Certified trainer and infantryman Chris Kellum has you covered head to toe with his “Hybrid Warrior” training program, designed with the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) in mind. First, he offered an upper-body routine here on muscleandfitness.com; then a workout that blasts the legs, core, and lungs; and most recently, a hardcore deadlift and back workout. Now, he’s blasting your delts from all angles with the shoulder domination workout routine. Calling it “shoulder domination,” should tell you everything you can expect from this circuit workout.
Featured trainer: SPC Chris Kellum is a sniper team infantryman in the Florida Army National Guard. A NETA-certified personal trainer and member of the Bravo Sierra team, his mission is to inspire others by incorporating fitness and military on his YouTube channel and documenting the process of transitioning to a warrant officer to go to flight school. All of his workouts can be found on his Playbook fitness app.
Equipment needed: Dumbbells (multiple pairs), landmine (with weight plate), resistance bands, barbell (optional), BOSU ball or stability ball.
Time commitment: Around 50 minutes.
Workout overview: After a thorough warm-up for the shoulders, Kellum’s workout breaks off into a featured strength move, a trio of three-exercise circuits, and then a core finisher. Here’s a quick rundown of each:
Kellum’s Shoulder Domination Workout
Warmup (12 minutes)
Strength (Heavy) Work: Shoulder Press
This is a meat-and-potatoes lift (pressing a bar or dumbbell overhead) performed for four working sets of 10, 8, 8, and 6 reps. You’ll want to work up to a heavy weight on these to increase your upper body pressing strength.
- Shoulder Press
- 1-2 warmup sets
- 4 working sets of 10, 8, 8, 6 reps
- Rest 90 seconds between working sets.
Circuit 1: Lateral Raise + Front Raise + Shrug (4 rounds)
These three single-joint moves are done with hypertrophy-friendly rep counts (15 reps per sets) to help build muscle and provide stability around the shoulder joint. Keep the weight fairly light here and feel a good burn.
- Lateral Raise: 15 reps
- Front Raise: 15 reps
- Shrug: 15 reps
(Rest 45-60 seconds)
Circuit 2: Rotational Single-Arm Press + Landmine 180s (4 Rounds)
This circuit adds a torso twist to each exercise to work the core in the transverse plane, while still working the delts.
- Rotational Single-Arm Press (R): 8 reps
- Rotational Single-Arm Press (L): 8 reps
- Landmine 180s: 8 reps
(Rest 45-60 seconds)
Circuit 3: Thrusters + Swings + Planks (4 Rounds)
Each of these three exercises involves the shoulders, but in combination with other areas of the body. Thrusters bring in the lower body, swings the entire posterior chain, and planks core isolation (in addition to working the delts isometrically). The thrusters and swings will also provide some anaerobic conditioning – not always fun, but effective.
- Thrusters: 15 reps
- Kettlebell Swing: 15 reps
- Forearm Plank: 1 minute
(Rest 45-60 seconds)
Core Work: Ball Crunch + Heel Taps + Mason Twist (1-3 Rounds)
You’ll finish the workout with isolated core work to strengthen all the midsection muscles, including the abs and obliques.
- BOSU Ball Crunch: 20 reps
- Heel Taps: 20 reps per side
- Mason Twist: 20 reps per side
(Rest 15 seconds between exercises.)
Cardio (Active Rest)
No formal cardio here; just aim to get 10,000 total steps (walking) for the day. Here’s a tip from Kellum on how to easily get that done: “After each meal, go for a 15- to 20-minute walk — it will improve digestion, and you’ll hit your steps.”
- Shoulder Press: This can be done with either a barbell or dumbbells. For a more “functional” workout that hits the core, do your shoulder (overhead) presses standing. Otherwise, you can do these seated.
- Lateral Raise/Front Raise/Shrug circuit: These three exercises can be done with either dumbbells or kettlebells. “If you typically do these lifts with 25 to 35 pounds, subtract 10 pounds,” says Kellum. “Feel the burn with shorter rest and higher reps.” That said, you may need to use different weights for each of the three moves – a lighter weight for front raises and heavier for shrugs.
- Rotational Single-Arm Press: This is a one-arm press with either a dumbbell or kettlebell where you twist at the torso (in the direction of the non-working arm) as you press the weight overhead.
- Landmine 180s: Hold the end of the barbell in a landmine in front of you with arms extended. Move the bar from waist height on one side all the way to the other side, keeping your arms straight throughout and rotating at the torso.
- Thrusters: A front squat to overhead press in one continuous motion, you do this move with either a barbell or a pair of dumbbells. Focus on keeping your back flat and core tight throughout (don’t let your lower back round).
- Kettlebell Swing: If you don’t have a kettlebell, use a dumbbell and grab the sides on one end firmly. Focus on the hip hinge with minimal knee bend and keep the core tight.
- Forearm Plank: Keep your core tight and body in a straight line from heels to head, forearms in contact with the floor.
- Bosu Ball Crunch: The Bosu creates an unstable surface, which makes the core work harder to stabilize. If you don’t have a Bosu, use a regular stability ball.
- Heel Taps: This is a variation of a crunch where every rep involves touching your hand to the same-side heel. Stay in the “up” position of a crunch throughout and perform a side bend for each rep. Alternate sides back and forth.
- Mason Twist: Sometimes referred to as a Russian twist, sit on the floor with your feet up, knees bent, and torso and thighs forming a V shape. With your hands together, lower them to the floor right off to the side of your hip by twisting your torso, go back to middle, and go to the other side. Do reps continuously side to side.