Can You Train Legs and Shoulders on the Same Day?

You can train legs and shoulders together especially if you’re following a full-body training split

While many popular training splits will have you training legs and shoulders on different days, we wanted to explore the potential benefits of training legs and shoulders in the same workout.  

So, can you train legs and shoulders on the same day?  Yes, you can train legs and shoulders together, especially if you’re following a full-body training split or you have a limited number of days to train throughout the week.  You will still be able to see improvements in both size and strength by training legs and shoulders on the same day vs seperate workouts. 

That being said, there are some guidelines to help you get the most of a shoulders/legs split, which I outline below for you. 

Is Training Shoulders And Legs On The Same Day Safe?

I’ve never seen any research, or had any personal experience that indicates training shoulders and legs together has any inherent risk or danger to it. 

You should consider your personal health and history, as past or current injuries can certainly be aggravated or lead to other injuries. For example, if you have a lower back injury, it may limit some leg exercises, like squats, deadlifts, and leg press.

Outside of that, you should have no hesitation combining shoulder and leg work on the same day. 

Is Training Shoulders And Legs On The Same Day Effective?

Effectiveness of training shoulders and legs on the same day

Combining unrelated muscle groups together is not only effective, it’s also a time-tested, popular way to get more done in a single workout. By doing more in each workout, you have more time to give legs and shoulders a second training session in the same week. 

The ability to train twice a week is crucial for muscle growth, as research has shown superior results in lifters who train their muscle groups twice in a week, compared to those who do the same total volume with single training sessions per muscle group. 

You can structure the workout to be even more efficient when you consider your personal goals. 

To cite additional research, lifters achieve maximal strength gains when performing compound exercises early in the workout when fatigue is low. 

Therefore, if you are a lifter focused on a big squat ordeadlift, you should structure your workout to train these lifts first, while you’re fresh and energized. Once you’ve performed that work, you can move to the shoulders and do those sets and reps afterward. 

If you aren’t too particular about a max squat or deadlift, you can organize the flow of your workout however you like. 

3 Benefits Of Working Out Shoulders And Legs Together

Three major benefits come from training shoulders and legs on the same day:

  • It’s a time saver
  • It allows you to train shoulders and legs more than once
  • It can improve your work capacity

It’s a Time Saver

Saving time comes in two forms this way – by allowing you to get more done in a week, and by allowing you to get through your workouts faster.

When you mix two muscle groups together in a single workout, you get more of your body trained in fewer workouts. Combining legs and shoulders is a perfect way to get that benefit.

The second way to save time is by incorporating supersets, which is when you combine two exercises that train different muscles by alternating sets between each exercise. 

For example, you can superset leg press with dumbbell lateral raises. After performing a set of leg presses, your legs rest and recover while you perform a set of lateral raises, then allow your shoulders to rest while you do another set of leg presses. 

With supersets, you cut out the time needed to sit idly between sets, allowing you to move through your workout more quickly. 

If you’re only training one muscle group in a workout, supersets are nearly impossible to sustain. 

It Allows You To Train Shoulders and Legs More Than Once

The data is clear: training muscles twice per week is a critical component to maximizing muscle growth.  

Merging muscle groups into a single workout trains your full body in fewer workouts throughout the week. With the extra time, you can circle back to these muscle groups a second time in the same week to maximize your gains.  

If you can train your whole body in 2-3 workouts, that leaves 4-5 more days of the week to train those same muscle groups again, so use your time wisely and take advantage of the opportunity that comes from this type of workout split!

This also gives you the opportunity to train the same muscles a little differently each workout. 

For the first shoulders/leg day, you might focus on compound, strength-focused movements like the overhead press and deadlift, while your second workout uses dumbbells and cable machines and supersets to hit isolated muscles.  

It Can Improve Your Work Capacity

Think of work capacity as your ability to sustain multiple sets and reps of an exercise over a period of time. If you have a well-trained work capacity, workouts feel much easier and less impactful than the person who just started training in the gym. 

The way your work capacity improves from a shoulders/legs workout split is by using supersets. By removing the rest time in between sets, alternating between two exercises, you keep moving pretty much the entire workout. 

This specifically trains your body’s endurance and work capacity, so that your body is more adapted to doing constant, intense exercise with little rest time. 

While you can definitely increase work capacity without supersets, it’s much easier to accomplish with them as an option for your workout. 

What Should You Consider When Training Shoulders and Legs Together?

