Broad shoulders are the ideal for men. They create a strong, attractive frame. We look and feel more powerful. When people say that he could hold the weight of the world on his shoulders, they envision a guy with broad shoulders. When people – women especially – see a guy with broad shoulders they see someone that they feel safe with. That can protect them.
Just because you’re not isolating a muscle doesn’t mean that you’re not building it. For example, by focusing more on pulling than pushing, you’ll pull your shoulders back. Broadening them in the process. This is accomplished with no isolation of the deltoid.
Here are 5 exercises that will help you inadvertently build wider, more athletic-looking shoulders:
1. Yates row.
Developing the appearance of broad shoulders is the same thing as building broad shoulders. Upper and lower lat development as well asmid/upper trap development have a huge impact on the look at width of our shoulders.
The Yates row is one of the best back-development exercises there is. If not the best exercise. It brings girth to the traps as well as the lats. Coined after legendary bodybuilder Dorian Yates who used this lift – almost exclusively – to develop one of the best backs in bodybuilding history, the exercise needs to be in your routine.
Let the weight slide up your thighs from the top of your knee cap, keeping your elbows tight, and really focusing on pinching your shoulder blades together. It’s a bit more upright of an exercise than a full on bent over row.
2. Decline bench press.
Many think that the decline bench press is only for the lower part of the pectoral muscle. However, the manner in which the decline bench press opens up the chest is actually arguably the best exercise for building the entire pectoral, not just the lower aspect of the muscle.
A bigger chest gives the appearance of broader shoulders. Much like how the lats give the shoulders and arms something to ‘sit on’, a thicker, fuller chest give our shoulders foundation and girth. Combine the decline press with the inclined press in a superset to get a great chest workout that’ll also give the shoulders – mainly the anterior deltoid – a great workout as well.
3. Upright row.
The trapezius muscle is the muscle that attaches the neck to the end of the collar bone or the top of the shoulder. With fuller traps your shoulders look much bigger. Without them, we appear skinnier and even weaker.
Shrugs are also a great exercise for isolating the traps, but I still prefer the upright row because of the fact that you’re still working your deltoids, especially with a closer grip. Try varying your grip from close to a much wider grip to build every angle of the muscle.
When performing this exercise – shoulders on a bench, hips up, and feet planted on the ground – take a big deep breath in as you bring the weight down. This is one of the few exercises that develops a bigger rib cage. Bigger rib case = wider shoulders.
It’s also a great exercise for developing thickness in the lats, chest and triceps. An exercise that’s under-utilized in a lot of programs, it’s definitely something that should be added to any routine.
5. The snatch.
Olympic lifters have massive shoulders. One exercise that you see them doing, that most of us don’t do, is the snatch. It’s the only exercise that has a grip as wide as it does, which develops the traps and deltoids from angles you don’t see in other exercises.
It’s not an exercise that is done slowly in any phase. It’s a power exercise through and through. So many don’t use it because it requires practice and proper technique. But I think it’s a great exercise to incorporate into any and every routine.
Start off with a light weight – even just the bar. Develop proper form, keeping the bar close to your body, getting under the weight and so forth. The power will come from your hips and legs. You shoulders and traps aren’t going to do a whole lot of the lifting, but you’ll feel them the next day for sure.
If you’re a skinny guy looking to build lean muscle, as fast as possible, check out this video that a good friend of mine put up just a week ago. He has some unique theories on the topic of building muscle that I’m sure you’ll find helpful.