Can You Work Out Your Shoulders One Day & Your Chest the Next?

The bench press primarily develops the chest but also recruits the shoulders.
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Allowing your muscles adequate rest in between weight-training sessions is essential for producing strength and tone benefits. Strength training with a focus on your shoulders one day and your chest the next can adversely affect your muscular development. Although there are exercises that primarily target one muscle group or the other, many of the chest dominant exercises also recruit the shoulders and many of the shoulder exercises require recruitment of the chest.

Importance of Rest

Resting in between weight-training sessions is essential because it’s the period when your muscles heal and adapt. It’s also when they increase in strength and size. The American Council on Exercise recommends to rest at least 48 hours in between lifting, which would mean working your muscles out every other day. You can get around this training schedule by splitting your muscle groups into separate workouts. For example, you could target your chest, shoulders and triceps on Mondays and Thursdays, and hit your legs, back and biceps on Tuesdays and Fridays. Using this strategy by splitting the chest and shoulders into separate workouts, however, is difficult.

Chest and Shoulder Exercises

Most of the exercises that primarily target the chest muscle also require assistance from the shoulders. The shoulders are involved in each of the chest exercises listed on, including the bench press, dumbbell chest press, chest flyes, pushups, chest dips and pullovers. In addition, many of the shoulder-dominate exercises require recruitment of the chest. This includes the shoulder press, front raise and dips, all of which simultaneously develop the chest.

Shoulder Only Exercises

According to, there are two shoulder exercises that do not involve the chest. These are the upright row and lateral raise. The upright row is performed with a barbell that is grasped with both hands positioned shoulder-width apart. Allow the bar to hang down in front of you with palms facing your thighs. Pull the bar up toward your chin by bending your elbows and allowing them to flare out to the side. Once the bar reaches clavicle level, extend the elbows and return it back to starting position. the lateral raise is completed with dumbbells. Stand and hold a dumbbell in each hand, allowing your arms to hang down to your sides and palms facing your thighs. Keeping your elbows straight, raise the dumbbells up and out. Continue until your arms become parallel with the floor and then lower them back to starting position.

Scheduling Back to Back

If your schedule requires that you target your shoulders and chest on back-to-back days, the only way that you can do this and still provide your muscles with the appropriate amount of rest time is to perform a shoulder workout that consists of only upright rows and lateral raises on the first day and then chest exercises on the second day. The shoulder workout must be scheduled first and consist of only those two exercises.

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