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The Muscle Groups You Should Pair With Shoulders

    Adding other muscle groups to your shoulder strength training is like dolloping jelly onto your peanut butter sandwich. You boost the benefits of your workout (or the deliciousness of your sandwich). You’ve got more than 600 muscles in your body. This article will explain which muscle groups you should pair with shoulders during strength exercises to maximize your fitness gains.

    The best muscle groups to pair with your shoulder muscles for effective strength training include those close to the shoulders, like the arm, chest, and back muscle groups. Another strategy is to combine shoulder and leg strength training in one workout. 

    The Muscle Groups You Should Pair With Shoulders

    You could always randomly choose which muscle groups to train with your shoulders. But this might slow your progress or trigger overtraining injuries.

    A smarter move? Get clued-up on how different muscle groups work with your shoulder muscles.

    Coming up: all you need to know to create a multi-muscle shoulder-sculpting workout.  


    What’s Good to Pair With Shoulders? 🤔

    What's Good to Pair With Shoulders

    Over 600 muscles in your body can be divided into six main groups: shoulders, arms, chest, back, abs, and legs. 

    We can then further break down these muscle groups – for example:

    • Shoulder: delts (which have three parts – back, front, and side).
    • Arm: biceps (front of the upper arm), triceps (back of the upper arm), and forearm (the lower arm).
    • Back: traps (the upper back), lats (width of the mid and lower back), rhomboids (the mid-upper back), and erector spinae (along the spine). 
    • Leg: calves (the lower leg), hamstrings (back of the upper leg), quads (front of the upper leg), and glutes (the butt and hips). 

    With so many muscles and possible combos, how can you choose what to train with your shoulders for boast-worthy results?  

    There’s not just one way. You can pair several different muscle groups with your shoulders to make your training simpler and more effective. 

    Here are your shoulders’ best workout buddies, why they’re winning muscle combos, and exercise ideas. 


    Shoulder and Arms Workout

    Shoulder and Arms Workout

    Your shoulder and upper-arm muscles are close, so when you work one of these muscle groups, you naturally also work the other.

    Because of their connection, focusing on shoulders and arms in one workout makes sense. 

    Work your shoulders first, then your biceps, and finish with your triceps. 


    Shoulder and Arm Exercises

    Exercise for Big Shoulders

    These exercises target the front, side, and back of your delts, your biceps, and your triceps:

    • Front raise (targets your shoulders)
    • Lateral raise (targets your shoulders)
    • Diagonal raise (targets your shoulders) 
    • Hammer curl (targets your biceps)
    • Chin-ups (targets your biceps) 
    • Pushdowns (targets your triceps)
    • Partner extension (targets your triceps)


    Chest and Shoulder Workout

    Chest and Shoulder Workout

    Your chest and shoulder muscles are complementary because you use them together while performing many exercises.

    Lots of go-to upper-body strength-training moves work your shoulder and chest muscles simultaneously. 

    Suppose you trained your shoulder muscles one day and your chest the next. 

    While targeting your shoulders on day one, you would also be working your chest.

    On day two (chest day), your chest muscles would be recovering from the previous day’s activity, so they’d tire easily and perform poorly.

    Training your shoulder and chest muscles together produces better results.  

    Work your chest first (these are big muscles, so it’s best to train them while you’re fresh), then your shoulders. See our post on Effective Cable Shoulder Workouts for more information.


    Chest and Shoulder Exercises 

    Chest and Shoulder Exercises

    These exercises work your chest and shoulders from every angle: 

    • Cable fly (targets your chest)
    • Chest press (targets your chest and shoulders)
    • Incline chest press (targets your chest and shoulders)
    • Lying chest fly (targets your chest and shoulders)
    • Bent knee push-up or push-up (targets your chest and shoulders) 
    • Shoulder press (targets your shoulders)
    • High plank T-spine rotation (targets your shoulders) 


    Leg and Shoulder Workout

    Bulgarian Split Squat

    The perk of pairing shoulders and legs during your strength training is being able to target muscles from your upper and lower body in one session without overstressing your body. 

