3 Alternatives For Broad Shoulders By Shoulder Press

For men who would like to have a classic gym bodybroad shoulders are of course a very important element. For that reason, many gym-goers are constantly looking for the best exercises to get broad shoulders. According to some, the shoulder press is the ideal exercise, with which you get those broad shoulders the fastest and most efficiently.

But is that really so? Sometimes people at the gym know very well what they are doing, but it is just as common that they have read some dodgy information somewhere and have taken it for granted. Are you curious if you really get broad shoulders from shoulder presses? I checked it out. You can read my findings here, based on the following points:

  • Are shoulder presses suitable for broad shoulders?
  • Are shoulder presses useful exercises in general?
  • Are other presses suitable for growing broad shoulders?
  • Which exercises will give me broad shoulders the fastest? 3 alternatives
  • Don't forget your front shoulder muscles!

Are shoulder presses suitable for broad shoulders?

Let's start right off with the main question of this article. You hear more and more that shoulder presses are the ideal exercise for growing broad shoulders. But before you spend hours of your life on this exercise, it's helpful to know if that's true. Are shoulder presses really as effective as is often claimed?

How effective an exercise is for a particular purpose, of course, has everything to do with the muscle groups that are put to work by this exercise. If you hear the name “ shoulder press ”, then it is not surprising if you think that this exercise works all your shoulder muscles, and is therefore effective for training broad shoulders. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

“Names can be very misleading.”

Shoulder presses, and press exercises in general, mainly put your front shoulder muscles to work. Although you should of course also train them if you want broad shoulders, the shoulder muscles on the side and back are especially important for this. So you don't even put the largest part of your shoulders to work with a shoulder press.

Unfortunately, the conclusion is that shoulder presses are not an effective exercise when it comes to growing broad shoulders

In fact: you can get uneven shoulders because you only partially train your shoulders with this exercise. I won't have to tell you that an unequally trained body doesn't look like it. If training broad shoulders are your goal, you will have to look for other exercises.

Are shoulder presses useful exercises in general?

I just explained to you why shoulder presses are not suitable for training broad shoulders. You may have concluded from this that shoulder presses are not a useful exercise, and now you tend to warn everyone about shoulder presses. I would advise against that because shoulder presses are useful in themselves.

“Any exercise can make sense, but only if it fits your goals.”

In itself, shoulder presses are a great compound exercise. You train a lot of different muscles in your upper body with this. In my opinion, it is, therefore, a great exercise to incorporate into your training schedule. Just because it doesn't give you broad shoulders, doesn't mean this exercise doesn't have other useful applications.

The muscles you mainly work with this exercise, in addition to your anterior shoulder muscles, are your trapezoid and your triceps. Your chest muscles also have to work hard to perform this exercise. In addition, your abs also contribute during a shoulder press, and finally, your biceps get a workout.

Incidentally, it is of course important that you apply the right technique when doing this exercise (and any other exercise). Often people keep their shoulders too far forward during the shoulder press, creating too much pressure on the front shoulder muscles get listed, and your chest muscles just are challenged enough. This can lead to shoulder injuries.

shoulders training

Are other presses suitable for growing broad shoulders?

Okay, so shoulder presses are not suitable for training broad shoulders. However, there are a lot of other types of presses you can do, and all of these exercises I've heard people say are good for broadening your shoulders. Is there any truth to this, or are all presses actually unsuitable for this purpose?

“Don't believe everything people tell you at the gym.”

Unfortunately, I have to disappoint you again: all press exercises are actually unsuitable for wider shoulders. All these exercises have the same problem as the shoulder press. 

These exercises all mainly train your anterior shoulder musclesneglecting your lateral and posterior shoulder muscles too much.

So no matter how lyrical people are about presses, they won't give you broad shoulders. As with shoulder presses, however, these are generally quite useful exercises

As mentioned, presses are very good compound exercises that effectively train multiple muscles in your upper body. In addition, Arnold presses and military presses are very suitable for strength training

Which exercises will give me broad shoulders the fastest? 3 alternatives

You now know that shoulder presses are not particularly effective when it comes to broad shoulders. That in itself is very useful information, as it will have saved you many wasted hours at the gym. 

However, I can also imagine that you find this a bit disappointing, and you wonder what are useful exercises for growing wider shoulders.

