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Shoulders, Triceps & Traps

Dennis James' delts are swole like melons because
he works them heavy from all angles.

The shoulders, triceps and trapezius, or "traps" have been combined into one workout because they all work together. The exercises below, performed in the following sequence, can optimize this relationship between the three muscles for optimum mass building.
Military Or Shoulder Press 
This is the king of mass-building exercises for the shoulders, and indirectly trains the triceps, and, to a minimal degree, the trapezius.
It should be performed through an incomplete range of motion to avoid injury to the shoulders, particularly the rotator cuffs.
Lighter sets may be performed through a full range of motion afterward to optimize the mass that may be obtained from stretching the shoulders during the exercise.

         For shoulder and tricep training dips are best performed mostly at a 90 degree angle, maximizing the involvement of the delts and tris while minimizing the support of the pecs, but still allowing them to be worked indirectly.
         Upon failure the set may be extended by pushing yourself up with your feet, or by having a partner hold your feet and help you over the bar. Strict negatives with your full bodyweight should still be performed.
         A dip machine may also alternately be used.


         Shrugs are the main mass builder for the trapezius. They negligibly involve the deltoids as well.
         Shrugs should be performed by taking a shoulder-width or slightly wider grip on the bar and raising the shoulders as high as possible before slowly and strictly lowering them.
          Shrugs can be performed with or without straps. Using straps will allow the traps to handle more weight before the grip becomes a factor, but not using straps will maximize forearm development. I can do reps with four plates on each side without straps, so they are not entirely necessary if the forearms are conditioned first.

                                    Tricep Pushdowns
          Triceps pushdowns are the main mass builder primarily targeting the triceps. They do, however, still involve the serratus anterior and abs to a great extent and moderately involve the rear delts, especially when doing cheat reps.
         The heaviest sets should be performed with cheat reps, swinging the upper body and using your weight to force the bar down bedfore doing strict negatives. Lighter sets should be done with slower and stricter positive reps.

                                  Upright Rows
             Upright rows, while focusing more heavily on the shoulders, also significantly involve the trapezius. Performing them after both presses and rows helps maximize the effectiveness of this exercise in developing both muscles.
             Heaviest sets should involve jerking the weight up to eye or nose level before slowly lowering it for a strict negative. Lighter sets should be performed slowly, smoothly and strictly.

                         Overhead Dumbbell Extensions
         These are extremely effective in developing the medial, or inside head of the triceps. To maximize the intensity of the set and further contribute to shoulder development the dumbells should be pressed overhead on the positive and continue to be lowered slowly for a strict negative upon failure.

                           Front Lateral Raises (Optional)
      Your front delts will  probably get enough stimulation from heavy benches, military presses and dips to make this exercise unnecessary.  If you do, however, feel the need to perform this movement the dumbbells or cables should be jerked up and lowered strictly, but taking great care to warm up properly so as not to injure the shoulders or rotator cuffs. Slower and stricter positives should be done as you descend.

                                    Side Lateral Raises  
    This exercise primarily works the medial delts, while minimally involving the trapezius. The dumbbells or cables should be jerked up until the arms are horizontally extended from the side of the body and lowered strictly, but taking great care to warm up properly so as not to injure the shoulders or rotator cuffs. Slower and stricter positives should be done as you descend.

              Reverse Grip Cable Pushdown (1 Handed) 
    This exercise, as any tricep exercise where the backs of the hands are extended outward, places more emphasis on the lateral or outer head of the triceps.
    It is performed by taking the one-handed cable in an underhand grip and lowering the hand toward the floor while moving the upper arm as little as possible. As always, you should cheat on the heavier sets but keep the negatives slow and strict and do stricter positives on the lighter sets.

                            Prone, Incline Rear LateralRaises   
    I learned about this exercise from an article by Dennis James. It is absolutely the most effective exercise there is for effectively targeting the rear delts.
    It should be performed by lying face-down on an incline bench and slowly raising the dumbbells straight back. You will really feel this one burn right in the backs of the shoulders if you are doing it correctly.

                       Close-Grip Bench Presses


            These should be relatively self-explanatory. They may be performed with either a barbell or a biangular pressing machine such as the Hammer Strength Chest press. The purpose of this exercise is to work the frontal shoulders and triceps with indirect pectoral support one last time after each part has been worked individually. A three set reverse pyramid is recommended.  Pushups may also be added or substituted if so desired.