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I just plain did not want to go to the gym today. It was cold and grey, not common experiences as of late, and I wanted to stay home and mope. The iron would be cold and heavy, the music would be the same -- thump, thump, boom, boom -- and the same clang of the metal would be piercing. Add the same faces and the same nods and the same mirrors and the same reflections and the same aches and the same pains... I wanted to stick my head in the refrigerator and scream.

Then I thought about not going. I don’t have to go. I’m a free man. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. I felt good, relieved, for an instant. Then I thought what if I don’t go. I’ll feel like crap. And as the day grows longer I’ll feel like more crap. I’ll feel crappier.

Next thing you know I’m off to the bedroom to dig out my training rags to head for the gym... gotta mix a Bomber Blend, take my 6 caps of Ageless Growth and a dose of creatine... grab my new Jack Stein gym bag, got water, a can of tuna in case I get lost... I’m missing the faces and can’t wait to hear the thump, thump, boom and clang... a few clinks and clanks as well. Yo, what’s happening, man? Hey! That’s my bench... jus jokin’. Push that iron, you skinny pencil neck... Anybody using the Smith Press... shoulders and arms are in for big trouble, girls...

Phew! That was a close encounter of the worst kind.

Speaking of which, remember the two mugs who stopped by last week? Well, they too, have been busy with close encounters and getting people outta trouble as they get in trouble. They’ll be back occasionally to update us on the underground scene and reestablish our crime-stopping training scheme. A steady diet of Bat and Crazy might ruin our appetites, and we need our muscles to grow and the energy to grow them.

In the meantime, I’ll be answering the questions that frequently pop up among our curious and seeking IOL readers.

Without further ado, ladies and gentleman, let’s us put the spotlight on question number one: Would question number one step up to the computer screen? Thank you, Mr. Q, and welcome to The IronOnline Game Show of the week. The rules are simple, Q-ster: You ask the question and I provide an answer and we all go home winners.

Do you understand how to play? Of course you do. And your question is?

“I'm 45 years old and have been training for decades. My problem is I have very sloped shoulders. It looks like I have none. The rest of my upper body is fine and reacts to the training. I also have no front delts. What I want is nice round shoulders. Can you help?”

Sounds like you have a problem with structure, most likely genetic and little can be done to alter it. I'd be doing the popular basics for shoulder and back advancement. This is the best you can do and it can do wonders for a unique and powerful build.

Shoulders (primarily):

Incline dumbbell presses (45- and 75-degree), carefully executed medium weight press-behind-necks (can be problematic if aggressive), front presses, sidearm lateral raises

Back (primarily):

Widegrip bentover rows (pull bar to chest), widegrip pulldowns before and behind neck

For example, I like the following supersets:

Barbell press supersetted with widegrip pulldowns before or behind the neck (4 sets x 12, 10, 8. 6 reps range)

Dumbbell incline supersetted with sidearm laterals (4 x 6 - 10 reps)

Bentover rows done heavy and supersetted with straight-arm dumbbell pullover is productive for you (4 x 6 -8)

Posture might be a contributing factor, and the consequential incomplete development of the totality of muscles involved.

Go on to review the question of our fellow bomber below whose problem and resolution in some ways is not unlike yours.

“I’m 49 years old. Been lifting since I was 17. I’m up to 420lbs on the bench. But how in the world do you get those lats to explode?”

They shoulda done that by now if V-shape lats are in your structure. Further, I suspect you prioritized bench pressing at an early age, a common miscalculation, and created an imbalance in muscle engagement, development and structuring.

You’re so strong and predominantly developed in the chest and front shoulders that it’s possible the muscles comprising the lat region don’t kick in as they would if more balance existed.

I’d give the bench a rest (good for the health of the shoulder region) and bring on the dumbbells, low inclines to steep. Safer, more powerful and more complete shoulder and chest development.

Relax. The bench will always be there. Nobody’s taking it out the back door.

About the lats: I like widegrip pulldowns before and behind the neck, mixed or done separately (4-5 sets x 8 to 12 reps twice a week).... and...

Widegrip barbell rows, pulling the bar to the pec line (4 sets x 6, 8, 10 rep range twice weekly)

Seated lat rows, full range of motion with a tight arched-back contraction (4 sets x 6, 8, 10 rep range twice weekly)

One arm dumbbell rows with full range of motion. (4 sets x 6, 8, 10 rep range twice weekly)

Straight arm dumbbell pullovers

Widegrip chins (good luck -- not so good for big guys)

Design a routine around these and blast away. I combine chest, back and shoulders on the same day, supersetting often.

For example:

Bench (as a focused musclebuilder in deference to power-builder) and pulldowns to the front

Press-behind-neck (dangerous, but I like it... bad Dave) and pulldowns behind the neck

Dumbbell incline press and straight-arm pullover

One-arm dumbbell rows and dips (to mix up the upper body muscle action)

Widegrip barbell; go heavy and single set, or throw in pullovers

It’s all good at 49, Son.

Incidentally, the game we play, the road we travel, the voyage we’re on is good one. It’s also, at times, very hard and frustrating. Like every worthy endeavor, it’s fulfilling, rewarding and beneficial. But it gets old, inconvenient and tedious. It hurts and gets lonely every now and then. Sometimes we quit and when we quit, slow but sure we fall apart. We have more time, but less strength. We sleep later, but have less energy. We have Sunday brunch at the Chaminade, but we become fleshy. Frustration is replaced by guilt, and we suddenly miss the frustration. The easy chair is soft, yet we miss the hard bench and the hard push. And the last time we were fulfilled and rewarded was when the Broncos beat the Stallions 21-nothing and we raked in 60 bucks at the office pool.

Don’t you just love to lift weights and build muscle and hear the clank of iron against iron? It’s like getting high. See ya at that foamy cloud formation just this side of heaven, Iron Eagles.

Go... Godspeed... The Bomber

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