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The shoulder joint and its surrounding musculature are not only critical to training, but also to everyday activities. Injury to the shoulders can limit your participation and performance in lifting weights and tasks as simple as putting on a shirt. Nobody wants underdeveloped and thin shoulders – that’s a sign of a weak and frail physique. Poor shoulder muscles are almost impossible to hide because the shoulders are visible from all angles, especially in the spring and summer months. On the other hand, thick trapezius muscles and strong deltoids produce an illusion of upper body width development, which improves the visual appeal across your entire physique.

To build big and powerful-looking shoulders and avoid injury, you must approach shoulder training to not only build muscle mass, but symmetry as well. This can only be achieved if all three regions of the deltoid are stressed and you employ proper exercise technique during your training.

Muscles Activated

Seated shoulder presses primarily activate the flexion/extension and abduction components of the shoulders. The deltoid muscle is involved in all of these functions. Although the deltoid is really only one muscle, it does have three separate regions and different functions arise from each of these areas. The anterior fibers of the deltoid begin along the lateral part of the clavicle (collarbone). The posterior fibers attach along the spine of the scapula (shoulder blade), which is located on the upper and posterior side of the scapula. The medial fibers take their origins from regions between the previous two muscle areas of the deltoid from the acromion (the “point” of the shoulder) of the scapula.

The fibers from the deltoid muscle converge and attach to the anterior and upper portion of the humerus bone of the upper arm. The anterior fibers of the deltoid strongly flex the humerus at the shoulder (bring the humerus bone of the upper arm forward), and also produce medial (internal) rotation of the humerus at the shoulder. The medial fibers of the deltoid abduct the humerus (raising the humerus away from the side of the body). The posterior fibers of the deltoid extend the humerus by bringing it posteriorly (backward) and laterally rotate the humerus. In medial rotation, the anterior aspects of the arm and the palm of the hand are rotated toward the body. The reverse is true for lateral rotation.

Another important part of the seated press behind the neck requires that the scapula be rotated upward and this engages the trapezius and the serratus anterior muscles. The trapezius is a diamond-shaped muscle seated on the upper and middle back. The superior (upper) part of the trapezius muscle (the top of the diamond) is the most important part of this muscle for pressing overhead. It extends from the base of the skull and the seventh cervical (neck) vertebra to the lateral part of the clavicle and along the scapula. The superior fibers of the trapezius lift the scapula and shoulder structures toward the ears (shrugging). The fibers of the serratus anterior attach to the superior eight ribs, but they do become visible where they interdigitate with the external oblique muscle. The fibers insert along the medial border of the scapula. Working together with the serratus anterior, the fibers of the superior part of the trapezius muscle cause an upward rotation of the scapula so you can bring your arms over your head. This is an important component of the barbell press.

We don’t normally think much about the rotator cuff musculature, but it will be something you’ll be forced to think about if you ever incur a shoulder injury. Four scapular muscles (subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor) form the rotator cuff muscles. The primary rotator cuff muscle activated by presses overhead is the supraspinatus. Its a rounded muscle that lies in the supraspinatus fossa at the top and posterior side of the scapula. It begins near the medial side of the scapula (close to the vertebrae and the center of the body) and runs over to the superior part of the head of the humerus. The supraspinatus muscle abducts the humerus by raising the arm out to the side of the body, so the upper arm moves in a lateral movement upward. It also strongly supports the shoulder by preventing the humerus head from dropping inferiorly (toward the floor) when the weight is overhead.

Seated Press Behind the Neck

1. Select a bench that has a back support. Place it in front of a mirror if possible. Your gym might have a shoulder press bench with a rack to hold your barbell and that’s a fine choice.

2. Place your hands on the bar with a pronated grip that’s about 2 inches wider than shoulder width, so the forearm will travel in a vertical line during the movement.

3. Push the weight upward and begin to straighten your elbows (elbow extension). Ensure that your forearms are as vertical as possible throughout this upward movement.