If you're looking for an effective way to broaden your shoulders, you're in luck. That is exactly what I will help you with the rest of this article. I give you some alternatives to the shoulder press, which are useful for wider shoulders. It involves the following three exercises:

  1. Dumbbell lateral raises
  2. The reverse fly
  3. front raises

Alternative 1: Dumbbell lateral raises

As mentioned before, the problem with presses is that they don't train the lateral and posterior shoulder muscles well enough. If you want one exercise to straighten that out in one go, dumbbell lateral raises are a very good option. These are exactly the shoulder muscles that this exercise focuses on the most.

Broad Shoulders By Lateral Raise

If you know what all the words in this exercise mean, then you automatically know what to do. A dumbbell is obviously a weight, and lateral means nothing but sideways. Basically, a dumbbell lateral raise is simply lifting a weight sideways. You can perform this exercise sitting or standing, which makes little difference to the effectiveness.

Make sure to keep your arms straight and your upper body straightSlowly lift the weights until your arms are straight at shoulder height. Let them hang there for a moment, and then lower them slowly again. 

Be careful not to cheat by shrugging your shoulders when lifting, as you will make it too easy on yourself and the exercise will become less effective.

I recommend doing about 10 to 12 reps of this exercise. You will probably notice that the last few reps are quite heavy, even with a lighter weight. It is therefore not necessary to take the heaviest weight you can handle, because that will probably not last you very long, and it also hardly makes the exercise more effective.

Alternative 2: The reverse fly

An exercise that targets both your side and back shoulder muscles, such as the dumbbell lateral raise, is of course very helpful. However, sometimes it is the case that one specific muscle is left behind, and you, therefore, prefer an exercise that focuses specifically on that muscle. If your rear shoulder muscles are lagging a bit, the reverse fly is a great exercise to straighten this out.

Broad Shoulders By reverse fly

You can perform this exercise on a machine, but it's easiest to just do this exercise on a bench. You lie on your stomach on the bench, with your feet behind it. You can also do the exercise standingbending forward. You also have two weights in your hands, which you will lift from this position. Do this until your arms are about shoulder height, and then lower them again in a controlled manner.

There is quite a bit of debate about which grip is best for this exercise. You can have your palms facing your body, forward, or back when you perform this exercise. However, scientific research has shown that this makes little difference to the effectiveness of the exercise ( source ). So you can simply hold the weights the way you like it most.

Also for this exercise, I would again maintain 10 to 12 reps per set. Again, I would like to urge you not to choose a weight that is too heavy. I get that that looks tougher towards the other people in the gym, but exercises like this are hard enough with lighter weights. Ultimately, that kind of macho behavior will only lead to injuries!

Alternative 3: Front raises

I would like to close this article with an exercise that will ensure that you get a nice, round shoulder head, which is, of course, important if you want broad shoulders that also look a bit good. This is an exercise called the front raise. This exercise targets the entire shoulder, but the front shoulder muscles the most.

Shoulder Exercises - Front raises

If you know that front is English for the front, then the execution of this exercise is fairly self-explanatory. With a weight in both hands, raise your arms, one after the other, until they are stretched out in front of you. You have to keep your arms straight, and also keep your upper body as straight as possible. This exercise is most effective when performed standing up.

Make sure that you are standing firmly because then you can keep your balance well. If you're staggering, this exercise is a lot less effective because you'll be switching too much between the muscles you're using. Again, make sure that you slowly lift and lower the weight. This way you prevent annoying injuries.

As for the number of reps, I recommend the same as with the previous two exercises. About 10 to 12 reps are also ideal here, and you probably won't last much more in one set. The statement that I made twice before about the heaviness of the weight also applies here, but I probably don't need to repeat it again substantively.

Don't forget your front shoulder muscles!

I mainly focused on the shoulder muscles on the side and back with these alternatives. I did this because those are the muscles that are neglected in shoulder presses. However, I don't want to give you the idea that your front shoulder muscles are not important for nice, broad shoulders; because they sure are!

“Your front shoulder muscles aren't everything, but they aren't nothing either.”

Usually, however, the anterior shoulder muscles are already sufficiently trained with most people's training schedules. If you only have one press exercise in your schedule, your front shoulder muscles are fine. It, therefore, did not seem necessary to me to dwell on all kinds of exercises that target these muscles.

So it's important not to forget your front shoulder muscles. Don't suddenly remove presses from your schedule, because then you have the opposite problem than if you were only doing presses. You can only get nice, broad shoulders by training all your shoulder muscles. If you don't, your shoulders will look weird and uneven. Read: best mass building tricep exercises

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