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The 10 best ways to build muscular and broad shoulders

Die 10 besten Wege für den Aufbau von muskulösen und breiten Schultern

If there's one muscle group that adds a sense of dominance and masculinity to a man's body, it's the shoulders. They crown a slim waist (and hopefully an impressive V shape) and make your upper body look well proportioned - and sometimes even bigger than it really is. If you're not training your shoulders in the same intense way as your biceps and triceps, then you're missing out on something crucial.

If that's not enough to convince you, then this will: when we asked 25 women for their opinion on the "sexiest" body part on a man, shoulders dominated.

One woman said: "A big upper body - defined back, defined shoulders and defined arms. I like a man who has the strength to lift me up..."

If you don't care what women think, then you should consider that a set of strong shoulders will make your life easier. Everyday movements such as playing sports or carrying suitcases will become easier. In addition to this, you will reduce your risk of injury while performing back and chest exercises and make training sessions less stressful - both for your mind and your muscles.

We spoke to Noah Bryant, C.S.C.S., co-author of The Size and Strength Blueprint, about the 10 best exercises for thicker and broader shoulders. His statement read:

"To successfully build some monster shoulders, you need to be aware of the fact that the shoulders are made up of three muscle heads: the front shoulder muscles, the side shoulder muscles and the back shoulder muscles. For symmetrical growth, you should always start your training with the heavy multi-joint exercises and then train all three muscle heads with lighter isolation exercises."

On shoulder day, choose 2 to 3 multi-joint exercises and 3 to 4 isolation exercises to build round shoulder muscles, a muscular trapezius and a wider upper body that will stand out even under your thickest winter sweaters.

1. overhead shoulder press

*Multi-joint exercise

This is one of the best exercises for developing the entire shoulder musculature. While most exercisers think that the bench press is the ultimate upper body exercise, the overhead press is a really powerful muscle building exercise. If you have a healthy back and shoulders, you don't make any rookie mistakes and you perform the exercise correctly, then shoulder growth is practically guaranteed. You'll also get the added benefit of training your triceps.

The correct execution:

  • Grip the bar with a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder width. (This will vary from person to person)
  • Make sure your elbows are vertical (perpendicular to the floor and not pointing out to the side).
  • Your feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart. With the bar in front of you resting on your front shoulder muscles, engage your legs, glutes, back and abs and begin to push the bar up.
  • You will need to move your head back slightly to get it out of the way of the bar as it moves upwards. Once the bar has passed your ears, you can move your head back to its normal position.
  • Fully extend your elbows with the bar directly over the center of your head. Raise the shoulders at the highest point of the movement to engage the trapezius and prevent injury and impingement associated with pain.
  • Make sure you do not perform push presses. Do not bend your knees to "explode" upwards with momentum. This would make your legs the primary acting muscle at the beginning of the movement and not your shoulders.

Perform 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 8 repetitions.

Note: You may need to use a lighter weight than usual to ensure proper form of the exercise - and also because this exercise works smaller, less used muscles of your upper body.

2A Seated neck press

*isolation exercise*

This is another exercise for the entire shoulder musculature that can cause injury if performed incorrectly. However, when performed correctly, the seated neck press effectively trains your entire shoulder musculature.

The correct execution:

  • Start in a seated position on a bench with a back pad.
  • Grip the bar with your palms facing away from your body with a grip slightly wider than shoulder width.
  • Push the bar up by extending your elbows into an overhead position, taking care not to hyperextend your elbows (this will keep your shoulder muscles under constant tension).
  • Lower the bar behind your head, bending your head slightly forward (which means you should not extend your head and neck too far forward). Just before the bar touches your trapezius or the lower part of your neck (or before if it becomes uncomfortable), start pushing the bar back up.

Perform 3 to 5 sets of 6 to 10 repetitions.

2B. Alternating (unilateral) dumbbell shoulder press seated

*Multi-joint exercise

The one-armed execution (alternating one arm at a time) maximizes time under tension and helps identify and eliminate imbalances.

The correct execution:

  • Start in a seated position with both dumbbells in the hyperextended arms position above your head with your palms facing forward.
  • Slowly lower one arm at a time and then push the dumbbell back up.
  • Hold your non-moving hand above your head with your elbow hyperextended (until the moving hand reaches the highest position of the movement again) or hold it motionless on your lap.
  • Repeat this process using the other arm. Perform 4 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions per arm.

3. rowing upright with a barbell

*Multi-joint exercise

Rowing upright with a barbell trains your front and lateral shoulder muscle heads and also involves your trapezius. Pay attention to correct exercise form here too.

The correct execution:

  • Grip the bar with a slightly narrower than shoulder-width overhand grip.
  • Pull the bar straight up towards your chin, keeping the bar close to your body. There is no need to pull the bar up further than your chin. Pulling the weight higher will put unnecessary strain on your shoulders and any benefit is negligible. (This is the area where people get injured).
  • Lower the bar back down to the starting position and repeat the movement. Perform 4 sets of 8 to 15 repetitions.

