Bodybuilding Training Article from EricsGym.com

Bill Pearl On Deltoids & Picture Gallery
An Interview with Bill Pearl - 1975

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INTERVIEWER:
Your approach to training has always been to use heavy weights for quality lasting muscle. It was in articles about your training as far back as 1953. You always combined pushing movements and lateral movements for total development of all three heads of the deltoid muscle. Will you update us on your deltoid training here, Bill?

BILL:
If you know enough about anatomy, you understand that you have three deltoid heads, all of which are important in bodybuilding.

The posterior deltoid is just as important as the lateral and front heads. Whenever I make out a deltoid routine, I always make sure I include exercises for each head. I also do it on triceps, biceps or whatever muscle. I try to get a muscle from every angle. I was always impressed with weightlifters' deltoids. They convinced me that the only way you are going to get thick deltoids is with overhead presses. I have always been included toward heavy presses behind neck, military and dumbbell presses. The rear deltoid's seems to get lost because no one gets to see it on themselves. It's totally lacking on some people because they do nothing to attack that area. I stress bent-over exercises and incline exercises facing into an incline-bench.

INTERVIEWER:
How many days a week do you work your delts?

BILL:
For best results, three days a week, I work them only twice a week now because business affairs and my cycling training keep me pretty busy.

INTERVIEWER:
Suppose you wanted to get them in top shape for a contest, what would you do for them starting at this point?

BILL:
I'd do military presses, five sets, five reps, medium grip. I believe small muscle groups like deltoids, biceps, even pectorals respond very well with low repetitions. I think the large muscle groups like thighs and back respond better on high repetitions. Therefore, on deltoids I keep my repetitions at five for virtually everything I do. On lateral movements I might raise the reps to eight to affect a stricter style.

INTERVIEWER:
Would you do them sitting or standing?

BILL:
Either way, but whatever I started my program with that's what I'd stay with.

INTERVIEWER:
Would you take the weight off the rack or clean it to the shoulder for pressing?

BILL:
I would take it off the rack.

INTERVIEWER:
You mentioned laterals. Is there a specific way you do them like rotating the arms inward in a "coffee pouring" movement?

BILL:
My second exercise would be lateral raises. I raise them slightly above shoulder level, to the side only, not the front. I don't think rotating the hand one way or the other is necessary. I'd do five sets of eight reps. I would space the sets about the time it would take a training partner to do his set.

INTERVIEWER:
Would you move that fast on your heavy military presses?

BILL:
Yes, but naturally your poundages will suffer. Fast sets is certainly not the way to handle heavy poundages. The main idea is to work the muscle the best you possible can. When it gets tired, 135 pounds can feel as heavy as 185 pounds. If a muscle is working 80 percent of its maximum, regardless of the weight, it's the most you can ask of it. Weight isn't the important factor. Muscle movement is a function of the training conditions set up for it. If you make the conditions difficult, the muscle work hard with less weight.

INTERVIEWER:
Following your laterals what exercise do you do?

BILL:
Press behind the neck with a medium-wide grip, seated. I let each rep rest on my shoulders before pressing back up again. I would not brace my back against anything because there is too much chance for cheating. Even in my military presses I don't believe in cheating or partial movements. I let it down to my shoulders, stop, and press back up without any bounce. I will hold my breath through the press movement up, and exhale as I lower it. I tell my students to always take a deep breath at the start of an exercise and exhale at the finish of it. You can't go wrong on your breathing that way.

INTERVIEWER:
You've done movements for the front and lateral delts, so where to from there?

BILL:
I'd do some kind of rear deltoid exercise, I'd do bent-over laterals. The movement is the same as lateral raises standing, but bent-over. However, you have to raise them forward, more like in a swan dive position. If you raise them directly sideways, you'll get more back than rear deltoid. You try to move them in and arc about eight inches ahead of the shoulders. It isn't necessary to brace the head against anything. Again, eight repetitions, five sets on all lateral movements. I stop the weight momentarily at the tip of the movement, and also at the bottom. I don't like to cheat them. Back to the standing laterals. I don't like to do them where you bring the dumbbells together in front of you at the start of the movement. You get a flying start on the movement that merely lessens the effect of the resistance. Keep the elbows slightly bent. That prevents the movement form being too restricted.

INTERVIEWER:
That's a total of 20 sets. Does that conclude your deltoid training? Do you vary it at all?

