Leg and Shoulder Workouts: Do More in Less Time!

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

    • A Combined leg and shoulder workout is effective and efficient
    • It is possible to work out legs and shoulders together
    • A combined workout helps in creating a balanced physique
    • Listen to the body and take rest days to avoid overtraining.

Introduction

Hey there! If you’re looking to get the most out of your entire workout and save time, performing a leg and shoulder workout might be the way to go.

I know, you’ve probably heard “never skip leg day”, but what if I told you that you can work on both legs and shoulders together and get even better results?

In this article, we’re going to talk about the pros and cons of a leg and shoulder workout, the best exercises to include in your workout, tips for proper form and technique, and how to tailor your workout to your fitness level.

Can I Workout Legs and Shoulders Together?

The short answer is yes, you can train legs and shoulders together! In fact, it can be beneficial to do so as it allows you to maximize your time in the gym, and you will also be able to see better results overall.

When combining leg exercises and exercises for your shoulder muscles, it is essential to pay attention to proper form and technique, as well as rest and recovery to prevent overtraining.

It is also important to keep in mind to tailor the workout to your fitness level, and adjust the weight and reps accordingly.

A good way to start is to alternate between working your leg muscles and shoulder muscles, allowing proper recovery time for the two muscle groups before working on them again.

Further down below you will see what we mean by that – to briefly explain what we mean:

If you have a set consisting of four different exercises, you would start out by training legs, then do a shoulder exercise, come back to your legs and finish with a shoulder exercise.

This will efficiently work multiple muscles and this method will give your lower body time to recover while you work your upper body and vice versa.

athlete doing a back squat

Why you should combine Leg and Shoulder Exercises

There are several reasons why you should consider combining a leg workout with shoulder workout routines.

Time efficiency

Combining a leg and shoulder workout in the same session allows you to maximize your time in the gym.

Instead of dedicating separate days to work on each muscle group, you can combine them in one workout session, making the most of the time you have available.

A dedicated leg and shoulder day lets you work two large muscle groups at once which will get you further in less time.

Improved overall strength and endurance

Working out your legs and shoulders together can improve your overall strength and endurance, which will help you perform better in all areas of your life.

This is because legs and shoulders are two very large muscle groups in the body, and working on them together can provide a full-body workout.

Balanced Physique

By working out your legs and shoulders together, you can achieve a more balanced physique.

Neglecting one muscle group can result in an imbalanced appearance, and by working on both legs and shoulders, you can create a more symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing body.

Increased Calorie Burn

Combining leg and shoulder exercises can increase your overall calorie burn and help you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. We said it before: training shoulders and legs in one combined session stresses two large muscle groups.

Working many muscles at once burns a lot of calories.

Better Athletic Performance

Strong legs are crucial for activities such as running, jumping, and lifting, and strong shoulders can help you perform better in upper body exercises and sports.

By working both of these muscle groups together, you can improve your overall athletic performance.

athlete showing off his very fit physique
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Pros and Cons of a Combined Leg and Shoulder Workout

Like with any workout, there are pros and cons to combining leg and shoulder exercises.

Pros of Combined Leg and Shoulder Workouts

    1. Time efficiency: Combining legs and shoulders in the same workout session allows you to maximize your time in the gym.

    2. Improved overall strength and endurance: Working out your legs and shoulders together will improve your overall strength and endurance.

    3. Balanced physique: By working out your legs and shoulders together, you will work toward a more balanced physique.

    4. Increased calorie burn: leg workouts combined with shoulder workouts can increase your overall calorie burn and help you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.

    5. Better athletic performance: Strong legs are crucial for activities such as running, jumping, and lifting, and strong shoulders can help you perform better in upper body exercises and sports. By working both of these muscle groups together, you can improve your overall athletic performance.

Cons of Combined Leg and Shoulder Workouts

    1. Tiring: Working out a lot of muscle groups at once can be tiring, and it can be challenging to push yourself to your limits. You have to be very disciplined during the workouts to observe your form and adjust if necessary.

    2. Overtraining: When working out legs and shoulders together, you need to be careful about not overtraining any one muscle group. Your dedication might be too much – especially in the beginning when you start to do these combined workout routines.

    3. Increased risk of injury: When you work out legs and shoulders together, you are putting a lot of stress on your body, and if you don’t take proper precautions, you could be at a higher risk of injury.

    4. Lack of specificity: If you are training for a specific sport or activity, combining leg and shoulder exercises may not be the best choice as it lacks the specificity of training. Consider your goals! Are you working toward that perfect physique of a bodybuilder? Then isolation exercises might be more useful for you and this kind of combined workouts might not be what you are looking for!

    5. Recovery: Combining leg and shoulder exercises can be challenging on the body, and it may require more recovery time before you can work out again.
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Functional Training is Perfect to Combine Muscle Groups

Functional Training is a great workout regime for those looking to combine different muscle groups in one workout for several reasons:

Variety

Functional Training workouts are known for their variety, and they often include a mix of different exercises that work multiple muscle groups. This allows you to work on different muscle groups in the same workout session, making it an efficient way to maximize your time in the gym.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Functional workouts often include High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which is a type of training that alternates between short periods of intense activity and recovery periods. This type of training is known to be effective for burning calories, building muscle, and improving overall fitness.

