Not-So-Dim Delts

The steel-hard shoulder workout of Kris Dim


My chest has always been one of my signature muscle groups, superstriated and full. My shoulders, on the other hand, were not as boldly separated or as defined as I’d hoped. Normally, that wouldn’t present a problem, but gaining striations, as well as spherical mass in the shoulders, requires the conflicting principles of heavy weight and isolation.

I’m no stranger to innovation. Changing workouts is my norm. No two are consecutively the same, and I’m known for 70-rep sets. This, however, was a new challenge: how to gain deltoid mass and striations with one simple approach. Seated dumbbell movements, I discovered, were the answer. They gave me control and isolated power.

My shoulder workout consists of five exercises, and I mix their order each workout. The first four, however, are always performed with dumbbells. Sometimes I stand, but most often, a seated position with back support allows me to direct more power into an isolated head. Dumbbells also give me freedom to modify the movement by raising my arms at angles other than the 180-degree fixed line of a barbell, further isolating power into a specific head. A barbell is not inferior — it’s absolutely necessary for overall shoulder width and mass — but nothing can match dumbbells to amass the bowling-ballf ullness that popped my deltoids out from the rest of my physique. I devote four sets to each of my exercises. The first exercise starts with a “warm-up” set of 15 reps, but it’s a heavy 15. Exercises thereafter pyramid up in weight from 12 reps down to eight, taking each set to failure.

Here, I present a detailed explanation of the five exercises. Have fun!



I start with the dumbbells at my sides, then raise them inward, in front of my body, bringing them to just above shoulder level. This isolates my frontdelt/ chest tie-ins, deepening the separation. Traps and scapulae remain low; I don’t want them helping. Every rep has to count. In other words, I don’t throw the weight upward or let it fall quickly. I give it both positive and negative resistance. During every set, I want to develop a severe burn and knotted twist in my anterior delt heads.

Sometimes, I do these with a single heavy dumbbell, gripping it with both hands in front of my body and raising it to eye level. That’s a real fullness builder for the proximal (inner) surface of the anterior delt heads.

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