Is it OK to Do Shoulders the Day After Back? (4 Factors to Consider)

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I’m sure I’m not alone in questioning, “Is it fine to work on shoulders the day following a back workout?”

If you’re using a typical “bro-split”, it can often be difficult to decide what order to train the muscle groups.

I mean, it seems that certain muscle groups impact others.

So, when you initially look at training shoulders the day after back it seems to make sense.

Pull one day, push the next.

But, is this really the ideal way to train?

Allow me to reveal all.

Is it OK to Do Shoulders the Day After Back?

You can do shoulders the day after back, although it isn’t ideal. Most rowing movements will involve the rear delts and traps to an extent. Plus, your lats and erector spinae are stabilizing muscles during overhead pressing movements. So, there will always be some overlap when training the two muscle groups. With that being said, most workouts will involve the use of secondary muscle groups, so it’s best to find a training split most suited to you, in the time you have available, and accounting for your powers of recovery.

1. Shoulders & Back Will Always Overlap

A Female Bodybuilder Flexing Her Shoulders and Upper Back Muscles

As I’ve mentioned, you’d think training shoulders the day after back is a great idea.

I mean, you’re doing a pull-based workout one day, and then you follow this up with a push-based workout.

But, if only it were that simple.

I guess it does depend on the types of exercises you perform, but there will always be some overlap between shoulders and back.

In the main, performing back exercises with a vertical upper body will work on width, whereas a horizontal (or as near as) upper body will hit thickness.

So, if you’re specifically looking for thickness in your back then you’ll want to perform rowing exercises.

The problem with rows is that they’ll always hit your middle to lower traps to some extent.

It’s also likely that you may feel a rowing movement in your rear delts as well.

It will largely depend on how heavy you’re going, the intensity of your rows, and the volume, as to how much you’ll feel this.

However, if you’re looking to train shoulders the following day then this could be impacted in some way by the trap and rear delt work you’ve done the previous day.

Unfortunately, you could say the same for the other way around.

This is especially true when it comes to overhead pressing movements, e.g. military press, shoulder press, seated dumbbell shoulder press, etc.

When it comes to performing an overhead press you may also feel this in your lats and erector spinae muscles.

These are both stabilizing muscles for any overhead pressing movement, although you’re unlikely to feel this as much as your traps and rear delts when training back.

With that being said, I would always lean towards training back the day before shoulders and not the other way around.

The upper back is the larger muscle group and will therefore require more energy to train.

2. Is This the Ideal Bro-Split?

If you are training a typical “bro-split”, i.e. one muscle group a day, then there is what I would consider an ideal way to do this.

For me, a 7-day week (with 5 training days) would look as follows:

  • Monday – Chest
  • Tuesday – Back
  • Wednesday – REST
  • Thursday – Shoulders
  • Friday – Legs
  • Saturday – Arms
  • Sunday – REST

By training the muscle groups in this exact order you’ll have less overlap overall.

So, at the beginning of the week you’re training antagonistic muscle groups.

Therefore, they shouldn’t really interfere with each other (more on this in a moment).

You then have a complete day’s rest, but then follow this up with a shoulder workout.

The aim here is to ensure that your traps and rear delts have had ample rest, which allows you to train shoulders with full intensity.

You then get to hit your lower body the following day without the worry of having hit one of the other “big” muscle groups (chest or back) the day before.

Finally, you finish off the week with some biceps and triceps.

This works out quite well in terms of your arm training.

You’ll be training for a third day in a row, and you’ve hit the largest muscle group the day before.

So, your energy levels are likely to be depleted when compared with earlier in the week.

Therefore, you’d much rather hit arms as your last workout of the week, as opposed to something more energy-consuming.

3. Can You Train Shoulders & Back Together?

Now, I’m sure there are some of you who have considered, or actually do, train shoulders and back on the same day.

Once again, this probably comes down to the fact that we view them as opposing muscle groups, i.e. push-based and pull-based.

I don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with training shoulders and back together.

This is obviously a far more time-efficient way to train, and this is a consideration for many of us.

Basically, you may only have a set amount of time each day, or only a certain number of days to train each week.

So, being efficient with your training is a must.

Then again, by training shoulders and back together you have the opportunity to hit both muscle groups again during the week.

Perhaps, you go heavy on back and light on shoulders one day, and then light on back and heavy on shoulders for your next training session.

All of this is perfectly feasible, but you obviously have to remember the “overlap” I’ve spoken of previously.

In fact, you’ll need to be wary not to overtrain or even strain the muscles that in effect get hit twice.

This could mean that on one particular workout you perform rows and lateral raise variations.

And then the following workout you concentrate on pull ups and pull downs in conjunction with overhead pressing movements.

So yes, you can definitely train shoulders and back together, but just be wary of the muscles that overlap.

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4. Forever Running into Workout Problems

In truth, you can completely overthink your training and weekly workouts.

If you’re constantly worrying about feeling one muscle group, or hitting a secondary muscle group, then working out will just become one big headache.

Even looking at the “ideal” bro-split I mentioned above you could still run into problems.

It could have an impact if your chest is sore on back day.

Your traps and rear delts may still not be fully recovered after 48 hours when it comes to training your shoulders.

If your leg workout incorporates front squats then your previous back or shoulder workouts could cause an issue.

You may even find that your triceps are sore from shoulder day when it comes to training arms.

In effect, there will always be some overlap from one muscle group to another.

And this is especially true if much of your training is focused around compound exercises.

Basically, if you’re looking for a problem then I can guarantee you’ll find one.

Personally, I would say train a workout split that you find works for you.

We can all follow exactly the same workout program, but we are individually all different to each other.

What works well for one person is terrible for another.

Plus, it’s your body and you understand it better than anyone else.

Even with everything I’ve said here today, you may find that none of this has any bearing on your own training.

So, as I say, find what works for you and stick with it.

Final Thoughts

So, I hope you understand that it is OK to train shoulders the day after back.

However, just be aware that there is some overlap of secondary muscle use.

When performing rows you’re likely to use your traps and rear delts to some extent, so this may impact on your shoulder training the following day.

The same can be said if you choose to train shoulders the day before back.

The lats and erector spinae muscles will act as stabilizing muscles for overhead pressing movements.

With that being said, not everyone is the same, so you have to find what works best for you.

You can separate back and shoulders with a rest day in-between, and you can even train them together on the same day.

It all comes down to how your body reacts to your training schedule.

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