For the last four years, no Classic Physique competitor has been able to outperform Chris Bumstead at the Mr. Olympia contest. The titleholder since 2019, he remains firmly in the driver’s seat heading into the most anticipated bodybuilding competition of the year.
With Bumstead and his peers making their final preparations for the 2023 Mr. Olympia show, the pressure is squarely on the four-time champion’s shoulders to fend off a crowded field headlined by 2023 Arnold Classic winner, and last year’s Olympia runner-up, Ramon Rocha Quiroz and Urs Kalecinski, who finished third at the 2022 Classic Physique Olympia. Luckily, though, Bumstead looks more than capable of delivering another first-place performance when he hits the stage for the Nov. 3-5 weekend in Orlando, FL.
Showcasing the size and symmetry needed to reach the top of the Classic Physique mountain, Bumstead gave fans an intimate look at his intense training style in a shoulder day workout vlog posted on his YouTube channel on Oct. 26, 2023.
Before embarking on his workout, Bumstead showed his preferred method for promoting a great pump, energy, and focus. He mixed his signature blue raspberry pre-workout supplement from Raw Nutrition with Pump, a stimulant-free pre-training supplement designed to increase blood flow and improve muscle fullness. That formula provided Bumstead with 200 milligrams of caffeine plus 10 grams of L-citrulline and an unspecified amount of beta alanine — two non-essential aminos acid found in many bodybuilding supplements.
Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Coming off a high-carb day that reinvigorated his brain and replenished his muscle glycogen stores, the determined bodybuilder hit the gym with a full tank and excellent focus. The intense workout begins at the 8:55 mark of the video.
Bumstead and his training partner started out with a classic shoulder day exercise: the dumbbell lateral raise. A time-tested deltoid-building movement, Bumstead used a pair of 45-pound (20.4-kilogram) dumbbells for his first set. He dropped down by five pounds (2.2 kilograms) on each of his next two sets, completing 12 reps on each one.
Plate-Loaded Shoulder Press Machine
Next, Bumstead showed off his strength on the plate-loaded shoulder press machine by working with five 45-pound plates per side on his first set. He removed one plate for his next set of this seated overhead press variation, making sure to control the weight throughout the movement.
Bumstead’s training partner provided plenty of verbal motivation (and a little bit of assistance) to help the reigning Mr. Olympia squeeze out the final few reps on his second and third sets. This push-based exercise directly targeted the front delts while also recruiting the triceps during the lockout phase.
Reverse Pec-Deck Machine
After hitting his shoulders from the frontal plane, Bumstead switched up his angle of attack by working on the reverse pec-deck machine. Making sure to keep his arms extended and his chest firmly against the pad, he retracted his shoulder blades and squeezed his rear delts and rhomboids at the top of every rep.
An exercise primarily aimed at increasing thickness and overall muscular development in the posterior shoulders, this adduction-based movement provided Bumstead with a terrific pump, bringing out the championship-level definition in his upper back.
Rope Cable Front Raise
After giving his anterior delts a break with the last exercise, Bumstead directly targeted them via the rope cable front raise. Setting up with a slight forward lean and a pronated (palms down) grip, he recruited his front delts to lift the rope from knee height to shoulder-level so his arms were parallel with the floor.
Using an unspecified amount of weight, it took every bit of effort for Bumstead to push through sets of 12 repetitions of the isolation movement. In addition to working all three deltoid heads (anterior, lateral, and posterior), this front raise variation also required his serratus anterior to act as a stabilizer during the exercise.
Standing Shoulder Press Machine
Despite having already performed an overhead press variation earlier, that didn’t stop Bumstead from going back to another push-based movement. This time, though, he utilized a standing shoulder press machine — and a much lighter load.
Bumstead started out with 95 pounds (43 kilograms) worth of plates per side, making sure to keep a neutral wrist position and his core engaged. After two sets that included partial reps at the end, he performed a drop set with a single 45-pound plate per side.
Cable Lateral Raise
For his final shoulder exercise, Bumstead performed a lateral raise variation. Rather than going the single-arm route, he worked both arms simultaneously by crossing the cables in front of him.
Undoubtedly feeling the effects of his muscle-building efforts, Bumstead made sure to keep his palms down and head neutral as he spread his arms apart and raised them to shoulder-level. The four-time Mr. Olympia only showed one set of this exercise.
Seated Calf Raise/Tibialis Raise
Even though it was labeled a shoulder workout, Bumstead worked on his lower body for a brief time by alternating seated calf raises with a unique tibialis raise to work the muscles along the front of his lower leg.
Beginning with the seated calf machine, he utilized a technique in which he flexed his calves halfway up before completing a full rep, Bumstead worked with a pair of 45-pound plates. Again, he only showed one set of this exercise before moving to a specialized seated machine that provided resistance as he raised he toes upward, working one leg at a time.
Classic Bodybuilding Shoulder Workout
Bumstead’s approach to working his deltoid so near to a major contest may not be typical of his standard muscle-building session but, as a whole, it may provide a high-intensity change of pace for your next upper body workout. If you were tempted to follow in the footsteps of the winningest champion Classic Physique has ever seen, here’s a recap of his pre-contest session.
- Dumbbell Lateral Raise
- Plate-Loaded Shoulder Press Machine
- Reverse Pec-Deck Machine
- Rope Cable Front Raise
- Standing Shoulder Press Machine
- Cable Lateral Raise
- Seated Calf Raise
As the 2023 Mr. Olympia contest nears, other Classic Physique competitors can look forward to trying to take down a champion who just keeps getting better. With a winning mindset and the body to match, Chris Bumstead couldn’t be in a better position heading into the most important weekend of the year. And if he remains on the same path he’s been on for nearly half a decade, who knows how many more titles he’ll have a few years from now.
Featured Image: Chris Bumstead / YouTube