What if I tell you there are aliens in the gym? Those are the guys who just don’t match the whole picture not necessarily because they are too big, but because they look different. It’s like comparing a raw photo to one enhanced in a digital editor.
I spent about two years in a dirty underground gym. I had the chance to see not only fat powerlifters with riverlike high blood pressure powered vein on their foreheads but also competitive regional bodybuilders ready to do whatever it takes to look good naked. Those were the guys vacuuming the attention of the whole gym and filling their balloon egos with it.
There was something peculiar about their physiques. The aura of those muscle beats was so distinctive that even the old cleaning lady was often starring at them. You know you are something when you get attention not only from the muscle addicts but also from the ordinary people who don’t know the difference between biceps and traps.
“Are they on steroids,” I asked myself but quickly depressed that thought because I was in the middle of an intense heavy training that was going to help me build huge, “functional” muscles.
Besides, asking similar questions was not accepted by the muscle church. I had to shut down the hater in me.
Today, I know the truth and feel no shame in saying that the Photoshop glow around most big dudes is largely due to the effect of anabolic steroids and growth hormone. They can keep on telling their fairy tales about drop sets, anabolic windows, doors, broccoli and berries, but that won’t change the fact that behind the technological muscle effects we found cocktails of drugs.
Techno Vs. Organic
What would classical composers and musicians think when they hear a techno song programmed in a computer for the first time? What would Mozart and his crew think of trap beats? What would their reaction be? They would be intrigued. The composition would sound unusual to them. Every single sound will be new and mystifying. They would listen to the song over and over again in an attempt to understand what’s producing the peculiar vibrations commanded by a mechanical rhythm.
People who see steroid users for the first time have similar reactions. They feel like lifelong pony riders seeing a Ferrari for the first time. The thing in front of you is real, and yet it seems produced in another world.
Hormones = Regulators
Hormones play the role of regulators. They decide whether you are going to look like Batman or Catwoman.
A woman with large broad shoulders could easily be mistaken for a man. That’s hardly a surprise. Men are known for their wide shoulders while women are left with the pear-shaped lower bodies. The shoulders are simply “male muscles” any way you look at it. You can say that’s sexist, but I care not. Besides, it wasn’t my design. Calm down, please!
The shoulders are one of the most drug-responsive muscle groups along with the upper pectorals and the traps. Roids love shoulders, traps and upper pecs like a fat kid loves double cheeseburgers, chips, and PlayStation.
The main reason for the strong connection of anabolic steroids with the shoulders, upper pecs and traps is the willingness of those muscles to accept androgen. It’s well known that the concentration of hungry androgen receptors in those areas is the highest.
The ironic part is that women on steroids actually demonstrate this idea better than males. Every single female bodybuilder has unnaturally large shoulders and upper pectorals. In fact, I would go as far as saying that most professional female bodybuilders have much bigger shoulders than what natural men can ever build regardless of how they train. That’s the power of hormones.
The Shoulder Of The Natural
The shoulder of the average gym rat looks like that: the front deltoid is overdeveloped compared to the middle and sometimes the rear deltoid. That’s not a bad thing. The front muscle has to be stronger than its little brother because it’s part of the three main pushers (deltoids, chest, triceps). It has to do more work during pressing than the real delts do during pulling. You will hardly miss a lift because your rear deltoids are not strong enough. The big back muscles and the biceps are always there to help with pulling.
The side deltoid of the natty looks flat as a pancake and rarely has deep visible striations a.k.a. “feathers” unless the muscle is pumped beyond belief, and the natty in question looks anorexic. Excuse me! I meant “lean”.
If the muscle is not pumped, it naturally disappears into the shadows regardless of how promiscuous the tank top of choice is. If the natural lifts his arms to the side as if he is doing lateral raises, the middle deltoid will look rounder and fuller. However, when the arm is close to the body the good old pancake reappears.
The Shoulder of the Steroid User
The shoulder of the steroid user is full and nasty at all times. The muscle is dry. The skin is as thin as silk. There are visible striations from miles away. The veins are very pronounced. All three heads look equally developed. There is no flatness even when the arms are close to the body. Thick muscle fibers are covering the side area and creating the so-called “capped” effect. The muscle looks surreal and attracts a lot of attention. The steroid user does not have to search for a specific pose to showcase the roundness of his delts. They are big and round all the time. Even his grandmother asks him to flex for her.
