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How To Build Wide Round Shoulders

Updated on August 4, 2014
build wide shoulders
build wide shoulders | Source

Build Wide, Powerful Shoulders

When you are wearing clothes a good set of shoulders is probably the most impressive part of any physique. They will make you look broad and powerful from all angles, and a pair of broad shoulders will also accentuate the appearance of a small waist. So in this hub I’ll tell you how to build wide round shoulders in the fastest and most efficient way possible.

But first you should know a bit about the structure of the shoulders (or deltoids as they are more properly referred to). They are made up of three distinct heads – the front (anterior), the side (lateral) and the rear (posterior) deltoids. So for maximum size and thickness all three heads need to be developed; but it’s the side head that needs the most emphasis for a wider, rounder appearance.

To properly develop the shoulders from all angles you need two types of movements – overhead pressing movements and lateral raises.

Overhead Presses

The first and most important movement required to build really wide powerful shoulders is an overhead pressing movement. This can be done with either a barbell or with dumbbells. I usually recommend a barbell for beginners, but the problem with this is it puts more emphasis on the front deltoid than the side. So for people who have been training for a while it’s a good idea to switch to the dumbbell overhead press. These can be done either standing or seated, but I prefer seated.

The dumbbell overhead press is a superior shoulder developer as it puts more of an emphasis on the side deltoid than a barbell press does. This is because the position of the arms is more out to the side, whereas the natural position for a barbell press is with the arms coming forward. Also using dumbbells allows each arm to move independently, which helps to give a more even development.

It is important to use a full range of motion when doing shoulder presses though. You will see many people at the gym only going half-way down, but by doing this you are still putting most of the emphasis on the front deltoids, and also the triceps. To fully engage the side delts you need to bring your hands all the way down, close to your shoulders.

Lateral Raises

The standing side lateral raise is a fantastic exercise which really brings out the lateral head of the deltoids and creates truly wide shoulders. It can be done with dumbbells or cables. Cables have the advantage of keeping constant tension on the muscles, but dumbbells are excellent too.

Lateral raises can also be done bending forwards, which targets the rear deltoids more. Or alternatively you could do face pulls to target this area. Face pulls provide a good level of stimulation to the muscles of the upper back as well and are an excellent, but underrated exercise.

It is important to get your technique right on these exercises if you want to get the maximum benefit though. So when doing side lateral raises don’t go too heavy – use a weight that you can control at all times. Lean slightly forward and brace your abs really hard (this takes the stress off your lower back). Then as you start to lift, lead with the elbows and keep your little fingers high, so that this finger is at least as high as the rest of your hand when you reach the top position. Stop when your arms are parallel to the floor, as going higher than this only takes the stress off the shoulders and puts it onto the trapezius.

Here's a video of Sean Nalewanyj demonstrating proper side lateral raise technique:

And another one of Sean demonstrating the bent-over lateral raise:

You will also see people doing raises to the front in order to target the anterior deltoid more. But these are unnecessary as the front shoulder gets plenty of stimulation not only from your overhead presses, but from other pressing movements such as bench presses, as well as parallel bar dips and other exercises.

Learn more about how to build muscle with this great book by Robert Kennedy

Sets, Reps And Frequency

For your shoulder presses do two work-up sets first to properly prepare your muscles for the heavier weight. Then 3 sets of 5 – 8 reps will work great. For lateral raises and face pulls do 2 – 3 sets of 8 – 10 reps. This will give your shoulders a great pump, and the combination of these three exercises is all you need to build a really great pair of shoulders – wide, round and powerful looking.

Train your shoulders twice per week for best results, but once every 5 days or so will work great too. Many people only train them once per week, which is fine, but will not give you the fastest results.

Focus On Progression

Progressive overload is the most important factor when building muscle, and training your shoulders is no different. So focus on increasing the weight you are using over time. Of course you can’t increase indefinitely, and trying to do so will only lead to setbacks, so you will need to de-load occasionally and build back up again. But this time next year you should be using significantly more weight than you are at the moment – especially on your shoulder press, which is your main compound shoulder movement.

Eat Right

You’ll also need to ensure you are eating a good muscle building diet, with a slight calorie surplus, plenty of protein, properly timed carbs, some good fats and plenty of vegetables if you want to stay lean whilst building your shoulders and other body parts up. And get sufficient rest and sleep too – remember you grow when you are resting, not when you are in the gym.

So that’s how you build wide, round shoulders in the fastest, most efficient way possible. It isn't difficult and if you put in the required effort you will see the results. Best of luck.

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