Back and Shoulder Workout Routines (with PDF)

Developing your back and shoulder muscles is very important for improving your upper-body strength. These important muscle groups can make you look bigger while also assisting in various everyday activities and motions like twisting, turning, bending, lifting, and so on.

In most cases, chronic back pain arises due to weak spinal muscles [1]. Your shoulder also plays an important accessory role in many movements. Gaining strength in that area, therefore, also reduces the risk of many injuries.

So, it’s pretty clear that your workout routine should focus on working these two important muscle groups. The most efficient way of doing this is to schedule your back and shoulder workout on the same day.

There are many advantages to this training split, all of which we shall discuss in the later sections. But since both of these muscle groups require proper attention and nurturing, you need to have a balanced workout plan.

To help you with that, we have created the perfect back-shoulder workout that you can finish in the same session.

Back and Shoulder Workout Routines

Back and Shoulder Workout for Beginners

Beginners have different strength capabilities compared to experienced gym-goers. As such, their shoulder and back workout plan should not be the same.

Research has shown that gradually increasing the frequency, intensity, and time of your training sessions is the best way to enhance your strength, endurance, and physique [2]. So, it’s best to start with a simple plan and work your way up.

This routine is designed specifically for that. The exercises are fairly straightforward and use only simple movements, thereby reducing the risk of injuries. Some machine-based exercises are also included to help beginners improve their form before they can increase the training intensity or volume.

Exercises like lat pulldowns and rows are used to target the back muscles. They are then followed by shoulder raises and presses for effective muscle-building. The workout is then topped off with some Smith Machine shrugs.

Such a plan is devised to ensure holistic muscle development in your back and shoulders. Moreover, these exercises will also give you the foundational strength required to move on to more complicated compound movements.

Back and Shoulder Workout for Beginners

  • Wide grip lat pulldown: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Cable row: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Chest-supported row machine: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Shoulder press: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Dumbbell lateral raise: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Dumbbell front delt raise or reverse pec deck fly: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Smith machine shrugs: 3 sets of 10-15 reps

Back and Shoulder Workout Routine

If you have been training for a while, the beginner’s shoulder and back workout routine are not for you. You need something more intense and challenging to shock your muscles and promote hypertrophy.

This shoulder-back workout is designed for intermediate and advanced lifters. The exercises included in this routine are primarily aimed at building strength as well as for mass gains.

As per the latest scientific research, the best way to optimize muscle growth and endurance is to perform 12-20 sets of exercises targeting each muscle group per week [3]. That is why this shoulder-back workout plan has increased the training volume comparatively, as it is focused on growth and not just building foundational strength.

More complicated movements are used for targeting similar muscle groups. For example, the introduction of T-Bar Rows will make the workout more intense. Similarly, more emphasis is placed on free weights to optimize the quality of the training session.

The same is the case for shoulder exercises. Alternatives like Arnold Presses are used to make the workout more difficult. Seated lateral raises are also known to be one of the most effective exercises for building outermost deltoids [4].

Back and Shoulder Workout Routine

  • T bar row: 4 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Lat pulldown: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Cable row: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Dumbbell pullover: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Arnold press: 4 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Seated dumbbell lateral raise: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Dumbbell front delt raise: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Dumbbell shrugs: 4 sets of 10-15 reps

Back and Shoulder Superset Workout Routine

Good back and shoulder workouts can be pretty effective for strength and muscle gains. However, including supersets in your routine can optimize the results even further.

According to studies, supersets that involve the same or similar muscle groups can cause excessive muscle damage and compromise the recovery process when it comes to muscle-building [5].

But since back and shoulder muscles are involved in contrasting movements (pulling and pushing), supersets involving them can be pretty effective. Based on that principle, we have devised a superset routine for your back and shoulder day.

Supersets involving opposing muscle groups can make your workouts more time-efficient while also allowing you to achieve more training volume [6].

So, if you have recently hit a training plateau or just want to progress beyond a certain point, this intense workout plan for your shoulder and back muscles can be really effective:

Back and Shoulder Superset Workout Routine

  • Barbell row: 4 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Barbell military press: 4 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Straight arm pulldown supersetted with leaning cable lateral raise: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Dumbbell row supersetted with incline dumbbell front raise: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Standing single arm cable row supersetted with cable rope face pulls: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Front barbell shrugs: 2 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Behind the back barbell shrugs: 2 sets of 10-15 reps

Is It Good to Train Back and Shoulder Together?

Yes, training back and shoulder muscles together can be pretty effective. It is a common antagonist training split that many experienced lifers follow for effective strength and muscle gains.

