Getting big shoulders may seem like an old-fashioned ideal. Being 'broad shouldered' was once considered the height of manliness, before the days of six-packs, getting swole arms and, of course, big calves. But now delts – as shoulder work experts call them – are having their day again. Just look at Chris Hemsworth. Go on: look at him. He has a workout programme too, called Centr.
Shoulders are actually a very significant part of your arms. If you're a discerning gym-goer, you'll know that the bicep is a small muscle and it doesn't contribute all that much to how your arms look. If you want to really increase upper arm circumference, train your triceps. If you want to look good in a long sleeved t-shirt or in a jumper, and want suits to just 'hang' off you, pay attention to your shoulders.
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Why exercise your shoulders?
Shoulders can enhance the way you look massively. A pair of nice, rounded shoulders will make you look good, and a force to be reckoned with. But there is a golden rule to follow if you want to look like Ryan Gosling in the shower scene in Blade Runner 2049: train all sides of your shoulders for a proper 3D look.
The golden rule of exercising your shoulders: train it all, not just the sides
The are three areas of the shoulder muscles: the front, the side and the back. Now, it might sound condescending to say that a three dimensional object has sides all over, but what people often forget is that this means that all areas need work in order for them to be activated.
The front of your shoulder is easy to train: most exercises involving pushing things away from you will activate this muscle, with the bench press being the most obvious example. If you want to further activate this part, you can also do front dumbbell raises.
The side of the shoulder is the biggest part of the muscle and most well-known, shoulder-specific exercises you do for shoulders will activate this area. Side lateral raise, overhead press and seated press can all help to add to the bulk of your shoulders.
The back of the shoulders are often forgotten, although they are equally as important as the other parts. This part can also help you improve your posture; a slumped shoulder is often stemmed from these muscles not being strong enough to hold the shoulders back. To train the back of the shoulders, do reverse flyers, either on a machine or just bent over with dumbbells. You can use a weights bench too, set in a 30º angle to support your chest.
When exercising the back of the shoulders, pay extra attention to the muscle. If you reach over with the other hand, move your shoulder back and feel what area is being activated just behind the side of your shoulder. Concentrate on this area when performing reverse flyers.