Functional movements

Functional workouts include functional movements, which are exercises that mimic movements that you perform in everyday life. These exercises work multiple muscle groups at the same time and are beneficial for improving overall strength and endurance.

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Preferrably use Compound Exercises

These are exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. They typically involve movements at more than one joint and recruit multiple muscle groups to perform the movement.

Some examples of compound exercises are squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull-ups, and rows.

These exercises are different from isolation exercises which only work one muscle group at a time like bicep curls, leg extension, and leg curls. Compound exercises are efficient because they allow you to work multiple muscle groups at the same time, and they also have a greater impact on your overall strength and endurance, making them more beneficial for overall fitness and physique.

Best Exercises for your Leg and Shoulder Workout

Here are some of the best exercises for your leg and shoulder workout routine:

Leg exercises

How to do Squats

The squat is a compound exercise that targets the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as the lower back and core. It is a fundamental movement that is used in many forms of strength training and fitness programs.

To perform a squat, begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed forward.

Keep your chest up and your core engaged, and bend at the hips and knees, lowering your body as if you were sitting back into a chair. Lower yourself at least until your thighs are parallel to the ground – better use full range of motion, but keep your heels on the ground all the time. Keep your back straight and your weight on your heels.

Pause briefly at the bottom of the movement, then press through your heels to stand back up to the starting position.

This is what a goblet would look like (the squatting movement is the same for the version without weight)

animation of a goblet squat

How to do Box jumps

The box jump is a plyometric exercise that targets the quadriceps, glutes, and calves. It is a great way to improve power, speed, and overall athleticism.

To perform a box jump, you will need a sturdy box or platform that is appropriate for your fitness level. Stand in front of the box, with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Swing your arms back, then explosively jump onto the box, landing with both feet on top of it. Stand up straight on the box, then step or jump down and repeat.

How to do Step-ups

The step-up is a compound exercise that targets the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. It is a single-leg exercise that requires balance and stability, and is a great way to work on lower body strength, power, and endurance.

To perform a step-up, you will need a sturdy step, bench or box. Stand in front of the step with your feet hip-width apart and your toes facing forward. Place one foot on top of the step, then press through your heel to lift your body up onto the step. Bring your other foot to meet your first foot, then step down with the same foot you used to step up. Repeat the movement with the opposite leg.

animation of a step-up

How to do Lunges & Jumping Lunges

The lunge is a compound exercise that targets the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. It is a single-leg exercise that requires balance and stability, and is a great way to work on lower body strength, power, and endurance.

To perform a lunge, begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Take a step forward with one foot, and lower your body by bending both knees to 90-degree angles. Your front thigh should be parallel to the ground and your back knee should be hovering just above the ground. Keep your torso upright, and push off your front heel to return to the starting position. Repeat the movement with the opposite leg.

The lunge can be scaled up and made more difficult by performing jumping lunges, or adding weight.

animation of the lunge

Check the right form of your lunge:

lunge right vs wrong illustration

Shoulder Exercises

How to do the Shoulder Press

The shoulder press targets the deltoids, and it can be done with dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, or a machine.

To do push presses in any form, make sure to not lean back (!), engage your core and bring your weight over your head (not somewhere above and out front!).

Additionally, keep your elbow close to your body and do not let it move out to the side.

Your kettlebell or dumbbell shoulder press should look like this:

illustration of the kettlebell shoulder press

How to do Shoulder Taps

Shoulder taps, also known as Hand-to-Hand Taps, are a bodyweight exercise that primarily targets the shoulders, core, and triceps.

It is a calisthenics movement that can be done anywhere with no equipment required.

To perform shoulder taps, you will need to be in a high plank position, with your hands placed shoulder-width apart on the ground and also your feet shoulder-width apart.

The exercise begins by lifting one hand off the ground and tapping the opposite shoulder. You then return that hand to the starting position, and repeat the same movement with the other hand, tapping the opposite shoulder.

This creates a tapping motion, hence the name shoulder taps.

The key is to maintain a steady and stable plank position throughout the exercise, engaging your core and keeping your body in a straight line.

Shoulder taps are a great exercise for building shoulder and core strength, as well as improving balance, stability and endurance.

They can be modified to make them more challenging by adding a plyometric movement such as a jump, by adding a weight on your back or by doing the exercise on an unstable surface like a balance board.

animation of the shoulder taps

How to do the Kettlebell Snatch

The kettlebell snatch is a compound exercise that primarily targets the shoulders, back, and legs.

It is a full-body movement that requires a combination of strength, power, and coordination.

The kettlebell snatch is a dynamic exercise that involves swinging a kettlebell between the legs and then lifting it overhead in one swift movement.

To perform the kettlebell snatch, you will need a kettlebell and some space to move. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and the kettlebell between your feet.

