2023 Mr. Olympia competitor Nick Walker has some of the best shoulders in bodybuilding that helped score his bronze medal performance at the 2022 Olympia. However, Walker rarely does traditional shoulder presses in training.
Nick Walker’s Shoulder Routine
Here’s a complete breakdown of Nick Walkler’s shoulder routine:
- Incline Flye
- Machine Incline Bench Press
- Dumbbell Bench Press
- Machine Lateral Raise
- Superset: Barbell Face Pull & Barbell Front Raise
Walker normally does dumbbell incline flyes on a cable machine, but for the session in the above video, he opted for dumbbells due to equipment availability. Walker prioritizes incline training for his upper chest and front delts.
I feel like incline is what most people lack the most.
Walker prioritizes the upper “shelf” comprised of the upper pectoralis major to create a full upper-body aesthetic. He performs multiple sets of 15 reps, each with slow eccentrics to maximize time under tension.
Incline Bench Press & Dumbbell Press
Walker performs incline bench press sets in the 10-12 rep range to continue loading his upper pecs. His reps remain slow and controlled, contracting throughout the entire set for a heavy pump in the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
Walker recommends the cue of squeezing the elbows together during the concentrics and maximizing the contraction as much as possible at the top.
Focusing primarily on the press, Walker performs the dumbbell bench press on a flat bench to engage his mid-pecs. Again, he employs slow, controlled movement throughout each set, aiming for the 10-12 rep range.
Machine Lateral Raises
Walker’s recommended shoulder training routine is push-pull-legs split. He does not currently train his shoulders independently. Instead, he pairs shoulder training with incline presses as they are effective at loading the front delts. He’s found a basic shoulder press causes his shoulder pain, so he avoids them entirely.
Walker always follows his chest training with lateral raises and front and/or rear delt raises. In the video, he only performed the lateral raises. However, if Walker needed to prioritize lagging delts, he would incorporate the movement that targets the muscle group in question for his capped shoulder look.
Superset: Barbell Face Pull & Barbell Front Raises
While Walker suggests beginners stick to the basics, he acknowledges how many front-delt-focused push exercises there are. He considers shoulder presses “overkill, especially if the shoulders are already more dominant than the chest itself.” Walker advises hitting front and side delts on push days and rear delts on pull days, with high incline movements and deltoid raises as the main exercises.
Featured image: @nick_walker39 on Instagram