Build Wide Shoulders

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build wide shoulders

Build Wide Shoulders

Wide shoulders can drastically improve a physique, creating the illusion of a small waist, wider chest and larger legs. The shoulder itself is composed of three main muscle heads; the front (anterior) head, side (lateral) head, and the rear (posterior) head. A training routine must be balanced to ensure equal development, although it is the middle (lateral) head of the deltoids which is primarily responsible for the width of the shoulder. The following shoulder routine will stress all three heads of the shoulder, with the aim of inducing maximum muscle hypertrophy (growth) to the shoulder to improve shoulder width.

Seated lateral raises – 3 sets x 12 reps
Seated dumbbell over head press – 3 sets x 8 reps
Wide grip upright row – 3 sets x 8 reps
Bent over lateral raise – 3 sets x 12 reps

The set and repetition range is chosen to reflect the goal of inducing muscle hypertrophy.

The order in which we train the shoulders will depend on individual preferences and goals. Some may choose to begin with an exercise which they feel they need maximum strength when performing, so they therefore choose to execute the exercise at the beginning of the session when they are most fresh. A pressing movement would possibly be a great candidate for this. However, for this routine we are going to begin with the seated lateral raise.

Seated lateral raise – The side raise is an isolation exercise which targets the middle head of the shoulder, the head most responsible for shoulder width. We begin with this exercise to pre-exhaust the lateral head prior to the over head pressing which follows. Form is important to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Beginning a shoulder workout with a lateral raise can be a great method of pre-exhausting the lateral head prior to over head pressing.

Seated dumbbell over head press – The over head press is an extremely effective exercise for stimulating the anterior and lateral deltoid heads, although the rear head receives minimal recruitment. The second exercise is a seated dumbbell press, an overhead press variation which minimises cheating and causes unilateral stress. The unilateral nature of the exercise means each shoulder receives equal stimulation, avoiding imbalances in strength and muscle size. The first exercise, the seated lateral raise, is also a unilateral exercise which causes each shoulder to lift equal resistance independently.

Over head pressing is extremely effective at recruiting the front and side deltoid heads.

Wide grip upright row – The wide grip upright row may not be suitable for those with rotator cuff issues, or with injurious wrists. Such trainers may wish to substitute the exercise with an over head press variation, such as the military press. For those who opt for the upright row will be recommended to take a wider grip than normal, which results in greater lateral deltoid head recruitment whilst reducing involvement from the trapezius. Whilst executing the exercise with a wider grip the height in which the bar is brought up to is reduced due to flexibility, when compared to the narrow grip variation which primarily is used as a trapezius exercise.

Take a wider grip when performing the upright row to shift the emphasis onto the lateral head of the shoulder.

Bent over lateral raise – The last exercise is the bent over lateral raise, an exercise which directly stimulates the rear deltoid head. The exercise is chosen to ensure some stress to the rear head for overall balance. Some may opt to drop this exercise, with the rear deltoid head recruited greatly during many back workout sessions which involve row and pull up exercises.

As with all bodybuilding routines – the training is only effective if there is the correct dietary intake to support the muscle building goal. Ensure a suitable diet is consumed to maximise the rate of muscle hypertrophy.

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