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Exercises to Develop Broad Shoulders

author image David Benjamin
Based in the Greater New York area, David Benjamin is a veteran of the fitness industry of over 15 years. He is coauthor of "The Business and Practice of Personal Training" and has lectured to countless fitness professionals. Benjamin holds a degree in physical education from the State University of New York, Cortland.
Exercises to Develop Broad Shoulders
Man doing push ups in gym. Photo Credit DeanDrobot/iStock/Getty Images


Few, if any muscle groups impact on your strength and appearance the way broad shoulders do. Your deltoids, or shoulder muscles, are recruited in most pushing movements, making them an important muscle for upper body strength. For men, broad shoulders project an image of strength and masculinity. For a woman, broad shoulders make the waist and hips appear smaller.

Overhead Presses

Also referred to as the military press, the overhead is a basic pushing exercise that stimulates the entire shoulder region. Overhead presses can be executed with a barbell or dumbbells. While the overhead press can be performed standing or seated, standing is generally easier on your back because you can use your legs as natural shock absorbers. Start by holding the weight at about shoulder height, with your elbows directly under your hands. Press the weight overhead until it is at arm’s length. Under control, lower the weight back to the start position.

Lateral Raises

Lateral raises focus on the medial head of the deltoid, which gives your shoulders the appearance of width. Start by holding dumbbells at your sides like suitcases. Keeping your arms straight, lift your arms out to your sides until the weights are at shoulder level. Lower the dumbbells to your sides in a smooth, deliberate motion. The movement should look like a bird, slowly flapping its wings.

Front Raises

Front raises stimulate the anterior, or front, head of the deltoid, which assists in forward pressing movements, and gives the front of your shoulders a thick, rounded look. To perform front raises, hold a pair of dumbbells as if you are about to do a lateral raise. Raise the dumbbells straight out in front of you until they are at eye level. Hold the dumbbells with an overhand grip so that your palms face the floor when the weights are all the way up. Lower the weights slowly and under control.

Reverse Flyes

Reverse flyes strengthen the posterior, or rear, head of the deltoid, improving your posture and making your frame appear larger. Reverse flyes are performed with dumbbells and an incline bench. Lie face down on the incline bench and let your arms hang down while holding the dumbbells. Perform the movement by lifting the dumbbells out to your sides, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you do. Slowly lower the weights back down to the start position.

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