T Nation

Width To Shoulders


For years I have thought that the best exercise to add width to your shoulders was side lateral raises, but having looked at guys with maximal shoulder width it looks to me that it starts with proper trap development. Having a full trap development seems to push the shoulders out more.

Should I ditch the side lat raises in favour of a movement for traps ( which apart from dead lifts I ignore completely ). I work my shoulders currently with sufficient volume and have had quite a few comments from the non BB world how broad I am in that department but I know fine well that inside the BB fraternity I wouldn't draw a lot of attention via shoulder development.


do you do any olympic pulling? snatch, power clean, high pull?
I wouldn't shrug. Not ever.

along with your strict pressing, what about heavy push presses with the goal of getting the weight all the way up, shoulders both touching your ears? The overhead shrug is tough too.


Not sure about that Steve. I've always felt that when the traps are very well developed and high, it creates the illusion that your shoulders are actually narrower than they really are. So if you have width issues due to genetics then I'd actually stop trap work and concentrate on side delt work. A routine I've used to beef up my side delts involves some overload drop sets.

  1. one arm lateral rasies:

2 drop sets - heavy (target 4 reps) immediately grab a lighter DB and rep out to failure (target 8-10 reps) then grind out as many X reps as you can.

After completing the 2 rounds of drops, go for a regular set of lateral rasies (10-12 reps)

Your side delts should be toast by this time so really finish them off with 3-4 sets of behind neck presses on the Smith machine (trying to balance a regular BB at this stage of fatigue might be dangerous). Go for something like 10, 8, 6 & 6 with bottom position X reps. This is a great shoulder/side delt shocker. Give it a try!


I would have to agree with 1morerep, well developed traps(especially high traps) make your shoulders appear narrower than the actually are.


Lateral Raises and Rear Lateral Raises also work your traps to some extent.


Yeah I tried to post on this earlier but kept getting logged out. Big traps are certainely impressive but do take away from shoulder width. The most important lift for me to develop my shoulders wider and thicker is behind the neck press on the smith machine to ear level only.

That lift has increased 40 lbs for similar reps and my shoulders have a bigger "pop" to them for lack of a better term. Lateral raises work too but are harder to progress on. Good luck


YOu are exactly right 1more. If the traps overpower the back it will take away from your width. I learned that from Vince Gironda's readings.

Along with laterals, upright rows hit the side delts pretty good....


Don Howorth showing the perfect Gironda look. He has super wide clavicles with some coconuts sitting on top of that. Couple that with good lats wide triceps(lateral head) and a tiny waist and you've got the human wedge.


Go to Larry Scott's web site..

He talks allot on shoulder development...

PM me and I will send you a sample... for more you need to pony up the $ to Larry...



especially upright rows just to the top of the pecs with a wide grip...


....Surprising...nobody here mentions abs?


If you want wide shoulders do a lot of overhead pressing. Do a lot of heavy rows, in different planes. Then finish with side shoulder raises. Always start with the compound movements and finish with isolation movements.


ok abs...


Heavy rows are great for thickness and for some long limbed people a more effective way to add mass than squats. Personally my shoulders are relatively small and while rows have helped me on my continuing quest to make my neck disappear, they haven't done anything for my delt size.

Barbell presses and olympic lifts are a good way to build the strength you want to make working out for hypertrophy more easy but they haven't helped me with adding on deltoid mass and adding to my width.

Side Raises with an unchanging, small degree of bend in the elbows to help increase muscle overload along with dumbbell shoulder presses have been the best way for me to add on shoulder mass. Focus on your middle delt to add size. Work your side delts to balance out your shoulder. Don't worry about your front delts if you do any sort of incline bench work. Most likely they're fine.