My California Move, Part II
When I started bodybuilding back in the 60s, I admired Larry Scott’s deltoid development. He had fantastically thick delts, and I resolved to one day surpass his shoulder development. Larry was cursed with a narrow clavicle width structure, so he had to develop incredibly thick deltoids to show any shoulder-to-waist differential. Larry succeeded to such and extent that he won 2 Mr. Olympia titles. It’s essential for competing bodybuilders to have a good V shape–wide shoulders and a narrow waist and hips. The deltoids have to be well rounded and fully developed because you simply can’t hide poor delt development at a contest. They are visible in every pose, and if they are flat and unimpressive, you’re done in the eyes of the judges; they won’t give you a second glance.
Before I get into what I did, let me talk a little about clavicle width. I have found a great way to measure your clavicle width, so you can judge for yourself how much shoulder width you actually will be able to have overall. To find your clavicle width, reach around and put your fingers on one of your clavicle bones. Run your fingers outward until they contact the ball-like protuberance at the outer end of the bone, at the point where your upper arm bone articulates with the clavicle. If you measure the length of your clavicle and it’s 10 inches are more, you have the potential for great, wide shoulders. You could potentially develop deltoids that extend six inches out from this clavicle ball, on each side. This would be the type of look every bodybuilder has been trying to accomplish all their lives and your deltoids would be monstrous.
My own shoulder thickness was one of the problems I faced competing in the 1979 Pro Canada Cup. Only living and training in California a month, I was still stuck on brief Nautilus training theories that I had used to win amateur shows. My deltoids weren’t as impressive as they should be, at that point. I placed 5th in the Pro Canada Cup show, my first pro show after not competing for eight years. I took that defeat philosophically. However, I vowed to remedy the shoulder problem. The main reason I moved to California was to be a winning bodybuilder. Any old routines or advice I had from the past would have to be thought over and reconsidered, if I were to score higher in these pro events.
Training in California with Mike Mentzer was a great learning experience for me. When I arrived in California, I was doing 4-5 sets per shoulder workout for my shoulders. After my first show low placing, I started doing 10-12 sets, very heavy sets for shoulders. The extra sets gave me added mass and much more sharpness all over. At the rate I was progressing, you couldn’t get me back to my old type of workouts with a bulldozer–no time for cutting corners. Mike and I worked our deltoids 2 times a week, in conjunction with full leg training.
I know many doubters today will scream about all the sets we did at that time. The fact is, this is what we did for maximum muscle growth and separation back then. Other training routines, such as HIT, we employed. The intensity part of HIT was definitely still a part of our contest preparation, but not the low set count for any body part. Negative only training was another aspect of HIT that we used as part of getting ready for pro shows. Negative training created muscle definition and separation that could not be accomplished by any other method of training.
We used negative movements almost every workout, lowering the weight of an exercise for the count of 8 seconds. We were trying to win shows, not see how fast we could get out of the gym. Extra time training body parts didn’t matter to us. Winning bodybuilding shows are all that mattered. The truth was, only a small percentage of bodybuilders could ever get to our muscular levels at that point. Sure, were many ways to develop a good physique and many could achieve that. But to develop a super great physique took a much higher level of training, and this required extra time and sets in the gym.
I always trained my deltoids first in the day’s workout. By training shoulders in beginning of the workout, it allowed me to hit a relatively weaker body part when my energy levels and enthusiasm were at their peak. Mike and I started our deltoid workout with the Nautilus Double Shoulder Machine. We would do the side lateral, one arm at a time, performing 8-10 reps with the whole machine stack plus a 50-pound plate hooked to the stack. I used to get frustrated at having to handle such puny weight stacks on the machines, but Mike and I were having trouble getting the extra weight we needed to complete full sets on most of the machines. The side laterals were super-setted with overhead presses. We would do 4 super sets on this machine. I was doing far less machine work now than I had earlier in my career. By adding variety into my routine with free weights and dumbbells, my muscle gains and definition were greatly improved.
Next, Mike and I would move over to a Universal Gym machine for 4 sets of standing front presses. We would face the machine for this type of standing overhead press. After that, we moved to the Peck Deck Machine for some rear delt rowing. We’d do 4 heavy sets to tie in our lats and rear delts. When a contest approached, we’d switch the peck deck machine for bent-over cable laterals, as this exercise really helped with delt striations. Upright barbell rows were the fifth movement in our deltoid workout. We’d do this movement to tie in the traps with the deltoids, and we’d perform a minimum of 4 set. Standing cable side laterals were our sixth and final delt exercise. I really loved this movement as it would totally isolate the lateral head of the deltoid.
Mike and I both agreed that cable work helped with added deltoid striations all around. When I did this type of workout, I got a deep burn in the shoulder areas from the intensity and thoroughness of the attack. I have only gotten such gains and pumps by going swiftly between sets and using extremely heavy weights with good form on the movements. With the routine Mike and I had back then, I was confident I would eventually obtain well-rounded, standout 6” thick delts. When I finally achieved them, I thanked my lucky stars for moving to California and getting to know this specialized shoulder training.
For Part I, click here: "My California Move"