Because the muscles are antagonistic in nature, it’s important to adjust training volume, frequency, and intensity when working them out together on the same day. That is why a well-rounded routine is important.

You should also plan your training schedule depending on your experience and current fitness level for optimum results. For that reason, we have devised three different workout plans to cater to the needs of different people at the gym.

Why Do People Train Back and Shoulder Together?

People often train back and shoulder muscles together because doing so is very efficient for building strength and muscle mass quickly. Since they are both involved in opposing movements, you can take advantage of adding supersets to your routine.

The antagonistic nature of the muscle implies that when one is stretching, the other one is contracting. There are several advantages to training antagonist muscle groups together.

Apart from a reduction in the exercise time, the muscles will take more time to get fatigued because one muscle will be resting while you work the other muscle.

The muscles in our backs are associated with pulling movements. Shoulder muscles, on the other hand, facilitate pushing motions. So, training them together can lead to optimal strength gains.

For maximum efficiency, professional and advanced lifters need to increase training volume loads. In such a case, training synergistic muscles together will result in increased fatigue and yield counter-productive results. That’s why training antagonistic muscles together is better for hypertrophy.

Because of these benefits, many professional athletes and lifters incorporate back and shoulder splits in their training plans.

Should I Train Back or Shoulders First?

Ideally, you should always train the larger muscle groups first. In this case, the back muscles are larger than the shoulder muscles, so you should be prioritizing them for effective muscle growth.

According to research, starting your workout routine with a focus on the larger muscle group and then moving on to the smaller group is more beneficial for muscular gains and improvements in endurance [7].

Thinking practically, it’s safe to assume that the exercises scheduled toward the end of the workout will be limited due to the cumulative fatigue of the initial exercises. That’s why it’s always better to get done with the more demanding (larger) muscle groups first.

Back and Shoulder Workout PDF

Back and Shoulder Workout

Planning and structuring your workout can lead to more efficient and effective gains. It also ensures that you do not overwork any muscle group, thereby reducing the risk of exercise-induced injuries at the gym.

To follow our comprehensive shoulder and back workout routines, you can download the PDF file from here.

Our workout plan is downloadable and can be printed so that you can keep a physical copy with you while working out.

Don’t miss:

Chest and Back Workout Routine
Chest and Tricep Workout Routine
Chest and Shoulder Workout Routine
Back and Bicep Workout Routine

Final Words

The back and shoulder muscles form a large part of your upper body. Having a comprehensive workout plan for training them together on the same day can help you gain muscles faster and more efficiently.

For that reason, we have created the perfect workout plan to cater to the diverse requirements of different gym-goers.


  1. Kato, S., Murakami, H., Demura, S., Yoshioka, K., Shinmura, K., Yokogawa, N., Igarashi, T., Yonezawa, N., Shimizu, T., & Tsuchiya, H. (2019). Abdominal trunk muscle weakness and its association with chronic low back pain and risk of falling in older women. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 20(1).
  2. Peterson, M. D., Pistilli, E. E., Haff, G. G., Hoffman, E. P., & Gordon, P. M. (2010). Progression of volume load and muscular adaptation during resistance exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 111(6), 1063–1071.
  3. Baz-Valle, E., Balsalobre-Fernández, C., Alix-Fages, C., & Santos-Concejero, J. (2022). A systematic review of the effects of different resistance training volumes on muscle hypertrophy. Journal of Human Kinetics, 81, 199–210.
  4. De Almeida Costa Campos, Y., Vianna, J. M., Guimarães, M. P., De Oliveira, J. L. D., Hernández-Mosqueira, C., Da Silva, S. F., & Marchetti, P. H. (2020). Different shoulder exercises affect the activation of deltoid portions in Resistance-Trained individuals. Journal of Human Kinetics, 75(1), 5–14.
  5. Brentano, M. A., Umpierre, D., Santos, L. P., Lopes, A. L., Radaelli, R., Pinto, R. S., & Kruel, L. F. M. (2017). Muscle damage and muscle activity induced by strength training Super-Sets in physically active men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31(7), 1847–1858.
  6. Paz, G. A., Robbins, D. W., De Oliveira, C. G., Bottaro, M., & Miranda, H. (2017). Volume Load and Neuromuscular Fatigue During an Acute Bout of Agonist-Antagonist Paired-Set vs. Traditional-Set Training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31(10), 2777–2784.
  7. Sheikholeslami-Vatani, D., Ahmadi, S., & Salavati, R. (2016). Comparison of the effects of resistance exercise orders on number of repetitions, serum IGF-1, testosterone and cortisol levels in Normal-Weight and obese men. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, 7(1).