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Shoulders were always a good body part for you. What unique practices did you follow to spark growth in your delts?
Probably my most noteworthy technique was the exercise named after me, the Arnold Press. You begin with dumbbells in the finish position of a biceps curl (palms facing you, dumbbells at shoulder height with elbows fully flexed) and press the weights up from there while twisting them so that your palms face forward at the top and you finish in a standard overhead press position. The low starting point offers a much longer range of motion and, in my opinion, greater muscle building benefits and better development of the front deltoids. I also used a lot of other novel techniques when training delts. When I performed dumbbell lateral raises, I rotated my palms back so that my pinkie fingers were higher than my thumbs the whole way up, almost as if I were pouring out water from a pitcher. This really seemed to isolate the middle delts. Another thing I did with laterals that you don’t often see today: I always raised my arms past parallel to the floor.
Most people raise their arms only to parallel before lowering the weights, but I always felt there was much more contraction to be achieved above parallel. Of course, like many others, I regularly went “down the rack” for lateral raises, starting with a heavy weight (like 50-pound dumbbells), repping out to failure, then going lighter in five-pound increments to failure until I was using 10- or 15-pound dumbbells. I did this for the burn and to build quality muscle and etch detail and separation into my delts. I also occasionally did trisets of lateral raises with heavy overhead barbell presses and upright rows, doing all three in a row without resting: presses first, then the rows, then laterals. Perhaps my favorite technique with lateral raises was doing isometric contractions.
After a regular set of laterals, I picked up a heavier set of dumbbells and held them out to my sides (the finish position of a lateral raise) for as long as I could, despite the intense burn in my shoulders. As I became fatigued, my arms dropped, but I tried to keep them as high as I could until they were hanging down at my sides and I had to drop the weights to the floor in pain!
*(“down the rack”)