Looking for a Shoulder and Bicep Workout? Try One of These.

shoulder and bicep workout

If you’re looking for workout inspiration, look no further, as we’ve got 3 fantastic shoulder and bicep workouts that are definitely worth trying. Simply increase the weight, reps or sets, to increase difficulty.

Pairing shoulders and biceps together is a great choice for a strength workout and brings with it unique benefits (as we’ll discuss later on in this article).

But how should you pair them for maximum gain? We’ve got you covered… These workouts are designed to give you the biggest bang for your buck and we also outline some tips and tricks for optimizing any type of shoulder and bicep workouts at the end of the article.

The first workout uses dumbbells, the second workout uses a barbell and the final workout just uses your bodyweight… so whatever your preferred equipment, you can get your sweat on. You could also mix and match between equipment to create new workouts based on the exercises listed below.

Shoulder and Bicep Workout with Dumbbells

Dumbbell Overhead Press

Reps: 6-10
Sets: 3
Rest: 1 minute

The dumbbell overhead press involves lifting a dumbbell upright from your shoulder. Keep your back straight, chest up and head facing forward.

Push the dumbbells up with force and return them back down in a controlled movement.

Try and select a weight that allows you to do between 6 and 10 reps per set. This will ensure you are getting the most out of the exercise in terms of developing strength and power.

This is a fantastic functional movement that not only helps improve shoulder strength, but the use of dumbbells also requires you to keep the weights stable… helping to test your balance.

Lateral Raises

Reps: 8-16
Sets: 3
Rest: 1 minute

Lateral raises are a great exercise to add mass, definition and shape to the shoulders. If you want to focus more on definition, opt for more repetitions at a lighter weight.

To do lateral raises, hold a dummbell in each hand by your side. Keep your arms straight as you lift them parallel to the floor.

You’ll notice you need much lighter dumbbells than with the overhead press.

For added difficulty, pause for a moment when you’ve brought your arms parallel to the floor.

Bicep Curls

Reps: 8-12
Sets: 3
Rest: 1 minute

Bicep curls are a staple when it comes to dumbbell bicep exercises. Adding in a rotation of the dumbbell will open up the bicep during the top of the movement, activating both the inner and outer heads of the muscle.

Keep your back straight and chest upright. In a controlled movement, curl the dumbbells up by bending at the elbow.

You can either do alternating arms or do a set on each arm separately… whichever you prefer.

Make sure you avoid any sort of swinging motion or using your momentum to lift the dumbbell. Doing so suggests the weight is too heavy. Any sort of swinging motion not only fails to engage the bicep as much… but it can also lead to injury.

Front Raises

Reps: 8-14
Sets: 3
Rest: 1 minute

Dumbbell front raises are like lateral raises but… you guessed it… in front of your body.

Keep your arms straight as you lift a dumbbell up in front of you. You can add a slight rotation of the dumbbell to further activate the shoulders.

Again, keep your back straight and avoid adopting any sort of momentum to propel the dumbbells up.

Incline Hammer Curls

Reps: 6-10
Sets: 3
Rest: 1 minute

The final exercise of this shoulder and bicep workout is designed to really finish the muscles off. Incline hammer curls will beautifully engage the biceps but also keep the shoulders activated for stability and support.

The incline will also create increased range of motion for the bicep… leading to better engagement.

For incline hammer curls, lift the dumbbell without rotating it and by bending at the elbow. It should be a steady and controlled movement. You’ll notice your forearms are engaged more during the lift than regular bicep curls too.

Shoulder and Bicep Workout with Barbell

Barbell Overhead Press

Reps: 6-10
Sets: 3
Rest: 1 minute

The barbell shoulder press involves lifting a barbell (with added plates to increase the weight) above your head. Keep your back straight and focus on lifting the barbell with power and control.

There are various alternatives to the stand barbell shoulder press, such as lowering the barbell behind your head. Ultimately, it’s up to you want you prefer and what feels most comfortable.

Landmine Press

Reps: 8-10
Sets: 3
Rest: 1 minute

The landmine press is an often ignored exercise but great at challenging the shoulders in a different way. This movement focuses on pushing an angled barbell up and down. This functional movement reflects various everyday activities so is a useful exercise to include in a workout.

As you lower the barbell you can also really squeeze your arms to keep the biceps engaged during the movement too.

Your core and back will also be activated to provide stability and balance during the lift.

Wide Grip Barbell 21’s

Reps: 21
Sets: 2
Rest: 1 minute

Barbell 21’s will really get the blood pumping in your biceps. This exercise is split into 3 sections, all made up of 7 reps, totalling 21 reps.

