Not much signifies a powerful and aesthetic physique like a set of wide shoulders. However, many trainees take too limited of an approach when they try to create those cannonball-sized delts. Below are a few tips that will help you build wide shoulders and improve your appearance.
No delt workout is complete without some sort of overhead pressing. However, feel free to switch things up a bit. Most bodybuilders either do regular dumbbell presses or some sort of barbell military press. These are both good, but you can improve your shoulder development by incorporating additional variations, too.
Instead of dumbbell presses, try seated Arnold presses. Keep the weight moderate, doing sets of 8-12 reps. Focuse on a deep stretch, make the reps super controlled, and squeeze the supinated contraction hard at the top. After that, try some wide grip behind the neck presses. To ensure shoulder safety, keep the weight light and do sets of 12-15 reps. Doing so will engorge your delts and traps full of blood for a great pump.
While dumbbell raises are excellent isolation movements, many trainees unknowingly make a serious mistake. When you use too much weight, you end up shrugging your shoulders in the direction of the raise, which takes emphasis off the individual deltoid muscles.
For instance, on side laterals, you might shrug the shoulders up prior to each rep, hitting the trapezius instead of the side deltoid. When doing rear delt raises, you might shrug the shoulders back, shifting emphasis to the lower traps or rhomboids.
Minimize this by “sinking” the shoulder down. For example, before a rep of lateral raises, sink the shoulder as far as you can into the socket, keeping it there while you do your set. You’ll find the side deltoid is hit much more effectively this way. Apply this same idea to front and rear raises, too.
If you want wide shoulders, you’re going to have to spend time building up your side deltoids. In addition to sinking your shoulders to make normal lateral raises more effective, there are a couple modifications to the exercise you could also try.
First, try “resetting” on every rep. Do this by putting a couple weight plates on a flat bench, then sitting on them. Rest your dumbbells on the bench itself, pulling them slowly to the fully contracted position and holding for a second. Lower under control back to the bench and rest for a second again. This has every rep beginning from a dead-stop and going to a paused contraction.
Next, do your laterals standing, but keep your arms bent 90 degrees in the shape of an “L”. Bring your upper arms to parallel with the ground, which will have your forearms pointing forward. Then perform an external rotation, twisting your arms such that your upper arm remains stationary and forearm is now pointing upward. Slowly reverse this movement pattern back to the start position to complete the rep.
Do know that it’s not necessary to do both of these variations in the same workout. 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps of either one is enough for a single training session. Alternate between the two every time you train delts.
One of the best, albeit counter-intuitive, ways to look like you have wide shoulders is to reduce your body fat. Not only will your shoulders look more aesthetic due to improved deltoid separation, but if you’re overweight, your waist will shrink. Then your shoulders will look wider because they’re being compared to a narrower waist, thus enhancing your v-taper.
Building wide shoulders is something every bodybuilder should strive for. You can do it fairly simply by incorporating some different pressing movements and making a few tweaks to your isolation exercises. Reduce your body fat so as to improve your v-taper, and your shoulders will soon be looking wider than ever.
If you liked reading this article you may also be interested in our write up on rounded shoulders.