9 Best Exercises for Wider Shoulders | Avoid These Mistakes

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Best 9 Workouts For Having Wider Shoulders


What’s more attractive than having wider shoulders? 

To unquestionably perceive this you don’t really need to look far away than the way that tuxes and suits have been designed for generations. All suites have the shoulders stretched up because we’re subconsciously attracted to that v-shape. Having an upright posture with wide shoulders and a narrow waist not only communicates that you’re healthy but it also makes you look more confident and more like a leader.

Fortunately, widening shoulders are not limited to patting up tuxes rather certain workouts can help grow up specific parts of your shoulder allowing you to maintain that natural v-shape even without a padded up suit.

Here are the top 9 workouts to build wider shoulders fast :

  1. Lateral Raises
  2. Bent-Over Reverse Cable Fly
  3. Upright Rowing
  4. Reverse Dumbell Fly
  5. Leaning Lateral Raise
  6. High Cable Reverse Flies
  7. Cable Lateral Raise
  8. Cable Cross-over Lateral Raise
  9. Inclined Lateral Raises on Bench

So, Let’s get into them one by one.

  • Lateral Raises

Let’s start first with the obvious one which is LATERAL RAISE. But we’re going to introduce a variation to make the exercise much more effective.

Generally, most people perform lateral raises standing perfectly upright. Even though this isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s not the best way to perform the exercise if you intend to add width to your deltoids.

If this does not make sense to you, you have to understand that the shoulder has three heads i.e. Anterior, lateral and posterior (or front, middle and back). To build width, you will essentially want to develop the middle and the back of the shoulder. Most people focus on developing their front head instead of doing some isolation exercises like frontal raises that target the front of your shoulder.

Still, we see people doing compound exercises like military presses which also primarily targets front deltoids. For the middle of the shoulder, we do lateral raises thinking that we’re completely isolating the lateral head of the shoulder when standing straight up. Nevertheless, when done this way the front of your shoulder will be very highly involved in the movement. Almost evenly as much as the lateral head that you’re trying to hit.

So, to target the lateral head as well as some of the posterior head primarily, you’ll want to lean by some degrees forward.
Pros: It targets lateral heads effectively which helps in increasing the width of shoulders

How to do Lateral Raises?

  • Starting the exercise with your dumbbells in front of your hips rather than to the sides of your hips. This will naturally put you into the correct leaning forward position.
  • Then without swinging your back, you would raise both dumbbells directly to your sides with a slight bend in the elbow. Making sure to keep the elbows slightly above your wrists. You do not want the dumbbells coming high up above the elbows. 
  • Continue to bring your arms up until they’re parallel with the floor and then lower back down to the starting position with the dumbbells in front of your hips.



  •  Bent-Over Reverse Cable Fly

The next powerful workout which is a bent-over reverse cable fly will target the posterior head or the back of your shoulder which is also very important for building up that wider look.

How to do Bent-Over Reverse Cable Fly?

To perform the exercise

  •  Stand sideways to the cable and bend your upper body almost until it’s parallel with the floor.
  • You can use either a handle attachment or you can grab the cable itself. In either case, you’ll want to keep your arm extended with a slight bend in your elbow and,
  • Aim to bring the cable directly to the side of your shoulder, even with your upper body and parallel to the floor.

Note: When raising up, you want to again make sure not to bring your hands higher than your elbows.

  • Upright Rowing

Here comes another excellent workout. Now regular upright rows with a barbell can help us build up the traps and the shoulders but they also carry the risk of the shoulder injury. Taking a wide grip and only coming up to the sternum decreases the risk of impingement. But the risk is still there if you accidentally come up too high or if you have poor shoulder mobility.

So, to still get many of the same benefits without the increased risk of injury, you could perform the exercise with dumbbells and with a scanty variation.

How to do Upright Rowing?

To begin,

  • Start by leaning slightly forward with arms bent, holding two dumbbells resting in front of your hips.
  • Then while keeping the elbows bent at about a 90-degree angle, you’re gonna want to raise the dumbbells up to shoulder level but unlike the upright row.
  • You’re gonna keep your hands in front of your body rather than sliding a barbell up along your body. This will prevent the excessive internal rotation that we see with the regular upright barbell rows. At the top position, your elbow should be either parallel with your wrists or slightly above your wrists. 
  • Then lower the dumbbells back down that original starting position in front of your hips. And repeat four reps.

An extra benefit of this workout is you being able to lift more weight. This is because your elbow is bent rather than being extended creating a shorter lever length giving you more leverage. For this reason, once you learn the exercise and you have good form, you should not hesitate to use more weight in this one compared to regular lateral raises.

You may also like: 

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  • Reverse Dumbbell Fly

For the back part of the shoulder it is a must-to-do workout.

How to do Reverse Dumbell Fly?

  • First, you want to grab two dumbbells and bend forward at your waist. Make sure you keep your chest up and your shoulder blades back, to protect your lower back.
  • The further you bend forward with this exercise closer and closer to 90 degrees, the more you’ll isolate that posterior head. On the other hand at a 60-degree angle, you’ll be combining your lateral head as well.
  • Both angles are great and both should be incorporated as you change up your exercises over time.

Also, remember that you’ll have to use essentially lighter weights for bent lateral raises than you would for something like regular lateral raises.

