Plate-loaded pressdowns Ben Rowe for FS magazine ()Plate-loaded pressdowns Ben Rowe for FS magazine () © Copyright

Shoulders like boulders

Bodybuilder and personal trainer Ben Rowe walks us through his sleeve-splitting arm workout

If you’ve been following these pages in recent issues, you’ll have realised that we’ve been busy assembling some of the best trainers across the land to provide you with the ultimate in body-split training.

This month, UKBFF bodybuilder and coach Ben Rowe returns to us with a workout for two of the most overlooked sets of muscles on the body: shoulders and triceps.

Ben’s technique is to hit all three heads of the delts (front, side and rear) with a variety of movements, before focusing on the three heads of the triceps simultaneously with just two press and push down exercises that will fully tire the muscles out.

As this session is relatively short (it can be done in 40 minutes or less), you must control both the concentric phase (the shortening of the muscle) and eccentric phase (the lengthening of the muscle) carefully.

The concentric movement should be executed with explosive force (in one second), while the eccentric phase in a controlled fashion (three seconds). The magic happens in the eccentric phase, so keeping the muscle under tension for longer will increase metabolic stress and effective hypertrophy.

Be sure to warm up with some dynamic stretching of the shoulders with some light rotator cuff moves (ie external cable rotations), and finish the workout with some static stretching afterwards.


A short but intense shoulder and tricep workout with UKBFF bodybuilder and coach Ben Rowe.


Because they are two sets of muscles that are often overlooked, but they will give strength and aesthetic balance in equal measure.


By using intense but controlled compound and isolation moves to place the muscle under tension for longer, ultimately promoting greater hypertrophy.


Big moves are the best way for big delts, but make sure you’re hitting all parts of the muscle. Warm up suitably beforehand, with a couple high-rep, low-weight sets that don’t hit failure. Maintain a timing pattern of 1-0-3-0-1 through the concentric and eccentric phases, respectively.


Plate-loaded viking press Ben Rowe for FS magazine ()


Technique Rather than doing a shoulder press with a overhand grip, use a Viking machine for a neutral gripped press. With one foot in front of the other, push the levers until arms are fully extended.

10-8-6-4 reps rest-pause set // 10 secs rest



Upright rows Ben Rowe for FS magazine ()


Technique Stand holding a barbell with a grip at shoulder-width, and at a dead hang. Pull the bar to the neck with elbows pointing outwards and the wrists flexing at the top of the movement.

10-12 reps // 90 secs rest // 3 sets



Plate loaded lateral raise Ben Rowe for FS magazine ()


Technique Sit on the machine seat, keeping your back and neck straight. Place the uppers of your arms under the pads and push them upwards simultaneously until they are parallel with the ground.

10-15 reps // 90 secs rest // 3 sets



Bent-over rear delt raises Ben Rowe for FS magazine ()


Technique Holding a dumbbell in each hand, bend knees and lean forward until back and neck are horizontal. Keeping elbows bent, raise arms until elbows are above shoulder height.

8-12 reps // 90 secs rest // 3 sets



Both these exercises will hit all the triceps’ muscle heads, and build muscle and mass equally. Maintain a timing pattern of 1-0-3-0-1 for the eccentric and concentric phases, respectively


Plate-loaded pressdowns Ben Rowe for FS magazine ()


Technique Hang from a neutral-gripped chin-up bar with your arms fully extended, and your legs tucked into your abdomen. Raise your legs into the crunch slowly, then release back to starting position.

10-8-6-4 reps rest-pause set // 10 secs rest



Technique Stand close to the pulley and take hold of the bar with a narrow, overhand grip, then push the bar directly down until your forearms are as close to vertical as possible. 

Tricep cable pushdowns Ben Rowe for FS magazine ()


10-20 reps // 90 secs rest // 3 sets



How they can maximise your gains

Rest-pause sets can be a fantastic method for increasing muscular hypertrophy by encouraging muscular failure with low volume and high intensity. A rest-pause set is one prolonged set with very short breathers mid set. This breaks each single set down into several mini ones.

Rest-pause sets allow you to push to failure multiple times using the same weight. The rest between mini sets allows the muscle fibres to recover enough to execute more reps in total.

Limit the time between each mini set to ten seconds. In this case you’re only doing one rest-pause set for each delts and triceps phase of the session, as they’re extremely taxing. Nail the first eight to ten reps of that exercise, rest for ten seconds, do another six, rest and so forth.

For more great workouts, such as FS magazine's ultimate chest, bicep and abs workout, check out FS magazine's fitness section.

Photos: Tom Miles


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