What’s behind the shoulder of the steroid user?
Short answer – drugs. Longer answer – a lot of drugs. Lengthy answer – read on.
Trenbolone – The Demon Behind Modern Muscles
Trenbolone, better known simply as Tren, is the drug responsible for the look of the modern muscle heroes. It’s used not only by professional bodybuilders but also by physique competitors who often play the natural and aesthetic card.
“We don’t want to look like the bloated bodybuilders with big guts. We want to be aesthetic. We are natural, protein powder only boys and girls.”
This translates to – we use lower doses than bodybuilders. Therefore, we are natural.
Tren is loved by the muscle addicts because it’s incredibly anabolic. Due to its insane binding affinity for the androgen receptors it’s consider five times more anabolic than testosterone.
Furthermore, tren is known to produce a very specific appearance that’s very hard to create with other muscle elixirs.
When you look at the popular guys with 3D physiques, you are not seeing testosterone only brahs. Testosterone alone does not produce the grainy, shredded, 3D, technological look displayed by the liars on the covers. Testosterone makes you big and thick, but you still look human compared to the aliens abusing combinations of steroid compounds.
Harder and Tighter
Trenbolone is known for the so-called tightening effect – the skin wraps around the muscle and compresses it.
This is how this happens: the fibers get a lot closer and start separating because of water going inside the muscle. Some people believe that this is the main process behind the tren look – the subcutaneous water goes into the muscle and makes the physique of the user appear leaner and tighter. This phenomenon is more apparent when the person has already low body fat. If done right, the end result could be extraterrestrial. Those properties make tren very effective when it comes to creating 3D capped delts and overall nastiness.
Other drugs known for helping the creation of canonball delts designed for a video game are Equipose, Masteron, Anavar, Winstrol and many more.
Lean and Vascular
Tren and his friends produce an incredibly vascular physique that is impossible to match naturally no matter how lean you are. People on tren become like road maps and start to notice veins on their bodies everywhere – on the back of the legs, on the traps, on the chest and of course on the shoulders. The vein going from the top of the shoulder down to the biceps will become thick enough to demand autonomy.
You can definitely build brutally strong shoulders as a natural. Things like heavy weighted dips, bench presses, handstand push-ups, overhead presses, weighted pull-ups and barbell rows will take care of your shoulders better than anything. However, in this case, we are not talking about strength. We are talking about appearance. The two know each other and have played together as kids but are far from being the same thing.
Strength is primarily dependent on your ligaments, tendons, and CNS. Would you believe me if I tell you that right now your CNS can generate a very intense muscular contraction that can tear your muscles and tendons? It’s possible, but the CNS is not doing it in order to protect the joints. If the body has not been trained to do something, the CNS won’t allow it. Going in no man’s land is scary for the mind. The unknown always equals a potential danger – not a win. Through training the CNS is gradually convinced that it is safe to do something. As the joints and ligaments adapt and learn how to handle higher loads, the mind becomes stronger too. This is why over time the body becomes capable of incredible feats.
The ironic part is that most of that preparation is essentially CNS and joint adaptation. Of course, the muscles need to adapt too, but the process is faster due to the massive blood supply in the area. This explains why there are people who don’t look impressive at all but can lift seriously heavy weights.
When it comes to looks everything changes.
The strength of your joints and the ability of your CNS to overclock itself to unknown limits has no impact on your appearance. There is no tendon hypertrophy or visible increase in thickness because it would hinder the function of the joint.
Consequently, factors like shoulder width, muscle belly insertions, low body fat and overall body chemistry have a higher impact on your looks than strength.
