I recently got complimented cause workout results are showing, the thing is the compliment included the words "your shoulder's look bigger" and it got me thinking, cause I'm already a wide guy as is. The last thing I want is to get wider. The shoulder workout I do doesn't include heavy weights. 10Kg dumbbells at most. Is there anything I can do to avoid getting any bigger/wider?

The reason is that I've always struggled fitting into nice shirts with my shoulders and always have to end up getting a size that's bigger than what I want because the other sizes although they fit nicely everywhere else they're too tight on the shoulder/armpit area.

3 Answers 3


If your workouts are yielding results, I'm guessing that (1) you're lifting good and consistently, and (2) your diet allows for muscle growth.

That being said: you're using light weights for your shoulders. Implicitely that translates to many reps per set. So you are probably doing between 8 and 12 (or maybe 15) reps, which puts the focus on hypertrophy. (More than that will focus endurance most.) If that's the case, you can either:

  • go for a heavy weight (low reps) which will focus more on strength than size (although size gains are possible, but to a lesser extent most likely).
  • don't workout your shoulders directly anymore (because, duh, muscles grow after they've been stressed). They are already activated in many compound exercises - that should suffice if you're happy with them. Work for growth on everything else instead.

In any case, the two muscles giving you width are the side delts and the lats (so watch out how you construct your sets/reps for rows and pull-ups too).

  • @ FDM Although I hate to downvote your answer, I must state that high reps do not build hypertrophy, they strengthen endurance. Medium reps build hypertrophy. Otherwise, the rest of your answer seems factual. Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 19:56
  • So high reps or low reps?
    – Just Do It
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 20:17
  • @RobSterach Edited my answer.
    – FDM
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 6:04
  • @xPeke Personally I wouldn't bother with 20+ reps if you're already happy with the shoulders.
    – FDM
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 6:09
  • @RobSterach - "Low/medium/high reps" are completely meaningless phrases, because each person could have a different take on what each class means.
    – Alec
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 8:07

Let me give you an easy solution to your problem. Stop working out your shoulders. If you have an imbalance relating to your deltoid muscles, which many men can naturally genetically suffer from, or "broad shoulders," as referred to in some cases, then your shoulders shall always be buff and there is nothing you can do to change it. I suspect you do have this because of your statement about how you've always struggled to fit into shirts. However, what you can do is to bulk up the rest of your body consistently in order to make the other muscles the equivalent size. Unfortunately in your case, it is extremely difficult to work your chest muscles without assistance from your shoulder muscles. However, if you don't directly work your shoulders, a difference in their size will be minimal, as for most other muscles, too. But I would take your shoulders as a gift and keep working them anyway, unless they look too distinct on your body compared to the other muscle groups. :)


Avoid any overhead press. Overhead press is an exercise known by many who actually lift to widen your appearance. Here is a thread with many responses by people who lift confirming that overhead press is a major mass building exercise for your shoulders. http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=887 There are many things you can avoid, but this is around the top. If you go with this advice be sure to check back in and let everyone know your results.

  • 1
    I wouldn't be so quick to generalize the response that would be given. There are a lot of bodybuilders that find doing shoulder raises in various directions corresponds more to shoulder size than overhead pressing does.
    – Alex L
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 23:02
  • @DavidR I hate to down vote, but on our site you have to give a detailed question with a detailed answer. Consider editing. Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 23:22
  • @AlexL so he shouldn't avoid overhead pressing?
    – DavidR
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 23:24
  • (I'm sorry about my mistake, it should have read "a detailed answer with a detailed question," in my response) Commented Oct 11, 2015 at 1:37
  • @DavidR He should avoid any exercise targeting shoulders, OHP included. Alex L' s comment is true because raises can work both the front and sides of shoulders, which make up 2/3 of the shoulder head, the other 1/3 being the back part of shoulders, but squats will strengthen that part. Anyway, OHP hits front shoulders, so it is best that he avoids it. Commented Oct 11, 2015 at 1:40

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