The Chris Bumstead Shoulder Workout!


Chris Bumstead is a Canadian bodybuilder and the 3x Classic Physique Mr. Olympia winner.

Chris has an incredible upper body but his shoulders really stand out as one of his best body parts.

If you want to learn how Chris Bumstead trains his shoulders then this article is for you!

Introduction

  • Part 1: Chris Bumstead’s Training Split
  • Part 2: Chris Bumstead’s Shoulder Workouts

In this comprehensive guide I will show you how Chris Bumstead trains his shoulders to get ready for the Mr. Olympia stage.

Chris Bumstead trains his shoulders once per week using high-volume bodybuilding style workouts. Chris attacks his shoulders with 4-6 different exercises per workout and really trains to get a huge pump in all 3 heads of his shoulders.

Chris uses many different training splits but his go-to program is a 6-day bodybuilding bro-split. Check it out:

The Chris Bumstead Training Split!

  • Day 1: Back 
  • Day 2: Hamstrings
  • Day 3: Chest 
  • Day 4: Shoulders
  • Day 5: Quads
  • Day 6: Arms
  • Day 7: Off

This is the exact split that Chris Bumstead has used while preparing to defend his title as the Classic Physique Mr. Olympia champion.

One of the things that makes Chris’s shoulder workouts unique is he uses high-volume AND high-intensity techniques in the same workout.

Chris’s favorite high-intensity technique is called forced reps. This is where you train to failure and then perform 1-5 extra reps using the help of a training partner.

Here is the OG Dorian Yates giving a perfect demonstration of forced reps:

Dorian Yates Forced Reps

Dorian is performing cable lateral raises in this video. He trains to failure and then performs 3 extra forced reps with the help of his training partner.

Chris Bumstead loves to use forced reps in his training because they help you overload the negative phase of your exercises. They are also super easy to perform – you don’t have to change the weight like you would with drop sets.

Chris’s other favorite high-intensity technique for shoulders is called rest-pause sets. This is where you train to failure 3 times in a row on an exercise with 20-30 seconds rest in between sets.

Here is the rest-pause guru Dusty Hanshaw giving a perfect demonstration:

Dusty Hanshaw Rest-Pause Sets

Chris Bumstead sometimes uses rest-pause sets if he isn’t up for his usual forced reps on an exercise.

The bottom line is Chris uses these techniques to train beyond temporary muscular failure and to really shock his muscles into growth. Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud!

Now let’s look at Chris Bumstead’s Mr. Olympia shoulder workouts. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead Shoulder Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: 80 degree smith military press, 4 sets of 8-12 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Machine overhead press, 4 sets of 8-12 reps****
  • Exercise #3: Machine straight arm lateral raise, 4 sets of 8-12 reps******
  • Exercise #4: Reverse pec dec, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #5: 30 degree prone front DB raises, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #6: Bent-over rear delt DB flyes, 4 sets of 8-12 reps

**On the last 2 sets train to failure and perform 3-5 forced reps with the help of a training partner. On the last set perform a single drop set after your forced reps and perform 3-5 forced reps on the second attempt.

****On the second to last set train to failure and perform 5-10 forced reps. On the last set train to failure and perform a double drop set.

******On the last set perform several forced reps after reaching failure.

Here is the training video for this workout:

Talk about an intense shoulder workout!

For this workout Chris performs 6 separate shoulder exercises. He starts the workout with two different overhead press variations and then performs a bunch of isolation exercises for his front, side and rear delts.

For the first 3 exercises Chris takes his last 1-2 sets to failure and then performs an extra 3-10 forced reps. That is enough forced reps to send most people in the hospital but Chris Bumstead grows like a weed on these high volume / high-intensity workouts!

The rest of the workout is just Chris getting a good pump with different isolation movements. He says that most people do not perform the reverse pec dec correctly. Check it out:

“When you do that movement it’s not like you’re coming crazy far back.

You see some skinny people who really hyperextend their shoulders. That’s where you start to engage your back and mid-back.

Don’t think about getting a giant range of motion, just think about always keeping tension on your rear delts.”

Chris is saying that you should only perform the first 80% of the range of motion. This will increase the tension on your rear delts and keep the traps and rhomboids out of the movement.

Here is another shoulder workout that Chris Bumstead performed while training for the Mr. Olympia contest. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead Shoulder Workout #2

  • Exercise #1: Seated DB overhead press, 4 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Cable lateral raise, 4 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Reverse pec dec, 4 sets of 8-15 reps****
  • Exercise #4: Barbell upright row, 4 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #5: Standing DB lateral raise, 4 sets of 8-15 reps

**Perform 3 forced reps with the help of a training partner after reaching failure.

****Perform a DC-style rest-pause set on your last set.

Here is the training video for this workout:

This is another normal looking shoulder workout from Chris Bumstead.

He starts the workout with some heavy seated dumbbell overhead presses. On his last set he throws in 3 forced reps for good measure. Then he moves onto a variety of isolation exercises for his side and rear delts.

Chris Bumstead is a big fan of cables for different isolation movements and it shows in this workout. Check it out:

“Lateral raises are one of the movements I really prefer cables over free weights. Biceps exercises are another as well.

I just find that with dumbbells you’re limited where the tension curve is where you’re not limited with cables.”

Chris has said in some of his other videos that he really gets a better contraction with cables than most other exercises. This is definitely something worth thinking about.

Here is one more of Chris Bumstead’s Mr. Olympia shoulder workouts. Check it out:

Chris Bumstead Shoulder Workout #3

  • Exercise #1: 80 degree smith machine press, 4 sets of 8-15 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Dual cable lateral raise, 4 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Standing “scrape the rack” press, 4 sets of 8-15 reps****
  • Exercise #4: Machine straight-arm lateral raise, 4 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #5: Chest supported row (wide / pronated grip), 4 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #6: Reverse pec dec, 4 sets of 8-15 reps

**Ramp up to 2 heavy working sets. On your first working set perform a few forced reps. On your second working set perform a DC-style rest-pause set.

****Perform 2-4 forced reps on your last working set with the help of a training partner.

Here is the training video for this workout:

Chris follows his usual shoulder training template for this workout.

First he performs 2 working sets on the high-incline smith machine press. On his 1st working set he performs several forced reps after reaching failure. On his second working set he performs a DC-style rest-pause set to really exhaust his muscle.

Then he moves onto a wide variety of exercises for his front, side and rear delts.

This is a simple but effective shoulder training workout that has served Chris well throughout his career.

Conclusion

Chris Bumstead trains his shoulders using a unique high volume / high-intensity style. He blends together all of the advantages of high-rep pumping movements with the advantages of high-intensity techniques like forced reps and rest-pause sets.

Actually Chris Bumstead’s training style reminds me of the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger.

If you have average recovery ability then you will probably wind up in the hospital after one of Chris’s shoulder workouts.

However, if you have elite genetics and a strong work ethic then Chris Bumstead’s shoulder training program may be just what you need to take your physique to the next level.

Here is one more quote from the OG Mahatma Ghandi to pump you up even more:

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

Thanks for checking out my site! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen and I'm the founder of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to reach your size and strength goals faster then you've come to the right place. My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world. So grab a seat, kick back and relax. There's never been a better time to lift weights or to learn the art and science of strength training program design.

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