seated dumbbell press

Shoulders and Arms: Why You Should Train Them Together

It’s common to have an entire workout dedicated to shoulders, and another workout for arms (and international arm day is usually Friday!). 

But have you ever considered training shoulders and arms on the same day

In this post, I’m going to give you 3 reasons why you should train shoulders and arms together.

I’m also going to give you some vein-popping workouts you can do combining these muscles.  

Are You Training Shoulders 3x a Week?

You may not realize this, but you’re training your shoulders at least three times a week. How?

When you do anything with your upper body, your shoulders are going to be involved. That’s because you’re shoulders are supporting those other muscles. You work shoulders every time you do…

  • Chest exercises (presses and flyes work your shoulders)
  • Back exercises (all pulling exercises work your rear delts)
  • Arm exercises (your shoulders are used for support when doing biceps and triceps)

Shoulder Muscle Anatomy

By looking at this anatomy chart you can easily see how your shoulder muscles are involved when you perform virtually any upper body exercise. 

Shoulder Anatomy Diagram from Wikimedia Commons

**This image is from Wikimedia Commons: ​Image 1118 Muscles that Position the Pectoral Girdle

Think about chest day, especially when you’re doing bench press and incline bench press. Your shoulders are doing some major work there, which is why they often feel sore along with your chest muscles. 

It’s the same story on back day. You’re hitting those rear delts pretty hard when you do rows or any kind of pulling exercise

And you also incorporate your shoulder muscles to assist in exercises for biceps and triceps. 

Knowing this, why would you dedicate an entire workout to shoulders?

Why Shoulders and Arms on the Same Day?

So, why train shoulders and arms together? 

Arms to not require as much effort because they are smaller muscles. So it makes sense to pair shoulders with arms. 

Now here’s the kicker…you also stimulate your arm muscles when you train other upper body parts too! Here’s how:

  • Chest – you’re working your triceps with pressing movements
  • Shoulders – same as chest with pressing movements above the head
  • Back – when you pull, you’re using your biceps

Arm Muscles Anatomy

Here’s an in-depth educational video on the anatomy of your arm muscles from the Kenhub Learn Human Anatomy YouTube channel.

What About Chest and Back?

Why not train shoulders at the end of your back or chest workout instead?

Those are possibilities too. However, your chest and back are also ‘big’ upper body muscles. Or at least we want them to be!

My thoughts are when you’re training chest or back, you don’t want to take anything away from those body parts. You want to focus solely on those because they’re larger muscles. And remember as we just discussed,  you’re already working your shoulders with chest and back anyway. 

Now, it’s very common train triceps on chest day and biceps at the end of your back workout. You can do that, and then hit arms again with shoulders, blasting arms twice-a-week! That’s not a bad workout plan! 

I’m not a huge fan of having an entire workout for just arms unless it’s just an extra workout you’re throwing in that week. Arms are smaller muscles, and they also get substantial work from your chest and back workouts.

This is why I believe workout shoulders and arms on the same day is a great combination. I also have another post you can read called 3 Reasons Why Training Arms is a Waste of Time.

Arms and Shoulder Workouts

incline barbell press chest day chest exercises

I’m going to give you 2 workouts for training arms and shoulders together:

  • Shoulders first, then arms
  • Arms first, then shoulders

And below that, I’ll also give you some different training splits to consider with these workouts. 

Reduce Muscle Soreness and Enhance Recovery

There’s no doubt you’ll be sore training shoulders and arms together. Especially your delts. 

The best thing you can do to reduce muscle soreness, enhance recovery, and ignite muscle growth is to take BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) during your workouts. 

scivation xtend review jason stallworth

Scivation Xtend has been my go-to BCAA supplement for several years now. It also gives me that extra muscle energy during my workouts. 

**I strongly recommend getting 90 s​​​​​ervings on Amazon – you’ll save big time as opposed to getting the 30 serving container. 

Shoulders and Arms Workout

In this workout, you’re hitting shoulders first. This makes sense because you’re training your larger muscles first.

You’ll do 3 shoulder exercises followed by 4 total arm exercises (2 for biceps, and 2 for triceps). You should get an awesome pump from this workout. 

* The asterisk below means you do a drop set on the final set

Exercises Sets x Reps
Seated Barbell Press 4 x 8
Lateral Raises 3 x 10*
Bent-Over Raises 3 x 10*
Dumbbell Hammer Curls 3 x 8
Weighted Dips 3 x 8
Standing EZ Bar Curls 3 x 10*
Rope Pressdowns 3 x 10*

You’ll notice that you’re alternating triceps and biceps. I personally prefer this when training arms because you get that extra pump from the agonist-antagonist push-pull effect. If you’ve never tried this, I think you’ll be amazed at the total arm pump you get! 

Arms and Shoulders Workout

This workout may seem a little strange because you’re training the smaller muscles first. I’ve found that hitting arms first can actually prime your shoulders for that extreme burn. So I definitely recommend that you try this.

You can alternate this workout with the prior one every other week like this:

  • Week 1: Shoulders and Arms Workout
  • Week 2: Arms and Shoulders Workout

And repeat.

** The double-asterisk below means you’ll superset with the following exercise. For example, after 1 set of single cable pressdowns, you will immediately go do a set of alternate dumbbell curls. 

Exercises Sets x Reps
Close Grip Bench Press 4 x 8
Standing Barbell Curls 4 x 8
Single Cable Pressdowns 3 x 10**
Alternate Dumbbell Curls 3 x 10
Seated Dumbbell Press 4 x 8
Lateral Raises 3 x 10**
Dumbbell Shrugs 3 x 10

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Training Splits for Arms and Shoulders

Now I want to give you a training split for these workouts. You’ll see 2 options below.

  • 4-day workout split
  • 5-day workout split

These workouts, of course, revolve around building muscle mass. On that note, you may also want to read my 5 Day Mass and Strength Workout Routine.

4 Day Split with Shoulders and Arms

Day Workout
Monday Back
Tuesday Chest
Wednesday Rest
Thursday​​ Legs
Friday Shoulders and Arms
Saturday/Sunday Rest

5 Day Split with Shoulders and Arms

This is the type of split I prefer. It’s more overall volume in the gym, which means more muscle building and fat-burning potential.  

And you’re also hitting legs a second time. This is crucial because you already spent so much time on the upper body but legs usually only get attention once a week. I encourage you to read my post Training Legs Twice a Week: How to Build Bigger Legs.

Day Workout
Monday Chest
Tuesday Legs
Wednesday Back
Thursday​​ Shoulders and Arms
Friday 2nd Leg Day
Saturday/Sunday Rest

Are You Going to Train Shoulders with Arms?

So, are you going to try this workout? Well, I actually gave you 2 workouts! I hope you give these workouts a shot. 

Remember, shoulders don’t really need a dedicated workout. You’re hitting your shoulders pretty hard when you train chest and back.

And your arms are the perfect muscles to train with shoulders. Those are smaller muscles and this will give you a tremendous upper body pump. 

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