4. Continue to push the weight upward to an overhead position, but terminate the extension just short of locking out your elbow. By keeping your elbows slightly bent at the top, the anterior and medial deltoids will be maintained under constant tension and they will not get a chance to rest at any point during the repetition. This may feel uncomfortable, as the contractions get intense after only a few repetitions of these non-lockout repetitions (particularly if you do them more slowly and under control, both in the upward lift and the descent of the weights).

5. Flex your neck slightly forward and slowly lower the bar to a position behind your neck. While the bar is dropping behind your neck, pull your elbows slightly posteriorly (backward), rather than pulling your head and neck excessively forward.

6. When the bar is about to make contact with the trapezius muscles at the base of your neck, reverse the movement and begin the pressing portion again. If the bar contacts your neck, stop and move your seat further forward and/or move the bar back more posteriorly as you lower it.

7. At the end of the set, return the bar to the racks or have your partner take the bar from you. Rest a few minutes then hit your next set.

Training Tips

The “up” phase of this movement involves both flexion and abduction of the humerus at the shoulder. This means both the anterior and medial fibers of the deltoid will be worked very strongly. In contrast, the posterior deltoid doesn’t get much work with seated presses. The trapezius and serratus anterior and supraspinatus muscles are active for most of the press upward. The trapezius and other upper back muscles and triceps will do most of the work during the last one-quarter of this lift as your arms are straightened. The supraspinatus literally holds the shoulder together with the weight overhead, so “locking” out your elbows with the weight overhead should be avoided since this will only place more stress on the supraspinatus than needed.

Most of the work for the deltoids is performed in the lower region of this lift. Thus, it’s not essential, or even desirable, to lock out your elbows at the top of this movement. It’s also worth noting that the descent of the bar should be slow and controlled. If you don’t control the downward movement of the lift, you could get an injury by bouncing the bar off your neck.

Since the shoulder is a joint with very little stability and is literally being held together by its muscle and tendinous attachments, it’s important to isolate the muscle regions with relatively strict movements. The shoulder press is not a good exercise for someone who has previously suffered a rotator cuff injury (unless approved by a physician) because the extension phase of the lift places a lot of stress on the supraspinatus muscle of the rotator cuff and this can destabilize the shoulder joint.

For most purposes, choose medium weights and aim for at least eight to 10 repetitions when completing shoulder presses. Loading the barbell up to extremely heavy weights you can only lift for three to five repetitions will quickly and intensely activate the fibers in the shoulder girdle, but it also puts a lot of stress on the supraspinatus muscle and this risk is definitely not worth it. In addition, muscle mass and strength can be obtained as effectively (and more safely) with a medium weight you can lift for a few more repetitions. Although one can never guarantee injury-free training, there’s no point trying to invite injuries. It’s important to train strictly and carefully when you’re working your shoulders. After all, your goal is to produce strong, muscular shoulders and trapezius, not to end up in a physical rehab unit after a needless injury. Train hard, but safely, and you will achieve outstanding shoulders that will enhance your athletic performance and enable you to look great in or out of clothes.


1. Bull ML, Vitti M, Freitas V and Rosa GJ. (2001). Electromyographic validation of the trapezius and serratus anterior muscles in military press exercises with middle grip. Electromyogr Clin Neurophysiol, 41, 263-268.

2. Ekstrom RA, Donatelli RA and Soderberg GL. (2003). Surface electromyographic analysis of exercises for the trapezius and serratus anterior muscles. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 33, 247-258.

3. Fees M, Decker T, Snyder-Mackler L and Axe MJ. (1998). Upper extremity weight-training modifications for the injured athlete. A clinical perspective. Am J Sports Med, 26, 732-742.

4. Morris AD, Kemp GJ and Frostick SP. Shoulder electromyography in multidirectional instability (2004). J Shoulder Elbow Surg, 13: 24-29

5. Moore KL and AF Dalley. (1999) Clinically Orientated Anatomy. 4th ed. London, Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ISBN: 0-683-06141-0

6. Reinold MM, Wilk KE, Fleisig GS, Zheng N, Barrentine SW, Chmielewski T, Cody RC, Jameson GG and Andrews JR. Electromyographic analysis of the rotator cuff and deltoid musculature during common shoulder external rotation exercises (2004). J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 34: 385-394.

