Dwight Howard is arguably one of the most physically fit players in the NBA. While he focuses on all-around fitness and focuses on strength and power so that he doesn’t get thrown around inside the paint when he goes up against some of the bigger centers in the league like Shaq who outweighs Howard by over 60lbs. One thing stands out about Dwight Howard more then the rest and that is his bulging shoulders. Shoulder’s are one of the muscles that, if developed right, doesn’t matter what size shirt you have on, everyone will know you’ve been putting your time in with your workouts.
One major point to add to this discussion is that most people mistake shoulders for lats. Just to break it down for anyone that doesn’t know the difference, your shoulders compose the upper area of your arm just above your bicep. It’s a quarter of your arm and just as important as your biceps and triceps to having those t-shirt busting arms. Even more importantly, every single upper body exercise utilizes your shoulders at some point to it is extremely important to workout your shoulders to reduce your risk of injury as the weight increases and to help increase your lifts for other exercises.
Your lats are the triangular muscle that connects your neck to your shoulder and backs. This is also important for total development and gives a great look for someone trying to reach that hulk-style fitness. Lats tend to work hand and hand with shoulders as many exercises work for both. I train both on the same day and therefore the exercises I’m about to explain work both muscles.
Smith Machine Military Press or Behind the Neck Shoulder Press (3 sets of 10, increasing weight) - The military press is done by sitting the bench up to a seated position and lifting the bar just in front of your face. I alternate which exercise I do every 2-3 weeks. The military press focuses more on the shoulders while the behind the neck press focuses on the lats
Dumbbell Shoulder Press or Arnold Press (3 sets of 10, increasing weight) - If I start with the military press then I do the standard shoulder press to get my lat work in and if I start with the behind the neck press I do the Arnold press.
Arnold Press - The Arnold Press is done by grabbing two dumbbells, typically lighter than you would use to shoulder press. You set them in front of your face with your palms facing in and lift and rotate so that at the top of the movement your palms are facing outward. This is a great exercise for your shoulders as you get a much wider range of movement.
Lat Pulldown (3 sets of 10, medium weight) - This exercise is for form and developing that nice cut on your lats. There’s no reason to throw 300lbs on the machine and pull your back out. You want enough wait that you can feel it but not too much that you can’t get the full range of motion. You should be able to pull the bar down to the base of your neck.
Shoulder Press Machine (2 sets of 10, 1 set to failure, increasing weight so that the third set you can only reach 6-8 reps)
Shrugs (3 sets of 10, heavy weight) - Everyone’s favorite because you can load on the weight and look like The Hulk. Can be done on the shrug machine or with dumbbells.
Alternating front to two-armed side lateral raises (3 sets of 8, light weight) - This is my favorite shoulder exercise because you feel the burn the whole way through. All the weight is on your shoulders so pick a very light weight. I only use 20lb dumbbells. One rep consists of a front raise with one arm, followed by the other, then a side raise with both. By the 8th rep your arms should be burning and by the third set your arms should be ready to fall off this concluding the Dwight Howard shoulders workout.
Two exercises I work into my shoulders workouts are the front lat raise and what I refer to as full circle birdies.
Front Lat Raise - This is done by grabbing a bar or using the smith machine, lowering the bar to about waist level in front of you, grabbing it at about the width of your waist and lifting straight up in front of you so that your elbows are pointed outward at the top of the movement
Full Circle Birdie - This exercise is an interesting non-conventional lift that I saw someone doing once, tried and liked. It uses your shoulders and your lats and is another super lightweight exercise. I use 10-15lb plates. This exercise is performed by starting by holding the plates in front of you with your palms outward, then lifting them out and above your head making a full circle (hence the name since I could not figure out the real name of this exercise). I use this at the end of my workout because it provides a full range of motion and a nice burn in your shoulders.
Today’s Chest Workout
(Disclaimer: This is an advanced workout and is absolutely not recommended for beginners. Instead it’s a better idea to split this into two separate workouts or do half one week and then switch to the other half the following week.)
Flat Bench Barbell Press - 4 sets (1 warmup set of 10-15 at light weight, 1 set at moderate weight and two sets at a heavy weight. If you can’t reach 6-8 reps on the first heavy set then go back down to the moderate weight for the last set.)
Flat Bench Dumbell Press - 3 sets of 10, increasing weight
Flat Bench Dumbell Flyes - 3 sets of 10 at a moderate weight where I fight to 10 reps
Cable Crossover (Lower Chest Emphasis) - 3 sets of 10, increasing weight. Lower chest emphasis is done by lowering the cables to the lower settings.
Iso-Lateral Wide Chest Machine - 4 sets, increasing weight. Last set at heavy weight going to failure (Should be around 6-8 reps).
Cable Flyes - 3 sets of 10, increasing weight
Pullover machine - 3 sets of 10, increasing weight
Decline Bench Press - 3 sets of 10, increasing weight. Focus of this is to use every last bit of energy I have left. Spotter recommended.
