If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the doors at Blackstone Labs‘ gym, three of its elite athletes pulled back the curtain. Figure competitor Jennifer Aguirre, U64KG strongwoman Kristen Graham, and Billy Gagliardo teamed up to film a shoulder and arm workout, the video of which was published on Aguirre’s YouTube channel on Sept. 23, 2022.
If you’re not executing the movement perfectly, step down.
During the intense arm and delt session, Gagliardo pushed Aguirre and Graham to their breaking points, follow along below:
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Aguirre, Graham, Gagliardo’s Delt & Arm Workout
Follow along with Aguirre, Graham, and Gagliardo’s shoulder and arm workout via the exercises they performed below:
- Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raises
- Reverse Pec Deck Flyes
- Seated Four-Way Dumbbell Raises
- Set: Rope Pushdowns, Alternating Dumbbell Hammer Curls, Seated Dips, and Sissy Bar Curls
Side Dumbbell Laterals
Gagliardo warmed up with standing dumbbell side laterals. Gagliardo adjusted Aguirre and Graham’s form, so they only moved through about half their ranges of motion to keep constant tension on the delts. He asserted an effort not to pause at the bottom of each rep, as that could help speed muscle growth.
According to a 2015 study in Sports Medicine, the longer a repetition persists, the greater the stimulation for a hypertrophic response. (1)
I want that constant tension the whole time.
Warm-ups were followed by three to four working sets in the 15-20 rep range. Gagliardo explained finding the correct rep range is about feel. He wants each athlete to reach near failure within that 15-20 rep range.
Reverse Pec Deck Flyes
Reverse pec deck flyes were second on the agenda to work the rear delts, mid-traps, and rhomboids. Gagliardo hammered one of the biggest mistakes he sees people make is their body and hand placement. Larger muscles often compensate during the isometric movement, which can lead to sloppy reps with poor form.
The rear delt is a small muscle, to target it, you have to be very, very specific.
The trio remained in the 15-20 rep range for each set, and a decent pump was setting in.
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Seated Four-Way Dumbbell Raises
The four-way dumbbell raises hit each part of the shoulder. Minimal weight is required for these, and increasing in sub-five-pound increments should be enough to progress.
They dipped the rep range down between eight to 12, but the same principles as the side laterals were applied — they did not fully lockout or pause at the bottom.
Rope Pushdowns, Alternating Dumbbell Hammer Curls, Seated Dips, & Sissy Bar Cable Curls
A giant set for the entirety of the arms, comprised of four movements, finished their workout. Gagliardo walked Aguirre and Graham through straight rope pushdowns for the triceps, then standing alternating dumbbell hammer curls for the brachialis, seated dips to further bias the triceps, and closing with sissy bar low cable curls for the biceps.
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Each athlete completed one warm-up round of the giant set for fifteen reps per exercise. Then followed that with three working sets of each exercise without rest. The trio expressed their pleasure with the tempo of the workout — the combination of burn in the muscle and higher rep counts.
Going through the motions of a movement by banging out reps without an effective mind-muscle connection will not garner the same results as remaining focused on the target second by second. This training style was a change of pace for Aguirre and Graham. Gagliardo believes there are ways to incorporate different styles of training and that mixing those styles proactively can keep training from feeling stale.
Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D. I., & Krieger, J. W. (2015). Effect of repetition duration during resistance training on muscle hypertrophy: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 45(4), 577–585. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-015-0304-0
Featured images: @jennaguirre7877 on Instagram