7. Wise MB, Uhl TL, Mattacola CG, Nitz AJ and Kibler WB. The effect of limb support on muscle activation during shoulder exercises (2004). J Shoulder Elbow Surg, 13: 614-620.

The post Build Big, Strong Shoulders appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.

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By: Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Title: Build Big, Strong Shoulders
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Published Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2022 15:01:11 +0000

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Ripped Leg Blast for Carved Thighs



Powerful and thick thighs require gut-busting exercises like squats and leg presses. However, once you have acquired adequate thigh mass and strength, you should consider adding some balance and sharpness to the muscle bellies in your thighs. Although tough to accomplish, leg extensions provide a great way to carve the separations between the muscle bellies, and to accentuate the “teardrop” shape of the four quadriceps muscles of the anterior thigh.

Active Muscles in Leg Extensions

The three vasti muscles comprise most of the anterior thigh.1 The vastus medialis covers the medial (inner) part of the femur bone (thigh bone). When it is well developed, it forms a teardrop-like shape over the medial side of the knee joint. The vastus lateralis muscle attaches to the lateral (outer) part of the femur bone. The vastus intermedius connects to the femur bone between the vastus lateralis and the vastus medialis muscles. The fibers of all three vasti muscles come together at the quadriceps tendon, which crosses the patella (kneecap) to attach to the tibia bone just below the knee.1

Together, the three vasti muscles extend the leg at the knee joint, although the vastus intermedius may be more fatigue resistant than the vastus lateralis.2 The vastus medialis oblique (VMO), which is a small part of the vastus medialis muscle, attaches to the medial part of the patella. It is thought to help the patella track properly during movement of the knee. Improper tracking can increase the likelihood for knee injury.

The vastus medialis and especially the VMO part of this muscle are primarily responsible for tibial rotation (rotation of the tibia bone of the lower leg on the femur) during knee extension. This rotation or “twist” has been shown to increase the activation of the VMO portion of the vastus lateralis even more than doing knee extensions with the hip adducted (thigh rotated so that the medial portion of the knee is facing mostly upwards).3 Dorsiflexion of the foot (moving the ankles so the toes are pointing towards your head) also increases the activation of the VMO by more than 20 percent.4 Likely this is because the dorsiflexor muscles stabilize the tibia during knee flexion and resist rotation of the tibia on the femur as the knee straightens.

The fourth muscle of the quadriceps group is the rectus femoris muscle. It attaches to the anterior part of the hip bone just above the hip joint.1 The largest bulk of the muscle fibers are located on the upper three-quarters of the thigh, whereas the largest belly of the vastus medialis and vastus lateralis are more inferior (i.e., closer to the knee). The distal end of the rectus femoris muscle becomes tendinous and it creates a deep valley between the lateral and medial vastus muscles as it approaches the knee.1 It assists the other quadriceps muscles by extending the leg at the knee joint, although it is less effective when the hip is flexed than if it is straight.

Leg Extensions

The three vastus muscles of the anterior thigh are strongly activated by single-leg knee extensions. The rectus femoris is not activated as strongly, but it does undergo some overload when the anterior thigh is under contractile effort, about halfway up to the top of each repetition.

1. You should always warm up your knees with some stationary cycling prior to getting into leg extensions. Furthermore, the resistance on your first set should be fairly light to allow the joint to fully warm up before you get to the heavier stuff.

2. Adjust the knee extension machine so that the pivot point of the lifting arm is directly adjacent to the center of the side of your knee joint.

3. Position the ankle roller/leg pad over the lower part of the leg (above the ankle joint).

4. Take about three seconds to slowly extend (straighten) both leg so that the weight is lifted upward from the stack.

5. Continue upwards until the tibia and the femur bones form a straight line and the knee angle is straight. Hold this for two seconds at the top.

