How to Get Bigger Shoulders (Best Exercises & Workouts) - Lift A Lot, Eat A Lot (2023)

The most effective way to reshape your physique is by creating width. Broad shoulders with muscles in the upper back and slim waist give the appearance of a powerful figure. But how to widen your shoulders and what are the best exercises?

table of contents

  • shoulder anatomy
  • 5 tips to have wider shoulders
    • Specialize in the lateral deltoids
    • Lose body fat to slim your waist
    • Point to your lats
    • Crush the upper back
    • wish for different parents
  • The best exercises for broad shoulders
    • side raise
    • increase of lu
    • Fila vertical
    • Inverted Seated Inverted Fly
    • shoulder press
    • 1 arm DB pressure
    • dominated
    • side pull
    • Snatch Grip High Pull from blocks
    • pull clean
  • Best broad shoulders workout
  • Summary

shoulder anatomy

To maximize shoulder size, you must focus on all three muscles. These are:

  • Anterior deltoid (front)
  • Deltoide medial (lateral)
  • Rear deltoids (rears)

How to Get Bigger Shoulders (Best Exercises & Workouts) - Lift A Lot, Eat A Lot (1)

Each muscle supports a different movement of the shoulder. the previous orfront deltoidIt is primarily responsible for shoulder flexion and horizontal adduction. This is to raise your arm in front of you (e.g. Front Raise) and perform a chest-opening movement.[1,2].

The lateral deltoids are responsible for shoulder abduction, which is the arm raised at the side of the body.[1]. This muscle creates a broader appearance in the upper body and is the main focus for broad shoulders.

The rear delt gives you a 3D look and will make your physique stand out when viewed from the side. The posterior deltoids are responsible for shoulder extension and horizontal abduction.[1].

5 tips to have wider shoulders

Specialize in the lateral deltoids

Emerging lateral deltoids create the appearance of broad shoulders. But they are often undercooked in muscle-building programs with overemphasized front delts. Instead, start your upper body sessions by hitting the side and rear delts.

That means you hit them when they're fresh, providing the bestmuscle developmentstimulus. For example, lateral raises and opening the rear delts before pressing overhead. It also acts as a perfect warm-up for your shoulders before pressing hard.

Lose body fat to slim your waist

Using this trick can give the illusion of broad shoulders. It is also known as a V-cone, X-body shape, or mesomorph somatotype. A slimmer waist makes the shoulders appear wider due to the drastic angle between the shoulders and the waist.

If you're already skinny, don't focus on it. You need to build upper body muscles. But if you're bigger, this can be a simple and effective way to create the illusion of broad shoulders.

Point to your lats

Covered deltoids are part of the equation for broad shoulders. But having wings will enhance your physique, especially from behind. This will complete your tapered V shape, creating a powerful, wide look. You want to target the top of your lats through pulldowns and pull-ups.

Crush the upper back

As with the lats, the upper back will complete the broad, powerful look. Amply covered delts with no flesh around them make you look thin and weak. The muscle plates around the traps, upper back and lats with the shoulders will make a broad-shouldered physique more prominent, even without a slim waist.

wish for different parents

I'm kidding, but it serves the point that there are genetic factors at play. Some people are blessed with broad bone structures that give them broad shoulders without training. Add training with those physiques and it's accentuated.

The best exercises for broad shoulders

side raise

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the staple foodlateral deltoid exerciseis the side elevation. The dumbbell lateral raise is the most common and affordable exercise that will light up your side delts, giving you shoulders so wide you'll have to walk through side doors.

You are carrying the exact movement that the lateral delts are responsible for.Due to the strength curve, the most difficult part of the exercise is when the arms are raised to 90°.

When we delve into the investigation, we see theThe most significant activation of the lateral deltoids occurs during the lateral raise exercise.compared to any other exercise[1,2].

Here's how to do the perfect lateral raise:

  • Stand with the dumbbells at your side or in front of your body. Have a soft elbow, so it is slightly bent. You'll get better lateral delt contraction with a slight arm flexion compared to a straight arm.
  • Lead with your elbows as you lift your arms out to the side until they are parallel to the floor.
  • This means that the elbows must be higher than the wrists during the movement. To do this, when lifting the dumbbells, think about pouring two drinks so that you turn your thumbs down slightly.

When performing lateral raises, a big mistake is to focus on the hands above the elbows. It won't give you the same feeling.

increase of lu

One of the most popular Chinese Olympic weightlifters, Lu Xiaojun, made them famous a few years ago. You can see why by his massive shoulders. These are full-range lateral raises where the dumbbells or weight plates end overhead.

You've probably heard the argument about not going above the horizontal because the upper traps take over. But who cares. you probably wantbig trapsalso, to go along with his broad shoulders! So look at both with this exercise. Performing the Lu raise is quite different from the traditional side raise, so here's how to do it:

  • Start with dumbbells or plates at your side.
  • Begin the lateral raise with your arms straight. As you raise your arms, slowly rotate your hands so that your thumbs are facing up (palms facing forward) when you are horizontal.
  • Continue until your arms are over your head.

Fila vertical

The upright row is a great side raise alternative for destroying the lateral delts. In fact, using a clean grip width reduces biceps involvement and increases muscle activation of the lateral deltoids.[3].

(Video) How I Grew Wide Shoulders… FAST

Although the barbell is the obvious equipment choice, it can cause some lifters front shoulder pain.Using dumbbells, kettlebells or an EZ bar are better equipment reduce that feeling.

This is how the vertical line is made:

  • Hold implement in front of body with arms straight.
  • Pull implement vertically as close to your body as possible. It should almost be touching your shirt. To do this, your elbows must point up and back.
  • When approximately nose height is reached, slowly lower implement back to starting position.

