This final installment of “workout week” will detail what would be my current shoulders and arms workout I say what “would be” because currently I am unable to work my shoulders at all. About 20 years ago I was doing behind the neck presses with some roommates in a basement weight room when my right shoulder suddenly gave way and I dropped the barbell from nerveless fingers. Being a poor college student I did not go see a doctor about it, but my shoulder has bothered me on and off for the last two decades. Careful training avoided major problems the last 5 years or so, but recently it began to bother me very badly, even in daily routines like computer use and reaching behind me for something. After some doctor’s visits and an MRI it was determined I had a tear in my Rotator Cuff, which is a group of four muscles in the shoulder that provides rotation and elevates the arm while providing stability to the shoulder joint. It is likely this tear is the injury I had 20 years ago, and it’s inflamed right now from excessive shoulder work. I am rehabilitating it via therapy as opposed to surgery. So, while I will tell you the exercises I had been doing on this program, I am not doing them currently.
Shoulders / Arms Day
Dumbbell Shoulder Press– 4 sets x 6 reps: Sit on a press chair with your back firmly against the back of the chair. With a dumbbell in each hand, raise your hands to your sides to ear height, palms out. Keep your forearms perpendicular to the floor at all times during this movement. Keeping your core tight, press the weights up over your head until they touch at the top, then control them on the way back down. Don’t allow your elbows to go more than an inch or two below your shoulders… there is no need to go much deeper than your upper arms being parallel with the floor. Do not arch your back during the movement, as that will activate your chest and take some of the tension from your shoulders.
Smith Press Shoulder Press– 4 sets x 6 reps: Similar to the dumbbell press, this one will restrict your hand movements and puts stress on a different part of the shoulder. Using the press chair, sit so the bar of the smith press just clears your chin on the way down. Sit straight up and place your hands just wider than shoulder width apart. Press the weight from the top slowly down past your chin… try and go a little deeper on these than the dumbbell press.
Dumbbell Lateral Raises– 4 sets x 6 reps: With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with back straight and knees slightly bent, hands at your sides and knuckles out. Force your shoulders back by squeezing your shoulder blades together and sticking your chest out a bit. Try not to arch your back. Keeping your arms as straight as you can (a slight elbow bend is okay) raise your arms to shoulder height at the same time. Try and keep your knuckles up rather than letting them rotate toward your back. Pause and slowly lower back down.
Dumbbell Front Raises– 4 sets x 6 reps: The same beginning as the lateral raises, with arms to your sides knuckles out. Instead of raising your arms out to your sides, raise them forward until they reach shoulder height. Keep your arms straight and at the top your palms should be facing each other with 10 inches or so between. Pause and lower slowly back down.
Upright rows– 4 sets x 6 reps: Load a barbell with weight, and use either a power rack or bench press bench to hold it. Grasp the barbell overhand with hands relatively close together (12 inches between). Lift weight and step back, with arms hanging down in front of you. Bend knees slightly and stand upright with back flat. Raise the bar straight up to your chin (or as close as you can get), pause and lower slowly. Don’t round your shoulders forward or rock on your toes.
Shrugs– 4 sets x 6 reps: This is a heavy movement. Load up a barbell on a power rack with it set to about hip height. Using an over grip, grasp the bar at just wider than shoulder width. Lift and step back, keeping back straight and knees slightly bent. With your arms hanging with the weight, shrug your shoulders straight up, trying to touch your ears with your shoulders. Pause and lower slowly.
Wide Grip Barbell Curls– 4 sets x 6 reps: Grasp a straight barbell with arms wider than shoulder width. From a fully extended position, curl the bar up to your chest, keeping your elbows stable and in near your body. Pause and lower slowly back. Always fully extend your arm before doing another curl, and squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement. Don’t lean forward and rock back to cheat the movement.
Seated Incline Dumbbell Curls– 4 sets x 6 reps: Sit on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand on each side. Keeping your back flat and your elbows from moving while your curl each arm up to your shoulder, pause and fully extend back down. You can alternate arms if you wish.
Extend arms fully at the bottom of the movement…
… keep the elbows in place and don’t rock forward or back.
Cable Rope Curls– 4 sets x 6 reps: Adjust a cable pulley to it’s lowest point near the floor. Hook a rope attachment to the cable. Standing straight up with knees slightly bent, curl the cable up to your chest, pause and lower slowly. Try not to allow your hand to touch, and try and separate them at the top of the movement.
Tricep French Presses– 4 sets x 6 reps: Using a straight or EZ Curl bar, lie on your back on a bench, with the top of your head at one end. Press the barbell from your chest up to a straight arm position right above your face. Bending only at the elbows, lower the weight down to your forehead or to the crown of your head, pause and lift back to the top position.
Tricep Rope Pushdowns– 4 sets x 6 reps: Again at a cable machine, this time adjust the pulley to the highest position with the rope attachment. Standing with back straight and knees slightly bent, grasp rope up near your face with elbows bent. Keeping your elbows in place near your body, push the weight down until your arms are straight. At the bottom of the movement, twist your wrists until your palms are down and separate your hands as far as your can. Pause and slowly return to the top position.
Kickbacks– 4 sets x 6 reps: Place one knee on a bench and bend over, supporting your upper body with one arm keeping your back flat. With a dumbbell in the other hand, allow your arm to hang straight down. Looking forward and keeping your arm straight, lift the weight backwards until your the dumbbell is next to your rear end. Pause and slowly lower back down. Do a set and switch to the other arm, changing knee and hand on the bench accordingly.
Abs– Get after ’em!
That’s it for the workout routine. Sorry if I bored anyone looking for cartooning or MAD insights. Now that this is out of my system, it’s back to art and the like.
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918 New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550
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