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Around The World: A Great Exercise For Chest & Shoulder Health You’re Not Doing

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

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Having a chiseled chest is one of the top goals for most people in the fitness environment. Whether you’re a man or a woman, working out your pecs sits at the top of your priorities. In this quest, using a variety of exercises seems to be the best approach for the majority. 

Chances are, Around the Worlds is a great exercise for chest and shoulder health you’re not doing. They are relatively easy to do and can be included in almost everyone’s routine. 

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In this article, we’ll cover:

– What is the Around the World exercise?

– Technique and Muscles worked.

– Benefits and Common mistakes

Follow along and prepare to take your chest and shoulder gains to the top!

What Is The Around The World Exercise?

The Around the World is an isolation exercise with a circular movement pattern on the arms that focuses on the pec muscles, shoulder joints, traps, and lats. This is a relatively easy movement, although it may not benefit some individuals with a history of shoulder injuries. 

It’s an excellent exercise to use as a warm-up or as a complementary piece to your chest or upper-body workout routine. You can use dumbbells, weight plates, wrist weights, a bench, or even the floor. 

It is a functional movement that requires little equipment and offers many benefits. As long as you prioritize the form and technique, you’ll find yourself with a terrific exercise that will send your pecs gains to the moon.

Around The World: Form & Technique

Around the world, are an easy movement to master, but we shouldn’t confuse easy with simple. Although the exercise movement pattern is straightforward, it does require a certain level of strength and mobility from the shoulder joint that some beginners may not have.

Below are four steps to help you keep your form and technique as clean as possible.

  1. Grab a flat bench and lay on your back with your chest up and shoulders back.
  2. Your feet, glutes, shoulders, and head should be making contact with the bench while your arms are next to your thighs.
  3. Keeping your elbows slightly bent, move your arms to the side and upward while maintaining them parallel to the floor until both arms are over your head.
  4. Focus on inhaling as you bring the arms overhead, and exhale as you return to the starting position.

Depending on your fitness level and experience, you can use dumbbells, weight plates, wrist weights, or kettlebells. Regardless of the weight, focus on moving slowly and control to keep the muscle tension high and injury risk low.

Maintaining the arms parallel to the ground throughout the entire range of motion is critical to maximizing the muscle growth on your pecs and shoulders.

Around The World: Muscles Worked

The Around the World isolation exercise targets the pecs and shoulders. It’s an easy movement, although it requires particular experience with body control and shoulder mobility.


The chest is conformed by some of the more considerable muscles in the anterior part of the body; pectoral muscles. This group has two portions:

– Pectoralis major

– Pectoralis minor 

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Source: Built With Science

They originate from the clavicle and insert at the shoulder, humerus, and sternum. Together they are responsible for adducting (closer to the midline) the shoulder and internally rotating the humerus. 

Around the world is a terrific exercise for pec growth because it recruits the muscle fibers uncommonly, not seen in other chest workouts like flat bench presses and push-ups. 


The shoulder complex is responsible for the circular motion through the entire movement of the Around the World. This body part is known for its wide range of motion and instability, which is why there are so many efforts in strengthening these stabilizer muscles in the first place.

The shoulder’s primary muscles are:

– Anterior deltoid

– Medial deltoid 

– Posterior deltoid 

Other shoulder muscles involved in shoulder stabilization are the cuff rotator group:

– Teres minor

– Supraspinatus 

– Infraspinatus 

– Subscapularis 

These four muscles are the main focus in most sports and activities that require force and speed from the shoulder joint, such as Baseball, Tennis, Football, and Swimming, just to name a few.

The Around the World circular pattern is only possible due to the shoulder’s inherent ability to move ample range of motion.

Lats and Traps

The lats and traps are other secondary muscles involved in the Around the Worlds. The upper trapezius is mainly responsible for aiding the shoulders in taking the arms overhead. They help to accommodate the scapula up to go with the humerus.

The lats are one of the broadest muscles on the back of our bodies, and they are mainly in charge of flexing the humerus (bringing them back down) and internally rotating the humerus. These muscles are primarily targeted during the Around the Worlds downward phase.

4 Around The World Exercise Benefits

The Around the World is known to be a chest workout finisher, but many people ignore its other benefits. On top of being a vital complement to your training routine, it’s also a healthy add-on to keep your shoulder joints and muscles in top form.

Build Shoulders Endurance

The Around the World is famous for its chest gains. However, it’s the shoulders that make everything happen. The movement and all the tension generated through the range of motion come from the shoulder joint. 

