How to Get Broad Shoulders: Tips and Tricks!

There’s been somewhat of a misconception about broad shoulders. You hear it all the time from fitness-enthusiasts “train your side delts if you want to get that capped look, which makes you wider’. Ok, I’m paraphrasing a bit, but you know what I mean.

The truth is that there’s more to getting broad shoulders than just training your shoulders. Your upper back i.e traps and rear delts play a huge role in creating that width. In addition to this, your lats and chest need to be engaged as well.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, never had the most well developed shoulders relative to his other body parts, however nobody would ever say he wasn’t a wide guy. This is largely due to his massive upper back, lats, and chest which filled out the sides of his body perfectly.

Let’s go through five muscle groups to really achieve that wide look.

Traps and Rear Delts

Traps and rear delts are probably the most overlooked upper body  muscles when it comes to getting broad shoulders. While deadlifts and rows certainly stimulate both, it’s not always enough to significantly develop these areas. Sure, you could build up to a 500lbs deadlift to get big traps that way, but for most of us mortals, adding some direct trap and rear delt work is the way to go.

Shrugs, face pulls, snatch pulls and rear lateral raises are all great exercises for building up your traps and rear delts. And if you really want to take it up a notch, do drop sets to really tax the muscle. If you’re like most people who only do a few finishing sets at the end of your workout, adding some direct trap and rear delt work at the start can really help you get that tanky look.

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If you’re clueless on how to train these areas, there are lots of resources online for creating a trapezius and rear delt workout. You can also hire coaching services from your local gym or a freelance personal trainer by looking online. For example,  if you’re looking for a personal trainer in Kew, try looking on social media or websites like Yelp or Google Reviews.


Your lats play a key role in overall shoulder width as they develop the shape of the shoulder and will help you look broader. Pull-ups, chin-ups and lat pulldowns are all great exercises for building width, while rows are ideal for thickness.

For pull-ups, focus on using a wide grip to really maximize your lat development. As for chin-ups, focus on doing them slowly with a supinated grip to really target the muscle. You always want to get a good contraction on these exercises.

Overall, having a well-developed back will help you get wider. But pulling exercises that focus on your lats are largely responsible for the most width gains.


If you want to look wide from behind, well-developed triceps (especially the long head) are a must. As your triceps get wider, so does your overall appearance. This is done by doing the close grip bench press, skullcrushers and other overhead tricep presses.

Your triceps make up nearly 60% of your upper arm size, and they can help to give you the illusion of a wider body from behind when properly developed. The lateral head is also visible from the front, so also incorporate tricep extensions and dips to work it.

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We briefly mentioned how side delts aren’t the end all and be all of shoulder width. However, they do contribute a significant amount to shoulder width as they help create that boulder look to your delts.

While military presses and other pressing variations are fantastic for building overall shoulder size, lateral raises are absolutely essential for targeting your side delts. You can do side laterals on a bench, standing up or with cables. And similarly with your rear delts and traps, incorporating drop sets can really help you maximize your gains in this area.

As for your front delts, your bench pressing movements i.e incline and flat should be sufficient, but you can also add in other direct moves such as dips and front raises if they’re still lacking.

Trim Down Your Waistline

Besides targeting specific muscle groups in the weightroom,  one of the most important factors for achieving broad shoulders is having a lean waistline. This is especially true when you’re shirtless as you can see your waist to shoulder ratio much more clearly.

That means you have to be diligent about your nutrition and aim for a caloric deficit to ensure that you don’t add too much body fat. Afterall, wide shoulders with a thick waist will make you look blocky without a shirt on. You will, however, still look broad in a t-shirt.

If you’re a competitive bodybuilder, you probably know that how you look is partly an illusion created by your proportions. You don’t necessarily need the biggest muscles, but having a small, ripped waist combined with a decently sized upper body will make you look much more impressive.

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We hope this article has dispelled a few misconceptions about how to get broad shoulders. While direct shoulder training is important, it’s just a piece of the puzzle as other muscle groups play an equally important role. Just be dilligent in the gym and make sure you’re eating clean to get that desired body composition. And of course, don’t forget to do your cardio!


  • Timothy P. Carnes

    Timothy P. Carnes is a certified personal trainer with a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science from the University of Florida. With over 8 years of experience in the fitness industry, Timothy is an expert in strength and conditioning, body composition, and overall health and wellness. He also holds certifications in strength and conditioning through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and corrective exercise through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). As an author at FitGAG, he shares his knowledge and expertise on a variety of topics, including strength training, body composition, and overall health and wellness tips. Timothy believes that consistency and discipline are the keys to achieving fitness goals, and he strives to inspire his readers to prioritize their fitness and wellness journey. Through his articles, Timothy aims to empower his readers to take control of their health, enhance their performance, and live their best lives.

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