Big traps make broad shoulders.
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You can have big arms, a huge chest and a wide back, but if your shoulders are weak and weedy, your physique will never reach its full potential. To get broader shoulders, you need to develop your front, side and rear deltoid muscles, as well as your trapezius muscle. When it comes to hitting the traps, shoulder shrugs are your best friend.
Basic is Best
The first exercise you should look to in your pursuit of broader shoulders is the standard dumbbell shrug. For these, stand up with a dumbbell in each hand and lift your shoulders up toward your ears as high as you can while keeping your arms straight. Pause at the top, then lower your shoulders again. You can also use a barbell for these, or to keep them strict, try sitting down.
For a challenging shrug exercise, switch to single-arm shrugs. These can also be done with dumbbells or a barbell. When using dumbbells, hold a weight in either hand, but shrug each shoulder alternately. This increases the time under tension of the set, as even though one arm is theoretically resting while the other is working, the traps are still having to work to hold the weight in place. For the barbell version, hold the center of an Olympic bar in one hand, so the bar is perpendicular to your body, and shrug your shoulders up.
The overhead shrug, performed holding a barbell in both arms overhead, is a more advanced move, notes personal trainer Jason Phillips on the Men's Fitness website. Press the barbell overhead like you would for a military press and hold it there while shrugging your shoulders up and down. Strength coach Tony Gentilcore suggests another interesting variation -- the half-kneeling band overhead shrug. To perform, kneel down with a band secured under your knee, press your arm overhead and shrug up. Focus on squeezing your glutes and hold each shrug for one to two seconds, advises Gentilcore.
To really get broad shoulders, you also need to perform other non-shrugging movements in your workout. Lateral raises using dumbbells, resistance bands or a cable machine will help build shoulder width. Your trap muscles are also responsible for retracting your shoulder blades, so include rowing exercises and prone shrugs, where you pull your shoulder blades up and back while lying on your front, in your routine too. Perform one shrugging exercise with your other shoulder moves and another when you train your back. Alternate between a heavy workout of five sets of six to eight repetitions and a volume session of five sets of 12 to 15 reps.