Performance Shoulders Workout

Whether our injuries are actually located somewhere inside our shoulder or hip girdles, many injuries are caused by a lack of stability and mobility in those two areas. They’re two extremely complex joints that are surrounded by many different muscles, as opposed to our biceps or triceps that are far less challenging to isolate and deal with as a regular person working out at the gym. Fortunately, we don’t have to change anything in terms of “how to train” other than be aware of the various muscles that should be targeted.

This workout combines basic movements that activate all the major muscles in the shoulder girdle and eventually leads up to some lifts that are closer to what you’d see in competition. It’s not necessarily a workout for a beginner and that’s why we aren’t offering full explanations and pictures of the exercises. If you’re unsure what these (basic) exercises and muscles are, you should probably take a step back and start with the machines in the gym, rather than free weights. 


AMT – or any other piece of cardio equipment that engages both the upper and lower body. This isn’t a cardio workout to burn calories, but rather to increase your heart rate, break a sweat, and start moving some blood and oxygen through your body, especially into your upper extremities. 5-8 minutes should be more than enough. 

PVC – or a stretching tube/band for some active stretching and overhead work. We will be posting a video to YouTube demonstrating how useful a PVC pipe can be for range of motion exercises in particular. You don’t need to spend anymore than 2-3 minutes on this.

For all of the following exercises, you’re going to be performing four sets. The first set will be more of a warm-up set to find the right weight for your rep range (of 10 reps) and make sure your form is clean so that you’ll be targeting the right muscles. The last three working sets of 10 reps should use a heavier weight where you can only complete 10 reps with proper form. Take somewhere around 45-60 seconds of rest after each set.

Lateral raise – Target the lateral deltoid head while standing, using dumbbells, and controlling the eccentric (lowering) phase of the rep.


Dumbbell shoulder press – Ideally on a seated bench to prevent leg drive and protect your back. Control the range of motion so that tension is always on the deltoid.

Anterior raise – Using dumbbells yet again, keeping your wrists and elbows aligned with your shoulders. Pause when your arms create a 90 degree angle with your torso for two or three seconds to squeeze those anterior deltoids.

Barbell shoulder press – Or military press, or strict press. Preferably standing while being mindful about using your legs and protecting your back, but can be performed seated if necessary. Avoid thrusting the weight up and locking out your elbow joints, control the weight all the way up and down to engage all the stabilizing muscles in the shoulder joint.

Barbell shrugs – Time to give your traps some attention. Avoid mixing your grip and try to bring your shoulders to your ears. You can go heavier on this exercise but be mindful about using your legs too much and turning it into a full-body exercise. Try to maintain a neutral position with your head and neck by picking something to look at and keeping your eyes lock on that object.


Olympic wrist – Another exercise with a Youtube video that will demonstrate it. Grab an Olympic bar and go into a deep squat position, resting your forearms on your lower/inner quad. Perform wrist curls and reverse wrist curls.

Olympic 5/5 complex – Now we get to the first key exercise and moment of this training session. You’re more than warmed up at this point and should be experiencing a significant amount of fatigue since we isolated so many muscles in the shoulder. Perform 5 cleans and 5 snatches with an Olympic barbell and plates. You know what weight to use. Perform two working sets.

Face pulls – Using a horse-rope extension on a high cable, focus on bringing your elbows as far back as possible to engage the posterior deltoids. Try to explosively bring the rope towards your face and slowly lower it. This is a useful accessory exercise for your Olympic lifts.

Circus press – I only put cleans in the complex for a reason. Even if you don’t have a circus dumbbell, I’m calling this a circus press because I’m highlighting my desire for you to use a heavy weight. This is essentially a dumbbell clean and press and you’ll only be performing two sets because you should be exhausted by this point.


The last time I performed this workout, it took me exactly an hour. Keep the intensity level high and don’t get distracted in order to monitor those relatively short rest periods. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below or if you want to run through this workout with us in-person! Stay hungry and fit!

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