How to Get Wider Shoulders

Three Methods:Using Strength TrainingDressing for Wider ShouldersMaking Lifestyle Changes

Wide shoulders are a desirable physical trait for many men. However, it can be difficult to get this kind of physique. If you are interested in building up your shoulder muscles with strength training exercises, then there are several great exercises that can help to target your shoulders. If you just want to get the look of wider shoulders without the work, then you can also try wearing certain types of clothing to make your shoulders appear wider. There are also some lifestyle changes that might help, such as improving your posture, losing weight, and building up your confidence.

Method 1
Using Strength Training

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    Try partial side laterals. One good exercise for building up your shoulder muscles is the side lateral raise. However, it can be hard to do a full side lateral raise with heavy weights, so doing partial raises is a good alternative.[1]
    • To perform this exercise, hold some heavy dumbbells in each of your hands and place your arms against the sides of your body.
    • Then, raise the dumbbells up as far as you can. This should feel pretty difficult and you should not be able to raise them up all the way to your shoulders. If you can, then your weights are not heavy enough.
    • Do three sets of 6 to 10 repetitions.
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    Perform upright rows with a wide grip. Upright rows are also great for building wider shoulders. By performing upright rows with a wide grip, you can work the muscles on the outer edges of your shoulders and this may make it easier to widen your shoulders.[2]
    • To perform upright rows, sit on the seated row machine and grasp the outer edges of the bar with your hands.
    • Perform the exercises as usual, pulling the bar straight back. Make sure that you use enough weight to challenge yourself.
    • Do three sets of 6 to 10 repetitions, or as many as you can do before you can’t do any more.
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    Do shoulder shrugs. Shrugging your shoulders with weights in your hands is another great way to build up your shoulder muscles. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and then hold the dumbbells down at your sides. Then, begin shrugging your shoulders.[3]
    • Do as many repetitions as you can. You may want to do three sets of 10 reps to start.
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    Try some rear deltoid raises. You can also work your rear deltoids to increase the width of your shoulders. These are similar to side deltoid raises, but you perform them while bent over.[4]
    • To do rear deltoid raises, bend over so that your back is parallel with the ground.
    • Get a dumbbell in each hand that is heavy, but not so heavy you can’t lift it more than a few times.
    • Then, begin raising the dumbbells out and away from your body until they are almost parallel with your back.
    • Do three sets of 8 to 10 repetitions on each side.
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    Perform front deltoid raises. You also have deltoid muscles in the front of your shoulders, which you can work by performing front deltoid raises. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand.[5]
    • Starting with your hand close to your body, begin lifting the dumbbell upwards and in front of your body.
    • When the dumbbell is about at shoulder height, begin to lower it slowly back to its starting position.
    • Do three sets of 8 to 10 repetitions on each side.
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    Do overhead presses. Pressing weights overhead will also help you to add bulk to your shoulders and make them look wider. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and holding a dumbbell in each of your hands.[6]
    • To do the exercise, press the dumbbells straight upwards above your head and then bring them back down slowly.
    • Do three sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
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    Try wide-grip pull-ups. If you want to work with your own body weight, then doing pull-ups is a great option. Pull-ups will work your shoulder muscles along with your arm and back muscles at the same time. Using a wide grip will enhance the shoulder work as well.[7]
    • Grasp a pull-up bar with your hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Then, pull your body weight upwards until your chin reaches the bar. Do as many pull-ups as you can.
    • If you can’t do regular pull-ups yet, then you can try doing assisted pull-ups with a machine. Most gyms have one of these machines. They use weights to counter your body weight and make the pull-up a little easier.
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    Perform pike-style push-ups. Push-ups also use your body weight to work your upper body and core muscles. However, you can target your shoulder muscles more intensely if you do pike-style push-ups.[8]
    • To do pike-style push-ups you will need a weight lifting bench or a sturdy chair. Get into the push-up position in front of the bench or chair and then put your feet up on the chair.
    • Use your hands to walk your upper body back towards the chair until you are in the pike position, which is similar to a headstand, but with your feet on the bench or chair. Your body should be bent at the waist.
    • To do the exercise, lower your face down towards the ground by bending your arms. Then, when you are close to the ground, raise yourself back up.
    • Repeat this exercise 8 to 10 times and do three sets.

Method 2
Dressing for Wider Shoulders

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    Wear shoulder pads. Shoulder pads are a classic solution to narrow or small shoulders. Some clothes come with built in shoulder pads, such as blazers and coats.[9] You might also be able to get away with putting shoulder pads on under a thick sweater.
    • Be careful not to overstuff with shoulder pads or they will look too obvious.
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    Choose clothing that fits well. Baggy clothing can actually make your shoulders look narrower, so it is best to avoid it. Instead, choose clothing that fits you well, such as fitted jeans and shirts.[10]
    • It is especially important to choose clothing that is fitted around your waist because this can help to create the V-shape that makes your shoulders look wider.
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    Try some horizontal stripes. Wearing horizontal stripes across your chest and shoulders can also make your shoulders look wider. Try wearing a sweater that has a stripe or two going across the chest and/or shoulder area.[11]
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    Opt for white shirts. White can make you seem like you have wider shoulders as well by making the top half of your body appear larger.[12] Try wearing white dress shirts and t-shirts to see if this enhances the size of your shoulders.
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    Dress in layers. You can take advantage of the effects of layering your clothes in the winter to give the look of wider shoulders. Try wearing a sweater over a long sleeved shirt, or layer a t-shirt over a waffle shirt.[13]
    • You can also try wearing two or three t-shirts in warmer weather to create this effect. However, make sure that the collars or sleeves of the other shirts don’t peak out or it may look odd. Wear a larger shirt over the others to hide the edges.

Method 3
Making Lifestyle Changes

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    Lose weight if you are overweight. Carrying extra weight around your waist can make your shoulders look smaller in comparison. Along with sculpting your shoulder muscles, try to lose weight to decrease the circumference of your waist. This will help to create a V-effect and make your shoulders look wider.[14]
    • To lose weight, you will need to reduce your overall caloric intake so that you are eating fewer calories than you burn. Try keeping a log of everything you eat to determine how many calories you consume and cut down as needed.
    • Fill up on non-starchy vegetables, such as green beans, cauliflower, peppers, and zucchini to help reduce your overall caloric intake. You can also replace fatty proteins with lean proteins, such as skinless chicken, turkey burgers, tofu, and egg whites.
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    Stand up straight. Good posture can make you seem thinner and enhance your shoulders at the same time.[15] Stand up straight with your chest out and shoulders back to make them look wider.
    • Throughout the day remind yourself to correct your posture, such as by placing a note on your desk or by setting an alarm on your phone.
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    Work on your confidence. Exuding confidence can affect the way that people see you. Being confident is also helpful for feeling good about yourself. If your confidence is low, then work on building it up so that you can look and feel your best.[16]
    • Try writing yourself a letter from the perspective of someone who care about you and wants to boost your confidence.[17] What would that person say? Which of your strengths might he/she point out? After you write this letter, try reading over it once a day to help boost your confidence.


  • Before you attempt any exercise program, it is advisable to consult your physician.

Sources and Citations

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Article Info

Categories: Upper Body Strengthening and Toning