Today’s Bicep Workout
Every guy want’s those shirt-busting arms so they can wear small t-shirts and show off that they’ve been putting in work in the gym. And every woman loves a guy with big arms that they know can protect them and give them something to hold onto. Most people prefer to do an arms workout including biceps and triceps. I cycle between this and working both muscles separately because I feel I get a better result from targeting each muscle which allows me to go harder for longer.
Standing EZ Curl Bar curls - 6 sets of 10 (3 sets close grip, 3 sets wide grip,increasing weight)
Seated alternating curls - 3 sets of 10
Dumbbell Rotating Preacher Curls - 3 sets of 10, increasing weight (Done by sitting or standing at a preacher bench and lowering the weight slowly perpendicular to the ground then rotating your wrist and curling the weight up focusing on the squeeze in your bicep)
Cable Hammer Curls - 3 sets of 10, increasing weight with a drop set on the last set
One-Armed Overhead Machine Curls - 3 sets of 10 from each arm, increasing weight
Preacher Machine Curls - 3 sets, increasing weight to reach maximum weight where in the third set you struggle and exhaust every muscle fiber to get 6-8 reps.
Dumbbell Hammer Curls - 3 sets. A somewhat light weight. This exercise is meant as a burnout where your arms should be ready to fall off by the tenth rep of every set.
Today’s Triceps Workout
As I said in my previous post I like to separate my arms workout into two separate workouts so that I can better target each muscle. Your triceps are equally important if not more important than your biceps to total arm development. Your triceps compose roughly two-thirds of your arm and while having big biceps are impressive, having bulging and defined triceps are what really grab the attention. It’s also important to develop your triceps as it is a secondary muscle for many of your chest workouts and will help you improve every serious lifters favorite muscle, the chest. You can feel the relationship by simply doing a push-up with your hands close together and feel what muscle drives you.
Triceps Bench Press Circuit - 6 sets of 10 (3 sets of close grip bench press, alternating with 3 sets of reverse grip bench press). Close grip bench press is done with your hands about 10-12 inches apart and your elbows tucked in to your sides. Reverse grip bench press is done by taking a wide underhand grip of the bar. I do this as a circuit, doing 10 reps of the close grip, a 1 minute rest then straight into 10 reps of the reverse grip. I use a very light weight compared to the normal bench. (Average weight is usually 135lb as opposed to my average flat bench press of 225lb)
Seated Triceps Press - 3 sets of 10, increasing weight. Done by holding a dumbbell behind your head and extending your arms upwards.
EZ Bar Triceps Extension or Skull crushers - 3 sets of 10. Done by laying on a flat bench, holding the EZ bar straight out with your arms fully extended, curling your arms back so the bar lowers just above your forehead (hence skull crusher) and then extending back out.
One-Arm Cable Pulldowns - 3 sets of 10, alternating hands. Raise the cable to 2 or 3 spots from the top, take an underhand grip and pull down. You should go in a smooth motion from about a 45 degree angle to a full extension. This is for cut so it’s all about form, don’t go too heavy or you’ll easily mess up your shoulder.
Machine Dips - 3 sets of 10, increasing weight. This is where I push myself to the limit, piling on the weight and increasing until on the third set I can only get to 6-8 reps.
Rope Pulldowns - Sets of 10 until failure. This is where I let loose everything I have left to build those bulging triceps. I pick a moderate weight and do 10 reps, then I increase the weight on the next set and so on and so forth until I reach a weight that I can’t get 10 reps. On the failure set, I lower the weight to the weight I originally started on and try and get 10 solid reps out which is almost impossible since at this point your arms are ready to fall off(Usually ends up being 4-6 sets). Mission Accomplished.
Wide Grip Pull-ups - 3 sets of 10
Seated Cable Rows - 4 sets of 10, increasing weight until struggle to get 6-8 on the last set
Romanian Deadlifts - 3 sets of 10. Done by grabbing a barbell slightly more then shoulder with apart. Lowering it to the ground slowly with your arms and back straight and your legs bent your butt out and then lifting it to a standing position.
Reverse Grip Bent-over Rows - 3 sets of 10
Lat Pull Downs - 3 sets of 10, increasing weight
One-Armed Rows - 3 sets of 10, increasing weight
Bent-over Flys - 3 sets of 10
High Rows - 3 sets of 10, increasing weight so on the last set can barely squeeze out 8.
Anyone and everyone at any level of fitness strives to have a flat and defined stomach. The ultimate goal is to have defined abs as at that point you can finally call yourself completely fit. Nice abs show that all the hard work that you have put in has finally paid off. The other side of the coin is that defined abs are by far the hardest muscle to obtain as it takes much more work then the easy muscles like arms or back. This is because abs are the only muscle that can not be improved by throwing down supplements or taking 2 hours in the gym every day. As a matter of fact the only way to get defined abs, unless you are genetically blessed, is to make full use of the 22 hours that you are not in the gym. 80% of the work is done through your diet. You could do millions of crunches a day and you won’t get ab definition until you lower your bodyfat to under 20%.
I do my abs workouts 2-3 times a week at the end of my other workouts. On some days, towards the end of my more grueling workouts I’ll start alternating my main muscle group with my abs exercises to give my muscles a few more minutes to recover.
