Shoulder Training Thesis
A Big Picture Perspective-Shoulder Muscles were the “Man” Muscle before Pecs ever were
Before the Bench Press become the “bro” lift that every guy feels obligated to do, the foremost upper body lift was the ability to PRESS weight overhead.
This is funny to think about now, but up until the 1960s, the bench press was NOT that popular, and many gyms did not even have Bench press benches. To give some visual references, this is a replica of the Farnese Hercules (carved 1900 years ago).
This looks embodies power:
-Incredibly muscular core
-Upper body, all the size is in the Shoulders and arms and lats. (Chest is actually not that developed in comparison.)
Here is another example in Eugene Sandow, most famous strongman to ever live.
Sandow could press 300 lbs overhead, at a height of 5'9 and weighing about 200lbs
His back is incredibly dense with muscle.
Chest though? He'd look puny next to a modern bodybuilder, despite being functionally stronger.
Alexander Karelin, arguably greatest Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler of all time.
Man was a FREAK of nature, he could lift up 250 lb men and bodyslam them like rag dolls, he was feared in the wrestling world for almost two decades and was unbeaten for over 10 years.
Look at the chest development compared to the shoulders and traps.
Chest was not where he got his "power" from.
Until Arnold came along, having massive pecs was not a common look. Many old time strongmen and even classic age bodybuilders considered it odd-looking to have an overdeveloped chest.
Now, that does not mean that you should not train chest, but I think these men innately recognized that in regards to both aesthetics and function, the deltoids were the key muscles.
When it comes to athleticism and being able to tackle, throw, grip, stiff arm, and punch, the power is in the SHOULDERS. Getting big and strong shoulders requires more athletic ability than bench pressing does.
When you bench press, the bench is stabilizing your body. Yes, this still requires muscle mass and you can move massive weights, but the bench press is in no way a “natural” position that you do in any sport.
Compare that to the overhead press, and any kind of “inclined” press. Or even the dip. When you tackle someone, throw a punch, go for a takedown, or pick someone up for a slam, that doesn’t just require shoulder and arm strength, it’s total body strength from head to toe. There’s no bench to stabilize you. If you’ve got a weak core and weak upper back and no traps and no lats, you won't be able to press shit.
The two "old school" chest and shoulder exercises for years were DIPS and Shoulder presses. Dips train the pecs better than the bench press does.
And pressing overhead requires total body strength far more than bench press as well.
Functionality emphasized, there is also the AESTHETIC factor.
What is it about having wide shoulders that impresses people so much?