contributor and doctor of physical therapy John Rusin writes a lot about the elusive search many lifters find themselves on for pain-free pressing and upper-body lifting. And for him, it begins with one key idea: having more reps of pulls in your program than pushes. Like, far more. Specifically, in his recent article "Safe, Strong Upper-Body Lifting Begins With These Two Ratios," Rusin advocates pulling three times more than you push.

Easy enough to talk about, right? So how do you do it in action? The easiest and quickest way is to front-load your workouts with lots of targeted work using bands and cables, before you ever get under the bar. Not coincidentally, this approach will also make whatever strength or muscle work you do stronger, not just safer!

Rusin walks athlete and NPC men's physique competitor Reuben Brooks through his complete warm-up up in his new All Access guide Unstoppable: The Ultimate Guide to Training Through Injury. He also shows the right way to foam roll, stretch, and even prime your nervous system for strength and power. This is the kind of high-level coaching that athletes pay big bucks for. But not you.

This is exactly how you should warm up for your next bench, shoulder, or other upper-body day. But be warned: The pump is real!

Shoulder-Friendly Upper-Body Workout



Muscle Activation Triset

Note: Rest as little as possible between movements and rounds


Movement Patterning Superset

Note: Rest as little as possible between movements and rounds


Nervous System-Priming Superset

Note: Rest as little as possible between movements and rounds

The Pulls Don't Stop There!

That warm-up should take no more than 8-10 minutes, max. But when you're done with it, your upper back should be feeling seriously turned on, your posture should feel ramrod straight and better than ever, and you should be warm and ready for action.

But no, you're not ready to press yet. Rusin, who has worked with numerous banged-up powerlifters, among many other athletes, recommends adding one additional pull move as a "power primer." This is a classic powerlifting technique that you'll also find in Meg Squats' new All Access program Uplifted: Build Muscle and Strength With Meg Squats.

His primer of choice? The cable face pull. Here's everything you need to know.
  • Cable Half-Kneeling Face Pull: 3 sets, 15 reps, rest 45-60 sec. (Use 4 warm-up sets to build up to your 3 working sets.)
Your upper back and rear delts should now be on fire. You're warm, primed, and ready to have your best workout of the week. So do it!