Bend your knees and hips, and grip the kettlebell handle with both hands. Keeping your back straight, use your hips and legs to drive the kettlebell forward and up, using a swinging motion.

As the kettlebell reaches the top of the swing, quickly pull your elbow back and up, to guide the kettlebell overhead. Your arm should be extended overhead, with the kettlebell locked out at the top of the movement.

The kettlebell snatch is a challenging exercise that requires a lot of practice to master. Always use proper form and technique, and to start with a weight that is appropriate for your fitness level.

illustration of the kettlebell snatch

How to do Pike Push-Ups

Pike push-ups are a variation of the traditional push-up that targets the shoulders, triceps, and core.

They are a bodyweight exercise that can be done anywhere with no equipment required.

To perform pike push-ups, begin in a downward dog position, with your hands placed shoulder-width apart on the ground and your feet positioned hip-width apart.

Your hips should be raised high in the air, with your body forming an inverted V shape.

Lower your head towards the ground by bending your elbows, keeping your body in the inverted V shape. As you lower yourself down, your head should come closer to your hands.

Push back up to the starting position, keeping your body in the inverted V shape, and repeat for the desired number of reps.

The pike push-up is a challenging exercise that requires a lot of core and upper-body strength.

animation of the pike push-up

It’s important to use proper form and technique for each exercise, and to start with a weight that is appropriate for your fitness level, and adjust as needed.

3 Crossfit Leg and Shoulder Workouts

Here are 3 sample Crossfit leg and shoulder workouts that you can try. These 3 workouts serve different fitness and skill levels – the first one is the easiest and the last one the hardest.

Pick your workout and give this combo a try! You will see, it is well worth it!

Workout 1 - easy:

Warm-up: 10 minutes of light cardio. Include jumping jacks, some elevated push-ups, arm circles, diagonal leg swings, and a few squats.

AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) 12 minutes:

One round consists of:

    • 15 squats
    • 10 dumbbell push-presses (women use 10kg dumbbells / men 15kg)
    • 20 jumping lunges
    • 20 shoulder taps

Your target should be to finish at least 6 rounds!

Workout 2 - moderate:

Warm-up: 10 minutes of light cardio. Include jumping jacks, some elevated push-ups, arm circles, diagonal leg swings, and a few squats.

AMRAP 18 minutes – one round consists of:

    • 15 goblet squats with a kettlebell (women use a 16kg KB / men 24kg)
    • 8 kettlebell snatches (same weight as above)
    • 10 high jumps
    • 8 KB push presses (4 left / 4 right)

Your target should be to finish at least 7 rounds!

Workout 3 - heavy:

Warm-up: 10 minutes of light cardio. Include jumping jacks, some elevated push-ups, arm circles, diagonal leg swings, and a few squats.

AMRAP 20 minutes – one round consists of:

    • 10 weighted front squats with a barbell (use 70% of your one-rep max weight)
    • 10 strict overhead press (women use 20kg / men 30kg)
    • 10 box-jumps
    • 5 strict pull-ups

Your target should be to finish at least 10 rounds!

Always choose weights that will challenge you, but that will also still let you do all exercises with good form! If the weights listed in the workouts are too much for you, then tune your weights down a level.

Leg and Shoulder Workout at Home

If you have no access to a gym and all the equipment you would need to do any of the above workouts, then you can also do a great leg and shoulder workout at home as well.

Sample leg and shoulder workout that you can do at home:

Warm-up: 10 minutes of light cardio. Include exercises like high knees, jumping jacks, arm circles, lunges, push-ups, squats

3 sets of 12 reps of squats (using a chair or step for added resistance)

Perform 3 rounds – one round consists of:

    • 8 Pike push-ups
    • 20 jumping lunges
    • 20 shoulder taps
    • 20 squats

You should be able to do this workout within seven minutes.

This workout can be scaled up to make it heavier:

The easiest way to do so is to simply increase the number of reps, but don´t add more than about 50% of reps for each exercise.

Then you could replace the pike push-ups by handstand push-ups, if you have the skills for that movement.

And you could add weight to the jumping lunges and also the squats. A great way to do so would be a weighted vest, or simply items in your household like books, water bottles, etc.

Pay attention to good form and technique, and start with a weight that is appropriate for your fitness level. Adjust the weight as needed.

Remember to take rest days to recover properly and for injury prevention.

Additionally don’t forget to cool down and stretch your muscles after the workout.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, combining leg and shoulder exercises in the same workout session can be an effective and efficient way to improve your overall strength and endurance, create a more balanced physique, and increase your overall calorie burn.

One of the main triggers to build muscle mass is heavy resistance training. Combining compound movements to train shoulders and legs at the same time is a great way to apply resistance training to both areas at once.

However, it’s important to be aware of the potential downsides and how to avoid them, such as overtraining, increased risk of injury, and lack of specificity.

By including exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, shoulder presses, and pull-ups in your workout routine, and paying attention to proper form and technique, you can achieve the best results.

Whether you’re training at home or in the gym, it is important to listen to your body and take rest days to recover properly. Remember to enjoy the journey and have fun!

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