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    Shoulder width always was a true indicator of strength and power. Big “cannonball” deltoids have to be earned with sweat and blood, and most bodybuilders know that. But for some reason shoulders are not very popular amongst beginners and intermediates. And that’s a problem, because well-developed shoulders, abs and calves are a basis for a great physique.

    clavicles and scapula

    To better understand what makes our shoulders wide, let’s get into anatomy. Clavicles and scapulae are the bones that play a primary role in determining width of your shoulder girdle. And of course depending on your genetics you are born with particular shoulder width. But if your shoulders are narrow, you shouldn’t worry – hard training will allow you to spread clavicles and scapulae and increase the width. And if you already have a wide set of shoulders and you haven’t trained much – consider yourself lucky. With considerable amount of training you will be able to build ultra wide shoulders.

    So what are those exercises that can help you to build wider shoulders?

    • Wide grip chin ups
    • Wide grip pull downs (behind the back/frontal)
    • Wide grip army presses
    • Wide grip behind the neck presses
    • Wide grip bench presses and incline presses)
    • Wide grip bent-over rows
    • Deadlifts

    As you see, basically everything that requires a considerable amount of muscle stretching. Those are the most effective exercises and they will make your scapulae and clavicles thicker and more curved. Normal stretching, although great for promoting additional muscle grow, is not effective for widening your shoulder girdle, so don’t put too much emphasis on it.

    Are there any other exercises that can make your shoulders wider?

    dumbbell lateralsYes. Exercises above should be your priority if you have narrow shoulder girdle, but exercises below will help you to develop your deltoids and thus make you even wider. Effect is purely visual, and it’s minor compared to widening your scapulae and clavicle. Still, it’s more than worth pursuing.

    • Dumbbell laterals
    • Lying dumbbell laterals
    • One-arm cable laterals
    • Bent-over laterals
    • Upright rows
    • Shrugs

    These will help you to build strong and bulky side deltoid heads.

    How much sets should I do?

    There are no strict rules, because everyone responds differently to the same exercises and same amount of sets, but use this as a guideline:

    • If you are a beginner, do at least 3 exercises with 3-4 sets each (9-12 sets total)
    • If you are intermediate, do 4 exercises with 4 sets each (16 sets total)
    • If you are advanced, do 5 (or even 6, if you are insane) exercises with 4 sets each (20+ sets in total)

    Working on your weak points is very important in bodybuilding, and if you have narrow shoulders, start hitting them hard! But don’t discard overall balance and aesthetics. That means – train other body parts adequately, your lacking shoulders shouldn’t become the only muscle group your train.

    Balance is the key.