- Personal trainer Chrissy Signore said that you can broaden your frame by working out various back, arm, and chest muscles.
- Building muscle on you shoulders and back can help make upper body appear larger, she said.
- She said exercises like lateral raises and inclined bench press are great for working these muscles.
Yes, some people naturally have broader shoulders than others — but building up your physique is possible with certain workout moves, according to New Jersey-based personal trainer Chrissy Signore.
Unfortunately, Signore told Insider, genetics play a significant role. However, building muscle on top of that base and working on your posture are in your control, she said. Creating a broader frame is a combination of muscles on your back and shoulders, she said, like delts, traps, and lats as well as your chest muscles.
Here are some moves Signore swears by to help make your shoulders appear wider, your chest and back more prominent, and facilitate a more confident posture, including lateral raises and lat pull-downs.
Lateral raises are essential to help widen your shoulders
Signore said that the number one exercise she recommends for building muscular shoulders is the lateral raise. This exercise primarily targets the lateral deltoid muscle (or, “side delt”).
The deltoid muscles attach over the shoulder joint in an upside triangle and are made up of the anterior (front) delt, lateral (side) delt, and the posterior (rear) delt, according to Cleveland Clinic. While the front and rear delts are also essential for growing your shoulder and creating muscle balance, Signore said that the lateral delt is the most important for making your shoulder appear physically broad.
Here are Signore’s top tips for performing a lateral raise:
- Use lighter dumbbell weights than you would usually for other exercises, since the shoulder is an easy area to injure;
- Hold the weights at your sides, and make sure to tuck your hips under your body;
- Squeeze your core, and roll your shoulders away from your ears;
- Lift the weights up to the side. Pause when your arms are shoulder height, she said — don’t bring your arms too high, again to avoid injury;
- Hold for a second before bringing them back down.
Signore said a slight variation on the lateral raise involves turning your hands to face behind you instead of towards 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 lateral raise.
Inclined bench press will build your chest and shoulders
Building your chest is another element of developing a large upper body, Signore said. While the bench press is great for working your chest, she said the inclined bench press will activate your upper chest and shoulders more.
Signore said she recommends mastering the basics of the bench press before adding in the incline and then slowly going up one notch at a time on the bench. The highest notch will be the hardest, she said, because you’re almost doing an overhead press which is really targeting your shoulders.
Y raises target your upper back
Using that same inclined bench, Signore said you can transition easily from an inclined bench press into Y raises. For this exercise, she said to:
- Use lighter dumbbells, similar to those used for lateral raises;
- Leave the bench at an incline, and lie on your chest with the weights in both your hands hanging towards the floor;
- Have your palms face behind you as you bring your arms up in front of you at a slight angle so you create a Y shape;
- Squeeze your back and shoulders to bring them over your head.
This exercise engages the shoulders and latissmus dorsi (lat) muscle, but mainly targets the trapezius (trap) muscle, which occupies your upper and middle back, she said.
Lat pull-downs can build your physique by improving your posture
The lat muscle is the final area that Signore said is important to target if you’re trying to build a broad frame. The lat muscle is divided into two segments on the middle of the back and is one of the largest muscles in the back, according to Healthline.
Here’s how to do it:
- Using a cable machine, in which you are seated, pull
- Bring your shoulders down away from your ears and squeeze your elbows as close together as much as your can.
You can also perform this movement against a wall, Signore said, to make sure you’re getting the correct form, and practice squeezing these muscles. Overall, she said strong lats will help pull your back muscles down and improve your posture.