Got small shoulders? You aren’t the only one. Genetics play a key role in determining the size and shape of your body and bones, including your shoulders. Unfortunately, many men are born with a small frame and can only do so much to bulk up. However, there are a number of exercises that can make your shoulders look wider, regardless of your shape and size.
Here are a few ways to target your delts so you can get boulder shoulders in no time.
1. Lateral Raises
As its name suggests, lateral raises engage the lateral deltoids, which comprise the middle portion of your shoulder. Making these muscles work will bulk them up and make your shoulders seem wider. However, performing lateral raises with dumbbells will exert a higher degree of tension at the top part of the movement. Apply tension throughout the whole raise by using a cable instead.
- Stand next to the pulley machine with feet shoulder width apart.
- Reach across your body to grab the pull with your outside arm.
- Raise your arm out to the side until it’s parallel to the floor.
- Hold for one to five seconds and slowly release your arm back down.
Avoid rotating your arm as you raise it or shrugging your shoulders. Instead, keep your arm nearly straight and depress your upper traps before and during the movement.
2. Rear Lateral Raises
Sometimes called the bent over lateral raise, the rear lateral raise engages your posterior deltoid. This muscle rests in the back of the shoulders and can make your upper body look wider from every angle. The key to targeting the posterior delt and properly executing this exercise is proper form.
- Sit or stand so that you’re bent over at a 45 degree angle with a dumbbell in each hand.
- Let your arms hang down with your palms facing one another.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your arms out to a T
- Pause at the top. Then, release slowly.
Lead with your elbows and keep them slightly bent throughout this movement. Avoid raising your arms any higher than your shoulders to prevent muscle strain and injury.
3. Front Raises
Of course, you can’t forget to work the third and final part of the shoulder — the anterior deltoid. Including exercises like front raises, which strengthen this muscle, will create a trifecta that’s certain to give you boulder shoulders. Use a barbell, dumbbells or exercise bands to successfully perform this powerful movement at home or in the gym.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and use an overhand grip on your weights.
- Keep your arms straight as you lift the weight out in front of you until they’re parallel with the floor.
- Pause, then lower the weight back down to your thighs.
The key to completing this exercise while maintaining proper form is engaging your core and avoiding a swinging motion. Focus on raising the bar slowly and pulling your shoulder blades back so you can feel those font delts moving the weight.
4. Upright Rows
If you’re looking for a movement that’ll target your front and medial delts, plus your traps, a few sets of upright rows will serve you well. Once again, remember to focus on form throughout the entire exercise. Use a barbell or dumbbells for a similar effect.
- Stand with your legs shoulder width apart and grasp the weight with an overhand grip so your hands are in line with your thighs.
- Lift the barbell straight up to the chin until your arms are parallel to your shoulders.
- Pause at the top and release on an inhale.
Remember to straighten your back, engage the core and keep your chest open. Lead with your elbows and keep the weights close to your body at all times.
5. Face Pulls
On the other hand, if you want to engage the posterior and medial delt simultaneously, face pulls are your best friend. This compound exercise also targets your scapular muscles, which help stabilize the shoulder joints and improve your physique.
- Attach a rope to a pulley machine and set it at the height of your chest.
- Hold the rope with an overhand grip and step back to create tension.
- Sit your hips back and pull the cable towards your face so your elbows flare out.
- Then, carefully return the rope to the starting position.
Keep your elbows parallel to the ground throughout each face pull and engage your upper back. Maintaining good posture and a straight spine will also help you practice proper form.
Odds are you’ll feel the results before you see them. However, as long as you train consistently and practice good form, you should see results within a few weeks or a few months. Accelerate muscle growth with a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein and carbs to fuel your workouts. Last — but certainly not least — prioritize rest. Recovery days are essential to growth and preventing injury.
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