  • Leaning Lateral Raises

Leaning lateral raises is another variation where you should not focus on using more weights. This exercise is great because it helps us work the shoulder in a way that’s just not possible with regular lateral raises. The first 30 degrees that you raise the dumbbells during a regular lateral raise requires minimal work from the lateral head of your shoulder and instead, it’s mostly done by the supraspinatus which is one of your rotator cuff muscles. It isn’t until after we pass 30 degrees that the lateral deltoid becomes the prime mover. However, If we perform the exercise by grabbing onto something and leaning away from it were able to keep more tension on that lateral head throughout the entire exercise.

How to do Leaning Lateral Raises?

To begin,

  • Make sure you plant your feet close to whatever you’re holding on to and then extend your arms so that you’re leaning far enough away to the side, to create a unique angle. Apply the same form tips that you would with regular lateral raises.
  • So. start with the dumbbell hanging down and then as you raise the dumbbell up make sure you keep that elbow slightly bent and above your wrist.
  • Raise the dumbbell until your arm is parallel with the floor and your hand is even with your shoulder.
  • Then you’re gonna lower back down and repeat up to four reps.

Now, moving back to the cables, we have

  • High Cable Reverse Flys

It is potentially beneficial for the back of the shoulder. Here you can again use the handle attachments or you can just use the cables themselves.

How to do High Cable Reverse Flys?

  • Start by raising the pulleys until they’re above your head. Next, you’ll want to stand upright facing the cable cross machine.
  • Using your right hand grab the cable on your left and with your left hand grab the cable on the right. This is your starting position with both of the cables crossed over in front of you.
  •  Keeping that same slight bend in the elbow, bring your arms back and outward while really squeezing the shoulder blades tight together before returning back to the starting position with both your arms crossed over.
  • Then repeat for reps.

  • Cable Lateral Raises

Another great cable exercise for the lateral head is the cable lateral raise. Usually, this is done by facing the cable with your side, grabbing a handle attachment behind your back and then performing lateral raises. And even though this is very effective, I’d like you to try a little different of a variation this time that can help you take your front deltoid out of the movement and put more tension on the middle and the back part of your shoulder.

How to do Cable Lateral Raises?

  • Instead of the cable being behind your back you would be in a straddle position with the cable in between your legs.
  • Next, you’ll want to lean slightly forward and raise the cable directly to your side until your arm is parallel with the floor.
  • Make sure you do it by standing close enough to the weight stack to make sure that the cable doesn’t come too high up.

You can also use the cable to effectively do leaning lateral raises by simply holding onto the metal beam that the pulleys slide up and down on and then you would lean away. This will once again keep the tension on the shoulders for a larger range of motion than regular lateral raises.

  • Cable Cross-over Lateral Raises 

Another great cable exercise that involves both arms at the same time is the cable crossover lateral raise.

How to do Cable Cross-over Lateral Raises?

  • Here you would start with both the pulleys set at the very bottom and then you would have your back facing the cable cross machine.
  • Then just like with the reverse high cable flys. they’ll grab the handle to your right with your left hand and the handle to your left with your right hand so that your arms are crossed over.
  • Next, you’ll hand your hips slightly forward and bring your arms up until they’re parallel with the floor with that slight bend in the elbows. And those elbows again, keep them above the wrist.
  • Then return back down to that starting position with your hands crossed over and repeat for reps.

  • Inclined Lateral Raises on Bench

And finally, for the last exercise, I’m going to go over one more lateral raise variation that could be very effective when done correctly and that’s the incline lateral raise on a bench.

How to do Inclined Lateral Raises On Bench?

  • To perform this exercise you’ll want to start by setting up an incline at about a 60 to 75-degree angle you can go further down just keep in mind that the further you decline the bench the more you’ll be working the back of your shoulders and the less you’ll target the lateral head.
  • Take a seat facing forward towards the bench and lean your upper body against the bench from this position you want to take your dumbbells
  • Raise them directly to your sides until they’re parallel with the ground
  • Bring the dumbbells back down to that original starting position where they’re hanging off to the sides of the bench
  • You’re gonna repeat four reps.

Pros: It eliminates the possibility of using the momentum from your back since you’re leaning forward against the bench the whole time.

And that’s all,

So, To have one of those cool looking V-Taper you will have to do these nine workouts properly. One thing to note is that some people recommend that you turn your pink fingers up and your thumbs down for all of your lateral raising movements to help target more of the lateral head. While some people will have no problem with this, other people can potentially hurt their shoulders by internally rotating their arm too much.

So, I suggest you keep your hand in a neutral position when doing lateral raises just to ensure safety. If you want to take these exercises and use them for a shoulder workout you’ll be able to get at least two separate workouts with all nine of these exercises.

I recommend at least four to five exercises using counting weight for three sets of each aiming for about ten reps per set.

Also keep in mind that dumbbell shoulder presses, Arnold presses, and military presses should not be ignored. Even though they are compound exercises that will use a lot more of the front of your shoulder, they will help you develop and define the rest of your shoulder as well.
Those were given great importance in old school bodybuilding. Then you can think about how great they were.

If you think some other exercises should have been in the list, feel free to comment below.
Further mention which one is your favorite.

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