Why Steroid Users Don’t Lift Heavy
Steroids like tren increase your strength brutally fast. One day you bench 225 lbs, in a few weeks, you bench 315 lbs like it’s a puppy. It’s scary. Smart steroid users know that they should train lighter than they want to in order to protect their joints. That’s why in so many videos the steroids users just get a pump with a medium weight for their abilities and call it a day. There is no need for them to test their 1RM and play powerlifting because they have nothing to gain and everything to lose. When a bodybuilder does something like a 5 plate bench press, he is either using fake plates or playing idiot just to satisfy the sick desires of his ego. Besides, heavy lifting is a burden. It’s difficult and scary with or without drugs in your system. Therefore, avoiding heavy training feels natural, especially when you have a legit excuse.
That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised when you see bodybuilders who just get a pump on the hammer strength machine and call it a day. Their job is not to be human cranes! They have to be walking pharmacies! Having the right hormones in your system is more important than training. Besides, there are other high priorities such as preventing kidney and liver damage from the drugs, paying the dealer, avoiding arrests for possession of steroids meant for horses and cattle…etc. Honestly, training is like a walk in the park for those guys. Everything else in their lives is harder.
As anticipated, they try to convince you of the opposite and come up with silly training advice such as “keep your pinky above the thumb when you are pressing for maximum delt activation”, use visualization when you are doing side laterals, do side laterals lying sideways on a bench, do Gironda’s lateral side swing..etc. Those tips are great if your goal is to get a pump in the area, but they will not produce extraterrestrial hypertrophy.
All bodybuilders have done some form of site injecting throughout their careers. The middle deltoid is one of the hottest areas for site injections along with the triceps and biceps. Bodybuilders love injecting all kinds of garbage into the middle delt. From PMMA to Synthol to steroids, it’s all been tried. Guys like Gregg Valentino and Rich Piana are living legends when it comes injections. The goal is, of course, to become a cartoon character.
The sad part is that the swollenness acquired through site injections never looks good and most of the time it has the opposite effect. The site injector appears wide and impressive only when clothes are covering the deltoids. When there’s no clothing, the grotesque shape of the muscle is exposed.
The arms and delts of all synthol idiots always look like complete and total garbage – the oil or whatever the hell those numskulls are importing into their muscles does not care about aesthetics. It assumes the position it likes and there’s nothing that can be done. Eventually, the oil spill becomes visible and has to be drained.
At the end of the day, site injections are not behind the freakish 3D steroid delts. They are just an additional way to add girth. The nasty look comes from the drugs, not garbage imported into the muscle directly.
Are there any magical exercises for the lateral head?
The lateral head creates the capped look, even though every deltoid is important for the complete canonball. The problem with the lateral head is that it does not want to grow at all. It’s a small muscle and getting it bigger is a nightmare. Making the side delts burn until it feels like an anti-ebola serum designed for a whole town has been injected in the area is not a guarantee for growth.
Shoulder Training Tips
- avoid dedicated shoulder days;
The shoulders participate actively in every pushing and pulling exercise. Adding more work could result in overuse. If you want to focus more on your shoulders, just add more sets or an extra exercise on your pushing or pulling days.
Back in the day, when I was training Starting Strength style I was pressing three times a week and alternating between the bench press and the overhead press. I was hitting my front deltoids three times a week heavily. It was not uncommon to feel extreme soreness in the joints. Eventually, I got used to it, but I don’t think it was optimal. Skipping the middle day would have been better.
- front raises are a bitch;
Front raises are a useless lift unless you use them as a warm-up or need that kind of straight arm strength for specific purposes. If you are doing exercises such as weighted dips, push-ups, close grip bench presses, overhead presses, handstands, the front delt is more than covered. It’s probably even overworked.
- weighted dips are not that dangerous;
Weighted dips scare people. Many humanoids think that the shoulder cannot handle that kind of strain, and one day it will explode into a million small pieces. This belief is common for people with a history of ego benching. Those would be the guys with routines heavily dependent on the girl factor in the gym. The hotter the girl, the heavier the barbell.
It’s true that dips could destroy your shoulder if it’s not ready. The stretch at the bottom is ridiculous for the untrained musculature and joints of the modern humanoid getting ripped by looking for Pokemons and texting. But if you start slow and improve your bodyweight numbers to at least 15 reps in a row for a few sets, you can begin to gradually add weight and build brutally strong and flexible shoulders. Unless you have a specific injury, dips are not scary. They just want respect.