It starts with a half curl from the bottom position up until your hands are parallel to the floor. This is followed by a half curl from your hands being parllel to the floor up to the final position of a full bicep curl. Finally, you finish it off by completeing full bicep curls.

The high repetition nature of the exercise means you’ll really feel the burn in your biceps. The inclusion of the half reps (both lower and higher), means you target all parts of the bicep during the movement too.

Barbell Drag Curl

Reps: 12
Sets: 3
Rest: 1 minute

The drag curl can be seen as a half bent over row… focusing more specifically on the part of the movement that engages the biceps.

This is another useful strength movement to practice and really helps activate the biceps.

For added difficulty, try and pause at the top of the movement.

This sort of exercise could also naturally be paired with barbell curls for supersets too.

Barbell Shrugs

Reps: 12-16
Sets: 3
Rest: 1 minute

Barbell shrugs are a great way to finish off your bicep and shoulder workout. Really squeeze your shoulders during the movement and keep your arms straight.

You could use both an overhand or underhand grip, depending on your preference (overhand is probably more common, as shown in the video).

Bodyweight Shoulder and Bicep Workout

Pike Push Up

Reps: 8-12
Sets: 5
Rest: 1 minute

The pike push up is a great variation of the traditional push up that puts more emphasis on the shoulders. It’s definitely a progression from push ups too, so expect to do fewer pike push ups than normal ones.

You want to keep your back straight and really open up the hips to allow you to get into position (limited hip mobility could lead to poor technique). Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart and point your elbows out.

Focus on doing slow and controlled movements.

Plank Shoulder Taps

Duration: 1 minute
Sets: 3
Rest: 1 minute

Although plank shoulder taps are predominantly a core exercise activating the abs, they will also require the shoulders to stay engaged to support your body and create stability during the movement.

To do plank shoulder taps, get into the normal plank position. Alternating between hands, tap your opposite shoulder.

T Raise

Reps: 12-16
Sets: 3
Rest: 30 seconds

T raises are a great bodyweight shoulder exercise that anyone can do. They test your shoulder mobility and can be used to help combat bad posture from sitting at a desk all day.

To do T raises, really squeeze your shoulder blades as your lift your hands off the floor. Keep your arms straight and point your thumbs upwards to open up the shoulders more.

You may want to use a Pilates head cushion or yoga mat to rest your head on.

Chin Up

Reps: 6-15
Sets: 5
Rest: 1 minute

Chin ups are a variation of the pull up that put more emphasis on the biceps. The underhand grip opens up the biceps more than the regular pull up grip, and as you’re lowering and raising your body, you’ll notice they are fully activated. A neutral grip will also activate the biceps well.

For added difficulty, try negative or eccentic repetitions that involve much slower lowering phase. As well as being used to progress the movement, this could also be used as a stepping stone to help you practice chin ups by using eccentric movements along with a box or jump to help lift you up. Our guide on negative pull ups provides insights and benefits of this adaptation to the exercise.

Tips for Shoulder and Bicep Workouts

Is it Good to do Biceps and Shoulders on the Same Day?

The shoulders and biceps are both relatively small muscle groups, so working them both on the same day shouldn’t overtire your body and nervous system.

Pairing these muscle groups together can produce an effective workout, and fit into a weekly fitness routine nicely. You’ll want to ensure you are activating the rest of your body in other workouts (i.e. your chest, back, triceps, core and legs).

Training muscle groups together is also more time efficient and can allow you to workout 3 or 4 times a week, as opposed to 6 or 7. This also means you can include rest days and ensure your muscles are getting the recovery they need.

Benefits of Training Biceps and Shoulders Together

The benefit of training biceps and shoulders together is that you are incorporating both pushing and pulling movements into one workout.

Although it’s common to separate workout routines into “push days” and “pull days”, including both pulling and pushing movements in a single workout can engage and activate your muscles more universally during that session.

If you’re short on time, this is a big bonus.

By combing shoulders and biceps into a workout, it also means you could potentially train these muscles twice a week… which is correlated to better hypertrophy (i.e. gaining muscle).

For example, you could do shoulder and biceps on Monday and by Thursday include shoulder exercises into another routine if you wanted to focus on your shoulder strength. This ability to train them twice in a week (whilst giving them the rest and recovery they need, would make a big difference.

Is it Ok to do Bicep and Shoulder Supersets?

Supersets involve doing a set of one exercise immediately after a set of another exercise. This will really tire the muscles and is a great way to finish a workout.

By doing supersets early in your workout, you risk exhausting the muscles so that they can’t lift as much weight.

Nevertheless, it’s perfectly fine to superset bicep and shoulder exercises, and this is common in HIIT style workout routines.

We would tend to leave supersets towards to the end of workout.

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