Dennis Wolf's Guide to Wide Shoulders

The chief ingredients in the Big Bad Wolf's recipe for effective workouts.

You can never be too wide—not when it comes to your shoulders and back. As we count down Wolf’s six recommendations for widening, we also journey six steps backward through his remarkable career to see just how far his vast wings have carried him. As Wolf proves, width rules.

1) CHOOSE THE RIGHT PARENTS

First, the bad news. Or the good news, if you happen to be a Wolf born in Kyrgyzstan. The most important component in shoulder width is clavicle length, and there’s nothing you can do to alter this. Sufficient calcium and vitamin D will allow you to fulfill your bone-growth potential, but that potential is determined by your DNA. No amount of milk or shoulder stretching is going to give Phil Heath the clavicles of Dennis Wolf. Focus instead on the next five widening rules.

2) PRIORITIZE MEDIAL DELTS

If clavicles are the great width determiner you can’t change, the most important breadth component you can alter is your medial deltoids. Your middle delt heads are like flesh shoulder pads affixed to the outer edges of your skeleton. Prioritize them by hitting them first in your shoulder routine when your strength and energy are highest. “I mix up my exercise order. But when I want to focus more on middle delts, I do them first before I do my presses,” Wolf claims. “That would be my best advice to anyone who wants to get wider shoulders. Make sure you’re doing enough work for middle delts and training them when your strength is at its best.” Don’t be afraid to double up your side lateral work, doing three or four sets of a second exercise in addition to dumbbell laterals. Choices for this exercise include cable laterals, wide-grip upright rows, and peak contraction laterals (focused only on the top portion of the movement).

3) HAVE A DELT DAY

Throughout his career, Wolf has given his delts their own workouts devoid of any other upper-body exercises. He typically follows his shoulder routine with 12 sets for calves—the body part farthest away. Others may train delts after chest or before biceps and/or triceps. Not Wolf. One day per week is dedicated to dealing with shoulders without any neighboring body parts distracting his focus. “I’ve always liked to give shoulders their own day,” he avers. “Delts are involved with a lot of other things—chest, back, even some triceps exercises—so I want to make sure they have a workout focused only on them. As for traps, I can train them after delts or after back, either way. I switch it up sometimes, depending on when I have the most energy left over.”

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