- the overhead press is one of the safest shoulder exercises;
The overhead press loves your shoulders a lot. It’s less stressful than the dip, the bench and even the front raises when they are done improperly. As a bonus, it strengthens the rotator cuff fantastically and eliminates the need to do all kinds of pink dumbbell exercises for the rotator cuff. Done correctly, the overhead press destroys every single shoulder exercise in existence. It builds everything – flexibility, strength, and joint awareness.
Note: It’s better to do the exercise standing to avoid extra strain on the lower back. If you can stand, stand.
Tip: If you begin flaring your elbows right after the first part of the movement when the barbell is in front of your nose, you will place more stress on the middle and rear deltoids.
A great mistake that many ego lifters make is turning the overhead press into a standing incline press. Don’t do it. Use a light weight if you have to.
Q: Is the overhead press better than the handstand?
Yes and no, brother. There two main benefits – the overhead press is easy to scale and does not turn you upside down. That’s a great bonus for people who don’t like having most of their blood in their heads. Also, you have a lot more control over the execution of the exercise. If your goal is to focus on the shoulders, the overhead press is many times better than the handstand. On the other hand, the handstand could be considered more athletic and sexier, but that’s arguable.
– don’t be too afraid of imbalances;
The mainstream muscle media has convinced everyone that too much pressing will result in a hell sentence for your shoulders. That’s the reason for the face pull epidemics in this world. The idea of muscle imbalances is blown out of proportions. In the real world, which is quite different from what’s inside people’s heads, it takes a long time to build a scary muscle imbalance and requires complete disrespect to a specific muscle group. Unless your training consists only of push-ups, you will have a hard time developing a serious muscle imbalance.
Stored Tension + Placebo = One Hell of a Drug
Activity is one hell of a drug. In fact, one of the best ways to reduce depression is to start doing something. Inactivity could turn the happiest person into a sad martyr. That’s why one of the hardest punishment is solitary confinement. Being alone with your toxic and intrusive thoughts while having all the time in the world and nothing to do could kill you.
That’s why when a natural starts lifting like a madman, he becomes happier. He feels like he is getting closer and closer to the end goal. At the beginning, everything is perfect. The weights are going up. The muscles are pumped with blood and start to look better even though it’s been only a week or two. That’s the placebo effect.
If right now you start doing tons of lateral raises, your middle deltoids will feel like they are growing. That effect is going to be amplified by the constant soreness in the area as well as the stored tension there. Moreover, the frequent training would increase the blood supply to the muscle and harden it. But the madness will not end here. The strength of this effect will go even further due to the increased focus.
When you focus on something, you begin to see things you’ve never seen before. This is when things get truly mental. It’s natural for the natural to convince himself that he is getting bigger when in fact he is not. Measurements fix this hard.
I am highly skeptical when people say things like: “I’ve been doing a shoulder routine for 4 weeks. There are already incredible results. I am wider.”
No, you are not wider, bro. You just perceive yourself as wider and bigger because you are doing the work. Call me in a year and compare yourself to your previous lateral-raises-free self and tell me how much you have grown in reality.
Low Body Fat
In order for the delt to shine, the lifter must have low body fat. When you are a bloated permabulking mess with enough estrogen in the body to cry after every Hollywood drama your 3D effects are greatly reduced. The waist is too wide and makes the shoulders smaller. This is the so-called reverse V-taper and is very common for naturals who try to weigh as much as the pros. Those would be the guys who slap their wives when the scale shows anything under 200 lbs.
“That’s bitch territory,” says Mr.BigNatty and immediately heads towards the kitchen to begin bulking.
Having low body fat also improves your shoulder to arm ratio. A lean triceps, biceps and brachialis make the side delts appear larger whereas an arm loaded with fat and water hinders the width of the side deltoid.
Another benefit of low body fat is the increased vascularity of the shoulder area.
The downside of having low body fat is that you will lose size and fullness. A natural’s shoulders won’t stand out when there are clothes covering them. A natural can pull out the Wolverine look only when he is naked and has a crazy pump going on. Having a professional filming crew also helps a lot too.