Alright, guys. We’ve done legs. We’ve done chest. Now we hit shoulders. I used to combine chest and shoulders in the split but then quickly realized that was a horrible idea. Not because it’s a bad idea in general, but because the program I’ve made for myself is … well …
I’m not playing. Shoulder day is probably my favorite training day, but it’s also the one workout of the week that I’m always unsure if I can finish. For real. It’s hard.
Think you have what it takes? Let’s go!
By now you all know how I am with warm-ups. If you haven’t been following along, just know that I don’t usually do them. However … On shoulder day, I’ve been known to do a short warm-up just to get the shoulders moving. I usually start with a few arm circles and then a few assisted hand stands with wall walks and push-ups. As usual, it’s optional.
Go Heavy: Barbell Shoulder Press
4 sets; 8 reps; Rest 90 seconds
Primary: Shoulders — Secondary: Abs; Traps; Triceps
Always starting heavy, you know the deal. Here, I’m using a squat rack with a barbell. If you’re just getting started with these workouts, you can go with dumbbells if you’d like. I’m merely going with barbell just for weight reasons so modify as you see fit.
As with all the other heavy exercises, we’re going to start with a couple of warm-up sets beginning with lifting just the bar. Lift the bar off the rack and hold it at shoulder level, just under the chin. Your feet are going to go about shoulder-width and you’re simply going to press the weight overhead until your arms are straight and your elbows lock. Slowly lower the weight back down. That’s one. Don’t celebrate yet, though. You have a lot more to do. You’re going for 10 reps with the bar.
Rack the bar and add enough weight to equal 50% your working weight for the day keeping in mind the Olympic barbell is 45 pounds. With the 50% weight loaded, you’re looking to knock out 10 more reps. All done? Now we’re working.
If you have a good working weight, this is going to get hard QUICKLY. Lucky for you, you just have to knock out 8 reps. I mean, you still have to do it 4 times, but for real …
After you finish up that last set, rack the weight and take a long break. In a few minutes, we’re hitting a pretty tough superset…
(1/2) Superset: Landmine Single-Arm Shoulder Press
3 sets; 10 reps each arm
Primary: Shoulders — Secondary: Abs; Traps; Triceps
In the last few months, I’ve grown rather fond of landmine work. I’ve only recently added this move to my shoulder routine and I’m a big fan. You’ll load the bar with a good working weight and raise the bar up to about shoulder level. Start off in a sort-of lunge position with your right leg back and load the entirety of the weight into your right hand. Now you’ll press that weight up until your arm is fully extended and slowly lower it back down to your shoulder. Once you finish the 10th rep on the right side, switch your feet, switch hands and knock out 10 more reps.
Once you finish up the 10th rep on the left side, slowly lower the weight to the ground and immediately switch to the next move in this superset.
(2/2) Superset: Side2Front Raise
3 sets; 10 reps; Rest 60 seconds
Primary: Shoulders — Secondary: Traps; Upper Back
Lateral raises are cool. Front raises are great. But what if we just do them both? Side2Front Raises are exactly that. You’ll start off with two dumbbells held down to your side. You’re going to start with lateral raises on both sides until your arms are straight out at shoulder level. That’s one raise. From the “up” position, you’ll rotate your shoulders so that the weights are directly in front of you, then slowly lower the weights to the front. That’s a half rep.
To complete the rep, simply reverse the motion starting with a front raise, rotation to lateral position and slowly lowering the weight back to the starting position. Now you’re 1/10th of the way through this killer. After your 10 rep, give yourself 60 seconds and then head back over to the landmine station.
Smith Machine Shrugs
2 sets; 15 reps; Rest 45 seconds
Primary: Traps — Secondary: Shoulders; Upper Back
Depending on whose program you’re looking at, trap shrugs could fall on either back or shoulder day. Since traps are secondary muscles throughout most of this program, I thought it fit just fine. Here I’m using a Smith but you can use a free barbell, trap bar, dumbbells or even kettlebells.
There’s not a lot to talk about here. You’ll start holding the weight with your arms fully extended down and then … I dunno … You just shrug. Very much like you’re saying “I dunno … You just shrug.”
Two sets and 15 reps later, you’re ready to finish. But let’s be honest. You’re not ready for this.
Finisher: Circlez and Push-Ups
200 Circlez/ 40 Push-Ups
Primary: shoulders — Secondary: Upper Back; Chest; Abs; Shoulders; Triceps
I like doing shoulder burnouts with my clients. There’s not much that’s as satisfying as handing your client a 2.5 pound plate, seeing them smirk and telling them “Bruh, don’t smile. In 90 seconds you’re going to wish I hadn’t given you that much.” This is one of those exercises.
Start by holding the plates out at arm’s length in front-raise position. You’ll start by doing 50 baby rotations toward the inside, meaning your right side rotates to the left, your left arm rotates to the right. After 50 rotations, drop the plates, hit the ground and immediately do 10 push-ups. After the 10, there are no breaks. You’re back up, arms back out front, this time 50 rotations in the opposite direction. Drop and go 10 more push-ups.
To finish, you’re back on your feet, weights out to your sides in lateral-raise position. 50 rotations toward the front, 10 push-ups. Finally, 50 rotations to the back and 10 more push-ups.
I’m not going to lie. You’re going to have a hard time finishing that. Good luck.
If we’re being honest, the first thing you’re going to want to do after you finish that last exercise is lay down for a long time. If you want to get in just a liiiiiiittle bit more out of those shoulders, sometimes I like to go get in 2-3 minutes on our speed bag. Other times, it’s protein shake and about 15 minutes of stretching with a focus on my shoulders.
If you think you’re tough enough to give this shoulder workout a try, you can use this handy dandy work sheet I made.
As always, let me know if you have questions or if you try it out … or if you have a different shoulder day you’d like to share — I’d be way into checking it out!