| Nick Hintz |

It is absolutely possible to build broader shoulders! If you’re an ectomorph, you most likely have a thinner bone-structure, thus why you’re interested in finding out if you can build those big, broad shoulders that you see on TV and in the Fitness Magazines.

The vast majority of men want broad shoulders… why?

In this post I will explain why men want broad(er) shoulders. Some things we, as athletes, can control… and some we cannot. I will also discuss some action steps to help you add those extra few inches to your shoulder circumference.

Both men and women find broad shoulders combined with a lean waist to be attractive and ideal. Men want broader shoulders, and women just so happen to find that these broader shoulders are incredibly attractive. This effect is so desired, that your shoulder-to-waist ratio is actually the most important aspect of your physique. To understand why this is, we can try to understand what broad shoulders mean to others athletes, men and women alike.

It’s quite clear that having wide, muscular shoulders is a masculine trait. Testosterone causes our shoulders to grow broader, where estrogen usually causes our hips to grow broader. Research and thousands of studies show that Men have more testosterone and less estrogen than women, which causes women to naturally develop more of an “hourglass” physique; Men naturally develop a more “V-tapered” physique. Thus, on average, men have naturally wider shoulders than women, not only in terms of size, but also proportionally.

Additionally, more muscular men therefor have more androgen receptors around their shoulder girdle, helping them to develop larger upper-back, chest and shoulder muscles. As one gets stronger, one gets more and more pronounced/developed. Thus for men, broad shoulders are a symbol of total-body strength. And for women, hips tend to be a symbol of strength.

Finally, men tend to store their fat in their stomaches, therefor having broader shoulders in comparison to our waists essentially means that we’re shaped more so by muscle than by fat. This is an excellent sign that we are healthy and FIT.

Studies have shown that body proportions which signal fitness and strength are clear indicators of being attractive. Things like waist size (a sign of how lean you are), waist-to-chest ratio (a sign of how much muscle you have), and weight-to-height ratio (another sign of one’s leanness and strength) exemplify being FIT and being STRONG.

Research shows that women prefer men with a more muscular upper body and a smaller waist. This is called a v-tapered physique or “inverted triangle shape.”

Studies continue to prove that the inverted triangle shape is so attractive because it is synonymous with physical strength and muscle development in the upper body. Thus maintaining a lean waist while building up your upper body is one variable to be attractive.

Why do men want broader shoulders? Researchers believe that a V-shaped physique is considered so attractive because it signals masculinity, strength, health, and virility. So it’s not hard to think that men want to be as strong, masculine, and healthy as possible. Or maybe we just want women to find us more attractive. In either case, learning how to build broader shoulders can only help.

Positively, narrow-framed men don’t measure their shoulder width, they measure shoulder girth—shoulder circumference. Equally as important and attractive it is to have a high chest-to-waist ratio. Thus it’s our upper body strength and mass that matters, not collarbone-length.

This is great, because men can build up the chest and shoulder circumference by gaining muscle in their chest, shoulders, and backs. This will make men’s shoulders look much wider and broader, as well as thicker and rounder. Men will look stronger, more masculine, and more attractive, and at every angle.

Some people are just blessed with good genetics, naturally long clavicles and narrow hips. They can capitalize on their attractiveness without needing to gain as much muscle—although remember that muscularity is arguably more important than how long one’s collarbone is.

Even ectomorphs have broad shoulders compared to their waists, once developed, and a decent amount of muscle. A great example would be the Olympian, Gold Medal(s)-winning swimmer, Michael Phelps. After gaining some muscle, his bone structure actually features longer clavicles and narrower hips.

For the guys with naturally narrow shoulders, there is some good news; Their shoulder muscles have a great deal of growing potential – more than most of their other muscles. These men can build the front of their shoulders (the anterior deltoids) up to 5 times greater than the average guy. And, these men can build the side of their shoulders up to 3 times that of the average man. That’s enough growth potential that one can build very broad shoulders, even with short clavicles.

Lastly, we live in a three-dimensional world where man’s overall upper body width and size is considered. In addition to bulking up the shoulders, men can also change the shape of their bodies by building bigger upper backs and chests, while maintaining a lean waists.


Men who build more shoulder circumference means building muscle mass primarily in your upper body—and lots of it; a great goal would be to add 20 pounds of MASS.

Why 20 pounds? Studies have shown that gaining 20 pounds of lean muscle mass will increase a person’s t-shirt size. So if you’re wearing a size small right now, adding 20 pounds will get his t-shirt size to a medium.


Recap: three main tips to building broader shoulders:

  • Even if you have short clavicles, you can build broader shoulders. Keep in mind that your body shape matters too, therefor improving your ratio even more by adding muscle mass to the back and chest.
  • Work on your shoulders through a variety of compound and isolation exercises to make them bigger, still focusing on overall posture and shoulder mobility. This helps the shoulders become rounder and more aesthetic. This prevents the  shoulders from moving forward, which makes them appear more narrow.
  • Thankfully, this is something largely under your control. If you want broader shoulders, you can build them.

The following links are top articles based on a multitude of research for this subject:

7 Exercises to Improve Shoulder Mobility and Strength – 7 Exercises to Improve Shoulder Mobility and Strength – Training 7 Exercises to Improve Shoulder Mobility and Strength for Crossfitters. Shoulder mobility and strength are vital for many exercises in Crossfit such as…Via Boxrox.com | Read more…

How To Build Big Shoulders, Safely – The goals of this shoulder training program are to reduce injury risk, build cannonball delts, and balance your deltoids…Via BodyBuilding.com | Read more…

9 Reasons Why You Can’t Build Big Shoulders – Give your shoulders the boulder treatment by correcting these 9 common mistakes that keep a lot of builders from gaining bigger shoulders.Via MuscleAndStrength.com | Read more…