To truly create a muscular image, you will need to focus on increasing the size of your shoulders; doing so will help you develop the tapered V look, which is created by having broad shoulders and a narrow waist.
This is one of the most important factors that professional bodybuilders strive for with their training. It's also important to your overall health to maintain a healthy waist-to-hip ratio. In order to build bigger shoulders, you need to focus on the right types of movements and ensure that you’re taking in enough calories to support muscle growth. Keep in mind that it’s not just direct shoulder exercises that will build bigger shoulders, but a well-planned upper-body or full-body workout will help build shoulder mass while keeping the body in good proportion.
Below are some of the best exercises and techniques to use to help you build bigger shoulders.
1. Shoulder Press Variations
The shoulder press is a great exercise to build bigger shoulders and to develop strength. This is due to the fact that most people will be able to lift a much higher weight than they would with isolated shoulder exercises.There are a few variations you can perform with the shoulder press, such as the front barbell press, behind the neck barbell press (both of which can also be done with dumbbells if you prefer) and Arnold presses.
Here's a video of a seated Arnold press. It’s a good idea to alternate between these shoulder exercises over time to prevent plateaus and the development of any weak points in the shoulders.You should keep the rep ranges lower for shoulder press exercises, within the 5 to 8 rep range, performing a total of 2 to 4 sets.
2. Upright Rows
Upright rows will work well for building the caps on the shoulders because they will primarily hit the lateral head of the deltoid. They will also give a nice rounded appearance to the shoulder muscle, making them appear fuller. Watch when you do this shoulder exercise that you do not bring the weight higher than shoulder level as this places great stress on the shoulder joint and could lead to injury.It may help if you’re just adding this exercise to perform it while sitting in an upright chair to make sure the back stays flat. Then, after you have the form down, move into a standing position so you can generate maximum force.
Aim for 10 reps per set and 2 to 3 sets per workout. If you’d like to boost the intensity and go for a good muscle pump, try incorporating drop sets with this shoulder exercise.Here's a video of an upright row with a wide grip.
Shrugs are a great shoulder exercise to add for increasing the width of the upper back and building up your traps. These are simply performed by holding a set of dumbbells or a barbell in your hands with the arms relaxed at the side of the body. Then, proceed to shrug the shoulders up as high as possible, focusing on generating the movement from the mid-section of your upper body, right below the neck. Be sure to stretch the neck out after doing this exercise to prevent tightness from developing.Aim for 12 to 15 reps per set and 2 sets per workout.
Click through to see a video of shoulder shrugs.
4. Lateral to Front Raises
To round out your shoulder, workout and isolate the medial and frontal head of the deltoid, and then add two sets of lateral and front raises. Since the muscle will be much weaker when performing these exercises, don’t expect to lift as heavy a weight. Instead, focus on performing more reps into the 10 to 12 per set range using rest periods of only 30 seconds. This will help the muscle get used to clearing lactic acid so you don’t fatigue as easily with your other lifts. Depending on what you’re doing during your back workout, you may also wish to add in some rear deltoid work; however, if you’re doing heavy bent-over rows, those will hit this muscle quite well already.
Good options if you do wish to include rear deltoid exercises include cable rear delt pulls and seated rear delt lateral raises. If you’re working out at a gym that allows you to do a reverse pec deck, that’s also an option for hitting this muscle group. Our final video shows — you guessed it — lateral to front raises.
Carry the Weight of the World
As you go about designing your overall workout program, be sure the shoulder workout is carefully balanced with the rest of your workout. Keep in mind that many chest exercises, especially the incline chest press, will indirectly target the shoulders, so you want to make sure that you’re getting enough total rest throughout your training. Don’t place a heavy chest workout the day before you do a shoulder workout or you might just find that you’re shoulder workout suffers because of it.