When it comes to building a muscular and defined torso, training the chest and shoulder is essential.
Working out shoulders and chest improves upper body strength and definition.
You can do various exercises to bolster these muscles with dumbbells, barbells, machines, and your body weight.
I’ve shared the best chest and shoulder exercises and workout routines to build strength and size.
Whether you exercise at home or in the gym, you can integrate some exercises into your training program to forge your pecs and delts and improve your torso symmetry.
Can You Train Chest and Shoulders Together?
Yes, you can train chest and shoulders together on the same day. Many people do it on the push day of the PPL program, including me.
Working out shoulder and chest together is also time-efficient and excellent for increasing strength and mass.
For example, if you train six times a week, you can hit your chest and shoulder twice a week. And a study has shown training muscles two times weekly maximizes muscle growth.1 Schoenfeld BJ, Ogborn D, Krieger JW. Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2016 Nov;46(11):1689-1697. doi: 10.1007/s40279-016-0543-8. PMID: 27102172.
However, it is crucial to properly plan your workout that balances the workload between the chest and shoulders and allows optimum rest and recovery between exercises to avoid overtraining and injury.
The Ultimate Chest and Shoulder Exercises for Muscle Building
|Flat Barbell Bench Press||Seated Dumbbell IYT Raise|
|Incline DB Bench Press||Military Press|
|Decline Bench Press||Arnold Press|
|Pec Deck Fly||Front Raises|
|Inclined Dumbbell Fly||Lateral Raises|
|Landmine Press||Bent-over Rear Delt Raise|
|Bar Dips||Reverse Pec Deck|
|Deficit Pushup||Shoulder Shrug|
|Dumbbell Squeeze Press||Incline Prone DB Rowing|
These are the best exercises for pectorals and deltoid development. And we will use these movements to design a shoulder and chest workout routine.
The Best Chest and Shoulder Workout Routine Samples
1. The Ultimate One Hour Workout Plan
- Workout Duration: 60 minutes
- Rest between sets: 1-3
- Suitable for: Beginner to Intermediate
- Flat Bench Press: 5 sets of 10-12 reps
- Incline Chest Fly: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Bar Dips: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Lateral Delt: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
- Rear Delt Fly: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
- Shrugs: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
- Pec Deck Fly: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
- Dumbbell Pullover: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Seated Dumbbell IYT Raise: 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Shoulder Shrug: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
- Flat Barbell Bench Press: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
- Incline DB Bench Press: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
- Cable Crossover: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Landmine Press: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Lateral Raises: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
- Rear Delt Raises: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
Note: Perform these workouts in different training sessions. Additionally, you can adjust them according to your fitness level and goal.
When you decrease repetitions, increase the load, and keep the intervals as short as possible between the sets.
2. 30-Minute Chest and Shoulder Superset
The superset is a way of performing a pair of exercises together.
It is an excellent way to get more work done in less time. However, it is challenging and requires decent muscle endurance.
- Set 1 – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Arnold Press
- Pec Deck Fly
- Set 2 – 4 sets of 10-12 reps
- Incline Bench Press
- Lateral Raises
- Set 3 – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Bar Dips
- Rear Delt Raises
Superset B – Three sets of 10-12 reps with little to no rest between exercises.
|1||Flat Bench Press||Lateral Raises|
|2||Incline Bent-0ver Cable Crossover||Rear Delt Raises|
|3||Deficit Pushups||Shoulder Shrug|
3. 45-Minute Shoulder and Chest Dropset
The drop is a method of doing multiple subsets within one set. It is an excellent way to increase strength and endurance faster than a typical resistance exercise protocol.2Effects of drop sets with resistance training on increases in muscle CSA, strength, and endurance: a pilot study – Journal of Sports Sciences
You can also try this 45-minute drop set workout to sculpt your shoulder and chest:
- Subset 1: Lift weight at 50% of your one rep max (1RM)
- Subset 2: 30% of your 1RM
- Rest between sets: 1-2 minute
|Exercise||Set 1||Set 2|
|Flat Bench Press||5 and 10||4 and 8|
|Kneeling Landmine Press||6 and 10||6 and 8|
|Pec Deck Fly||8 and 12||6 and 8|
|Dumbbell Lateral Raises||6 and 8||4 and 8|
|Rear Delt Fly||6 and 8||4 and 8|
4. Dumbbell Routine
You can train your pecs and delts at home with dumbbells.
