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

If your goal is to lift heavy during chest workouts, doing shoulders the day before might inhibit that.

Chest and shoulder muscles are used in many of the same compound movements, such as the bench press or military press. But if your training split tends to be divided by body part, you might be wondering if it's safe to train either the chest or shoulders on one day, and the other muscle group the next.


"Although it's safe for most people to train chest and shoulders on consecutive days, it's not ideal," Caroline Juster, CPT, tells You'll likely run into higher fatigue and decreased performance due to insufficient recovery, she says.

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And over the long run, training hard without adequate recovery can potentially increase your risk of injury.

Bottom Line

"It’s totally safe to put shoulders and chest back to back, as long as you’re moderating load and repetition," Matthew Meyer, CPT, says. "But delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is likely to restrict your performance on the second day."

If your goal is to lift heavy during chest workouts, doing shoulders the day before might inhibit that.

Training Shoulders First

Training your shoulders to fatigue may result in a decrease in strength and intensity of your chest workout the next day. Although you are not directly training your chest on shoulder day, your shoulders will come into play during compound exercises.

"Most chest exercises also target your shoulders," Juster says. "For example, bench press variations and push-ups both heavily recruit your shoulders. So if you hit heavy bench press one day and heavy overhead press the next day, you're essentially training your shoulders hard two days in a row."


The muscle soreness following weight training known as delayed onset muscle soreness can also affect your performance. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, DOMS typically develops 12 to 24 hours after a workout and can last up to five days.

If you have a sore chest post-shoulder workout, your bench press or chest workout may suffer. And if your goals are to focus on building your chest, you're selling yourself short.


"Are you trying to put up a big bench press day? Try not to fatigue yourself by burning out your shoulders on a high-volume overhead press the day before," Meyer says. "Or, give yourself an extra day to recover between workouts."

And if you have any chest muscle pain after a shoulder workout, definitely wait until you're better recovered to focus on chest movements.


"If you're feeling a little sore, dynamic and static stretches for your upper body can help. Also try going for a walk to get your blood flowing to recovering tissues," Juster says. "Some people respond well to self-myofascial release using a lacrosse ball, foam roller or massage gun, but it's important to be gentle and not overdo it."


A Better Way to Train

"If you want to have a heavy chest day ‌and‌ a heavy shoulder day, it's best to have at least one day of rest in between," Juster says.


You could also move away from a body part split and use upper-body workouts where you hit all your upper body muscles (with less volume) twice per week. According to Juster, many beginner and intermediate lifters respond better to training their upper body muscles more frequently.

Both Juster and Meyer recommend combining your chest and shoulder workouts into one upper body push workout. Because the shoulders aid the chest in movements such as the bench press or dips, it may be beneficial to train them on the same day.


It takes a muscle about seven days to fully recover from a workout, notes Karen Sessions, NSCA-CPT. Combining the two muscle groups together in the same workout will maximize training for both the shoulders and the chest, so neither muscle group suffers. Moreover, both muscle groups will be able to have a full week of recovery before retraining.

Chest and Shoulder Workout

"It's easy to combine chest and shoulders into one upper body push workout," Juster says.


After completing a solid warmup, try this workout from Meyer, which uses a lot of compound movements to ensure quality training.

Superset 1

"I always try to lead with whatever is going to be the most challenging lift that day so I'm good and fresh," Meyer says. "The bench press usually takes a lot out of me, so I'd start with that and superset it with an accessory core stability exercise."

1. Bench Press

Sets 5
Reps 4
Body Part Chest
  1. Lie flat on your back on a weight bench with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders with the barbell on a rack above your shoulders.
  3. Grasp the bar with an overhand grip (your palms facing out).
  4. Lift the barbell off the rack and bend your elbows to lower it down with control until it gently taps your chest.
  5. Root your feet into the floor and press the barbell back up until your arms are extended straight but not locked.
  6. Pause at the top and repeat.

2. Single-Leg RDL With Pass

Sets 5
Reps 6
Body Part Abs, Legs and Butt
  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, a slight bend in both knees. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in your right hand.
  2. Engage your core and simultaneously press your butt back and hinge your hips forward, extending your left leg behind you. Press your right foot into the ground while doing so, and keep your right leg slightly bent.
  3. Hinge forward and continue lowering until your torso is parallel to the ground or you feel a pull in your glutes and hamstrings (whichever comes first). Keep your shoulders rolled down and back (so they are in line with the hips). Let your arms hang down.
  4. Pass the weight from your right hand to your left, focusing on using your core to stay stable. Pass it back to your right hand.
  5. Press into your right foot, squeeze your glutes and reverse the movement to return back to the standing start position.

Superset 2

"In the same workout, I'd move onto shoulders with something that would be much lighter that I can keep form while being fatigued," Meyer says. "I'd also work some hip mobility in there for the superset."

1. Chest-Supported Y Raise

Sets 3
Reps 10
Body Part Shoulders
  1. Lie on a bench on your stomach, facing the floor, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in.
  2. Fully extend your arms out in front of you in the shape of a Y, maintaining straight elbows.
  3. Brace your core and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lift your arms as high as you can over your head.
  4. Pause for 2 to 3 seconds at the top.
  5. Slowly lower back down to the starting position.
  6. Repeat.

2. Cossack Squat

Sets 3
Reps 12
Region Lower Body
  1. Unrack a barbell in the back rack position (bar behind your neck and along the tops of your shoulders).
  2. Position your feet so that they're somewhere between hip-width and shoulder-width. Angle your toes to a 45-degree angle outward.
  3. Brace your core. Then, keeping a tall chest, sit your hips back into a squat on one side. As you squat down, lift the toes on the other side a few inches while keeping your heel on ground.
  4. Continue lowering, allowing your knee to track over your toes as you do, as low as you can while maintaining a neutral spine and tall chest.
  5. Press into the ground with your flat foot to return to standing, squeezing your glutes at the top.
  6. Repeat on the other side.

Spend some time getting comfortable doing the body-weight version of this movement before adding the barbell — especially if you wouldn’t describe yourself as a mobility expert.