4th barbell front raise

*Isolation exercise

You are targeting your front shoulder muscles, but you can feel the fatigue setting in on your side shoulder muscles as well. Keep the weight light enough to perform the exercise with good form.

The correct execution:

  • In a standing position, grab a barbell with an overhand grip about shoulder-width apart so that your palms are facing down.
  • Stand upright so that the bar hangs down and touches your thighs.
  • Pull your shoulder blades back and together and position the barbell about 10 centimetres in front of your body (this is the starting position).
  • Move the bar upwards in an arching motion, keeping your arms completely straight and lift the bar up to shoulder height. Try not to move the bar with momentum or deflect it. Perform the exercise strictly so that you feel your front shoulder muscles moving the weight.
  • Pause at the highest point of the movement and then lower the bar back to the starting position.

Perform 4 to 5 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions.

5. side raises on an incline bench

*Isolation exercise*

This is a great isolation exercise for your lateral shoulder muscles. Make sure you emphasize the stretch at the lowest point of the movement and perform the repetitions in a controlled manner.

The correct execution:

  • Take a pair of dumbbells in your hands and sit on an incline bench with your arms hanging vertically downwards.
  • Raise the dumbbells until your arms are parallel to the floor and the dumbbells are at shoulder height. Then lower the dumbbells again, keeping the weights under control the whole time.

Perform 3 to 5 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

6. face pull

*Multi-joint exercise

Face pulls train the rear shoulder muscles and - surprisingly for most people - also place an extremely heavy load on the lateral shoulder muscles. Face pulls also target the weak muscles of the shoulder blades, which help stabilize your shoulder joints - which is great for shoulder muscle health.

The correct execution:

  • Use a cable pulley with the cable running over the top pulley and a rope handle attached.
  • Start with the rope handle a few centimetres above your eyes.
  • Grasp the rope handle with an overhand grip and take a step backwards so that the rope is under tension.
  • Move your hips backwards and start pulling the cable. Place your elbows out to the side so that they are parallel to the floor.
  • Pull the rope handle towards your eyebrows and then move it back to the starting position in a controlled manner.

Perform 3 to 5 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions.

7. bent over side raise

*Isolation exercise*

Side plank bent over directly targets your posterior shoulder muscles (the back of the shoulders). The key is to perform the movement strictly to really reap its benefits.

The correct execution:

  • Bend forward so that your torso is parallel to the floor, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your lower back in a natural arched position and do not hunch over.
  • Let your arms hang straight down with your palms facing each other.
  • Use your back shoulder muscles by squeezing your shoulder blades together to move the weights upwards in an arching motion until your arms are parallel to the floor. Your thumbs should be pointing towards the ceiling.
  • Then move the weights back to the starting position.

Perform 3 to 5 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.

8. incline bench I,Y,T's

*Multi-joint exercise

Unlike some of the other shoulder exercises that focus on building muscle mass in the upper body, this exercise is focused on shoulder health. However, it will also give you the aesthetic you are after.

The correct execution:

  • Lie prone on an incline bench set at a 45-degree incline with your arms hanging down vertically next to the bench and holding a dumbbell in each hand. (Your toes should be touching the floor).
  • First, pull your shoulder blades together and lift the dumbbells up to the side of your body so that they form a "T" with your body. Then lower your arms back down to the hanging position.
  • Then raise the dumbbells to head height, pointing them diagonally forwards and forming a 'Y' with your body. Then lower your arms back down to the hanging position.
  • Finally, raise the dumbbells straight forward so that they form an "I" with your body.
  • All of this counts as one repetition.

Keep the weight very light and perform 4 sets of 5 to 8 repetitions.

9. standing side raises and front raises as a superset

*Isolation exercises *

This is a combination of two exercises. First you perform a set of side raises and then immediately move on to a set of front raises to complete the superset.

The correct execution:

  • Stand with your knees slightly bent and lean slightly forward with a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Raise your arms to the side until your elbows (which should be slightly bent) are at shoulder height.
  • Move your arms back to the starting position.

Note: Do not use a weight that is too heavy. You should not lift the weight upwards or use momentum to complete the movement. Make sure you don't raise your hands higher than your elbows (as this will take the weight off your shoulders). To really stimulate your lateral shoulder muscles, keep your elbows slightly bent and lift your upper arms to the side instead of in front of your body. This will ensure that you build overall shoulder thickness.

10. front raises

Front raises isolate your front shoulder muscles.

The correct execution:

  • Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should be facing downwards and about 10 centimetres in front of your thighs.
  • Raise your arms in front of your body, keeping your elbows slightly bent.
  • Pause briefly when the dumbbells are at shoulder height and then slowly move them back to the starting position.

Note: Do not use momentum and do not lower the dumbbells too quickly. You should keep the movement controlled and achieve a good contraction in your shoulders to improve stability through the shoulder joint.

Perform 3 to 5 sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise (which equals a total of 20 repetitions per superset).


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