When you’re looking to increase your upper body strength and muscle mass, it can be hard to schedule enough time to work out each muscle group individually. Oftentimes, doing exercises that work for multiple muscle groups at the same time can save you time and make for a quicker recovery.
Keep reading to learn five of the best chest and shoulder workouts for increased strength, mobility, and overall mass.
Why Chest and Shoulder Strength is Important for Your Health
Working your arms and shoulders is good for more than just your physique. There are tons of health benefits you can reap by having strong arms and chest muscles. For instance, exercising your shoulders can lead to an increased range of motion and support your neck.
Strengthening your chest along with your core can hold your chest up and give your lungs room to expand. If you allow your upper body muscles to weaken, your shoulders can slope forward and press in against your lungs, inhibiting their movement.
How to Build Chest and Shoulder Muscles Quickly
There is no quick fix for weak muscles, and the best workout is a consistent one. The best way to grow your chest and shoulders quickly is to exercise both areas on the same day. They are part of the same larger muscle group, so combining isolation exercises with compound exercises will target both the larger and smaller connective muscles.
It’s great if you have access to cables and a squat rack, but for now, we’re going to present a chest and shoulder workout with dumbbells.
Top 5 Chest and Shoulder Exercises
To build your upper body, you can either choose exercises that combine chest and shoulders or simply do isolation exercises for chest and shoulders during the same workout. Here are some of the top five exercises to help you reach your goals.
Planks are well-known as a great exercise for your core. However, it’s also a phenomenal exercise for your arms and shoulders because of the position you have to hold yourself in.
While this exercise doesn’t have weights or reps that you can increase, its purpose is to increase muscle endurance. You might be able to increase your weights by 5 to 10 lbs. over time, but if you can’t hold your muscles in their activated position for more than half a second, it won’t do you any good in your day-to-day activities.
The great thing about planks is that you won’t need any equipment whatsoever to get started. However, if you do want to increase the difficulty, you can always have a friend place weights on your back during this exercise.
To start, you’ll lay on the ground with your elbows planted on the ground and your hands clenched into fists. Your legs should be fully extended with your toes planted as if you’re doing a push-up. From your resting position, lift your hips up into the air to create a perfectly straight line. Hold this for 30 seconds and then relax.
If your form is correct, you should feel a burning in your arms and chest as well as your core.
The chest press has the same basic movement as the shoulder press, only you are using your chest muscles to mush the barbell away from you rather than using your shoulders to press the bar above your head.
To begin, lie on your back on a workout bench. Hold the barbell or dumbbell level with your chest. Breathe out as you press the weights straight up into the air and go as high as you can without locking your elbows. Hold it for one second and slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position.
This compound exercise is perfect for working your :
- and arms at the same time.
The shoulder press is one of the most popular exercises for your shoulders, and for good reason. Whether you’re a beginner using 5 lbs. or a gym rat using 35 lb. dumbbells, the benefits are undeniable. You can combine this movement with other compound exercises, such as squat to press, to save time and add more exercises.
This exercise involves using either a barbell or dumbbell and lifting them over your head to work your deltoid muscles. You can perform this while sitting, lying on an inclined bench, or standing.
You’ll begin by either sitting or standing with a straight back. Hold the weights at shoulder height and push them up above your head. The goal is to push them as high above your head as you can without locking your elbows. Once you’ve reached the top of the movement, hold for one second and then slowly lower the weights back down to shoulder level.
If you are using a barbell, always remember to slide your chin back every time you raise and lower the bar. If you forget, you could easily hit your nose or even hit yourself in the head.
The push-up is another great workout for beginners, as it doesn’t require any equipment. However, as with the plank, you can increase the difficulty by placing weights on your back before beginning.
Using the proper form for this is key to activating the proper muscles and preventing injuries. Your arms shouldn’t be planted away from your body at 90-degree angles. Rather, your hands should be planted on either side of your chest to keep your shoulder joints from overextending as your push up.
You begin lying flat on the floor with your hands and feet shoulder-width apart. From there, you will push into the floor until your hips and torso have raised into a plank position. Once your arms are extended, bend your arms and lower your body back down toward the floor. Stop an inch or so before your body touches the floor and push it back up into the plank position.
To maximize your strength and form, always inhale as you’re lowing yourself to the ground, and exhale as you’re pushing back up.
Lateral and Front Raises
This exercise mainly targets your muscles, but it’s also great for your arms, chest, and core. It can be done with dumbbell weights, cables, or even any heavy object you have around your house. In fact, the more you do these particular exercises, the easier you’ll be able to pick up everyday items around your house.
This exercise can be performed sitting if you need assistance, but it’s best if you’re standing. Take a weight in one hand and slowly raise it up until it’s level with your shoulder. Keep your elbow straight so the weight arches up and your arm is outstretched.
Pause for a second in this position and then slowly lower the weight back down to the resting position.