Victor Martinez’s in-depth shoulder training guide.

Victor Martinez is an iconic pro bodybuilder and legend in the sport. He is considered by many to have one of the greatest physiques of the 2000s era of bodybuilders. In 2007, in a controversial decision, he nearly beat Jay Cutler for the Mr. Olympia title. That’s why we met up with Martinez at the Generation Iron Personal Training Gym for an epic workout. In this GI Exclusive, Victor Martinez follows up his chest workout with a grueling  shoulder training guide.

It’s easy enough to find a training routine online – but the real work comes in knowing the details. A list of exercises, sets, and reps is simply the most basic foundation for a successful workout. Knowing proper form, full movement, and specific tips can transform a workout from good to great. It’s what separates a “normal” in shape person from a shredded bodybuilder.

That’s why Victor Martinez met up with Vlad Yudin to go through the ultimate gauntlet of a workout. In part two of our training mini series with Martinez, he puts Vlad through the paces and shares important tips on how to optimize your routine. A workout sheet is one thing – but this video guide will give you play-by-play examples of how to actually perform like a pro bodybuilder.

This exercise is an immediate follow up to Victor Martinez’ in-depth chest training guide and should be completed within the same session. You can watch Part 1 of this training guide right here.

Victor Martinez’s Shoulder Training Workout

As mentioned above, this shoulder training session immediately follows a full chest day workout. Victor Martinez prefers to do a half-day shoulder workout within the same session as chest day. He does this because chest exercises often indirectly workout your shoulders. So Martinez’ weekly schedule typically consists of a full shoulder workout followed by a half shoulder workout on his chest day training.

Exercises Sets Reps
Side Laterals (Dropsets) 2 15
Shoulder Press 4 15
Upright Rows 4 15
Cable Pulldowns 4  15


When it comes to weight, that’s impossible to recommend broadly. Each individual has different limits on how much weight to push. Ultimately, you want to lift enough weight to complete all three sets for each exercise. By the end of the final set for each – you should barely be able to finish. It may take trial and error to begin with – but you’ll ultimately find a sweet spot this will be more than enough to exhaust your muscles completely.

Victor Martinez also has some tips on how to ensure you’re fully pushing yourself with each workout session. For every exercise, make sure you always hit the number of reps you are shooting for. On the final set, if you can’t hit, let’s say, 15 reps. Don’t stop. Drop weight so you can hit that number. That’s where real muscle growth comes from – pushing beyond your first perceived limit.

Side Laterals (Dropsets)

Since these exercises are coming after a full chest workout. So Victor Martinez recommends doing the side laterals sitting down. This prevents you from using your legs and swinging your arms. Often times, lifters will compensate when fatigued by dropping legs to “reach” the full range of motion. This cheats you out of gains and could also lead to injury.

Shoulder Press (Machine)

For the shoulder press, Victor Martinez stresses the importance of having your shoulders right under the bar. If you sit back too far you end up training more of your front delts. You also want to bring the weight down to your ears to get the full range of motion for this exercise.

You also want to avoid slouching forward with your chest caved in as you continue this exercise. This can lead to injury. It’s important to have your chest out and your back locked for this movement.

Upright Rows

For this exercise, Victor Martinez recommends holding the bar with a wide grip, bringing your hands all of the way to the edge of the weights on either side of the barbell. Your palms should be facing inward towards your body. When you perform this movement – you want to bring the bar up in front of you. Pulling the bar up close to the chest will train your traps. Watch in the video the specific difference to ensure you are targeting the right muscle.

Cable Pulldowns

For the cable pulldowns, Victor Martinez recommends doing three down and then three overhead. During this exercise, Martinez further explains why he prefers to do shoulders with chest. This is opposed to doing biceps with back training. His reasoning is that you are using so much bicep with a back workout, that you end up being too fatigued for the bicep workout afterward. You aren’t fully stimulating the muscle to maximum efficiency.

Martinez also feels this way about quads and hamstrings. If you give yourself a powerhouse quads workout and then jump into hamstrings in the same day – you won’t get the same level of effort needed to fully develop that muscle group.

Wrap Up

That about wraps up Part 2 of Victor Martinez’s upper body training routine. Next week, we’ll return to hit up the back in a new selection of exercises. Make sure to watch the GI Exclusive training video above to get complete play-by-play tips on each exercise. Soon you’ll transform your workout into a pro level routine.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.