Back and Shoulder Workout | 12 Shoulder Workouts

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Back and shoulder workouts help strengthen your upper body and maintain your flexibility. These exercises also help your muscles function at an optimal level.

Here are 12 workouts that can beef up your back and shoulders.

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12 Back and Shoulder Workouts for a Bigger and Stronger Upper Body

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1. Bent-over Rows

Barbell Bent-over Row Exercise | Back and Shoulder Workout

This back and shoulder workout is also called “barbell-high row.”

In this exercise, you train your back and shoulder muscles in tandem. The underhand grip targets your trapezius and biceps. Meanwhile, the overhand grip focuses on your back.

Remember to arch your back naturally or keep a neutral spine as you perform this exercise.

  • Stand and position your feet hip-width apart.
  • Grab a barbell using a double overhand grip. Your hands must be a bit wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Engage your core, then hinge forward at the hips.
  • Slightly bend your knees and relax your neck.
  • Pull the weights up. Bring them toward your waist while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Then, lower your weight slowly.
  • Afterward, you may do the same routine using an underhand grip.

2. Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows

Muscular Man Workout in Gym Doing Exercises for Back | Back and Shoulder Workout

With this dumbbell exercise, your back gets a solid workout. Your arms and rear shoulder muscle are also involved.

  • Hold a dumbbell in your right hand.
  • Put your left knee and left hand on a bench.
  • Brace your core and stabilize your spine.
  • Pull the dumbbell upwards, keeping your right arm close to your side.
  • Gently put down the dumbbell. Do not change the position of your trunk and spine as you lift and lower the dumbbell.

3. Bent-over Dumbbell Lateral Raises

Imagine a bird as it opens its wings. That is how you perform this back and shoulder workout. It targets your back and deltoid muscles.


But keep in mind not to overdo this exercise to prevent straining your shoulders.

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells. Your palms must face each other.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and maintain a neutral spine.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Hinge your hips back until you form a 45-degree angle.
  • Raise your arms until they are parallel to the ground, but keep your hands lower than your upper arms.
  • Then, slowly lower your arms back to the starting position.

4. Seated Arnold Press

The Arnold press is an upper-body move that builds your shoulder muscles. In addition, it stimulates your deltoids, which are the main muscles of your shoulder.

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip, then place your arms at your side.
  • Sit on a flat bench. Engage your core and straighten your back.
  • Lift the dumbbells to shoulder height. Your palms must be facing you.
  • Raise the dumbbells above your head. Rotate them as you press them overhead. Your palms must end up facing away from you.
  • Pause at the top, then slowly bring the dumbbells downward through the same rotation.

5. T-Bar Rows

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If you work out in a gym and notice a T-bar machine, take advantage of it! This exercise activates your arms, shoulders, and back like the bent-over rows.

But if your gym does not have this equipment, do not worry! You may follow the instructions below as an alternative.

  • Find an empty barbell, and place one of its ends into a corner. To keep it down, you may rest it on a weight plate or a heavy dumbbell.
  • Put some plates on the other end of the bar, then straddle it. Hold the bar with both hands.
  • Bend your hips forward until you reach a 45-degree angle.
  • Extend your arms until you form a v-shape.
  • Pull the bar toward you until the plates reach your chest.

6. Back Extensions

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The back extension machine is another piece of equipment for your back and shoulders. This tool also targets your hamstrings and glutes.

  • Secure your feet on the platform, then put your thighs on the pad of the back extension machine.
  • You may place your hands either on your head or across your chest.
  • Bend your hips forward.
  • As you pull yourself up, squeeze your glutes. Use them together with your hamstrings to lift your upper body.

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7. Dumbbell Front Raises

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This back and shoulder workout is an isolation exercise that stabilizes your shoulders. It also works out your chest muscles.

You may want to use lighter dumbbells for this exercise to avoid back and shoulder pain.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Grab a pair of dumbbells. Your palms must be facing your thighs.
  • Keep your back straight and your core engaged.
  • Lift the dumbbells until your arms are parallel to the floor. Make sure to extend your arms, and your palms face the ground.
  • Bring your arms down in a controlled motion.

8. Chin-ups and Pull-ups

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These two back and shoulder workouts are similar in execution, except for the grip.

Chin-ups use an underhand grip, while pull-ups use an overhand grip. Chin-ups focus on your biceps, while pull-ups target your arms, shoulders, chest, and core.

  • Grab the handle with your hands. If you want to do a chin-up, your palms must be facing you. But if you are doing a pull-up, your palms should face away from you.
  • Lift yourself until your chin reaches above the bar.
  • Pause at the top before bringing yourself down. Then, lower yourself slowly until you go back to the hanging position.

9. Seated Cable Rows

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In this back and shoulder workout, you use a rowing machine. You may adjust the weight on this equipment to execute the seated cable rows effectively.

You may also try different grip widths to work out the different muscle groups in your body.

  • Sit on the bench, place your feet on the pads, then bend your knees.
  • Grab the handle, and make sure to extend your arms.
  • Pull the handle toward you until your hands reach the top of your thighs. Tuck your elbows in, then pause for a few seconds.
  • Then, extend your arms again slowly.

10. Barbell and Dumbbell Shrugs

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This back and shoulder workout focuses on your trapezius.

The trapezius is the muscle in charge of your movement and posture. It allows you to move your head, shrug your shoulders, twist your torso, and stand up straight.

You may do this exercise with either a barbell or dumbbells.

  • If you are using a barbell, lower it to your thigh level. But if you are using dumbbells, hang them at your sides.
  • Keep your arms straight. Then, lift the barbell or dumbbells until your shoulders reach below your ears.
  • Hold this position for a couple of seconds before lowering your shoulders.

11. Deadlifts

Woman Performs Deadlift with Weight in the Gym | Back and Shoulder Workout

The deadlift is a back and shoulder workout that targets several large muscle groups. It hits your back, hamstrings, glutes, and core. It is a weightlifting movement that can make you stronger and fitter.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. The barbell should be on the floor in front of you.
  • Bend your hips forward, then grab the barbell with both hands using an overhand grip. As you bend over, bend your knees until your shins almost touch the barbell.
  • Keep your spine neutral and your core engaged.
  • Lift the barbell off the floor, pressing your feet onto the ground. The barbell must reach above your knees.

12. Lat Pulldowns

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The lat pulldown is a strength training exercise that copies the movement of a pull-up.

  • Sit on the bench, then grab the bar with an overhand grip. Your hands must be a bit wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull the bar to your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Return slowly to your starting position, extending your arms in a controlled motion.

Check out this video by Tone and Tighten to learn about exercises for shoulder pain:


We all perform daily tasks that use our back and shoulder muscles – this is why it is crucial to perform back and shoulder workouts. These exercises help increase your range of motion and improve your mobility. As a result, you can perform your daily activities with ease while preventing injuries.

Which of these back and shoulder workouts is your favorite?

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Do you enjoy doing back and shoulder workouts? What other muscle groups do you add to your routine? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!


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