Steven Lopez, an EAS Myoplex and Team Bodybuilding.com athlete, loves to chase the pump. But with a hectic travel schedule and his U.S. Coast Guard duties always taking top priority, he has to get creative and find a way to pack a shorter session with all of his favorite exercises. The result? This efficient 40-minute shoulder-and-triceps session that's heavy on volume and light on rest.
You'd be foolish to jump into any workout without a proper warm-up, but the warm-up is even more crucial when your day consists of multiple presses. That's because the shoulder joints, and the numerous muscles that surround them, are delicate and easily aggravated. Jumping right in will increase your risk of injury.
"The warm-up is important to get the blood flowing, and to also minimize injury risk," says Lopez. By spending a few minutes increasing your body temperature and driving more blood into your shoulders, you can help coerce the frigid joints into performing well for you. Lopez warms up each head individually with one light giant set.
Crank Up the Intensity
To kick off the actual workout, Lopez prefers starting with a compound movement. This allows him to dedicate 100 percent of his energy and focus to this movement. To increase the intensity, Lopez recommends finishing your last set—which is taken to failure—with half reps as necessary in order to reach your repetition goal. "This will allow you to stimulate new growth and break through your plateau," he says.
Bring On the Blood Flow
Lopez pairs lateral raises with single-arm front raises for a superset without any rest breaks. The back-to-back combination will demand more and more blood flow as you progress through the superset.
A New Use for the Hack Squat
Lopez takes pride in his ability to adapt on the fly to maximize his workouts. With his often chaotic travel schedule, he has learned to get creative no matter where he is. Exhibit A: He uses a hack-squat machine to knock out more shoulder presses. Keep your elbows tucked in to your body, so the deltoids do most of the work.
Hit Delts From the Front and the Back
To round out the shoulder portion of the workout, Lopez turns his attention to his rear and front deltoids. To help keep the focus on the rear delts, rather than letting the traps become involved, Lopez recommends not going through a full range of motion on the flyes. Go only until your arms are straight out to your side, rather than pushing back an additional 3-4 inches. This helps to keep the focus purely on the deltoids, which is what you want.
Three-Headed Giant Set
Just in case presses didn't pulverize your deltoids enough, Lopez employs this nasty finishing technique: a three-headed giant set with no rest and the last set taken to failure. If you've never experienced a deltoid pump, you certainly will after this!
Training Triceps Commences
You may think you're done after that last obliterating giant set, but you still need to train your triceps! Lopez likes to keep riding the pump and momentum he's created and jump right into a superset of skullcrushers and close-grip presses.
Both exercises in this pair require the EZ bar, which makes it an even more efficient superset because you don't need to hog equipment or run back and forth across the gym. By employing both skullcrushers and presses, you tackle the triceps from multiple angles back to back. Bring on the blood flow.
More Angles, More Gains
To further attack the triceps from multiple angles, Lopez moves on to a push-down/dip combination that's not for the faint of heart. Stability will become a major challenge when you transition from push-downs to dips, so be sure to focus on a controlled repetition. Add weights only once you've mastered a bodyweight set first.
Icing on the Cake
Lopez further works the triceps from different angles and with different grips to ensure he hits each of the three heads. Thanks to his blood-pumping finisher of overhead extensions and reverse-grip push-downs, opening the door on the way out of the gym will be a major struggle.