Sculpted Shoulder & Back Workout | Alyssa Rose

Sculpt every angle and build round, full muscles with NPC competitor Alyssa Rose as she takes you through her total shoulder and back workout.

No matter if you want to hit the stage, the beach, or a night on the town with friends, creating a strong and toned upper body is a must. The two muscle groups that play the biggest roles in how well you fill out your attire are the shoulders and back as they are responsible for creating the ideal shoulder-to-waist ratio, giving you an impressive V-tape and creating a jaw-dropping visual impact.

Yet, many individuals struggle to build these two muscle groups more than any others.

It might be due to genetics, or the wrong training program, or flat out neglecting to train them at all.

But, help is on the way.

We’ve brought in our very own Alyssa Rose to take you through her personal shoulder and back workout to chisel the sculpted upper body you want.

How to Deal with Stubborn Muscle Groups?

Shoulders used to be one of Alyssa’s weakest muscle groups, in large part due to the fact that, admittedly, she didn’t train them hardly at all.

Now, that she’s grown to love the art of bodybuilding, shoulders are one of her favorite muscle groups to train as well as one of her strongest aesthetic features.

In dealing with stubborn muscle groups, Alyssa suggests training it 2-3x per week to help grow stubborn muscle groups. 

As you’re aware, volume is a main contributor to hypertrophy. By increasing your weekly training frequency, you’re able to complete more total volume each week and force the muscles to adapt and grow bigger and stronger.

One of her favorite training methods to build stubborn shoulders is to perform a burnout set of 100 dumbbell side lateral raises at the end of her workout.

To perform this shoulder burnout, grab a weight that you could perform 15-20 reps using strict form and get work. As you fatigue, take brief 10-15 second breaks and hit it again.

Continue in this rest-pause fashion until all 100 reps are complete.

By the end, your delts will be capped and swollen!

Alyssa Rose's Sculpted Back & Shoulder Workout

Back & Shoulder Warm Up

To begin her workout, Alyssa performs an upper body warm up consisting of a mix of front and lateral dumbbell raises using a light weight.

Perform 10-15 reps of each movement in a superset-style fashion before resting for one minute and repeat for a total of 3 rounds.

You’ll also be performing a couple warm up sets depending on your strength levels before your first compound exercise of the day, but if you feel you need more of a warm up, feel free to perform some rotator cuff exercises, straight arm pull downs, or bent over flies.

For more ideas on structuring an upper body warm up, click here.

Back & Shoulder Workout




Dumbbell Shoulder Press



Incline Chest Supported Row



Dumbbell Lateral Raises*


8 / 8 / 8 + 8

Lat Pulldown



Rear Delt Fly



ISO Lateral Machine Row



Note: Last set of lateral raises perform a drop set.

Back & Shoulder Workout Training Tips

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

To start the workout, Alyssa begins with a bread-and-butter compound exercise for building the delts -- seated dumbbell shoulder press.

Dumbbell shoulder presses are a great exercise for building the delts, particularly the front and side delts. Using dumbbells is also ideal for those who experience pain or discomfort from traditional barbell presses.

If you’re familiar with Alyssa and her style of training, then you’ve likely heard her mention something called “growing reps.” 

“Growing reps” are those last few grinding reps of each set you perform before hitting failure. These are also sometimes called “effective reps” and essentially they are the reps that give the greatest  amount of hypertrophy bang for your exercise buck.-- reps

Incline Chest Supported Row

After attacking the front and side delts with the seated dumbbell shoulder press, Alyssa performs a barbell high incline chest-supported row.

This exercise helps target the rear delts and rhomboids, ensuring that all three heads of the shoulder are worked equivalently giving your shoulders a more impressive 3D look.

The rear delts are an oft-neglected muscle group due to the fact they’re small and located on the back of the body, but if you’re concerned with being in the iron game for decades and not just a few years, you need to prioritize rear delt training.

Aside from the obvious physique enhancements an impressive set of rear delts conveys, having strong rear delts also helps preserve shoulder health and function.

Dumbbell Lateral Raises

Lateral raises are a staple exercise for isolating the side delts, yet many lifters struggle to perform them properly.

To get the most out of this exercise, keep the following pointers in mind:

  • Maintain a slight bend in the elbow during the exercise
  • Do NOT allow the angle between the upper and lower arm to open or close -- doing so reduces the amount of tension placed on the side delt
  • Use strict form -- swinging the weight up takes tension off the side delts and places it on other muscles you’re not focused on training, such as the traps
  • Control the descent -- this keeps tension on the side delt and increases total time under tension, which means your side delts are experienced to more stress, ultimately supporting more growth.

Lat Pulldown

After blasting the three heads of the shoulder, Alyssa moves onto training back and begins with the classic bodybuilding back builder -- the lat pulldown.

For this exercise, Alyssa uses a wide grip which helps focus more on the lats while at the same time removing contribution of the biceps -- meaning the back has to do more work.

To get more muscle-building potential from each rep, hold the contraction in the bottom position for a count of one before raising the bar to a count of three. This might mean you have to use a bit less weight, but the tradeoff will be rewarded with better lifting form and a greater amount of work done by the muscles you’re trying to train -- the lats.

ISO Lateral Machine Row

To end this complete upper body workout, Alyssa performs another exercise that, in addition to hitting the back, also smashes the rear delts -- the ISO Lateral Machine Row.

If you’ve never used this machine before, the ISO lateral machine row utilizes a unique movement pattern that allows for equal strength development and tension throughout the entire range of motion.

If you don’t have an ISO Lateral Machine Row at your gym, sub in with a single-arm high cable row for the same amount of sets and reps.

Boost Energy & Performance

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Alyssa Rose Shoulder & Back Workout Supplement Stack

To help get her psyched for training as well as fuel her performance during the workout, Alyssa uses Ape Sh*t Cutz.

Ape Sh*t Cutz is a dual-purpose, high energy pre workout supplement formulated to support athletic performance as well as increased calorie burning. Each serving of Ape Sh*t Cutz supplies quality doses of performance boosting, fat burning ingredients including beta alanine, caffeine, GBB, and yohimbine.

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