Stephanie Sanzo's Shoulder Burnout Workout

Whether you’re looking to build muscle, lose fat, or recomp, this shoulder burnout workout from Stephanie Sanzo can help you make it happen.

Ahead we’ve got some tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your delt training so that you can add muscle where you want it and enhance your overall physique!

Shoulder Burnout Workout from Stephanie Sanzo

You can use this at the end of an upper body training day to really burn out the shoulder muscles, or it can even be used as a brief “mini” workouts on non-training days to get in some extra volume and help build bigger, broader shoulders in support of the V-taper.

  1. Cuban Press: 4 sets, 10-12 reps
  2. Y Press: 4 sets, 8-12 reps
  3. Standing Bradford Press: 4 sets, 5-8 reps (each front and back press counts as one rep

Shoulder Training Tips

Cuban Press

The Cuban press is a compound shoulder exercise that combines an upright row, with external rotation and ending with an overhead press. Not only is this exercise great for improving shoulder health, but it also helps build muscle & strength too!

Due to the complex nature of this exercise (and the fact that you’ll be externally rotating the shoulders at the top of the upright row), you’ll want to choose lighter weight dumbbells and perform the Cuban Press for higher reps.

The real “power” of the Cuban press lies with its ability to strengthen the infraspinatus, a rotator cuff muscle tasked with internal and external rotation of the upper arm bone (humerus).

As you may (or may not know), both the pecs and the lats function as internal rotators of the humerus.

And, most lifters have overdeveloped pecs as well as tight lats, creating a muscular imbalance since most lifters (and training programs) do not include enough exercises involving external rotation.

When there is an imbalance between the strength of your internal rotators and external rotators, the integrity of the shoulder joint becomes compromised, increasing the likelihood of injury. Therefore it’s important to regularly include exercises that involve external rotation and strengthen the muscles of the rotator cuff.

Since the external rotators are relatively small muscles, it’s generally advised to perform the Cuban Press with a moderate weight for higher reps. Here, Stephanie performs them for three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.

Note: While Stephanie performs these with a pair of dumbbells, you could also perform these with a lighter weight barbell too.


As the name implies, the “Y” press is a variation of the dumbbell overhead press where you form a “Y” shape when your arms are extended overhead. The set up for the Y-press is the same as the dumbbell overhead press except instead of pressing the dumbbells straight overhead, you press your arms out to 45 degrees.  

Pressing the dumbbells at this angle places the shoulders in a mechanically weaker position, which means you will not be able to use as much weight when performing the Y press as you can on a typical dumbbell overhead press.

The benefit here is that the Y-press provides a novel stimulus for your deltoids different from that of the traditional overhead press doesn’t.

Similar to the Cuban Press above, the Y-press is fantastic for building strength and stability in the muscles surrounding the shoulder (infraspinatus and supraspinatus), which pays dividends to create a more solid foundation to support your heavy military presses.

Bradford Press

To finish off her shoulder burnout session, Stephanie performs the old-school favorite bodybuilding exercise -- the Bradford press.

The exercise is named for Jim Bradford, one of the prominent US weightlifters of his time. Bradford’s athletic career spanned 30 years and included a pair of national championships, four silver medals in world championships, and a silver medal in both the 1952 and 1960 Olympic Games.

To perform the Bradford Press, begin with the barbell in front of your body similar to the setup you would use when performing a traditional military press. Press the up, just high enough to clear your head. Without pausing, bring the bar down behind your head to ear level, and then (again without pausing) press the bar up high enough to clear your head and back down in front.

That is one complete rep.

Stephanie performs these for four sets of 5-8 reps (which is really 10-16 total presses overhead per set).

What makes the Bradford press such a great exercise to include as a “finisher” is that it places the delts under constant tension for a prolonged period of time.

As you know mechanical tension and metabolic stress are two of the keys to muscle growth, and the Bradford press accomplishes both, making it an excellent way to really burn out the delts and create a massive pump in the shoulders!

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