    Leg muscles are big and require effort to train. Smaller shoulder muscles are easier to train. 

    Combining these two muscle groups is a manageable way to work out many body parts in a single session.

    However, if you were to train back muscles and legs on the same day, you’d likely become tired, as these muscle groups are both large and energy-intensive. 

    One way to pair legs and shoulders during a single strength-training workout is to alternate leg and shoulder exercises.

    After working your legs till they can’t do another rep of an exercise, you swap to a shoulder exercise to let your legs rest. Then back to your legs. 


    Leg and Shoulder Exercises

    Cable Shoulder Press

    These exercises train your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves, as well as all three sides of your delts: 

    • Box jump (targets your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves)
    • Limb raises (targets your shoulders and glutes) 
    • Forward lunge (targets your glutes, quads, and hamstrings)
    • Seated overhead press (targets your shoulders) 
    • Squat (targets your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves)
    • Shoulder stability-mobility series (targets your shoulders)
    • Calf raise (targets your calves and shins) 


    Shoulder and Traps Workout 

    Exercises That Focus on the Developing the Traps

    Your trap muscle is essential to keeping your shoulders stable.

    This muscle’s main job is to stabilize and move your shoulder blades. 

    Simultaneously training your shoulders and traps will keep these interconnected muscles strong and working well as a team.

    As a result, your posture will improve, lifting weights will be easier, and you’ll be better able to maintain good form while exercising.


    Shoulder and Traps Exercises

    How To Build Shoulders Without Working Your Traps new

    These exercises give your traps and delts a full workout: 

    • Standing shrug (targets your traps) 
    • Shoulder packing (targets your traps and shoulders) 
    • Bent-over row (targets your traps and shoulders) 
    • Cobra (targets your traps)
    • Prone scapular series (targets your traps and shoulders)
    • Side-lying arm rolls (targets your shoulders) 
    • Stability ball shoulder stabilization (targets your shoulders and traps) 


    Shoulder and Bicep Workout

    biceps exercises for beginners

    Toned biceps make your arms look lean and defined.

    Because these muscles have a striking influence on your arms’ appearance, you might be keen to give them special attention in a biceps-focused workout.

    A tip for boosting your bicep routine? Add shoulder work. 

    Combining shoulder and bicep training can help sculpt your biceps quicker because it’s easier to ace your bicep moves when your shoulders are strong. 


    Shoulder and Bicep Exercises

    Can I Just Do Bicep Curls

    These exercises sculpt your biceps and delts all over: 

    • Bicep curl (targets your biceps) 
    • Pull-ups (targets your biceps) 
    • Seated row (targets your biceps) 
    • Rotational uppercut (targets your biceps and shoulders) 
    • Single-arm lateral raise (targets your shoulders) 
    • Stability ball pikes (targets your shoulders) 
    • Supine shoulder flexion (targets your shoulders)


    Shoulder and Back Workout

    Yoga Strap Stretches for Shoulders

    Weak shoulder and back muscles increase the chance you’ll struggle to perform everyday movements like carrying, reaching, twisting, turning, lifting, and bending.

    Pairing shoulder and back exercises during your weekly strength training will help your body work better and prevent injuries. If you are a woman, see our post on Back And Shoulder Workouts For Women.


    Shoulder and Back Exercises

    lat pulldown for back

    These exercises target your shoulders as well as the main back muscles that connect to your shoulders (the lats, traps, rhomboids, and erector spinae):

    • Lat pulldown (targets your back) 
    • Single-arm row (targets your back) 
    • Incline reverse fly (targets your shoulders and back)
    • Stability ball reverse extensions (targets your back)
    • Stability ball prone walkout (targets your back)
    • Plank (targets your back) 
    • Superman (targets your shoulders) 


    Shoulder and Tricep Workout

    best triceps exercises

    Your shoulder and tricep muscles are smaller than some of your body’s other muscles. But don’t underestimate them.

    Strong shoulders and triceps help you perform impressive exercises like push-ups. 

    So, giving this muscle combo regular attention will pay off when you’re attempting intense upper-body strength-training moves.  


