muscles you are interested in, along with other muscles, then you can use any a classic program in which deltas will somehow be involved in basic or isolated exercises. In most cases, this approach will be the most correct and universal.

If you want to specialize in the shoulders, then the best solution would be to make them work on a separate training day. That is, for example, if you train 2-3 times a week, then 1 or 2 workouts should be basic for all muscle groups, or these days you can specially train some other muscle group, and one of these workouts should be dedicated only deltas.

For example, base-base-deltas, or biceps-base-deltas, etc.

You can combine the workouts at your discretion, we will only suggest a possible workout option on the day of deltas.

Here’s what we offer you:

  • Swing to the sides – 15 *, 10-max-max-max
  • Lifting a dumbbell / bar in front of you – 15 *, 10-max-max-max
  • Swings in an incline on an incline bench – 15 *, 10-max-max-max

Yes, just three exercises. Do not be confused by this. Although there are three of them, they allow you to work out all the bundles of deltas and give them maximum power stress, which will make them grow.

The asterisks represent warm-up sets with weights about half the weight of your working weights. Then there are 4 approaches.

On the first set, you try to do 10 reps. The working weights are selected in such a way that you can perform 7-10 repetitions with fresh, tireless muscles in the first set.

In sets 2, 3, 4, the number of repetitions does not really matter to us. Just do as many reps as possible with the same weight to failure. The most important thing is the first approach.

That is, repetitions can be distributed among sets like this: 10-7-5-4 or 9-6-6-5, or somehow differently. This is very individual.

Rest between sets – 2 minutes.

On other training days, try not to overload your delts on other exercises so that they can recover as much as possible.

These delta exercises in the gym will allow you to tighten up your lagging deltas and improve their shape literally and figuratively.

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