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Shawn Ray Workout Routine

Hanna Walther Author Profile



Shawn Ray's Workout Routine and Diet

What does Shawn Ray’s workout routine look like?

Shawn Ray is a retired professional bodybuilder, successful entrepreneur, published author, and fitness icon. Shawn rose through the ranks of the IFBB community with other big names including Lee Haney, Dorian Yates, and Ronnie Coleman.

Although we’ve done research on Shawn Ray’s diet and exercise regime, this article isn’t his exact workout routine. It provides a general idea of what Shawn did when training for a competition, based on his own commentary and information from others in the industry. 


Current Stats 

  • Height:‎ 5’7″
  • Weight: Competition weight: 205-220 pounds — Off-season weight: 225-240 pounds
  • Age: 56 years old
  • Birthday: September 9, 1965
  • Accolades: 13 time Mr. Olympia finalist from 1998-2004, 1990 Arnold Classic Champion (lost title due to failing drug test), published author of The Shawn Ray Way


Workout Principles

Shawn Ray’s approach to fitness puts a heavy emphasis on compound exercises, a healthy diet, hydration, and the dedication to show up every day to work hard and doing what others won’t to achieve success.

When it comes to finding the motivation to work out and making the commitment to fitness, Shawn Ray explains that he was often inspired by what others weren’t willing to do.

Some of the best bodybuilders hate leg day for the pain and challenge it presents, so Shawn used that as motivation to crush his leg workout every day.

Throughout his career, Shawn was known for adding variety to his workouts with the intent of never plateauing, getting bored, or maxing out his strength. This strategy also shocks the muscles into working and fostering more growth, both physically and mentally.


Shawn Ray’s Workout Routine

Shawn Ray is without a doubt one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time. Nicknamed the “Giant Killer,” he successfully defeated every single competitor of his generation, with the exception of Dorian Yates and Lee Haney.

Shawn’s workout and diet plan share valuable information for those looking to get into bodybuilding. It’s worth noting that he often spent 3 hours on his workouts, so we’re breaking these down by day, but he’d often perform several of these workouts each day.

Here is the Shawn Ray workout routine:



After a quick warm-up, Shawn Ray begins the week with a chest workout to enhance his muscle size.

  1. Incline dumbbell bench press (5 sets, 12 reps)
  2. Flat bench press (5 sets, 10 reps)
  3. Flat dumbbell chest fly (5 sets, 12 reps)
  4. Standing cable fly (5 sets, 12 reps)

This chest routine seems simple but you’ll feel the burn quickly, and the high volume reps will build endurance and muscle mass.



This is one of Shawn Ray’s go-to back workouts that he performs to build muscle.

  1. Wide-grip pull-up (5 sets, 5 reps)
  2. Dumbbell row (5 sets, 12 reps)
  3. Close grip cable curl (5 sets, 8 reps)
  4. Barbell row (5 sets, 15 reps)
  5. Wide grip lat pulldown (5 sets, 15 reps)



Next up in Shawn’s workout plan are the shoulders.

  1. Standing barbell overhead press (4 sets, 15 reps)
  2. Cable lateral raise (4 sets, 15 reps)
  3. Incline dumbbell rear delt fly (4 sets, 15 reps
  4. Machine shrug (4 sets, 15 reps)



Here’s the leg day workout that will have you gaining muscle and feeling stronger in no time. If you need some guidance on how to train legs, look no further.

  1. Leg extension (4 sets, 15 reps)
  2. Leg press (4 sets, 12 reps)
  3. Barbell stiff leg deadlift (4 sets, 12 reps)
  4. Barbell walking lunge (4 sets, 15 reps)
  5. Standing calf raise (4 sets, 15 reps)
  6. Seated calf raise (4 sets, 15 reps)

“Leg day separates the men from the boys,” Shawn explained. “You really have to dig deep.”



Friday is enjoyable for Shawn Ray because it’s the day he gets to train triceps. These arm exercises will have your muscles on fire, which means they’re working!

  1. Single-arm preacher curl (4 sets, 15 reps)
  2. Dumbbell triceps extension (4 sets, 15 reps)
  3. Alternating dumbbell curl (4 sets, 15 reps)
  4. Triceps rope pulldown (4 sets, 15 reps)


Saturday & Sunday

After five days of lifting heavy weights and training in the gym, Shawn Ray dedicates the weekend to let his body rest. He may do some active recovery like a walk or hike, but otherwise, he is in recovery mode.


Shawn Ray’s Diet 

Diet is an essential component in building muscle. Shawn Ray eats six meals each day to keep his metabolism high and to maintain his muscular physique. He focuses on lean protein intake leading up to a workout and is typically eating complex carbs post-workout.

In his prime, Shawn ate around 2,700 calories a day. If he needed to lose body fat, he would eat less complex carbs and reduce his rep count in the gym.

Here is Shawn Ray’s diet:  

Meal 1

  • Hibachi chicken breasts
  • Baked potato
  • Broccoli

Meal 2

  • 2 cans of tuna
  • Spinach salad with romaine, cucumber, tomatoes, and shredded carrots
  • Hardboiled eggs

Meal 3

  • 2 New York steaks
  • Steamed broccoli

Meal 4

  • Fish, like trout or salmon
  • Baked potato
  • Greens

Meal 5

  • Fruit medley, including pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and grapes

Meal 6

  • 12 egg whites
  • Steamed broccoli or asparagus
  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread with peanut butter and jelly



Along with his diet and workout plan, Shawn Ray likely has quite a few supplements in his pantry at home that he relies on for energy, gains, energy support, and focus. Here are a few supplements that would help Shawn Ray.



Throughout his bodybuilding career, Shawn Ray proved time and time again that dedication, a healthy meal plan, and consistency can get you far in the sport. He may not hold a Mr. Olympia title, but being a 13-time finalist is pretty impressive for the biggest bodybuilding competition in the world.

Whether Shawn Ray’s body is the look you’re striving for or you just want to incorporate some of his favorite exercises into your own workout plan, he is more than deserving of praise as a fitness icon of the bodybuilding community.

What do you think about Shawn Ray’s workout routine and diet? Leave a comment below. 

Hanna has been a fitness fanatic for most of her life. She grew up on the soccer field and volleyball court and credits those sports with her determination, passion for fitness, and leadership off the field. She is currently studying to become a personal trainer and hopes to begin coaching in 2022.

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