Technically speaking, Shoulder Day can easily be lumped into Arm Day (Biceps/Triceps) workouts or in tandem with Chest Day. I tend to give Shoulder Day its own routine due to past injuries – I subluxed both of my shoulders playing sports. IT SUCKS!
The Push-Press is a great exercise. It not only target your shoulders, but also work your bi’s, tri’s, lats, and traps – yes, go ahead and call me a meathead! Also, it works your legs and hips.
Variations include the seated/standing military presses using dumbbells, Olympic bars and weighted plates, or the Smith machine. If you’re new to doing these kind of presses, I suggest using a Smith machine to get used to the motion while seated.
For this particular workout, we’ll focus on the Push-Press as the heavy lift. It’s important that you warm-up thoroughly. Normally, there’d be an exercise or two before doing the heavy lift. However, I like to go straight into it! This workout is flexible enough that you can do the push-press later in the routine.
The following link has a great step-by-step diagram + video of how to properly execute a push-press.
Here’s a bit of a summary. You’ll need a squat rack with the Olympic bar adjusted to shoulder height. Approach the bar so that it touches your upper chest. Cradle the bar in a way that your triceps are parallel to the ground, the bar lays across your upper chest, and the bar rests slightly past your biceps.
Keep your back straight, unrack the bar, and then step back a bit. You should have a loose overhand grip of the bar at this point. While keeping your feet shoulder width apart and fixed to the ground (your feet should not move at all), slightly dip your knees to not even a partial squat. As you explode up (i.e. stand up straight and tall), tighten your grip and press the bar overhead. Then lower the bar back down to your upper chest. That’s one rep.
As you perform this exercise, your back should be straight the entire time. Breathing wise, you’ll want to exhale as you press the bar overhead and inhale as you lower it back down to start. Practice the motion a couple of times with just the bar and be careful to not hit your head as you explode up and lower down. This is about technique after all.
So why shoulders (aside from strengthening my personal injuries)? Because with GORUCK events, logs. That’s all you need to know. The above photo makes fun of it, but you will encounter heavy logs from time to time. Whether it’s doing group or individual log PT, there will be plenty of times where you will be doing a version of a push-press. Throw in ruck presses or overhead ruck holds then you’ll see why it’s important to have strong shoulders. Another bonus: you’ll gain some extra padding (from muscle gains) on your shoulders for buddy carries. Your partner will thank you!
Stay strong, keep breathing, and get to work.
What You Will Need:
Rowing Machine or Jump Rope
Various Weighted Plates
10 minutes of foam rolling
3 sets of 500m row (1 minute rest between sets) OR 5 minutes of jump rope
5 exercises, different sets, various reps
Rest for 1:30-2:00 minutes between sets.
Rest for 2:00-3:00 minutes between exercises.
- Record your weight progressions for the following pyramid set
-12 reps ___________
-10 reps ___________
-8 reps ___________
-6 reps ___________
-5 reps ___________
-4 reps ___________
-3 reps ___________
-2 reps ___________
-1 rep ___________
Y-T-M: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- Adjust a cable station so that the handles are both at shoulder height.
- In a controlled motion, pull the cables into the Y position. Return to start.
- Pull the cables into the T position. Return to start.
- Pull the cables into M position. Return to start.
- That’s 1 rep.
Weighted Plate (or dumbbell) Raise into Truck Driver: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Raise weight to shoulder height and then perform a Truck Driver in one direction then reverse the direction.
- Once the Truck Driver is completed, raise the plate overhead.
- Lower the weight down to shoulder height, then perform another Truck Driver in one direction then reverse the direction.
- Lower to start – That’s 1 rep.
- GO SLOW!
Single Arm Elbow-Supported Dumbbell External Rotation: 3 sets of 6 reps
- Perform this with the lightest weight possible first then adjust as needed.
- GO SLOW!
Dumbbell Shoulder Shrugs: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- For this exercise, make sure to apply a decent amount of chalk to your hands and/or put on wrist-straps.
- With the dumbbells on the ground, squat down with your feet shoulder width apart (my preference), grab the dumbbells with a tight neutral-style grip, and while keeping your back straight and tall, stand back up.
- When ready, keep the dumbbells close to your sides and shrug your shoulders.
- Inhale as you shrug. Exhale as you lower the weights back down to your hips.
- Your head should be at a relaxed and tall position, with your eyes looking forward.
- Once reps have been completed, reverse the motion to lower the dumbbells back to the ground.
- Depending on your gym/box, DO NOT DROP THE DUMBBELLS!
For another variation of the push-press, use dumbbells instead of the Olympic bar. The dumbbells will challenge your core more as well as your stabilizing muscles in your shoulders.