    Shoulder and Tricep Exercises

    Cable Press Down

    These exercises give your shoulders and triceps a good workout:

    • Pressdown (targets your triceps)
    • Kickback (targets your triceps) 
    • Overhead extension (targets your triceps) 
    • Lying extensions (targets your triceps) 
    • Rotational overhead press (targets your shoulders) 
    • V-raise (targets your shoulders) 
    • Supine snow angel (targets your shoulders) 


    Tips for Pairing Muscle Groups With Shoulders 💪

    Roman Chairs Work What Muscle Groups

    Now you know which muscle groups pair well with shoulders and know the exercises that work your different muscles. 

    The next step? Fit your shoulder sculpting into your overall strength-training program. 

    You’re free to create a program that suits your schedule and fitness goals – just as long as you stick to five rules:

    • Train all your main muscle groups two to three times a week. That’s your arms, shoulders, abs, chest, back, and legs. 
    • If you are doing intense strength exercises, try to combine a big and a small muscle group in one session, not two large muscle groups. This big-small pairing will help you avoid overstressing and potentially injuring your body. For example, pairing legs and shoulders is safer than pairing legs and back. 
    • Train all the main muscles in your different muscle groups during your workouts. For example, choose exercises that target every part of your shoulders (front, side, and back), not just the front of your delts.
    • Let your muscles recover for 48 hours or more between training sessions. Muscles need rest to heal and get stronger.
    • Keep things fresh (so your muscles stay challenged and you don’t get bored) by switching up bodyweight exercises, weightlifting, resistance band exercises, cable exercises, and stability ball exercises. Plus, varying the intensity of your workouts – make some days tough and others easy-breezy. 


    Frequently Asked Questions 🙋‍♂️

    Want to know more? No problem; we’ve got another few tips to share!

    Are There Full-Body Exercises That Work Shoulders? 


    So, you’ve been brainstorming how to fit your body sculpting into your busy life but see that you’ve got almost no time for strength training?

    You want max rewards for as little time as possible. 
    The solution: exercises that work all your main muscle groups at once – including your shoulders.
    Be warned: these moves are intense and need plenty of rest afterward!
    Here are 3 of the best full-body shoulder-sculpting exercises:
    Full-Body Exercise # 1: Rowing 
    Rowing machines work your shoulders, arms, back, abs, back, and legs. Before you give the rowing machine a go, read this WebMD article packed with pointers on how to use the machine with good technique. 
    Full-Body Exercise # 2: Push-ups
    Push-ups work most of your muscle groups, especially the muscles in your upper body. This Healthline article gives step-by-step guidelines for mastering push-ups if you’re new to this move.   
    Full-Body Exercise # 3: Burpees
    Burpees merge the push-up and squat into one (tough!) power move that works every major muscle in your body. Does the thought of a burpee turn you off? Don’t be. Check out these tips from Healthline for doing a classic burpee and how to make the move easier or more challenging. 

    Is There One Exercise That Works Shoulders From Every Angle? 

    Shoulder Press Bench

    There’s a move that works all three parts of your delts (front, back, and side) in one go: the Arnold press. 

    The exercise is named after no other than a former bodybuilder, action star, and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s a variation of the overhead press that “The Governator” created to better target the back delts than the original exercise. 

    This WebMD article explains how to do the Arnold press properly to hit your delts from every angle. 

    Beware: the Arnold press might give the desired results, but its rotation movement could damage your shoulder joints in the long term. If you have shoulder pain, leave this move for Arnie!  

    Conclusion 🤗

    You’ve plenty of options for muscle groups you should pair with shoulders for the best results.

    So, pick and choose exercises to match your schedule and fitness goals.

    Popular pairings are shoulders and other upper-body muscle groups, like arms, chest, or back.

    Combining shoulders and legs is good if your workout balances grueling (leg) and easier (shoulder) moves. 

    Strong, sculpted shoulders make a huge difference to how your body works and looks, but don’t neglect your other five muscle groups.

    When creating your customized strength-training program, choose workouts that train all six of your main muscle groups a few times a week, and let your trained muscles rest for at least 48 hours before making them work again. 


    James Wright

    James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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