Get Bigger Shoulders: The Only 5 Moves You Need

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One of the easiest ways to look great in your shirts and suits is to have a yoked set of traps and round, cannonball deltoids. Unfortunately, just like with the chest, a lot of guys box themselves into a couple of movements and don’t get that full range of muscle-building motion. That’s bad news, because your shoulder joint is one of the most fragile, unstable joints in the body — and constantly beating it with the same moves can leave you open to injury.

So if you’re looking to fill out those sleeves a little more without hurting yourself, these moves will be your best friends.

Start Doing Rows

All of your rotator-cuff muscles originate on your shoulder blade, and promoting their stability can help the health of your entire shoulder capsule. Rows are a great way to do that. Before the workout, between sets, or between exercises, light rows can be instrumental in saving your shoulder from instability before lifting heavy weights. Don’t worry much about how much weight you lift. Even a band or light pair of dumbbells can do the trick.

Work On Your Strict Press

The standing barbell press is the biggest move and one of the greatest upper-body strength builders that makes the shoulders and traps work overtime. Using it as a strength movement, and training the strict press for lower reps, can add strength and ignite the nervous system to potentiate growth and development from the rest of your workout. Make the strict press your first lift of the day.

For Healthy Development, Hit the Rear Delts

Neglecting your rear deltoids can be a big mistake that creates muscle imbalances and can worsen an existing issue or injury potential in that region. Many lifters attempt to hit the rear deltoids with one exercise: the bent-over reverse fly. Yes, it’s a good move — but the technique usually suffers due to the use of heavy dumbbells or a bad setup. Instead, try turning your hands so your palms face forward instead of down. It puts your hand and arm into a much better position to target the muscles you’re trying to hit.

Try Cables For a New Challenge

The difference between using dumbbells and cables when training comes down to the amount of tension created and the angle of the forces being applied. With a cable, you can adjust the height and placement of the start position, so that there’s a mechanical advantage that hits the working muscles harder, for longer. Instead of a standing dumbbell lateral raise, try the cable single arm raise. You’ll get a lot out of it while protecting your shoulder.

Enough With the Heavy Shrugs

Knock it off with the 140-pound dumbbell shrugs. Instead, try a high pull: It puts the traps through a greater and more functional range of motion. It lets them work in harmony with the deltoids in raising the arm, plus it’s a smarter choice that can generate more power and strength in the process. Keep the reps around three or five to start. Then when you’re comfortable with the motion, jack those up if you’re looking for volume.