In episode 111 of YouTube’s “Celtic Warrior Workouts,” host and WWE superstar Sheamus is joined by fellow ring warrior Raquel Rodriguez in an all-encompassing back-blasting session. The breakout WWE SmackDown star took the fighting Irishman through lessons she learned while training in the wrestling promotion’s performance center in Florida. Trial and error eventually led Rodriguez to what works for her gains.
I tried every single diet, I tried every kind of workout.
Variety in the gym and staying strict with her diet — counting macros — enabled her to “hone in.” The 6-foot-tall phenom from La Feria, TX, played basketball before switching teams to WWE. Now she’s slam-dunking heads in the squared circle. In a short time, Rodriguez (real name Victoria) has won the NXT Women’s Championship and held the WWE Women’s Tag Team titles twice. Recently, she took Ronda Rousey to the limit on prime-time television and became known to millions of grappling fans as one of the most muscular women on the roster.
Rodriguez’s wingspan goes on for days. Many years were spent developing her latissimus dorsi, scapula, teres minor and major, traps, and rhomboids to build that fuller back. Check out a workout that helps her do just that at the BoxFit Elite gym in Stockton, CA, in the video below:
Raquel Rodriguez’s “Back & Beast” Workout
Here is the summary of Rodriguez’s back workout, followed by a full breakdown of each exercise.
- Shoulder Rotation Stretches
- Y, T, & A Band Stretches
- Scapula Pull-up
- Reverse Dumbbell Flyes with Dead-stop
- Inverted Row
- Standing Ring T-Pull
- Barbell Rows
- The Finisher — Burpee into Pull-up (30 seconds on, 30 seconds off)
Here’s how the workout progressed:
Shoulder Rotation Stretches
- Three sets of 10 reps.
Taking a PVC pipe, second-generation wrestler Rodriguez demonstrates this move by reaching the pipe overhead and back toward the back wall.
Stretch the lats, scaps, and the shoulders — open it up. The closer you can get your hands on the PVC pipe, the more you’ll feel that stretch.
The farther apart the hands are on the pipe, the easier it will be on the shoulder joint — a valuable adjustment based on shoulder mobility. A broom handle or the like can also work if you don’t have a PVC pipe. Rodriguez mixes things up by performing five reps to the right and five to the left side to further release her lats.
Y, T, &, A Band Stretches & Scapula Pull-up
Work on mobility by gripping a resistance band. In this case, it’s wrapped around a squat rack. The WWE duo hold their bands at each corner with their left and right hands and then pull and push to make the letters “Y,” “T,” and “A.” They repeat this move five times.
This warmup was taught to Rodriguez by Sean Hayes, a former strength and conditioning coach at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, FL, and the current Director of Player Performance with the relaunching XFL.
Rodriguez demonstrates scapula pull-ups for Sheamus by showing him how to “Squeeze [the] shoulder blades.” This is an excellent move for activating the lats and working on the stability of the shoulders. Sheamus directs his cameraman to get a closer look as Rodriguez engages her back.
You’re not pulling up. Focus on engaging your lats…and the shoulder blades.
Hang from the bar and concentrate on the shoulders by lifting just a few inches.
Reverse Dumbbell Bench Fly with Dead-stop
- Three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
As Rodriguez reaches the lowest point of the flye, she rests the dumbbells on the floor and incorporates a dead-stop. She keeps the weight still before attempting to raise it again. Dead-stops create a more significant challenge because the natural reflex and momentum to return the weight up are removed. Technique-wise, the momentary pause allows the lifter to concentrate on form as they lift the weight back up. It may take some trial and error to find the appropriate weight.
Superset: Inverted Row & Standing Ring T-Pull
- Three sets of eight to 10 reps
Rodriguez explains that this move can be more challenging by starting with the feet further away. As the sets progress, adjust by stepping back in to lighten the load. “It’s just like an upside-down push-up. Pull-up to the rings (or grips) like we’re doing a push-up.” After eight to 10 reps, superset these with a standing ring T-Pull for three sets.
Feet stay planted. Don’t bend your elbows.
Sheamus found that his traps bulged as he executed the T-Pull. “I like to hold the last couple of reps for a second if I can, just to get that squeeze,” says Rodriguez.
- Three sets of eight reps.
Nothing fancy here; a classic barbell row can add density to the back and hit both the mid-back and upper back, depending on the degree of bend. Leaning further forward will bias the mid-back while staying more upright will bias the upper-back. Rodriguez encouraged Sheamus to go as heavy as he could for eight reps.
“The 30s” Barbell Curls
Start in a standard biceps curl position, and come up halfway for 10 reps. From the top, go halfway down for 10 reps. Then perform 10 full reps for a total of 30 reps. “For three sets,” Rodriguez adds, almost sending Sheamus over the edge.
I like to add arms with my upper-body days. I want bigger biceps.
The training buddies go heavy. Rodriguez finds “the top to the mid ones are the hardest” as that is where the most tension remains on the biceps for the most prolonged duration. However, they aren’t ego-lifting. Rodriguez switches to lifting just the barbell to complete her vein-pumping sets.
- Burpee into Pull-up — 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off for five minutes
Strict or jumping pull-ups are acceptable. Working 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off is similar to the every-minute-on-the-minute (EMOM) training Sheamus did with WWE superstar Ricochet. It is a great way to train their conditioning. This finisher replicates many movements they undertake between the ropes: strength to lift their opponents and cardiovascular stamina in longer matches.
Rodriguez encourages viewers to make their own “Brave Change” by stepping into a gym and asking for help. After all, Sheamus is a multiple-time WWE champion and still seeks to improve in the gym via the advice of others.
Featured image: @raquelwwe on Instagram