Follow along with Stephanie Sanzo (StephFitMum) as she shows you how to build a strong, aesthetic upper body with this complete back and shoulders workout.
Chest and biceps get all the love, but if you really want to stand out in a crowd, you want to build broad, round shoulders, and a thick, meaty back.
Primeval Labs Athlete Stephanie Sanzo (aka StephFitMum) is here with a full-blown upper body workout that focuses on the muscles of the back and shoulder.
Pre Workout Pointers
Stephanie begins all of her workouts by performing a thorough warm-up of the muscles she’ll be training that day. For today’s back and shoulders training session, Stephanie begins with some external rotations for her shoulders along with additional rotator cuff work to make sure her shoulders feel strong, stable, and ready for the heavy lifting ahead.
She’ll also perform bent-over rows, lateral raises, and rear delt raises with lightweight dumbbells to increase blood flow to the lats, rhomboids, and all aspects of the shoulder.
Stephanie likes to start all of her workouts with a unilateral movement to really dial into the mind-muscle connection as well as to shore up any imbalances that may exist between the two sides of her body.
Stephanie Sanzo Strong Back & Shoulders Workout
- Single-arm Landmine Press: 3 sets, 12 reps
- Chin-ups: 3 sets, 6 reps
- Barbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets, 10 reps
- Sir Charles Lateral Raise: 3 sets, 10 reps
- Cable Single-arm Row: 3 sets, 12 reps
- Cable Overhead Triceps Extension: 3 sets, 8 reps
- Cable Biceps Curl: 3 sets, 8 reps
Rest 1-2 minutes between straight sets. Take as little rest as possible between paired exercises in each superset, and then a 1-2 minute break after both exercises in the superset are complete.
Back & Shoulders Training Tips
Train with Intensity
So many lifters fail to make progress in the gym and achieve the results they desire due to a lack of intensity.
Simply put, you can lift all day, but if you don't train with intensity, you won't grow.
Now, “intensity” doesn't necessarily mean grunting, screaming, or throwing around weights. Stephanie defines intensity by how heavy you lift, how hard you work, and the brevity of your rest periods.
You constantly need to ask yourself: “How effective was my workout?”
If you can walk out of the gym feeling as though you could have kept training for another few hours, you’re not training with intensity. If, however, you can look yourself in the mirror and know you gave everything you possibly could have in the workout, you will get the changes you seek.
Single-Arm Landmine Shoulder Press
Stephanie performs these kneeling to help focus all of the tension onto the muscles of the shoulder and upper pec. Performing shoulder presses from a kneeling position also eliminate any cheating, momentum or involvement of the legs which can help to push the weight up as you fatigue.
Make sure to keep your arm in front of your body with your elbow tucked into your side. Do not allow the elbow to drift out and away from your body.
Focus on driving the elbows down and back when performing chin-ups. Additionally, make sure to control the lowering phase of the lift. Far too many lifters prioritize the pull and let gravity pull them down. Doing this means you’re missing out on 50% of the muscle-building potential of each rep.
Use a controlled, powerful concentric to pull yourself up to the bar, and a steady, controlled eccentric on the return to the bottom position.
For those of you that cannot yet perform multiple reps of chin-ups, you can use a pull-up assist by looping a resistance band around a pull up bar and placing one or two feet in it to help reduce the amount of weight you are having to pull up on each repetition. You may also use an assisted chin-up machine in lieu of the resistance band if your gym has one.
Sir Charles Lateral Raise
The Sir Charles lateral raise is similar to a typical lateral raise where you raise a dumbbell out to the side of your body; however, with this variation, you’ll be starting first with a hammer curl.
To perform the Sir Charles Lateral Raise:
- Begin holding a pair of light dumbbells using a neutral grip with your arms at your side
- Initiate the movement by flexing the elbow until your lower arm forms a 90-degree angle with your upper arm
- Once your arms create a 90-degree angle, pause and then raise your arms to the side, maintaining the 90-degree angle.
- When your upper arms are parallel to the ground, pause and extend the elbow to straighten the arm while your upper arm remains fixed in place.
- Now, with straight arms, slowly lower your arms and return the dumbbells to your side
Cable Overhead Tricep Extension
Stephanie’s biggest pointer when performing the overhead tricep extension is to make sure to keep the elbows tucked in close to your body. This helps maximize tension on the triceps as well as avoid unnecessary strain on the shoulder. Allowing the elbows to flare too much could lead to potential shoulder impingement over time.
Stephanie Sanzo Pre Workout Stack
Mega Pre Black
Stephanie’s go-to pre workout ahead of any rigorous training session is Mega Pre Red.
Unlike other pre workout supplements on the market, Mega Pre Red does not fade mid-workout. Thanks to its immediate and sustained-release caffeine sources, Mega Pre Red provides intense, long-lasting energy that powers the mind and body through the most daunting of workouts.
Also included in Mega Pre Red are powerful nootropics, adrenaline boosters, and blood flow enhancers to promote greater focus, energy production, and performance.