6. Slowly lower the weight (about four seconds down) towards the starting position. Once the knee has reached 90 degrees, start the upwards extension phase again. Continue for 12-15 repetitions for the first set. Lower the number of repetitions but increase the resistance for subsequent sets.

7. On the next sets, lift the weight upwards until the knee joint becomes almost straight, but just slightly short of a total knee lockout. Be careful that you do not “jam” the knee joint into a fully locked out position, because this could cause knee cartilage damage5, especially with heavy weights. Hold the top position for a count of three before lowering the weight.

8. Lower the weight slowly (four to five seconds) towards the starting position where your knee is flexed to 90 degrees. Just before the weight stack contacts the remaining plates at the bottom, start lifting it upward for the next repetition.

The downward movement should be slower than the upward phase because you are resisting the pull of gravity. The slow lowering of the weight stretches the muscle under a resistance and this is a great stimulus to improve muscle shape and size.6

Make sure that you do not hold your breath during the lift upwards.7 Rather take a breath at the bottom (start) of the lift, and exhale as you extend the knees/legs. Take another breath at the top and slowly exhale as the weight is lowered. Take another breath at the bottom and repeat the sequence.

This is a mechanically simply exercise, but it really can be very challenging and blood depriving8,9, especially if you try to control the weight as it is moving up and down. However, if you are willing to work through some discomfort, you will be soon enjoying your new shape and slabs of carved thighs.

GettyImages 674163248 600


1. Moore K.L. Clinically Orientated Anatomy. Third Edition. Williams & Willkins, Baltimore, 1995; pp 373-500.

2. Watanabe K, Akima H. Neuromuscular activation of vastus intermedius muscle during fatiguing exercise. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2010;20:661-666.

3. Stoutenberg M, Pluchino AP, Ma F et al. The impact of foot position on electromyographical activity of the superficial quadriceps muscles during leg extension. J Strength Cond Res 2005;19:931-938.

4. Coburn JW, Housh TJ, Cramer JT et al. Mechanomyographic and electromyographic responses of the vastus medialis muscle during isometric and concentric muscle actions. J Strength Cond Res 2005; 19:412-420.

5. Senter C, Hame SL. Biomechanical analysis of tibial torque and knee flexion angle: implications for understanding knee injury. Sports Med 2006;36:635-641.

6. Alway SE, Winchester PK, Davis ME et al. Regionalized adaptations and muscle fiber proliferation in stretch- induced enlargement. J Appl Physiol 1989;66:771-781.

7. Garber CE, Blissmer B, Deschenes MR et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2011;43:1334-1359.

8. Denis R, Bringard A, Perrey S. Vastus lateralis oxygenation dynamics during maximal fatiguing concentric and eccentric isokinetic muscle actions. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2011;21:276-282.

9. Ueda C, Kagaya A. Muscle reoxygenation difference between superficial and deep regions of the muscles during static knee extension. Adv Exp Med Biol 2010;662:329-334.

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By: Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Title: Ripped Leg Blast for Carved Thighs
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Published Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2022 19:11:16 +0000

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PRIMAL Preworkout



Training hard and intensely is the only way to train – you can’t step into the gym in low gear or
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A Better Pump

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How to Use PRIMAL
30 minutes prior to training, consume 2 rounded scoops (20.3g) with 8-12 oz of water or your
favorite beverage. Users that are sensitive to stimulants should start off with 1 rounded scoop
(10.1g) to assess tolerance.

PRIMAL Preworkout

• Enhances energy and endurance†
• Supports muscle hydration†
• Supports intense focus†
• Contains AstraGin ® to support nutrient uptake†
• Contains Senactiv ® which helps the production of citrate synthase, an important enzyme that is
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• Absorption and nutrient enhancers
• Great tasting, easy to mix

PRIMAL is a pre-workout that will power your performance and enable you to crush it every time you train.

For additional information, visit
†These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This product is not
intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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By: Team FitRx
Title: PRIMAL Preworkout
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Published Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2022 16:51:41 +0000

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