We're back at iconic Muscle Beach Venice to learn which exercises helped turn Muscle Beach Nutrition-sponsored athlete Ike Catcher into the biggest man on the bars. Today, Catcher is taking us through his chest-and-shoulder workout.
As Catcher explains, "I'm going to show you how to get that shoulder and chest armor to have you looking like a warrior, like a gladiator."
The general rep range for this workout is 4-5 reps. So, you'll want to go heavy, and only take a short break of about a minute. Catcher starts with the chest first because it's a bigger muscle group than the shoulders. What's more, since your shoulders work while you're working the chest, you'll pre-exhaust your shoulders and generate a massive pump. Another unique aspect of this workout is supersets that pair a chest move with a shoulder move.
"That's why I combine the shoulders and the chest," says Catcher. "You can really get those muscle-tearing pumps!"
Incline Barbell Bench Press
According to Catcher, this is the most important exercise to build a broad look.
Try to keep your back flush against the bench, even if you're a human skyscraper like Catcher.
"It's sometimes a little harder for us tall guys," he explains. "But it's important that your back is on the bench and your feet are firm on the ground. After all, you push off your feet."
When working in a heavy rep range like 4-5, you need to use your entire body to push that weight up, from your feet up through your chest into your arms. Make sure your feet are firmly planted and your back is steady against the bench.
Side Lateral Raise
Since you've already primed your shoulders with the incline bench, next up is the side lateral raise. Don't use your body to create momentum on this exercise. It's easy to damage your lumbar spine if you start swinging on these.
That said, Catcher is not against sacrificing a little bit of form to nail the last couple of reps.
"One thing I've got to say: It's nice to have good technique," he explains. "But it's also OK to get a little unclean toward the end of the set." (Emphasis on the word little.)
Barbell Bench Press
"Get a weight you're even a little scared of," recommends Catcher. "Lie up in there and push that weight 4 or 5 times. That's how we grow: We confront our fears and keep it intense."
It's easy to get lazy on such a fundamental exercise, so follow Catcher's advice and try to keep the intensity high. When you push the weight, focus on the rep and, as Catcher says, scream if you have to "let that beast out." Hype yourself up for this exercise and see what you can do for 4-5 heavy reps.
Superset: Incline Dumbbell Press and Incline Dumbbell Fly
Catcher likes the transition from a heavier move to a lighter one.
"Put the heavier weight down, get the light weight, and rep it out," he say. "Do 'open' flyes. Arnold used to do that, too."
Stretching wide on the flyes produces an amazing stretch, which helps create a wider chest.
Seated Military Press
Here the focus shifts back to the shoulders with a heavy shoulder exercise: the military press. Use a heavy weight, and try to do as many as 6-8 reps—but with a twist.
"I like to start with 3 reps behind the head," says Catcher, "then 3 reps in front of the body, too."
Behind your head, lower the bar about halfway down the back of your head. In front of your head, come down to about eyebrow level. Or, if you want a really good stretch, come all the way down to your chest. Behind the head is a personal preference for Catcher.
"I feel like pressing in front of the body really works the front delt," he explains, "but behind the head gets those shoulders wide and adds to the wideness of the body."
Superset: Incline Dumbbell Shoulder Press and Incline Dumbbell Fly Press
In this workout, you do compound exercises first, then move on to the little muscles. This last superset combines a compound shoulder press with a more targeted fly press. This combination is very similar to the superset from earlier, except this one targets your shoulders.
Do the shoulder press with a fairly heavy set of dumbbells. Then, grab lighter weights and open your arms up into more of a fly, still targeting the shoulders, but stretching wide with each rep.
"This superset complements what you just did with the military press," explains Catcher. "Use this movement to expand and open up the muscles in your shoulders to let more blood in and get more of a pump."
Side Cable Raise
For this exercise, use one arm at a time, setting the pulley low and adding a bit of external rotation at the top of the movement.
"I like to do these cable pulls at the end, just to finish up the shoulder and get a little rotator cuff in there, too," explains Catcher.
Lateral raises help define the shoulder muscle, giving it that striated, feathered look. Focusing on each arm individually helps build and shape each shoulder, putting the finishing touches on your upper-body aesthetics.
But working out isn't just about aesthetics for Catcher. If anything, he's in it for the pure joy of the process.
"The most beautiful thing about training, I think, is the happiness in life you get," he says. "Every time I go in there to train, I'm exorcising my negative emotions."
This workout is good to do 2-3 times per week. Pair it with Catcher's Muscle Beach Arm Workout to get that super-swole, super-pumped, Golden Age Muscle Beach physique.