Around The World Exercise Guide & Video

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: December 5, 2023

Your chest and shoulders are comprised of dozens of muscle fiber bundles. But traditional pressing exercises only hit a fraction of these because you only move your arms in one direction.

With the around-the-world exercise, you move your arms through multiple angles. This results in many more muscle fibers being used.

In this article, I will introduce you to this exercise and explain the benefits of the around-the-world exercise for strengthening specific muscle groups. Then, I’ll walk you through how to do it, including some critical form tips.

Feel free to use the table below to jump to a particular section.

What Is The Around The World Exercise?

The around the world exercise involves rotating both arms up and down along the sides of your body. Similar to the arm movement during a jumping jack or snow angel.

Usually, you perform this exercise while holding relatively light dumbbells. But you can also use small weight plates or kettlebells.

When doing the around the world exercise for chest, you lay down on a bench. But it can also be done standing for the shoulders.

Around The World Exercise Muscles Worked

The lying around the world exercise mainly targets the pectoral muscles, which include the upper, middle, and lower chest muscles. Additionally, the rotating motion engages the stabilizer muscles in the shoulder joint, along with the larger muscles of the front and side deltoids.

When performed while standing, the exercise puts less emphasis on the pectoral muscles and more on the deltoids.

Around The World Exercise Muscles Worked

3 Around The World Exercise Benefits

Around the worlds are different from most exercises regarding the movement pattern. For this reason, they have some unique advantages.

1. Great For Stretching

One of the distinct features of the around-the-world exercise is that your arms extend through multiple angles from top to bottom. This works very well to stretch the muscles of the chest.

You can use this exercise as a warm-up to stretch your chest and shoulders before doing other heavy pressing movements. Or use it as a “burnout” exercise at the end of your workout.

2. Hits More Muscle Fibers

Another benefit of the around the world exercise is that it engages muscle fibers that might not be fatigued during standard pressing or fly movements.

By adding around the worlds to your workout, you hit as many muscle fibers as possible. And this can lead to greater muscle size and strength gains.

3. Strengthens The Shoulder Joint

In addition, the around the world exercise also strengthens the shoulder joint itself. By working the smaller stabilizer muscles of the shoulder, you train the joint to be more resilient to damage or injury.

How To Do Around The Worlds

In this section, I show you how to do the around-the-world chest exercise using dumbbells.

If you’re new to weight lifting, start with 2.5 or 5-lb dumbbells. Advanced lifters can start with half of what you would use on a dumbbell fly.

To begin, grab the dumbbells and lay back on the bench. Then press the dumbbells to arm’s length before lowering them to each side as you would during a fly.

At the bottom of the fly movement, sweep the dumbbells in an arc towards the top of your head. Then slowly sweep them back through the arc down towards your hips.

Continue this jumping jack movement while keeping your arms slightly bent. Focus on keeping your arms in roughly the same plane as your torso to feel the stretch through your chest.

To recap, here are the step-by-step directions:

  1. Lay back on a bench with the dumbbells
  2. Press the dumbbells to arm’s length
  3. Lower the dumbbells as if starting a fly
  4. Sweep the dumbbells in an arc from the top of your head to your hips
  5. Repeat this movement for the desired number of reps
Around The World Exercise

Around The World Exercise Form

When doing the around the world exercise, using good form is vital to avoid injuring your shoulder joints. Here are some pointers to perform this exercise safely and effectively.

One of the most important things to remember is to use light weight. This is not a power movement. Instead, focus on the stretch by lowering your elbows slightly in the center of the range of motion.

Around The World Exercise For Chest Form

Also, I recommend raising the dumbbells slightly above your thighs as you get to the bottom to increase the contraction in your lower chest.

Lastly, do not rush or flap your arms like a jumping jack. Move the weight in a slow and controlled fashion throughout the exercise.

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Around The World Exercise Variations

There are a few different around the world exercise variations. Each targets different parts of the chest or different muscle groups altogether. And some require less equipment than others.

Around The World Chest Exercise Variations

So far, I’ve been talking about the around-the-world chest exercise using a flat bench. But you can also do it on an incline or decline bench.

Doing around the worlds on an incline bench puts slightly more load on the upper chest muscles. At the same time, a decline bench works more of the lower chest.

Around The World Shoulder Exercise

You can eliminate the bench and do around the worlds while standing. You primarily use the lateral delt muscle on your outer shoulder in this position.

This variation is essentially a lateral raise with an increased range of motion. However, I think there is not much benefit to doing around the worlds exclusively as a shoulder exercise.

Standing Around The World Exercise

Around The World Ab Exercise

Another form of the around the world exercise involves rotating your legs in a circular pattern. This movement targets and strengthens the muscles of your abdomen.

This variation can be performed by laying on a bench or hanging from a pull-up bar.

Around The World Alternatives

The around-the-world exercise is excellent for warming up and activating muscle fibers from multiple angles. But it’s not an exercise where you should go heavy to maximize muscle size or strength gains.

Instead, I recommend using some other shoulder joint isolation exercises to maximize chest and shoulder growth.

Chest Fly

The dumbbell fly limits the shoulder rotation to a single plan of movement. While it doesn’t hit your muscles from as many angles as the around the world, it does put the shoulder in a much more stable position.

You can also change the angle of the bench to target your lower, mid, or upper chest during flies. Furthermore, chest flies enable you to use a heavier weight to overload the pectoral muscles and stimulate hypertrophy.

My YouTube channel has dozens of videos showing you how to do a variety of bodybuilding exercises. You’ll learn how to target and build specific muscle groups in 90 seconds or less. Click HERE to subscribe, or click on the button below!

Lateral Raise

If targeting shoulders is your primary concern, you might consider using a lateral raise instead of the around-the-world exercise. The reason is that the lateral raise is better for isolating and growing your side delts.

Lateral raises can be done with dumbbells, cables, or machines. And you can perform this exercise seated or standing, depending on your equipment and preferences.

More Chest Exercises & Workouts

The around the world exercise has many benefits and variations to fit your training needs. But if you really want to build your chest, you need a complete chest workout routine.

To help you out, I’ve compiled some of my best chest exercise and workout guides below.

Dumbbell Hex Press For Building A Buff Inner Chest

Incline vs Flat Bench Press Comparison for Muscle Building

Quick Dumbbell Chest & Tricep Workout With Supersets

How to Decline Bench Press for Lower Chest Gains

21 Cable Chest Exercises for Upper, Lower, & Mid Pec Workout

With this information, you’ll be well on your way to building a bigger stronger upper body. And if you found this article useful, I hope you’ll check out some of my other informative content below!

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By |December 5, 2023|Workouts|0 Comments
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