Here’s an example of a 45-minute chest and shoulders workout:
|Flat Bench Press||10-12||3|
|Incline Dumbbell Fly||10-12||3|
|Dumbbell Lateral Raises||10-12||3|
|Rear Delt Fly||10-12||3|
Take 1-2 minutes of rest between sets.
5. Resistance Band Shoulder and Chest Workout
You can train your pecs and delts at home with this 30-minute resistance band workout.
|Rear Delt Fly||10-12||3|
Let’s find out how to do shoulder and chest exercises with step-by-step instructions.
The Best Chest Exercises
There is a ton of chest exercises you can do to smoke your chest gains. Below, I’ve shared some of the best ones you can perform with shoulder workouts.
1. Flat Barbell Bench Press
The bench press is a compound movement that strengthens the chest, front delt, and triceps and helps achieve a sturdy trunk.
Steps to perform a flat bench press:
- Set the bar into the rack to an appropriate height and put weight according to your strength.
- Lie on the bench under the bar with your feet firmly on the ground.
- Grab the bar with an underhand grip, arms two times wider than hip-width apart.
- Keep your core tight, un-rack the bar, and hold over your chest with arms straight.
- Lower the bar by bending your elbows and keep it a few inches above your chest. That’s the start.
- Inhale, and press the bar slowly with your strength until your arms are straight over your chest.
- Exhale, and make sure to squeeze your pecs at the top for a second or two, and then slowly lower the bar to the start. That’s one rep!
- Keep your lower back in an arc position while pressing up the bar, as it will help you maintain a neutral spine and keep your back tight and protected.
- Perform each rep slowly and in a controlled fashion.
2. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
The incline bench press targets the upper pectoral muscles and helps develop a defined chest.
Steps to do a DB Bench Press:
- Holding one dumbbell in each hand, lay down on a 30-degree incline bench with your feet flat on the ground.
- Hold the dumbbells to your sides at chest level.
- Keep your abdominal muscles tight, inhale, and press the dumbbells toward the ceiling until your arms are straight over your pecs.
- Pause for a moment and slowly lower the weight to the start. That’s your one rep.
- Do three sets of 10, 8, and 6 repetitions with 1-2 minutes of rest between every set.
3. Incline Dumbbell Fly
The incline dumbbell fly is one of the best exercises that highly engage the pectoralis major and anterior deltoid muscles.3 A Comparison of Muscle Activation between Barbell Bench Press and Dumbbell Flyes in Resistance-Trained Males – The Journal of Sports Medicine (National Institute of Health Database)
It is a great exercise to do when you train your shoulder and chest on the same day.
Most people say dumbbell fly isn’t good for the shoulder as it can cause injury. It is true if you do it incorrectly because dumbbell fly is an exercise that highly depends on proper form and technique.
You should take care of the following things while doing dumbbell flyes:
- Pick dumbbells that are heavy enough to use effectively without losing control.
- Keep your elbows slightly bent during the movement. Keeping your arms straight throughout the movement puts a lot of strain on the shoulder.
- Lower your arms until your elbows are in line with your shoulder. Going too low can cause damage to your shoulders in the long run.
- Do it correctly, in a controlled manner, and with the proper technique, or don’t do it at all.
How to do an incline dumbbell fly step by step:
- Set the bench at a 30-45 degrees incline, grab one dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, and lay down on your back. Keep your feet firmly on the ground.
- Hold the dumbbells directly over your upper chest with your arms straight and palms facing each other. This is your starting position.
- Keeping your abdominal muscles tight and elbows slightly bent, lower your arms out your sides in a slow and controlled manner until they reach below your shoulder height.
- Squeezing your pecs, bring the dumbbells to the starting position. That’s your one complete rep.
- Do 3 sets of 12, 10, and 8 repetitions with 90 seconds to 2 minutes rest between sets.
- Increase load when you decrease the number of repetitions.
You can replace the dumbbell fly with H2L flyes if you feel discomfort while doing it.
4. Incline Bent-Forward Cable Crossover
The incline cable crossover is good for strengthening and toning the chest muscles.4 ACE Research: Top 3 Most Effective Chest Exercises You can add it to your routine to entirely engage your pecs.
Steps to do a cable crossover:
- Insert D handles into the cable machine, set them to an appropriate height, and put the desired weight.
- Grab the D handles firmly, take one step forward, and stand in the staggered position.
- Hold the handles at your sides lower than your shoulders with a slight elbow bend.
