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Building big shoulders should be an essential part of any workout regime. Broader shoulders make everyday movements much easier, and you will significantly reduce your risk of back or chest injuries if your shoulders are strong.
Big shoulders also make you look great. They align your posture and ensure the rest of your upper body is in proportion. The last thing you want is thunderous biceps seemingly hanging from puny shoulders! It just doesn’t look right.
But how do you adapt your workout to build big shoulders quickly?
The first thing you need to do is make sure you’re doing the right exercises. Routines like raises, overhead shoulder presses, and the military press to name but three, will give you the best results when attempting to broaden and bulk your shoulders.
We’ll introduce these a little later on.
You also need to make sure your reps, sets, and form are on point so you’re getting the most out of your workout. Recovery time is also crucial, as you need to give your shoulders time to fill out, mainly if you’re working on your shoulders as part of a broader exercise regime.
But before we get into some of the exercises you can do to build bigger shoulders quickly, let’s look at some of the reasons why they’re an important part of the upper body to work on.
Building bigger shoulders has so many benefits to your health and wellbeing. Perhaps the most significant improvement you will see with broader shoulders is a much better aligned posture.
According to the Harvard Medical School, posture is vital in all aspects of life as it improves your balance, which “can strengthen your abilities in tennis, golf, running, dancing, skiing – and just about any other sport or activity.”
But good posture isn’t just crucial for athletes. Healthline tells us that good posture reduces lower back pain, results in fewer headaches, increases energy levels, and diminishes the tension in your shoulders and neck. Doesn’t that sound great?
By working on your shoulders in the gym, you keep your body in great shape, making life an awful lot easier [and less painful] in so many disciplines.
From an anatomical perspective, you can’t change your bone structure. This might lead you to wonder how on earth you can broaden your shoulders, but the key to your success lies in working your delts.
Your deltoids, to give them their full name, are split into three distinct groups:
1] Anterior deltoid – the front of your shoulder.
2] Medial or lateral deltoid – the middle of your shoulder.
3] Posterior deltoid – the rear part of your shoulder.
Therefore, when seeking to build your shoulders, you need to ensure you’re working with each of the three deltoid groups so you get the broader shoulders that you desire.
If you like the sound of improving your posture and reducing various aches and pains in your upper body, then now is a great time to start incorporating some shoulder-specific exercises into your gym routine.
Just like you dedicate workout time to other parts of your body, you need to afford the same dedication to working on your shoulders, particularly if you want to see results quickly.
To get you started, we introduce five proven exercises that help you to build your shoulders quickly and safely.
1] Overhead shoulder press
Grab two evenly weighted dumbbells. Begin with them extended slightly above your upper chest and push high up towards the ceiling. You must keep your elbows tucked into your sides with straight legs and a straight back. Your feet should be apart to help your balance. 2-3 sets of 7-8 reps should be enough to get you started.
2] The military press
Very similar to the shoulder press, the military press requires you to bring your feet together as if you’re standing to attention. By reducing the stability of your lower-body platform, your shoulders have to work harder to lift the weight. Try 3-5 sets of 10 reps.
3] Front raises
As the name suggests, front raises are focused on isolating your anterior [front] deltoid. Your feet should be hip-width apart, and you need to hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms down. Begin by raising your arms in front of you with a slight bend in your elbows, and pause when your dumbbell reaches shoulder height. Slowly return them to the starting position and repeat. You can try 3-5 sets of ten reps of each exercise, which is a total of 20 reps per set.
4] Bent-over lateral raise
The bent-over lateral raise targets your posterior deltoids. You should begin by bending over, so your torso is parallel to the ground. Next, with dumbbells in each hand, let your arms hang straight to the floor with your palms facing each other. Then, squeeze your shoulder blades together using your rear delts, and lift the weights in an arc motion until they’re parallel to the floor. Then return to the starting position. Begin with 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps.
5] Barbell upright row
Perfect for your side and front deltoids, the barbell upright row helps to broaden your shoulders. Take the bar in your hands with an overhand grip, approximately shoulder-width apart. Pull the bar up to your chin and keep it close to your body. Don’t go any higher than your chin, as this can aggravate your shoulders. Return the bell to the starting position and repeat. Start with three sets of between 10-12 reps.
As is the case with any workout regime, you need to work really hard on your form. Perfect form will help you build your shoulders quickly and will ensure that your efforts aren’t wasted. We would highly recommend working with a PT at the start of your weightlifting journey, so you can have a clear idea of what good form looks like.
You also need to be sure to get the weight right. If you’re just starting, don’t rush into double-digit dumbbells, as you can easily risk injury. Instead, start with something lighter while you develop your form and perform longer repetitions. Increase at an organic rate and push yourself when your form is well developed.
We also can’t stress enough the importance of warming up before hitting these shoulder exercises. Cold muscles are easier to injure than warm ones, and a simple ten-minute aerobic exercise will prepare your muscles for your shoulder sets. Although this might seem like simple advice, you’d be amazed at how many people neglect the importance of form, weight, and warm up when it comes to weightlifting.
Getting the basics right and following tried and trusted exercises will help you build your shoulders quickly and safely.
Developing perfect form should be your number one goal when training your shoulders. To help maintain your form, make sure you avoid the following common mistakes:
• Exaggerating or extending the necessary movements.
• Arching or bending your back.
• Rocking backwards and forwards while lifting.
• Doing shoulder exercises behind the neck.
• Lifting weights that are too heavy.
If you’re unsure about your form, speak to a PT and ask to shadow them for a couple of sessions. Then, when you get your form sorted, you will start to see some results.
Building big shoulders quickly is a common goal for anyone looking to improve their posture and to get in better shape. Perfectly aligned shoulders also help reduce back and muscle pain and improve your balance when playing sports and in your everyday life.
As we’ve mentioned throughout, the key to building big shoulders quickly is incorporating delt exercises into your routine and perfecting your form. If you’re consistent with your workouts and on point with your form, you will begin to see results in a short space of time.
Feel free to try the five proven exercises we’ve shared in this post, and we hope you’ve found our tips and FAQs helpful. If you’re struggling with your form or aren’t seeing your desired results, get in touch with a PT and set about improving your workout.