Build big shoulders at home or at the gym with pull-ups.
It doesn't matter how big your chest is, how pumped your arms are, or how wide your back -- if you're shoulders lag behind, your upper body will never be as impressive as it could be. When building big shoulders, many people turn to dumbbell or barbell presses, lateral raises and cable and shoulder machines. When training at home, these might not be an option though, in which case the pull-up bar is your new shoulder-building friend.
Use a wide grip with your hands, roughly 7 to 10 inches wider than shoulder-width. This wider grip decreases the strain on the biceps muscle and increases the adduction movement of the shoulder joint, according to Dr. Michael Yessis , professor at California State University and president of Sports Training, Inc.
Train pull-ups five times per week, advises personal trainer Jen Sinkler. This may go against the grain of conventional weight training, but increased-frequency, reduced-volume routines can work effectively for boosting your pull-ups.
Find how many pull-ups you can do in one set. Take half this number and perform that many pull-ups once an hour, whenever you can. If your maximum is six for instance, you'd perform a set of three pull-ups at 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. before work, then more sets at 6 p.m., 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. when you're back at home. By not working anywhere near muscular failure, but performing a high total number of reps every day, you'll see gains in pull-up strength and shoulder size.
Cut this down to three times per week if you can't do pull-ups at home. Aim for five to 10 sets of half your maximum reps over the course of an hour in each gym session, advises Sinkler.
Test your max after a month to see how you've improved, then repeat the program again next month using half your new maximum reps.
Eat to grow. Building bigger shoulders is as much about eating as it is training and you need a surplus of calories to get bigger. As a sample diet for a anyone looking to build muscle, Men's Fitness recommends eating scrambled eggs with cheese for breakfast, grilled steak with salad for lunch, chicken and quinoa salad in the afternoon and tilapia with parmesan and yams for dinner, along with protein shakes as snacks and after a workout. Adjust the portion sizes to suit your body weight and calorie needs.
Add in new pull-up bar exercises and tricks if your shoulders aren't growing. Switching your workout routine a little can lead to more muscular overload and growth, so try out some new variations. Strength coach Melody Schoenfeld recommends just hanging from the pull-up bar for as long as you can, doing slow negative reps, or adding in isometric holds at your weakest point.
You can perform pull-ups on a pull-up bar at the gym, but for convenience you may wish to buy a doorway pull-up bar for your home.
Check with your health care provider before starting a workout routine. Some pull-up bars have weight limits, so check that the one you're using can handle your body-weight.