shoulder leg workout

The Ultimate Shoulder Leg Workout

Training your legs and shoulders will add power and shape to your body. Working these two areas of the body makes a lot of sense and is very popular. But how do you go about putting together an effective shoulder and leg muscles workout routine? In this article, I’ll lay out an effective shoulder leg workout routine that can be tackled by both beginners and advanced trainers to add muscle mass.

Muscle of the Legs and Shoulders

Before we delve into the actual workout, let’s identify the actual muscles involved. The legs are made up of the following muscles …

muscles of the legs
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Calves

The shoulder muscle is unique. Just like the triceps, they consist of three separate heads. But, unlike the triceps, or any other muscle, those three heads have different points of origin and insertion. That means that the three muscles that make up the deltoids (the anterior, posterior, and medial heads) are, in effect, three separate muscles, requiring different shoulder exercises to work them.

The Sets & Reps

The most effective way to work a muscle for muscle growth and strength enhancement is to do isolation movements of the target muscle rather than doing a compound exercise. In this workout, we will focus on the best exercises to isolate each of the muscles mentioned above. Be sure to learn the proper form on every exercise. For each exercise, we will be doing just one exercise. That exercise will be made up of 6 sets as follows:

  • Set One – 30 reps
  • Set Two – 20 reps
  • Set Three – 15 reps
  • Set Four – 10 reps
  • Set Five – 8 reps
  • Set Six – 6 reps
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This set and rep scheme allows you to work all muscle fibers, while also generating a pump effect to the muscle and working from lightweights down to the heavier weight final sets that are going to push hypertrophy. Rest time between sets should be 30-45 seconds.

The Exercise Routine

Leg Extension

  • Position yourself on a leg extension machine and place your shins under the pads. Readjust for your height, positioning the seat as far back as possible.
  • Grab the handles and push your lower legs up to just short of full knee extension.
  • Lower under control and repeat.

Leg Curl

  • Sit on a leg curls machine and adjust for your height.
  • Place your calves over the leg pads and grab the handles,
  • Push down to bring the pads down and fully contract your hamstrings.
  • Reverse under control to return to the start position. 

Machine Glute Extension

  • Stand in front of a glute extension machine and select the appropriate weight for your first set of 30 reps. 
  • Now place your left foot on the footplate, grab the handles and kick your foot back to full extension. Tense your butt muscles in the contracted position. 
  • Reverse and repeat. Do the same number of reps on both legs. 

Leg Press Calf Extension

  • Sit on a 45-degree leg press machine and assume foot positioning so that the balls of your feet are at the very bottom of the footplate.
  • From the initial position, grab the handles and press your toes away from you to fully extend the calf muscles.
  • Slowly reverse to fully contract the calves.
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Seated Cable Machine Shoulder Press

  • Place a seat with a high back about six feet in front of a double cable pulley machine, facing away from it. Position the cable pulleys so that it is at shoulder height when you are seated.
  • Grab the handles and sit on the machine.
  • From a start position with your hands at your rib-cage level and your palms facing up toward the ceiling, press your arms forward and up in a copping motion to come together in front of your torso.
  • Reverse under control and repeat.

Cable Side Lateral Raise

  • Set the cable on a pulley machine to the height of your hip. Set the weight and stand side onto the machine, feet at shoulder width, and grab the handle with your outside hand. Maintain a neutral position in the lower back.
  • With your arm straight, bring the cable directly out and up to shoulder level (do not go higher than this). 
  • Lower under control and repeat. Do the same number of reps on each arm. Do not allow momentum to take over as you move into the heavy reps on this exercise.

Cable Rear Delt Extensions

  • Stand in front of a double cable pulley machine and set the pulleys about a foot wider than your shoulders on each side. Take the handles off the ends of the pulleys. keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Grab the ends of the cables on opposite hands (left-hand grabs right pulley and right-hand grabs left pulley) and stand about three feet back from the machine.
  • From a starting position with your crossed hands up at a head level, bring your hands down and across to finish at waist level. Focus on feeling the movement in your rear delts.
  • Reverse and repeat.
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The Shoulder Leg Workout

  • Leg Extensions: 6 x 30/20/15/10/8/6
  • Leg Curls: 6 x 30/20/15/10/8/6
  • Machine Glute Extension: 6 x 30/20/15/10/8/6
  • Leg Press Calf Extension: 6 x 30/20/15/10/8/6
  • Seared Front Shoulder Press: 6 x 30/20/15/10/8/6
  • Cable Side Lateral Raise: 6 x 30/20/15/10/8/6
  • Cable Rear Delt Extensions: 6 x 30/20/15/10/8/6

This workout should be performed as part of a 3-day split routine. On the other two days, work your chest and triceps on one day and your back and biceps on the other day. At the start of the week, do your legs and shoulders on Monday, your chest and triceps on Tuesday, and your back and biceps on Wednesday, Then, on Thursday start again with legs and shoulder so that you are doing chest and triceps again on Friday. Take the weekend off and then, on Monday, do back and biceps. Continue in this pattern. 


You now have a super-effective progressive weight training legs and shoulder workout to grow your lower body and widen out your upper body. As you progress through this workout strive to increase your weights, stay consistent and complement your workout with a protein-rich diet. Do these things and you will be amazed at how your legs and shoulders respond. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the dumbbell squat good for leg development?

The dumbbell squat, along with all other squat versions will mainly develop the glutes. The leg extension and the cable squat are better options to hit the quads. 

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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