Shoulders Won’t Grow? Try These Tips for Broader Shoulders

As a skinny person, you might be wondering if it is possible for you to grow monstrous shoulders. I share a few tips on how to get bigger shoulders the right way!

You do your part in performing shoulder-focused exercises, but still, they won’t seem to grow no matter how hard you try. If this is the case, you are probably exercising the wrong way – and this prevents your shoulder muscles from experiencing exponential gains in size and strength.

In this article, you will find out why your shoulder muscles are having a hard time growing.

Read on as I also give you helpful advice on how to build up your shoulder muscles like a pro. 

Broader Shoulders: Why the Fuss?

What’s the big deal with building those shoulder muscles, anyway? For starters, well-rounded shoulders instantly make you look stronger and more masculine

When paired with a well-toned waist, you get to show off a magnificent V-shaped physique that everyone dreams of having.

Let’s face it – you will definitely turn more heads your way if your body is shaped like an inverted triangle, and not like a pencil or a pear.

In this study, male participants considered the shoulders as one of the most important body parts. Many also mentioned how they want their shoulders to look bigger and stronger.

Having strong and broad shoulders can help you take on day-to-day tasks, such as lifting heavy objects. These may also give you a competitive edge in sports and may help reduce the risk of injury while you work out.

Lastly, wide shoulders give you a confident appearance. With your large shoulders drawn back and your chest open, you get to stand up like a muscular superhero – always ready for action!

Building Wide Shoulders as a Skinny Person: Can This Be Done?

How can skinny guys get big shoulders?

Well, some people are born with longer clavicles, allowing them to enjoy broader-looking shoulders without the need to grow bigger shoulder muscles. 

If you were born with a naturally thin physique, this most likely means that you have narrower shoulders. 

However, being a skinny person can actually give you an advantage when it comes to building a V-tapered physique. Since you already have a narrow waist, all you need to do is focus on growing larger upper body muscles. 

While there isn’t much you can do to change your bone structure, you have everything to gain when it comes to increasing the size and strength of your shoulder muscles.

What’s Stopping You from Achieving Boulder-Sized Shoulders?

You perform all sorts of exercises that target the shoulders, and yet you don’t see or feel any noticeable improvements in your shoulder muscles. There are a variety of reasons why your shoulders don’t seem to increase in size, no matter what you do.

#1 Not Enough Training 

man doing pushups

Your shoulders are made up of 3 muscle heads – the anterior deltoid, lateral deltoid, and posterior deltoid. This means that you just can’t rely on one or two shoulder exercises if you are looking to build monstrous shoulders.

Diversify your workouts by combining basic exercises, such as behind-the-neck presses, front raises, side raises, and bent-over rear raises.

This way, you work out all the major parts of your shoulder, making them all grow in size and strength simultaneously – instead of just focusing on a single shoulder muscle all the time.

#2 Too Much Emphasis on the Positive Phase

man lifting weight

Even with the right shoulder workouts, your shoulder muscles may still have trouble growing. Another reason why this happens is when you place excessive focus on the concentric phase of lifting

You might be lifting your weight slowly, but then drop it abruptly. When it comes to working your shoulders, it would be better to precisely raise your weight and perform the eccentric phase at a slow, yet steady, rate.

#3 Engaging Your Traps

man training traps

A common pitfall, particularly among first-timers, is getting help from other muscles of the body when performing a muscle-specific workout.

Whenever you perform shoulder muscles, it’s easy to get the help of your trapezius muscle to finish your shoulder sets. This releases strain and pressure from your shoulders, which ends up in little strength and size gains.

Make sure to rely completely on your shoulder muscles when doing shoulder exercises – and do not enlist the help of your traps just to get through your sets.

#4 Not Increasing Your Weights

man lifting weight

To make any muscle grow, you need to increase your weights as you progress through your training. Just lifting the same weights over and over again won’t challenge your shoulder muscles – and this ends up with your shoulders staying the same size.

Increasing your weights may result in less reps per set, which is fine. Push yourself to complete as many reps as you can. On your next training session, try to add in an extra rep or two. 

By doing this, your shoulder muscles gradually gain more strength – allowing you to lift heavier weights and complete even more reps in succeeding workouts.

#5 Not Doing Enough Reps

man doing pull-ups

While most muscle groups can be trained by doing just a few reps at a time, shoulder muscles are best given added reps to maximize gains.

Settling with 6 to 9 reps may not be that effective for your shoulders. Try going for 12 to 15 reps to experience significant shoulder muscle growth in less time.

Build Massive Shoulders with These Exercises:

Perform these exercises regularly and you will be well on your way to achieving massive shoulder muscles in no time:

Standing Barbell Military Press

man lifting weights

This is arguably one of the best workouts you can do to build monstrous shoulders. Aside from working your shoulders, this exercise also engages your core, chest, triceps, biceps, and glutes – perfect for building upper-body mass.

