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The Secret to Eliminating Narrow Shoulders

Want a wider upper body? Put these tried-and-true tips to the test.
James Michelfelder

"In all honesty, shoulder muscles aren’t the fastest to grow,” says powerlifting coach Mike Samuels (, “but there’s certainly something you can do about it.”

First: Don’t put all your focus on overhead presses! “While they’re great,” he says, “they’re not the best way to build awesome shoulders.”

His secret to wide delts: lateral-raise variations, using a dumbbell, kettlebell weight plate, or cable, at least twice a week.

Also, no matter which variation you do, fully activate the medial delts by turning your thumbs down at the top of the move, as if you’re pouring a jug of milk. Shoot for three to five sets of 10 to 20 reps, “and don’t be afraid to add in the odd dropset.”

Big shoulders won’t happen overnight, Samuels cautions, “but it’s worth the effort because adding even a little shoulder width—which might take a few months—can completely change your physique and give you that elusive V-taper.”

Bonus tip: Do lots of pullups and pulldowns, too: “Bigger lats can make the shoulders ‘pop.’”

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