Superset, knee raises and leg raises - 3 sets of 20 (ten of each)
Ab crunch machine - 3 sets of 10, increasing weight
Standing dumbbell side crunches - 3 sets of 10, heavy weight
Decline sit-ups - 3 sets of 10, hands behind my head
Chest and Triceps
I like working my triceps with my chest as opposed to the generic “arms day” workout that many people, myself included, tend to go with. I like this because I feel that many chest exercises use your triceps to a great degree and vice-versa. (Pullovers, close-grip bench press, dips) This makes your muscles work even when their not working and adds further effectiveness to your workout. I like working bi’s and tri’s on weeks I plan on doing more super-sets as it’s easier to do but when I really want that nice hardcore workout I prefer chest and triceps workouts.
Incline Bench Press - 3 sets of 10 at a moderate weight
Flat Bench Press - 4 sets of 10. One light warm-up set, two heavy sets, and then another light burnout set.
Reverse-Grip Bench Press - 3 sets of 10, light weight. I use 135lbs.
Seated Two-Handed Overhead Extension - 3 sets of 10, heavy weight
Pullover Machine - 3 sets of 10, increasing weight
Wide-Chest Machine Press - 3 sets of 10, increasing weight so the 3rd set gets 6-8 reps
Dumbbell Kickbacks - 3 sets of 10, moderate weight
Pec Dec Machine - 3 sets of 10, heavy weight
Machine Dips - 3 sets of 10, increasing weight, leaning forward to put emphasis on the chest
Cable Crossovers - Lowest setting to put emphasis on lower chest, 3 sets of 10
Chest and Triceps
Flat Bench Press - 4 sets of 10. 1 warm-up set @ 135lbs. 3 working sets @ 185lbs.
Reverse-Grip Bench Press - 3 sets of 10 @ 135lbs.
Incline Bench Press - 3 sets of 10 @ 135lbs.
Pullover Machine - 3 sets of 10 @ 140lbs and 180lbs(2).
Dumbell Kickbacks - 3 sets of 10 @ 35lbs each side.
Dip Machine - 3 sets of 10 @ 180lbs, and 270lbs(2).
Wide-Chest Machine Press - 3 sets of 10 @ 180lbs. and 270lbs(2).
Cable Crossovers - Lower setting. 3 sets of 10 @ 35lbs. each and 50lbs(2) each.
Overhead Triceps Extension - 3 sets of 10 @ 35lbs. and 50lbs(2).
Pec Dec Machine - 3 sets of 10 @ 205, 220, and 250lbs.
Ab Crunch Machine - 3 sets of 10 @ 90, 100, and 110lbs.
Torso Twist Machine - 3 sets of 10 @ 100 and 110lbs(2).
Super-set Knee Raises and Leg Raises - 3 sets of 10 each.
My schedule has been pretty crazy this week. I’ve had to work a lot getting out at close to 11pm and having to be back at 8am. I also have a football game on Thursday night and my parent’s are coming to visit on Friday. Because of this I went extra hard in the gym this week so that if I don’t make it the rest of the week I can still go to sleep knowing I accomplished my goals. This “beast-mode” workout is definitely recommended for a beginner in the gym. I was beat afterwards ready to pass out and that’s how I knew I succeeded.
Biceps, Back, and Shoulders
Preacher Curls - 3 sets of 10 @ 75lbs and 95lbs(2).
Low Row Machine - 3 sets of 10 @ 140lbs, 180lbs, and 230lbs.
Military Press - 3 sets of 10 @ 100lbs and 120lbs(2).
Cross-Chest Dumbbell Hammers - 3 sets of 10 @ 35lbs and 45lbs each.
Bent-over Barbell Rows - 3 sets @ 135lbs, 155lbs, and 185lbs(7 reps).
Romanian Deadlifts - 3 sets of 10 @ 135lbs, 185lbs, and 225lbs.
Shoulder Shrugs - 3 sets of 10 @ 230lbs, 270lbs, 360lbs.
Dumbbell Rotating Preacher Curls - 3 sets of 10 @ 50lbs each.
Shoulder Press Machine - 3 sets @ 150lbs(2) and 190lbs.
Overhead Machine Curls - 3 sets @ 80lbs, 90lbs, and 100lbs.
Bent Over Flies - 3 sets of 10 @ 45lbs each arm.
High Row Machine - 3 sets @ 190lbs and 290lbs(2).
Chest and Triceps
Incline Bench Press - 3 sets of 10 @ 135 and 185lbs(2).
Reverse-Grip Bench Press - 3 sets of 10 @ 135 and 155lbs(2).
Rotating Dumbbell Press - 3 sets of 10 @ 80lbs each.
Dips - 3 sets of 10 @ 180 and 270lbs(2).
Seated Decline Press - 1 set of 10 @ 180 and 2 sets of 7 @ 270lbs.
Close-Grip Bench Press - 3 sets of 8 @ 135lbs.
Seated Wide-Chest Press - 3 sets of 10 @ 180 and 270lbs(2).
Dumbbell Kickbacks - 3 sets of 10 @ 35lbs each.