- Keep your front knee slightly bent and lean forward. That’s your starting position.
- Engaging your chest muscles, bring the handles together in front of your stomach.
- Hold for a couple of seconds, then return your arms to the starting position. That’s your one rep.
- Do each rep in a controlled fashion by squeezing your pectoralis muscles throughout the movement.
5. Landmine Press
The landmine press is the best compound exercise to help you build a more muscular chest and shoulder.
Whenever you do a push-pull-legs or full-body workout, doing a landmine press once a week can be efficient for strength and muscle gain.
How to do a Landmine press step-by-step:
- Position the bar in a suitable place and put the appropriate weight.
- Holding the bar, stand in the shoulder-width stance and keep your core tight.
- Slightly lean forward, hold the bar at your chest height, and keep your back as straight as possible. That’s the start.
- Engaging your chest and shoulder muscles together, press the bar upward until your arms are straight.
- Pause for a moment and then slowly lower the weight to the start. That’s your one rep.
6. Dumbbell Squeeze Press
The dumbbell squeeze press is an isolation workout that highly activates your pectoral muscles and helps build a bigger chest.
Incorporating the squeeze press into your chest workout routine can also improve your bench-press performance – an article published on the Bodybuilding website suggested. 5 Feel The Bench In Your Chest With This Move – Bodybuilding.com
How to do a flat dumbbell squeeze press:
- Holding a pair of dumbbells, lie on the bench with your feet firmly on the floor.
- Keep the dumbbell just above your chest with your palms facing each other.
- Squeezing your pecs, press the dumbbells upward until your arms are straight.
- Pause for a moment at the top and return to the start. This is your one repetition.
7. Dumbbell Pullover
The pullover is excellent that it bolsters the latissimus dorsi and pectoral muscles and improves upper body definition.
Many bodybuilders perform this movement on their chest day to develop the size of their pecs.
The pullover can also be paired with front and lateral delt exercises, especially when you perform a chest and shoulder superset workout.
Steps to perform pullover:
- Holding a dumbbell firmly and place your upper back on the bench.
- Keep your knees bent and feet firmly on the ground, so your knee, hips, and chest are aligned.
- Extend your arms behind your head and brace your abdominal muscles. That’s the start.
- Squeezing your pecs, pull the dumbbell up until your arms are straight over your chest.
- Pause for a moment, then return to the beginning and repeat ten to 12 times.
The Best Shoulder Exercises
Let’s see some of the best exercises that target the anterior, lateral, and posterior deltoids and help build sturdy, sizeable, and shredded shoulders.
1. Dumbbell Arnold Press
The Arnold press targets the entire shoulder, especially the anterior deltoid. 6Comparison among the EMG Activity of the Anterior Deltoid and Medial Deltoid During Two Variations of Dumbbell Shoulder Press Exercise – Indian Journal of Public Health Research and Development
It is better than the traditional shoulder press and helps build rounded delts.
Steps to perform an Arnold press:
- Grab one dumbbell in each hand and sit on the bench with your back resting on it.
- Hold the dumbbells at your chest level by bending your elbows with your palms facing the body. That’s the start.
- Twisting your wrist, press the dumbbells overhead until your arms are straight. At the top, your palms will face away.
- Now, twisting your wrist, lower the dumbbell in the starting position. That’s your one complete rep.
2. Seated Dumbbell IYT Raise
The seated dumbbell IYT raises is a combination of three different movements (I, Y, and T raises) that help you target several upper body muscles, particularly the shoulder and back.
I always do this exercise when I train my upper body muscles because it helps me increase strength, muscle, and endurance.
Steps to perform a seated dumbbell IYT raises:
- Grab one dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip, sit on the edge of a flat bench, and place your feet firmly on the ground.
- Hold your arms down and straight with your palms facing inward.
- Keep your abdominal muscles tight and your back straight. That’s the start.
- Inhale and raise your arms straight over your head toward the ceiling “as high as you can,” and then return to the start. This is the “I” raise.
- To do the “Y” raise, raise your arms slightly to the sides, so your arms form a “Y” shape. Pause for a moment and then lower the dumbbell to the start.
- Now, raise your arms straight to the sides until your arms are outward, your palms facing the ground. Hold for a couple of seconds and return the weight to the starting position. That’s a “T” raise.
- Once you complete all three movements, it will be your one repetition.
- Do three sets of 8, 6, and 4 repetitions with 1-2 minutes of rest between sets.