Things to consider when training shoulders and legs together

Consider a few of the following variables when deciding if you want to train shoulders and legs together.

Weaknesses

You might decide to combine legs and shoulders as a result of one of the two being weaker than you like. For example, if you love leg day, and that always gets you excited to go to the gym, but shoulders often get skipped, it might make sense to add your shoulder work to your leg day. 

On the other hand, if you want an extra day to train legs, and your shoulder workout tends to be pretty short and focused, this might be a good opportunity to use the extra time to get that extra leg work in. 

You may just need something fresh to get you interested in going to the gym again, so your weakness is consistency. Use this split to shake things up and put a fresh spin on things to help you get consistent again. 

Whatever your approach, consider the weaknesses you’re trying to overcome!

Time

If you have lots of time to train, you can structure your day with heavy leg work first, allowing you plenty of time to rest between sets and focus on peak performance. Once that’s done, you can move on to your lighter, less intense shoulder work.

If you have a small window of time to get your legs/shoulder work done, skip the long rest and focus on supersets, not wasting any unnecessary time sitting and looking at your phone between sets. 

Any change you make to your workout split should fit in the time you have available to train.

Frequency

When will you get a chance to train legs/shoulders again? Will you have time to circle back to them in the same week, or do you have just one day to get it done?

If you’re fortunate enough to have time to train every day, put together a plan that will allow you to come back and train shoulders/legs again before the week is out. You can vary the types of exercises and the dynamics of your training between these two days.

If you only have a few days a week to train, spend your time doing compound movements to use more muscles and burn more calories in each rep. Spend your time training the squat, deadlift, overhead press, and bench press. Incorporate supersets to also increase your work capacity and avoid wasting precious time.

Be sure to consider the impact of changing your split in terms of your ability to train frequently.

How Should You Program Your Shoulders And Legs Workouts? (3 Ways)

How should you program your shoulders and legs workouts

There are three ways to break up your training based on priority – legs priority, shoulder priority, or balanced priority.

Weak Shoulders – Train Shoulders First

These workouts will prioritize your shoulders, and incorporate legs as well. 

  • Standing Overhead Press – 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Seated DB Overhead Press – 4 sets of 6 reps
  • Incline Bench Press – 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Superset – Barbell Upright Rows and Leg Press – 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Superset – DB Lateral Raises and Seated Leg Extensions – 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Superset – Cable Lateral Raises and Goblet Squats – 4 sets of 10 reps

Weak Legs – Train Legs First

These workouts will prioritize legs while incorporating your shoulders

  • Barbell Squats – 5 sets of 5
  • Leg Press – 4 sets of 8
  • Barbell Deadlift – 4 sets of 8
  • Superset – Plate Front Raise – Single Leg Extension – 4 sets of 10
  • Superset – Seated Arnold Press and Goblet Squats – 4 sets of 10
  • Superset – Iron Crosses and Bulgarian Split Squat  – 4 sets of 10

Balanced Shoulders/Legs – Alternate Both

When taking the balanced priority approach, you can either train one muscle group and then the second muscle group, or you can alternate between the two. 

Both methods are perfectly valid and useful, but note that performing all the sets of one muscle group at once will generally be better for catching a pump, training muscle endurance, and fully exhausting the muscle, while alternating between muscles can be more useful to increase work capacity and saving time.

Alternating Workout

  • Barbell Deadlift – 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Barbell Overhead Press – 4 sets of 8 reps
  • Stiff Leg Deadlift – 5 sets of 8
  • Rear Delt Fly – 4 sets of 10
  • Front Squat – 4 sets of 8
  • Cable Lateral Raise – 4 sets of 8
  • Leg Press – 4 sets of 10
  • Barbell Front Raise- 4 sets of 10

Sequential Workout

  • Barbell Deadlift – 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Stiff Leg Deadlift – 5 sets of 8
  • Front Squat – 4 sets of 8
  • Leg Press – 4 sets of 10
  • Barbell Overhead Press – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Rear Delt Fly – 4 sets of 10
  • Cable Lateral Raise – 4 sets of 8
  • Barbell Front Raise – 4 sets of 10

Other Training Splits Explained


About The Author

Adam Gardner

Adam Gardner is a proud resident of Utah, where he lives with his wife and two kids. He has been competing in powerlifting since 2016 in both the USPA and the APF. For the past three years, he and his wife, Merrili, have coached beginning lifters to learn the fundamentals of powerlifting and compete in their first powerlifting competitions.