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Can You Exercise to Stop Your Shoulders From Getting Wider?

author image Jonathan Thompson
Jonathan Thompson is a personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise and has extensive experience working with clients as well as teaching. Thompson holds specializations in longevity nutrition and muscle management for runners. He began writing in 2004.
Can You Exercise to Stop Your Shoulders From Getting Wider?
A woman is exercising her shoulders. Photo Credit kasto80/iStock/Getty Images

Although they are a small muscle group, toned shoulders can help to favorably change your shape. According to the American Council on Exercise, however, it is impossible to spot-train -- that is, only lose weight in a specific target area. To reduce or maintain the dimensions of any given measurement, including the shoulders, a combination of proper diet, cardiovascular exercise and strength training must be used to control your overall body weight.

Factors that Contribute to Wide Shoulders

Shoulder width is a result of several contributing factors, including genetics and body composition. Losing weight and decreasing your body fat percentage will help to decrease the size of your shoulders. Despite this, your bone structure is controlled by genetics, so there will be a limit to the size and shape of your shoulders.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Cardiovascular exercises, such as running, biking or elliptical training, burn significant calories and help remove fat from your body. To be effective, cardiovascular exercise must allow you to maintain an increased heart rate for an extended period of time. The American Heart Association recommends performing cardiovascular activities for a minimum of 30 minutes most days of the week. To increase muscle tone and avoid injury, alternate three days of cardiovascular exercise with two days of strength training.

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Lateral Raise

The lateral raise is an exercise that works many of the shoulder muscles despite using a simple movement. Select a weight that will allow you to perform 12 to 15 repetitions before your muscles reach exhaustion. Grip a weight in each hand and bend slightly at your hips and knees. With a slight bend in your arms, raise your arms outward until your elbows are level with your shoulders. Slowly return to the starting position. Complete three sets of this exercise.

Alternating Shoulder Press

There are machines available to assist with this movement. Standing and using dumbbells, however, will involve more -- and larger -- muscle groups, making the exercise more difficult and causing you to burn more calories. Hold a dumbbell that you can complete 12 to 15 repetitions with in each hand at about ear height. Turn your hands so that your palms face outward. Press the weight in your right hand upward, above your head. Slowly return it to the starting position. Immediately repeat the movement with your left arm. Complete three sets of the alternating shoulder press.

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