If you grew up in a gym like the ones James Grage and Whitney Reid did, you didn't see many people, machines, or cell phones. You definitely did not spend any time composing a selfie. The equipment was minimal and the space was limited, but the blue-collar work ethic was there in abundance.
"In my opinion, it's work ethic that makes you successful in the gym," says James. "Everybody wants fast and easy. They want the fast and easy nutrition plan and the fast and easy workout. Well, there is no fast and easy. Building a great physique takes time and patience."
James and Whitney work out together because they share that common belief. "You know, it's real simple," says James. "You come in here and you work hard. You work your ass off."
That's just what James and Whitney do when they train. They push each other to be better and stronger than they were the day before.
In this workout, James and Whitney get back to their old-school roots and hit their shoulders with an intense high-volume session. Step into the gym to watch them train in the video below, and then hit this hardcore shoulder smasher yourself.
Take note: this workout isn't meant to be done every week. Do it just once per month and reap the mega-pump benefits.
Throwback Shoulders Workout
"Shoulders and traps are one of those body parts that no one wants to train because there's nothing exciting about [them]," says James. "It's the coast day. But shoulder day is the day that you should go in and just kill it because nothing will make you look bigger than having big shoulders and traps. You can wear a sweatshirt and still look big if you have big shoulders and traps."
There's no better motivation than that! If you want to look big, then you need some boulder shoulders. Here's the workout:
Exercise 1: Side Lateral Raise
Use these lateral raises as a shoulder warm-up. You don't have to go super heavy to do them right. Prepare your shoulders for the work ahead by concentrating on controlling the weight throughout the entire lift and getting an extra squeeze at the top.
Exercise 2: Single-Arm Overhead Press
"The neat thing about these overhead presses is that you can't cheat. [With] seated dumbbell presses, you can press down into the chair to help yourself move the weight. But with these, there is no hiding," explains Whitney.
As you'll learn throughout this workout, it's not the weight that matters. Hitting every rep and concentrating on using just your shoulders to do the work will absolutely blow them up.
Exercise 3: Hang Clean and Press
"This is an old football movement," says Whitney. "You don't see this much anymore. It's a total-body workout. The key is having explosive hips and the strength in your shoulders to power the bar upward. It's better than regular cardio."
If you can get a few extra presses in after the last rep on the last set, do it.
Exercise 4: Incline Side Lateral Raise
"The little baby weight you use on this exercise will start to feel really heavy," says James. "But, like I said before, it's not about how much weight you lift. Your goal for every set is to use just your shoulder to move the weight. "
Don't bring the dumbbell up too high. Let it come just high enough to put the maximum stress on your delts, pause for a beat, and then bring it back down.
Exercises 5 and 6: Rear Delt Fly, Face Pull
For the rear delt flyes, James has some good advice: "Don't put any weight on your forehead. Your head is against the bench only to maintain your body position. If you start putting weight on your forehead, you'll tweak your neck or back. If you feel like you have to lean on the bench to get the dumbbells up, drop the weight."
To do face pulls, keep your body tight and try to maximize the use of your rear delts. Exercise that mind-muscle connection.
Exercises 7 and 8: Dumbbell Shrug, Dumbbell Upright Row
On your shrugs, do your best to keep your elbows out of the movement. Keep your arms straight. Squeeze your traps up and back. "Don't do that weird [shoulder] roll, though," says Whitney. "Just squeeze back."
When it comes to upright rows, James says, "You see a lot of guys doing upright rows with a really narrow grip, bringing their hands all the way to their chin and their elbows up to their ears. You don't need to bring your arms so high. Bring your hands to your chest, your elbows parallel with your shoulders. That's plenty."
Exercise 9: Dumbbell Overhead Scott Press
"The best way to think of these is to compare them to a chest fly," explains James. "You're not pressing the weight up; you're squeezing the delts to move the weight."
"Keep your elbows at 90 degrees. The only thing that moves is your shoulders. At the top, turn your thumb down and keep your pinky up. These are nasty. Don't go too heavy."
Rest pause if you need to finish the set, but do all of the reps.