On the one hand, this is great because it builds shoulder endurance, but it could also be harmful to those who struggle with shoulder injuries. Many people include this exercise into their routine as a form of rehab using a very lightweight and slow tempo.

Offers A Different Stimulus For Muscle Fibers

Most people work their muscles unidirectionally. In other words, they only explore moving one way. Think like push-ups, pull-ups, bench presses, squats, deadlifts, etc. Although these movements should be included in almost anyone’s routine, it is essential to offer a different stimulus for muscle fibers occasionally.

Around the world does that tremendously. You can include this movement as a warm-up or as a finisher to your upper-body workout. This will target muscle fibers in a way they might not be used to, which can translate into more gains for you.

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Handsome caucasian sexy fitness model in gym close up abs concept man on diet shirtless training six pack healthcare lifestyle crunch

Source: Strength Log

Can Be Used For Stretching

Laying back on the bench with your arms to the side (like a cross) will stretch your shoulders and pec muscle fibers. Even if you do it bodyweight, the stretching sensation will be present. This “cross” position is a part of the Around the World exercise in the movement’s going up and downward phase.

If your main goal is to use this exercise for stretching purposes, keep the weight light and the tempo slow.

Improve Shoulder Mobility

As we mentioned earlier, the magic of the Around the World comes from whatever range of motion the shoulders can allow. If your shoulder mobility is poor, this movement might be paradoxically helpful.

Before diving into the movement, warm up the shoulder joints with less stressful exercises like 90-90’s, prone swimmers, and lat hangs. This will prime the joint to maximize the benefits of the Around the World.

As for the stretching, if improving your shoulder mobility is the goal, use lighter weights slowly until you’re strong enough to increase the load safely.

Around The World: Common Mistakes

Although the Around the World is a relatively easy movement, a few common mistakes might prevent you from getting the most out of it or even increase the injury risk for some individuals. Let’s tackle them down.

Weight Too Heavy

Choosing too heavyweight might be the most common mistake we see people making. This is very dangerous since this type of movement puts all stress on the shoulder joint to control the range of motion.

Even advanced athletes avoid overloading this movement since it could jeopardize the shoulder joint integrity and induce more harm than good. A positive aspect of this exercise is that it doesn’t require heavy weights to be effective. 

Most of the time, staying below the 20 pounds mark can result in tremendous gains for most individuals. However, some might benefit from using lighter or even heavier weights.

Moving Too Fast

This exercise relies heavily on the time under tension, which means that the slower, the better. Moving too fast will defeat the purpose of the movement and increase injury risk. 

Pick a light and manageable weight and move as slowly and controlled as possible, contracting the chest muscles with a wide range of motion as hard as possible. These variables combined will get you the most results for this movement.

Arching The Back

Although the back is naturally arched, overdoing it while performing pressing movements may not be ideal for best performance in some individuals. This limits the scapula’s ability to move freely and allows the shoulder joint to get to more advantageous positions. 

Keeping the natural arch should be enough to get the most out of the movement without worrying about safety or back issues.

Around The World Best Variations

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Around the world, variations only differ in the weight being used, but the movement principle and technique remain the same. The most common way of doing Around the Worlds is with dumbbells, but other implements are also helpful and practical, such as:

Source: Fitness Volt

– Kettlebells

– Wrist Weights

– Disc Plates

Out of these alternatives, most people find the wrist weights the most practical and easy to handle. Since the weight is attached to your arms, you don’t have to worry about holding or moving them. The main focus stays on moving the arms and feeling the muscles work.

Although disc plates are also suitable alternatives, some may find them hard to grip, which could hinder the movement’s benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does The Around The World Exercise Work?

Around the world exercise is known to work your shoulder joints and chest musculature effectively. It’s a tremendous exercise to incorporate into your training, whether you are an advanced or a beginner athlete. It will help you stabilize your shoulder and pump your chest muscle fibers.

Is Around The World Exercise Effective?

Although Around the Worlds may not be a significant compound movement, it is considered effective at recruiting and stretching chest muscle fibers while strengthening the shoulder joint. These components make it a terrific variation to complement your workout routine and take your chest gains to the top.

Do Around The Worlds Work Shoulders?

Yes, Around the world work the shoulders, specifically the shoulder joint. Although it’s not a movement for adding mass to the deltoids, it’s a terrific option to develop and strengthen the connective tissue at the joint. A strong and healthy shoulder joint will translate to a better ability to move heavier weights for longer, maximizing your gains.


Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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