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Type of workout, amount of weight, diet and genetics all factor into getting broad shoulders.
Broad shoulders with a lean waist is a desirable goal for many. Others, on the other hand, wish to avoid bulky shoulders and prefer a leaner appearance. The latter group might worry that upper body workouts will cause unwanted bulk -- but really, whether or not your workout will result in broad shoulders depends on several factors, not the least of which is the type of workout you choose to achieve your fitness goals.
If You Want Broad Shoulders
Broad shoulders can be achieved by doing weightlifting exercises that target the deltoids and shoulder muscles, as well as moves that work the trapezius and latissimus dorsi muscles, or lats, to widen the chest and back. This includes moves like the shoulder press, upright rows, shrugs and lateral to front raises. Fitness trainer Chad Howse on ChadHowse.com recommends working out the upper body twice a week for best results.
If You Don't Want Broad Shoulders
If you're aiming to avoid broad shoulders, use lighter weights when working the upper body. Light weight dumbbells will help to strengthen and tone your upper body without adding bulk. Resistance exercises that rely on your body's own weight, like planks, dips and pushups, as well as Pilates and yoga poses, are also great at building lean muscle tone without the bulk.
It's In the Genes
Genetics plays a large part in whether or not you can attain broad shoulders by working out. Factors like the amount of testosterone and growth hormone your body produces, your body type, the length and number of fibers in your muscles and the number of satellite cells in your muscles all work together to determine whether you'll be able to bulk up. For example, an individual with low testosterone -- an ectomorph body type that tends to be naturally skinny -- short muscle fibers and a low number of satellite cells will limit the amount of muscle that can be built, according to ExtremeBodyFit.com.
A targeted upper body workout by itself won't necessarily result in broader shoulders. Diet is also a key factor. If the goal is to gain body weight and build broader shoulders, you'll need to take in more calories than you burn during your workouts. MuscleandFitness.com recommends getting the bulk of your calories from protein and complex carbohydrates to help fuel your workouts and add weight.