The Jay Cutler Shoulder Workout | The Ultimate Guide!


Jay Cutler is one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time. He won the Mr. Olympia competition 4 times in a row and was famous for his massive cannonball delts.

If you want to train your shoulders like Jay Cutler then this article is for you!

Introduction

  • Part 1: The Jay Cutler Training Program
  • Part 2: Jay Cutler’s Shoulder Workouts

In this comprehensive guide I will teach you exactly how Jay Cutler trains his massive shoulders.

Jay Cutler trains his shoulders once per week using high-volume bodybuilding style workouts. He says he used to train his shoulders with anywhere from 20-40 sets per workout! That is an insane amount of volume but it worked like magic for Jay Cutler.

Here is the exact training split that Jay used to use:

The Jay Cutler Training Split

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

Jay believes the best way to build massive shoulders is to train using many different exercises to hit the muscle group from every angle possible. He often used multiple exercises in a single workout to train his front, side and rear delts.

Jay Cutler almost never started his shoulder workouts with a compound pressing exercise. Instead he liked to pre-exhaust his side delts using lateral raises to really establish that mind-muscle connection.

Here is one of Jay Cutler’s go-to shoulder workouts. Check it out:

Jay Cutler Shoulder Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: Seated DB lateral raise, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #2: Seated DB overhead press, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #3: Hammer strength overhead press (facing machine), 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #4: Reverse pec dec, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #5: Standing DB shrug, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #6: Barbell upright row, 4 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video:

Jay Cutler performs 6 exercises for a total of 24 sets for shoulders. This is more volume than most professional bodybuilders use but Jay is known for his high-volume workouts.

Jay starts the workout by pre-exhausting his side delts with seated dumbbell lateral raises. Then he moves onto his overhead pressing exercises and a variety of other isolation exercises for his side and rear delts.

Here is Jay talking about his thought process on overhead pressing movements:

“Pressing movement, I come up, this is about full contraction for me. I never come up to the locking point because it brings in the triceps, the lats more, you never want to touch the dumbbells together.

Why? When you touch together you’re taking the tension off the shoulders and bringing in the triceps. Ideally the movement, although it looks different on camera than it feels, the movement is as such.

It’s almost like I’m using a barbell. I never touch the dumbbells. The same thing goes for your chest movements and always staying around 10-12 repetitions.”

Here is another one of Jay’s shoulder workouts from his professional bodybuilding career. Check it out:

Jay Cutler Shoulder Workout #2

  • Exercise #1: Seated DB lateral raise, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #2: Seated DB overhead press, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #3: Behind the back cable lateral raise, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #4: Standing alternating DB front raise, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #5: Reverse pec dec, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #6: 30 degree prone DB row (elbows out), 4 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video:

Once again Jay Cutler sticks with his usual shoulder training principles. He starts the workout with side laterals to isolate his side delts. Then he moves onto a variety of other shoulder exercises to blast his front, side and rear delts.

Here is Jay talking about the cable lateral raise from this workout. Check it out:

“This really, really adds to the width of the shoulders. But the key is on these, not to stand directly in line with the cable.

You want to turn so your body is at an angle so you get a full contraction in the shoulders.”

When Jay was training for the Mr. Olympia competition he often performed as many as 8 different exercises for shoulders.

Here is one of those workouts. Check it out:

Jay Cutler Shoulder Workout #3

  • Exercise #1: Seated DB lateral raise, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #2: Standing barbell overhead press, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #3: One-arm cable lateral raise, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #4: Barbell upright row, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #5: Two-arm cable rear delt fly, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #6: Reverse pec dec, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #7: Hammer strength shrug, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #8: Barbell upright row, 4 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video:

In this workout Jay performs the standing barbell overhead press rather than the seated version of the exercise.

He likes to perform this exercise during his pre-contest phase because it really overloads his core and helps to burn more calories:

“I like to do standing presses, it uses a little more of the core and burns more calories but also hits the upper traps with the pressure from the bar.

I use this almost to build up my back up a little bit too along with the shoulders.”

Now let’s take a look at how Jay trains his shoulders now that he is retired. Jay still likes to perform high-volume shoulder workouts. The main difference is he does not train as heavy as he used to on most exercises. Check it out:

Jay Cutler Shoulder Workout #4

  • Exercise #1: Machine lateral raise (straight arm), 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #2: Seated DB overhead press, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #3: 30 degree prone barbell front raise, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #4: Seated bent over DB rear delt raise, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #5: Two-arm cable rear delt fly, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #6: Standing cable rope face pull, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #7: Standing DB lateral raise, 4 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video:

Jay noticed that his rear delts started to shrink after he finished competing in bodybuilding. That is because he is no longer performing heavy back exercises like barbell bent over rows. Check it out:

“My rear delts are weak now because I’m not doing the heavy back movements.

When I used to do the heavy rows and the seated cable rows I got a lot of rear delt work. This is why a lot of bodybuilders work their rear delts with their heavy back training. You get so much work on the rear delts when you’re doing those heavy row movements.

I noticed when I stopped doing those I lost a lot of my shoulders. I’m not eating as much today but it definitely has a lot to do with the heavy compound movements.”

Now that he is retired Jay sometimes likes to start his shoulder workouts with an overhead pressing exercise. For example:

Jay Cutler Shoulder Workout #5

  • Exercise #1: Machine shoulder press (facing machine), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #2: Machine lateral raise (straight arm), 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #3: One-arm DB front raise, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #4: Standing cable rope face pull, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #5: Reverse pec dec, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #6: Standing bent over DB rear delt fly, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #7: Machine shrugs, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps,

Here is the training video:

For this workout Jay performed the shoulder press facing the machine. This is an advanced strategy that Jay likes to use to mix things up.

Your upper back isn’t supported against the machine so your core has to work that much harder to stabilize the weight. Here is Jay talking about this exercise:

“I always loved shoulder presses. During my career I did a lot of standing free weight shoulder exercises. I love the feel, it’s a power feel for me.

When you do things using your core it’s a lot harder to do. You can’t use as much weight but your muscles have to work harder.”

This is great advice. Many bodybuilders have brought up their lagging body parts by finding ways to make exercises more challenging, even if they can’t use as much weight.

Conclusion

Jay Cutler trains his shoulders using high-volume bodybuilding style workouts. He trains his delts using about 6-8 different exercises and he always trains in the 8-12 rep range.

If you respond well to high-volume workouts and have superior recovery ability then the Jay Cutler shoulder workouts are worth trying.

If you enjoyed this content then make sure you check out my article “The Jay Cutler Training Program!

“I had a goal to be the best since day one.”

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

 

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

What's going on! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen, I'm the creator of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to take your training to the next level, then you've come to the right place... My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world!

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