BILL:
That's it, 10 sets, five sets of five reps on the pressing movements. five sets of eight on the lateral movements. I may do upright rows in place of the standing laterals. The military press and press behind the neck I do without fail, all year long. I might occasionally exchange the military press for double-dumbbell presses now and then. The bulk of the deltoid work would lie in the presses. The lateral movements I do mainly for the rear deltoids. Remember, most of the pectoral exercise like incline presses and prone bench presses get the front deltoid also. It's easy to develop out balance if you don't do rear deltoid work.

INTERVIEWER:
You've always considered the trapezius an important muscle. It's naturally involved in deltoid training to some degree. Do you work it along with your deltoid routine?

BILL:
No, I work the trapezius along with my back routine.

INTERVIEWER:
Do you do anything special to chisel in extra cuts before a contest?

BILL:
I would think that chiseling in extra cuts would be more a function of diet than anything extra you might do. If you're on a meat and water diet for six months, roughly speaking, and you don't get cuts, I don't think you're ever going to get them regardless of what you do with the weights.

INTERVIEWER:
What other body parts do you work with your deltoids?

BILL:
Chest, shoulders, and legs I work together. I start out with my chest because that was my weakest point. Shoulder work has always been my favorite. I enjoy it.

INTERVIEWER:
Doesn't chest work tire your deltoids?

BILL:
Even if it did, it wouldn't matter because I wasn't trying to be Paul Anderson. Lifting a lot of weight wasn't my goal. Like I said, I merely shift the amount of weight downward and continue. Development, not strength is the keynote.

INTERVIEWER:
Have you ever had a severe shoulder injury?

BILL:
Yes. It was stupidity. I had enough forewarning. I continued to train through the pain until the shoulder finally gave way. It was not sudden injury. The months of setbacks aren't worth it.

INTERVIEWER:
Since you work heavy on deltoids , how would you caution someone to approach the program so as to avoid injury

BILL:
Warm up. The initial set should be very light. The sets can then become progressively heavier. This applies mainly to the heavy movements like presses or squats. I don't have to use the progressive system on lateral deltoid movements. The smallest of the muscle group and the type of movements used for it don't necessitate it. I wouldn't take 500 pounds off a rack and attempt to squat with it without a warm up. However, I'll warm-up wherever and whenever necessary. The whole purpose of training is being in top shape so you can go on training all your life.

INTERVIEWER:
You look like you've been taking your youth pills, Bill. How old are you?

BILL:
I'm 45. I'm still doing fine.

INTERVIEWER:
You won Mr. America in 1953. What did you weigh then?

BILL:
193 pounds. My highest was 241. The longer I stayed in there training, the bigger I got. Even the kids today, they're bigger they they were in the earlier years of bodybuilding. The training concepts are fundamentally the same. Perhaps they are more highly motivated. I think it's a matter of stiffer competition with the great growth of the game. Motivation is stronger, maybe. It's the same as the four-minute mile. When the barrier was cracked, it became easier for others in some mysterious way.

INTERVIEWER:
How would you start a beginner on a deltoid routine? You'd start them with presses and what else?

BILL:
No, I don't start them with presses because of the injury problem. I would slant it toward upright rowing and incline laterals. I would constitute the pectoral exercise as part of the deltoid exercise. I would add lateral raises. As he went into the second and third programs I've set up for him, I would give him some kind of pressing movements. He'd use dumbbells instead of barbells. I'd work him slowly, avoid any chance for injury.

INTERVIEWER:
I'd suggest three sets on any exercise. Not many people at that stage can settle down to six days a week training, two to three hours at a time. Twenty sets is strictly big time. The average bodybuilder can't do it. If you're a bench press specialist, you should incorporate some kind of rear deltoid work into your training. Not ten sets of rear deltoid exercises for six months, rather five sets for as long as you insist on bench pressing. You must take a very long range view in this matter of development.

INTERVIEWER:
A concluding question, Bill - how long do you think it would take a fellow starting from scratch to get to the point where he could win Mr. California?

BILL:
Five years, minimum. Most Mr. America's average eight years. I won Mr. America after three years of training. I was big and raw-boned. I was lucky. Also, the competition back in 1953 wasn't what it is today. At any rate, to reach the top, you have to make bodybuilding a large part of your life. You must be gainfully occupied or employed. Idleness and bodybuilding have never mixed. The best bodybuilders invariably have always been the busiest with outside affairs, school, jobs, purposes, or what not. Actions compliment one another. Action is life. Success in bodybuilding depends on it.

Bill Pearl Picture Gallery


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