Can You Exercise to Stop Your Shoulders From Getting Wider?

Broad shoulders make you look confident and manly, which can be positive — if you're a man. Gals with broad shoulders may feel insecure about a square upper body. Men, too, may appreciate their shoulders' width — that is, until they get too wide and appear hulk-ish.

Back away from the heavy weights to keep your muscles from growing more. Credit: Astarot/iStock/Getty Images

If you would prefer your shoulders not widen any farther, what can you do about it? Not a lot, in reality. Wide, broad shoulders are genetic and have a lot to do with your natural bone structure. Certain exercises can't spot-reduce your physique. The shoulders aren't broad because of excess fat, so even losing weight won't help them shrink.

What you can do is avoid focusing too much on your shoulders during workouts. You don't want to leave them out of your fitness equation altogether, but de-emphasize them, so you don't acquire more mass through your shoulders and upper back.

Read More: Physique Differences in a 10-lb Weight Loss

Minimize Shoulder Building

To keep your shoulders from widening further, know what exercises may be unknowingly enhancing their broadness. Shoulder presses, lateral raises, rear delt flyes, upright rows, incline chest presses, pull-ups and rear deltoid flyes all build up the shoulder and upper back region. If you're incorporating all of these exercises at a regular shoulder routine, you're part of the problem — you're building muscle to make your shoulders look wider.

Cutting all shoulder exercises out of your routine would be silly, however. It's a major muscle group that needs to be strong and functional. Your goal is to reduce how much you're training them.

Stick to one, or at the most two, shoulder workouts per week and do only one to three exercises for them. Keep your weight to just around 60 percent of your max ability and go for eight to 12 reps for one or two sets only. This will keep the shoulders mobile, maintain the muscle you have and avoid adding more size.

Balance upper body training with lower body training. Credit: Ibrakovic/iStock/Getty Images

Create Balance

Exercises can't make your shoulders shrink, but you can do moves to add balance to your frame and give the illusion that you're shoulders are less wide. If you've neglected your lower body to focus on your upper body, it's time to shift gears.

Strong, developed glutes and thighs give your physique the proportion you're after. Squats, deadlifts, leg curls and bridges go a long way in developing these large muscle groups. Train these muscles at least twice per week and use heavy weight that is about 80 percent of your max ability. Go for three sets of six to 10 reps to start to add muscle size.

Read More: How to Strengthen Weak Legs

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