  1. Place the barbell on a rack (at chest height), and choose your weights.
  2. Hold the bar with a tight grip, with your palms facing forward. Make sure that the space between your hands is wider than your shoulder.
  3. Slightly bend your knees, breath in, and lift the barbell to shoulder height. As you breathe out, lift the barbell until your arms are extended overhead.
  4. Breathe in as you lower the barbell back to your shoulder level.
  5. Breathe out as you raise the barbell overhead.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5, as required.

Arnold Press

man doing arnold press

Named after legendary bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger, this exercise is a variation of the dumbbell military press. What’s great about this exercise is that it engages all the 3 deltoids of your shoulder, making way for well-rounded shoulder muscle growth.

  1. Sit up/stand straight with a pair of dumbbells held at chest level. Make sure your palms face your body and your elbows are bent. 
  2. Breathe in and lift the dumbbells, stretching your hands completely upwards. As you do this, rotate your arms halfway so that the dumbbells touch each other and your palms face outwards.
  3. Breathe out, rotate your arms back to your starting position.
  4. Repeat as required.

Plate Raises

woman exercising shoulders

This exercise works great for training your anterior deltoid, building upper chest muscles, and developing core stability. Plate raises can be done for warming up before exercise, or as a heavy workout, depending on the weight you choose.

  1. Select the appropriate weight plate for your workout.
  2. Breathe in and bring the plate to waist height, holding both sides with a firm grip. Your arms should be extended with a slight bend at the elbows.
  3. Breathe out and raise the plate to shoulder height. At this position, your arms should be straight and your body firm.
  4. Breathe in and lower the plate as (slow as possible) back to your starting position.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4, as required.

Side Lateral Raises

man exercising shoulders

Performing this exercise is beneficial for your lateral deltoids, which is the most important muscle for increasing shoulder girth. Make sure to lift weights with the right momentum, while maintaining a relaxed body posture. If done the wrong way, this exercise can cause injury or muscle strain.

  1. Choose dumbbells with the right weight. Stand straight and relax your body.
  2. Place both hands by your sides.
  3. Raise your hands sideways until they reach shoulder height, making sure that they are parallel to the ground.
  4. Lower your arms.
  5. Repeat as required.

Face Pulls

man pulling weights

This isolation exercise engages your posterior and medial deltoids and helps stabilize your shoulder joints at the same time. For this exercise, you need a cable weight machine and rope.

  1. Choose the rope attachment on the pulley of your cable weight machine.
  2. Hold the rope at chest height (or lower). Stand one or two steps away from the machine to create rope tension.
  3. Plant your feet shoulder-width apart, with your knees slightly bent. This will be your starting position.
  4. Breathe in, and pull the rope towards your face. Your elbows should be higher than your wrists.
  5. Hold this position and squeeze your shoulder blades to create traction.
  6. Slowly retrace the steps back to your starting position, and repeat as required.

The Bottom Line

Even if you are on the skinny side, nothing is holding you back from building a set of boulder-sized shoulders. 

Aside from properly performing these shoulder exercises, don’t forget to feed your body with high amounts of protein to support lean muscle growth. Also, make sure to take time off from working outs to give your muscles the chance to repair and grow. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to build larger shoulder muscles?

There really is no specific timeframe when it comes to building shoulder muscles. But with the right diet, correct exercise, and a healthy lifestyle, it would be safe to say that you can experience significant gains in shoulder size in a few months – or even weeks.

How often do you need to train your shoulders for maximum growth?

To build shoulder muscles fast, it is recommended that you do shoulder exercises 2 to 3 times per week, with at least one day between sessions.

How much larger can you make your shoulders look?

With proper training, you can build your anterior deltoids up to 5 times larger than those of an average untrained man. The sides of your shoulders can be increased up to 3 times larger than those of an average untrained man.

Why don’t my shoulders get sore after working out?

Unlike quadriceps or biceps that remain sore for 1 or 2 days, deltoids are a smaller group of muscles that recover much quicker. As long as you are making progress, there’s no need to worry about your shoulders not feeling sore after exercise.

How can I grow shoulders without growing traps?

These shoulder exercises are perfect as they do not engage your traps: upright rows, lateral raises, and front raises above shoulder height, shrugs, or pike push-ups.

How can I strengthen weak shoulders?

You might want to perform exercises that strengthen your rotator cuff, such as doorway stretches, side-lying external rotations, high-to-low rows, reverse flys, or lawnmower pulls.

Do push-ups broaden the shoulders?

Push-ups work the chest and shoulder muscles. However, doing push-ups alone may not give you the best shoulder-widening results.

Can you build big shoulders with light weights?

To build larger shoulders, you need to use heavier weights to fully engage your shoulder muscles.

Imad Deryan

My name is Imad, and I struggled to gain mass in the past due to my metabolism and being very skinny. In this blog, I share the best reviews and advice when it comes to gaining weight and mass, for all the people that are struggling like I was.

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