Inverted Seated Inverted Fly

The seated tilted inverted fly is aposterior deltoid exerciseto hit the middle and upper traps. This will create the upper back shelf to add some flesh to your broad shoulders. This version is lower back compatible if you have lower back issues that prevent you from doing the incline variation.

Here's how to do it:

  • Lying on an incline bench, hold two dumbbells hanging at your side.
  • Start walking backwards lifting them to the side with your arms slightly bent. Slowly lower them back to the starting position.

This is a tough exercise to get wrong, so it's great for beginners to get some extra bulk in their upper back.

shoulder press

Heshoulder pressIt is also known as the press, military press or shoulder press and is a basic exercise for broad shoulders. The front and side deltoids are the main shoulder muscles that are worked during the bench press.[4]and causes the greatest activation of the anterior deltoids among compound exercises[1].

Often you won't find this exercise within a typical bodybuilding program.You can find variations sitting down, as the load is lighter and directed towards the shoulders. But in general, bodybuilders prefer isolation exercises that target certain heads of shoulders and don't cause as much fatigue.

This is how the military press is done:

  • Disengage the bar with a set slightly outside shoulder width. Place the elbows slightly forward so that the triceps "rest" on the back.
  • Create a big chest and press the bar vertically. As you move across the forehead, push through the head and body.
  • Finish with your arms straight above your head so your biceps are in line with your ears.
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1 arm DB pressure

For general shoulder development, this is one of my favorites. In my experience, the 1-arm DB press feels better on the shoulders than the 2-arm variation. You can also carry it a lot heavier because you are limited to how much load you can carry on your shoulders whereas you can use 2 hands in 1 DB with this version. Here's how to do it:

  • Raise the dumbbell so that the point is over your shoulder. Point the elbow approximately 30° from pointing to the side.
  • Press the dumbbell over your head and finish so that your biceps are in line with your ear.


Pull-ups are a basic mass builder for your lats for good reason. They cause the most activation of the lats compared to any other back exercise.[5]. When you can do 10 reps with your body weight, add weight and watch your wings grow!

Aboutpull-up grip width, a medium grip width is the best grip width to maximize back development as it allows you to lift the most weight and is the perfect balance between weight lifted and lateral range of motion[6]. Here's how to do it:

  • Use a no-thumb grip when gripping the bar. This will allow you to pull with your pinky and ring fingers, which will help you engage your lats even more.
  • Bring your elbows to your ribs while maintaining a large chest. Slowly lower yourself down until your arms are straight.

side pull

If you can't do many pull-ups or need to add more volume, pulldowns are the option. For sets of more than 10 reps, you'll also need to use the dropdown menu. For flying lats, I prefer the neutral grip. It puts the most stretch in the lats and you can squeeze them in at the bottom. Here's how to do it:

  • Grab the handle and let it stretch your back. Start the pull by bringing your elbows to your ribs, keeping your chest wide.
  • Slowly extend your arms, keeping tension in your lats.

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Snatch Grip High Pull from blocks

This is the vertical line on steroids. In my experience, nothing will boost your upper back like high grip blocks. This will give you a powerful broad-shouldered look.

Even if you train your traps regularly and a lot with shrugs and deadlifts,one session like that and you'll have painful pitfalls for days.Stimulus is like no other. Here's how to do it:

  • Raise the bar on the blocks to knee height. Take a snatch grip (use bands for this exercise) and come up to the starting position with your chest big, your back tight, and your head and eyes forward.
  • Push your legs into the floor and once you're standing, reach your toes and shrug as you pull the barbell as high as you can, similar to a vertical line.

pull clean

Clean pullups are meat and potatoes for upper back development. You get a heavier charge than a grapple with a violent shrug to further stress traps. Here's how to do it:

  • Get into the clean position with the weight in the middle of the foot and shoulders on the bar.
  • Start the pull by driving with your legs. Your back should maintain the same angle until the bar passes your knees.
  • As you pass the knee, stand up and continue to push your legs. The bar will touch your legs while simultaneously extending your hips, knees and ankles. I finished with a violent shrug.

Best broad shoulders workout




A1) High Traction Snatch Grip



B1) DB pressure of 1 arm



C1) Lateral raises



D1) Inverted seated tilt flight



E1) Lat pull




Lifting to widen the shoulders requires attacking the lateral delts. But don't become myopic on one body part. The wide physique is a combination of a great upper back and lats with a smaller waist thanks to reduced body fat.


1. Fields, Y.A., Vianna, J.M., Guimarães, M.P., Oliveira, J.L., Hernandez-Mosqueira, C., da Silva, S.F., & Marchetti, P.H. (2020). Different shoulder exercises affect activation of the deltoid portions in resistance-trained subjects.Journal of Human Kinetics,75(1), 5-14.

2. Franke, A.R., Botton, C.E., Rodrigues, R., Pinto, R., and Lima, C. (2015). Analysis of anterior, middle and posterior deltoid activation during single- and multi-joint exercises.J Sports com Phys Fitness,55, 714-721.

3. McAllister, M.J., Schilling, B.K., Hammond, K.G., Weiss, L.W., & Farney, TM. (2013). Effect of footprint width on electromyographic activity during vertical rowing.The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,27(1), 181-187.

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4. Kroell, J. and Mike, J. (2017). Exploring the standing barbell bench press.Strength and Conditioning Diary,39(6), 70-75.

5. Hewit, J.K., Jaffe, D.A., & Crowder, T. (2018). A comparison of muscle activation during the pull-up and three alternative pulling exercises.J. physics. Fitness, Med. Deal with. Sport,5(4), 1-7.

6. Andersen, V., Fimland, M.S., Wiik, E., Skoglund, A., & Saeterbakken, A.H. (2014). Effects of grip width on muscle strength and activation in the high pulldown.The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,28(4), 1135-1142.


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