You think you’re a badass in the gym. You train heavy and hard, undisturbed by the commotion as your headphones blare Aerosmith and the music is heard by anyone within 10 feet of you. You push yourself hard, not just on shoulder day but every day, and use forced reps as well as supersets and drop sets on occasion to keep you pumped and looking hard.

Baby, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

While that bodybuilding workout is a great way to increase both strength and size, every once in a while it’s good to feel the pain and soreness that comes only from a brutal balls-to-the-wall workout that literally takes you beyond your limits. Even if you think you’ve been giving it 100%, with this shoulders and traps workout you’ll find new meaning to leaving it all on the gym floor.

In addition to employing heavy weights on shoulder presses and upright rows, you’ll use a super high-intensity technique called rest-pause, in which you take a 20-second breather before going right back into your set for more. Oh, and you use that technique with your traps work, too. Then you’ll hit your traps again and rear delts with a superset combo on an incline bench—probably different from what you’re accustomed to. Finish off with single-joint moves for your front and middle delts in a double drop set and you’ll be toast. Come to think of it, that shoulder routine you were doing wasn’t so badass after all. 

Shoulders & traps workout

Exercise Sets        Reps*
Overhead Barbell Press**        2-3 warm-up
  2*** 2-3 + 2-3 + 2-3 + 2-3     
  2 10-12
Upright Row 1 warm-up
  2 6-8
  1 10-12
Dumbbell Shrug 1 warm-up
  2*** 2-3 + 2-3 + 2-3 + 2-3
  2 12-15
Incline Dumbbell Shrug 3 8-10
-superset with-
Incline Rear-Delt Raise 3 8-10
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 2^ 10 + failure + failure
Dumbbell Front Raise 2^ 10 + failure + failure

* Choose your weights so that you reach muscle failure by the rep listed.

** Seated or standing, go behind the neck only if you’re comfortable and have no pre-existing shoulder problems.

*** Sets are done rest-pause style: Use a heavy weight with which you can get no more than five reps. Do only three, rest 20 seconds, then do 2-3 more. Repeat as many times as listed. After you complete all your sets, rest for two minutes and repeat.

^ Do lateral and front raises using drop sets: Start with a weight with which you can get no more than 10 reps, then drop the weight and immediately begin again with a weight that’s 20%-30% lighter. Go to failure again and immediately reduce the weight by another 20%-30%, going again to failure. Rest for two minutes and repeat.