Shoulder Exercises

Build Boulder Shoulders with the Ahrens Press

Add this forgotten favorite to your delt routine to construct monster shoulders.

josh bryant thumbnail by CSCS, MFS, PES
Build Boulder Shoulders with the Ahrens Press
Duration 60 min
Exercises 5
Equipment Yes

The late Perry Reader, considered one of the most notable and honest Iron Game historians of all-time, repeatedly noted in the 1950s & 60s that Chuck Ahrens had the widest shoulders of any human being on the face of the earth.

A cursory Google search of Chuck Ahrens reveals that Chuck Ahrens was huge with nearly a 60-inch chest and shoulders that eclipsed the two foot mark by four inches! Ahrens was also somewhat of a mystery man, commonly referred to as the reclusive power house, lionizing his place as one of the founding that put Muscle Beach on the map.

Besides extremely heavy lateral raises and overhead barbell presses, there may have been another exercise that aided in Ahrens’ uncanny deltoid development. This exercise is affectionately known as the “Ahrens Press.”

The Ahrens press is a variation of the overhead dumbbell press, but instead of pressing the dumbbells straight up, you press them up and away laterally, sort of like making a V with both arms. Necessity was the mother of invention, in this case.

Ahrens had no choice but to press the dumbbells in this style because he used special loadable dumbbells that were very long; in other words, it was impossible to press them straight because they would hit each other with the massive poundages he routinely threw overhead. Because of the lateral pressing motion, this exercise forces the medial delts or “caps” to work harder.

Exercise Description

  • Grasp two dumbbells and lift them to shoulder level with a pronated grip
  • From shoulder position, press the dumbbells out laterally (away from you)
  • Finish with arms locked and at a 15- to 30-degree angle
  • Return to starting position

Final Thoughts

The key to maximize muscular development is synergistically blending the most effective methods of the past with the newest innovation.

The Workout

Exercise 1

Overhead Dumbbell Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Overhead Dumbbell Press thumbnail
3 sets
3 reps
180 sec rest
As heavy as possible each set.

Exercise 2

Ahrens Press
exercise image placeholder
-- sets
5 reps
30 sec rest
Start with 15 rep max of a traditional dumbbell press, do as many sets of 5 as possible with Ahrens Press.

Exercise 3

Incline L Raise You'll need: Bench How to
Incline L Raise thumbnail
8 sets
8 reps
30 sec rest
Emphasize stretch of the movement, no cheating whatsoever.

Exercise 4

Reverse Pec Deck How to
Reverse Pec Deck thumbnail
3 sets
12 reps
90 sec rest
Hold the contracted position for one second.

Exercise 5

Handstand Pushup
Handstand Pushup thumbnail
3 sets
Max reps
60 sec rest
If you are unable to do these, do them in the downward dog yoga position.