- Personal trainer Chrissy Signore says you can expand your frame by working various back, arm, and chest muscles.
- Building muscle in your shoulders and back can help make your upper body appear taller, she said.
- She said exercises like lateral raises and incline bench presses are great for working those muscles.
Yes, some people naturally have wider shoulders than others, but it’s possible to build your physique with certain workout moves, according to New Jersey-based personal trainer Chrissy Signore.
Unfortunately, Signore told Insider, genetics play a big role. However, building muscle above that base and working on your posture is in your control, she said. Creating a wider frame is a combination of muscles on your back and shoulders, she said, such as the deltoids, traps and lats as well as the muscles in your chest.
Here are a few moves Signore swears to help make your shoulders appear wider, your chest and back more prominent, and facilitate more confident posture, including side raises and side lowers.
Lateral Raises are essential for help broaden your shoulders
Signore said the number one exercise she recommends for building strong shoulders is the lateral raise. This exercise primarily targets the lateral deltoid muscle (or “lateral delt”).
The deltoid muscles attach to the shoulder joint in an upside-down triangle and are made up of the anterior (front) delt, lateral (side) delt, and posterior (back) delt, according to the Cleveland Clinic. While the front and rear delts are also essential for developing your shoulder and creating muscle balance, Signore said the side delt is most important for making your shoulder appear physically wide.
Here are Signore’s top tips for performing a side raise:
- Use lighter dumbbells than you usually would for other exercises, as the shoulder is an easy area to injure.
- Hold the weights by your side and make sure to tuck your hips under your body.
- Tighten your core and pull your shoulders away from your ears;
- Lift the weights to the side. Pause when your arms are at shoulder height, she said — don’t bring your arms up too high, again to avoid injury;
- Hold for a second before lowering them back down.
Signore said a slight variation of the lateral raise involves turning your hands backwards rather than toward your body. This variation works well for the front part of the side delt, which will help make your shoulders look bigger, she said, especially if you’ve mastered the standard side raise.
The incline bench press will strengthen your chest and shoulders
Building your chest is another part of developing a great upper body, Signore said. While the bench press is great for working your chest, she said the incline bench press will activate your upper chest and shoulders more.
Signore said she recommends mastering the basics of the bench press before adding the incline, then slowly moving up a notch at a time on the bench. The highest notch will be the hardest, she said, because you’re almost doing an overhead press that really targets your shoulders.
Y lifts the target off your upper back
Using this same incline bench, Signore said you can easily go from an incline bench press to Y-raises. For this exercise, she said:
- Use lighter dumbbells, similar to those used for lateral raises;
- Leave the bench at an incline and lie back on your chest with the weights in both of your hands hanging toward the floor;
- Have your palms facing behind you as you bring your arms in front of you at a slight angle to create a Y shape;
- Squeeze your back and shoulders to bring them above your head.
This exercise engages the shoulders and the latissmus dorsi (lat) muscle, but primarily targets the trapezius (trapezius) muscle, which occupies your upper and middle back, she said.
Side pull-ups can strengthen your physique by improving your posture
The lat muscle is the final area that Signore says is important to target if you’re trying to build a wide frame. The lat muscle is divided into two segments in the middle of the back and is one of the largest muscles in the back, according to Healthline.
- Using a cable machine, in which you sit, pull
- Pull your shoulders away from your ears and bring your elbows together as close as possible.
You can also perform this move against a wall, Signore said, to make sure you get the right form and practice squeezing those muscles. Overall, she said strong lats will help lower your back muscles and improve your posture.
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