I followed what you might call the most archetypal route to bodybuilding. No, I'm not talking about having an elite bodybuilder for a dad, although that's true for me. I'm talking about being an undersized kid in school who dreamed of playing football.
I wasn't the biggest kid in school. If fact, my dad is just 5-foot-6, and in one pic, I'm coming up to his shoulder. I was 5-foot-nothing, not even 100 pounds. I started hitting the weight room because I wanted to do well on the gridiron. In fact, I put on 20 pounds a year through all four years of high school, playing my last year at 205—at which point I stood 5-foot-8.
When I was done with the sport, I never felt pressure from my dad to go into bodybuilding. I was only 2 when he stopped competing professionally, so I don't really have any memories of watching him compete. He was just "Dad." But he was always big on us eating healthy and being active. He never pushed me to lift weights when I was young, but he always encouraged me to excel at whatever I chose to do.
But there's no doubt that I loved the training. And when I was ready, he was there to help guide me.
From the Gridiron to the Stage
Playing football required a certain amount of discipline, mental toughness, and capacity to work. As it turns out, that translates very well to bodybuilding. To make the switch, I adopted a more traditional push-pull style. I removed some of the agility work and plyometrics I'd needed for football. I also minimized explosive moves like power cleans and push-presses, which were great for being an athlete but had less to offer when trying to put on muscle and posed more risk.
I also started eating more—a lot more. Of course, I also began working closely with my dad, who shared some of the methods that worked so well for him. We have a great relationship, so I feel very blessed to have had that opportunity to learn from him.
For years, "bodybuilding" for me was just eating right and training hard. I only started competing recently, and I won my last two amateur shows. But training is definitely a part of my daily routine, like brushing my teeth. I'd do it every day even if I never put on another pound or set foot on stage. My day just feels off if I don't train or eat like I'm supposed to.
Since working at Labrada Nutrition and doing videos for Bodybuilding.com, what I enjoy most is getting feedback from the tips I give people. They tell me, "Dude, what you said made the biggest difference," or "I was able to become injury-free from this warm-up you put out," or "I lost 15 pounds with your guide to fat-loss."
People thank me, but I'll tell them, "I didn't do the work for you. I just gave you the tools and the map of how to do it." It's cool that they see the information and get the motivation to get off their butts and actually do it.
Strong Shoulders Are Balanced Shoulders
As mentioned, I've shared a number of workouts and tips with Bodybuilding.com readers, but this shoulder routine stands out because it's so untraditional.
You'll notice it starts with a single-joint movement, the dumbbell lateral raise, done for high reps. I use that exercise as a warm-up, but it also serves as a "pre-exhaust," fatiguing the middle delts before I do heavier overhead shoulder presses.
This workout emphasizes the middle and rear delts, without paying much attention to the front delts. That's because my front delts are already very well-developed from all the chest pressing I do. Three exercises in this workout engage the middle delts: dumbbell and cable lateral raises, as well as seated overhead dumbbell presses to a lesser degree. The other exercises are for the rear delts.
The high-rep nature of the workout is also ideal for generating a monster pump in my delts, which I find the safest and most productive way to train them. If you're a slave to press-focused workouts—and maybe your shoulders are letting you hear it—give this a try once a week and see if it feels as good for you as it does for me.