There are so many people who ask me this question many times in the gym. Can I train shoulder and back together? Will there be any problem in doing so? What are the other muscles groups we can train together?
I can understand your situation. Even I had so many of these questions when I started working out. It is good that you have these questions in mind because it shows that you want to gain more knowledge and want to improve your fitness.
So let’s come back to the question. So can you train your back and shoulder together or on the same day? The answer to this question is YES, OF COURSE!. You can train back and shoulder together, and it is a good strategy to do so. However, there are some key points that you should consider before training these muscles together.
But hold on, before looking at the reasons, it is important to know the functions of these muscle groups.
Functions of Back and Shoulder Muscles
Back has so many muscles, out of which the major muscles are latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and teres major. All these muscles are used for pulling movements like rowing, pull-ups, chin-ups, etc. So whenever you do any pulling movements, you are engaging the muscles of your back.
On the other hand, the shoulder has three heads- front, lateral and rear delts. Out of these heads, front and lateral heads are responsible for pushing movements like overhead press, arnold press, push press, etc. however, rear delt is responsible for pulling exercises like upright rows and bent over flys. So when you do back exercises, your rear delts are also engaged.
So overall, we can say that both shoulders and back muscles are almost antagonists. So why to train these different muscles together? Let’s find the answer!
Why Should You Train Back and Shoulder Together?
Since both have different functions and are opposite muscles, it is still a good idea to train both of them together and the main reason behind this is-
If you train opposite muscles at the same time, you are allowing enough time for the muscles to recover after each exercise. For example, if you do an overhead press of 3 sets and then do a lat pulldown, then during the back exercise, you are giving rest to the shoulder so that it can recover from the heavy overhead presses you did before lat pulldowns.
So when you are finished with the lat pulldowns, your shoulder is again ready for another exercise because you allowed your chest muscles to recover. Both these muscles will get enough rest to recover from the intense workout.
Many people follow the same workout program for several months, and after some time, their body does not show results. This happens because you are training the same way for months. To avoid this plateau, you should change your workout program every 8-12 weeks, depending on your experience.
One common workout split is chest- triceps, back-biceps, and shoulder-legs. Apart from that, you also have an upper-lower body split which works great for beginners. But there is another great workout split that you can try, and that is the chest-arms, legs, and shoulder-back workout split.
So if you are following this workout routine and changing your old previous split routine, then it will be a new stimulus for your muscles that will force the body to produce results.
Helps To Increase Strength And Size
The chances of lifting heavy weights are higher when training back and shoulders together. Most of the major lifts like bent-over rows, military presses, and one-arm rows are all heavy compound movements that help to stimulate growth. So training both chest and back will make you stronger and gain a lot of size with proper nutrition and rest.
Both Are Major Upper Body Muscle Groups
If you are a beginner or at an intermediate level, then training your shoulder and back together is a very good option. Beginners can perform shoulder and back together with some chest exercises which cover the major muscle groups of the upper body. Next day, they can do lower body exercise, which makes it a very effective upper-lower body workout split for beginners.
If you are working your back and shoulder together, your biceps and triceps will also assist during the exercise. Therefore, you don’t have to train it separately if you are a beginner. But people who have already been working out for a while and are at an intermediate stage can train their arms separately.
Types of Back and Shoulder Training Split
There are two main ways to train your chest and back on the same day-
Training one body part first and then the other one
Here, you will train either the shoulder or back completely at first and then train the other body part. You can train in this way if you have enough time for the workout because it will take some time to complete the whole workout.
For example, let’s say you are training your back at the beginning, then you will do 4-5 back exercises first, finish the back workout and then jump over to the shoulder exercise. This way, you have first completed your back workout and then the shoulder workout in a day.
Training both Shoulder and Back Alternatively
This is another great way to design your workout program. Here, you will complete one exercise of the shoulder and then the back and vice versa. This way you are giving enough recovery time to each muscle.
For example, doing 1 set of lat pulldowns and then super setting with an incline bench press is a good example of this kind of workout. Supersets are good for creating a metabolic demand which is good for muscle building.
You can also complete the whole three sets of lat pulldown first and then the military press. This is good for those who lift heavy weights and need some rest in between each set to recover.
Mixing both these types
This is another good option! You can start with some heavy compound movements like deadlifts (back) or military press at the beginning. Train both muscles individually for building more strength and then end with some supersets like seated cable rows and lateral raises. This will allow you to focus on both strength and muscle hypertrophy. This is another great strategy people use to build muscle and streghth.
Key Things to Consider
Design Your Program Wisely
When you design your workout program, make sure that you are not training your arms the next day after your shoulder and back workout. This is because your arms will already be working during the shoulder and back workout, so there should be a rest day in between. A gap of 48 hours between these two workouts should be there.
For example, let’s say if you train your shoulder and back on Monday, then on the next day, you should train your legs. On Wednesday, you can train your biceps, triceps, and chest together. This way, you are giving enough time to your muscles to get recovered.
Many people try to do more and eventually overtrain their bodies to a level where they start feeling fatigued and weak. This usually happens when the intensity, volume, and frequency are high. When you train your shoulder and back together, then there is a great chance of overtraining because both are big muscles and take time to recover.
Also, most of the back and shoulder exercises are compound movements like deadlifts, bent-over rows, military presses, and one-arm rows. Because of this, you should reduce either the load or the volume. Taking a rest day is also a good option if you lift heavy every time. Also, 6-8 exercises are enough if you are at an intermediate level. Mostly, training for 4-5 days a week is recommended. So knowing your current fitness level is essential before making a workout program.
So training both back and shoulders together or on the same day is not a bad option. You can train them together if you know how to design a workout program. Always make sure that you don’t overtrain. Overtraining is one of the major reasons why people don’t get results and get demotivated. It can also lead to injury and makes you fatigued throughout the day.
If you found this blog helpful, then please do share it with your friends who can also learn from this information. Also, share your views in the comment section below about whether you should train your back and shoulder together or not.
Roshan Pillai is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with more than 6 years of experience in lifting weights and guiding people to get fit. He has worked as a personal trainer in gyms and is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com. He is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.