3. Military Press
The overhead barbell press is a compound workout that primarily works on the shoulder and helps you build a solid upper body.
You can replace Arnold press with this move if you like, or you can do them interchangeably.
How to do a military press:
- Put the desired weight in the bar and grab it firmly with your hands shoulder-width apart.
- Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart and hold the bar at your shoulder height in front of you with your palms facing upward. Maintain a tight core and straight back. This is your starting position.
- Inhale and press the bar overhead until your arms are straight.
- Hold for a moment, then slowly return your arms to the starting position. That’s one rep!
- Keep your back straight and chest up during the movement.
4. Lateral Raises
The lateral raise is an isolation exercise that targets the side delt and helps develop rounded shoulders.
You can do this exercise with dumbbells and a cable machine alternatively.
Steps to perform a cable lateral raise:
- Adjust the cable to an appropriate height and set the desired weight.
- Grab the D handle in your hand and take a step against the machine.
- Hold the handles and slightly lean against them.
- Raise the cable to your side until your arm is straight.
- Pause for a moment, then return to the start.
5. Rear Delt Raise
The rear delt raise simultaneously targets the posterior deltoid and upper trap and improves your shoulder health and muscle definition.
Steps to perform a rear delt raise:
- Hold one dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip and sit on the edge of a bench.
- Lean your torso forward, maintain a flat back and keep your arms straight.
- Raise your arms to your sides until you feel the contraction in your rear delts.
- Pause for a second and return to the start.
Alternatively, you can do a reverse pec deck to hit the back of your shoulder.
6. Incline Prone Dumbbell Rowing
The shoulder has three deltoids, and to build firm shoulders, you need to target each muscle specifically.
The 45-degree incline dumbbell row is one of the best exercises for targeting your rear delt, a study published by the American Council of Exercise (ACE) suggested. 7ACE Research Identifies Top Shoulder Exercises – American Council of Exercise
So, you can combine this exercise with other exercises to forge your shoulder muscles.
Step to perform a 45-degree incline row:
- Grab one dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip. Lie prone on a 45-degree incline bench with your chest lying on the edge of the bench.
- Let your arms hang straight toward the ground. That’s the start.
- Squeezing your shoulder blades together, lift the dumbbells as high as possible.
- Hold for a moment at the top, you’ll feel the contraction in your rear delt.
- Return your arms to the start. This is one complete rep.
- Do three sets of 10, 8, and 6 repetitions with 1-3 minutes of rest between sets.
7. Barbell Shrug
The shrug is an excellent exercise to improve shoulder strength and mobility. It bolsters the upper traps and muscles around the neck and enhances shoulder muscle symmetry.
Steps to perform a barbell shrug:
- Grab a loaded barbell with your hands hip with apart.
- Stand upright with your arms straight against your thigh.
- Pull the barbell and shrug your shoulders until you feel the contraction in your target muscles.
- Pause for a moment and lower the bar.
The Bottom Line
Working out shoulder and chest together effectively builds strength and size in less time than training them individually.
You can do various exercises to bolster your pecs and delts with dumbbells, barbells, machines, bands, and your body weight.
I’ve shared multiple chest and shoulder workout routines you can integrate into your training program.
Moreover, you can make desired changes to the routine according to your fitness and goal.
- The Best Leg and Shoulder Workout
- 16 Dumbbell Exercises for Arms and Shoulders
- Dumbbell Workouts for Arms and Chest
- Best Back and Bicep Dumbbell Workout
- 1Schoenfeld BJ, Ogborn D, Krieger JW. Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2016 Nov;46(11):1689-1697. doi: 10.1007/s40279-016-0543-8. PMID: 27102172.
- 2Effects of drop sets with resistance training on increases in muscle CSA, strength, and endurance: a pilot study – Journal of Sports Sciences
- 3A Comparison of Muscle Activation between Barbell Bench Press and Dumbbell Flyes in Resistance-Trained Males – The Journal of Sports Medicine (National Institute of Health Database)
- 4ACE Research: Top 3 Most Effective Chest Exercises
- 5Feel The Bench In Your Chest With This Move – Bodybuilding.com
- 6Comparison among the EMG Activity of the Anterior Deltoid and Medial Deltoid During Two Variations of Dumbbell Shoulder Press Exercise – Indian Journal of Public Health Research and Development
- 7ACE Research Identifies Top Shoulder Exercises – American Council of Exercise