A Shoulder-and-Back Strength Routine to Smoke Your Upper Body


With the two supersets in this strength routine, we’re focusing on your back, which includes some of the largest muscle groups in the body, and your shoulders, which are a small but mighty group of muscles. It’s a back and shoulder routine you’ll want to keep coming back to!

A good back and shoulder session should target all the muscles in your back (think lats, rhomboids, and traps) as well your entire shoulder, which has three parts: anterior (front), lateral (side), and posterior (rear) deltoids. Between the four exercises in these two supersets, you’ll be hitting all these areas.

In the first superset, you’ll start by working your shoulders with an advanced pressing variation. Remember way back in week 1 of the New Year’s Challenge when we started with the overhead press, and then progressed to the Arnold press in week 3? Now, we’re introducing the Z press, which is a move that’s really going to challenge your shoulders, as well as the stabilizing muscles in your core. One of the dumbbell exercises for upper body that’s often overlooked, this move is a supereffective upper-body strengthener. Because you’re sitting during this exercise, you won’t be able to call upon your legs for a little extra oomph in pushing the weight up. That means the exercise is truly all about your shoulders, chest, upper back, and core. Then you’ll round out your first superset in this upper-body strength workout with the single-arm row, a unilateral move that targets your lats, rhomboids, and biceps, as well as your core. 

Your second superset includes another pulling variation with the dumbbell pullover, which works your lats, pecs, triceps, and abs, followed by the quadruped single-arm rear-delt raise. This really hits your rear delts in the back of your shoulder while also challenging your core as it fires to stay stable. You’ll close out your routine with an arms EMOM finisher to give your biceps and triceps some extra love, too.

Now, let’s go pick things up and put them down. If you’re looking for more after this routine, these shoulder stretches are a great way to cool down!

The workout below is for day 22 of the SELF New Year’s Challenge. Check out the full four-week workout program right here. Or go to the workout calendar here. If you’d like to sign up to receive daily emails for this challenge, you can do that here. 


Aim for 8–12 reps per exercise. Rest up to 30 seconds between exercises. At the end of the round, rest 60–90 seconds. Complete 2–4 rounds total. Repeat for Superset 2.


Superset 1

  • Z Press
  • Single-Arm Bent-Over Row (right side)
  • Single-Arm Bent-Over Row (left side)

Superset 2

  • Pullover
  • Quadruped Single-Arm Rear-Delt Raise (right side)
  • Quadruped Single-Arm Rear-Delt Raise (left side)


Do both moves for the recommended number of reps. Rest the remainder of the minute; repeat 4 times total.

  • Triceps Overhead Extension (8–12 reps)
  • Wide-Grip Biceps Curl (8–12 reps)

Read More

You might also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More