How to Build WIDER Delts! (Wider Shoulders 101)

Everybody wants shoulders that are wide, round and muscular. It’s probably the trait that enhances aesthetics the most. That, and a small waist.

Good news is that the medial head of the deltoid (“the side delts”) is a small head of a relatively small muscle, so it doesn’t take too long to develop. In this article we’ll talk about everything you need to consider if you want a wider look to your shoulders.


It’s a biological thing. Women’s beauty is all about wide hips (natural selection makes that attractive because it means she can give birth and not have severe issues in the process).

In males, it’s about wide shoulders and a narrow waist. It makes us look strong, masculine and attractive [1]. Take a look at this graphic example:

V-taper comparison

What’s more attractive? What is more pleasing to look at? It’s not only about the gap in muscle mass but also about the V-taper effect.


The deltoid muscle is anatomically divided into three heads:

The anterior head, which is heavily stimulated when we do pushing movements like bench press, push-ups and shoulder presses. There’s usually no need to focus on this one unless you are a serious bodybuilder. If you overdevelop it by not doing as much pulling as pushing, it becomes a dangerous situation which may lead to injury.

The posterior head is in the back and gets activated when doing pullups or any rowing movement. There’s also little need, usually, to train it in isolation. If you have a shoulder imbalance or want that little extra meat next to the traps, go ahead and do some rear delt raises in the angle that feels best for you.

And finally, the most interesting one: The medial head.┬áThis gives you bigger-looking, broader shoulders. It’s a very tricky part to stimulate and very few people have enough of a mind-muscle connection to train it right.

When you learn it, though, it’s one of the best things you can work on to look better without a T-shirt. It drastically widens the appearance of your upper body, giving the illusion of a V-taper. There’s nothing more aesthetic than that in the male body.

Anatomy of shoulders

Very important to know: The rotator cuff is a small group of tendons and muscles inside your shoulders and is by far the most common source of injury in the gym. As already mentioned, do as much pushing and pulling in order to keep your shoulders safe and not end up with a muscle imbalance. If you feel any pain, take a step back and perform some variation of face pulls to strengthen it. Do take your rotator cuffs very seriously and learn to warm them up.


There’s isn’t a lot of exercise variety for the side delts. There are just different ways to perform lateral raises. Free weights / machine, straight / bent arms, standing / seated…

All of them achieve pretty much the same but you must learn to execute the movement in a way that prevents you from injury and without using your traps too much, which would take the stress away from the area we’re trying to focus on.

In my humble opinion, which is shared by most experienced bodybuilders, keeping your arms bent when doing lateral raises is the best thing to keep safe and get results. There’s a lot to learn to get this exercise right and you should use a mirror and concentrate on the movement until you feel comfortable doing it. Watch some of these videos to learn the proper technique: (Go to Youtube)

Lateral raises for side delts

Despite the fact that lifting free weights is in most cases superior to machines, here we have an exception. If your gym has a machine for lateral raises, use it. It’s a small head of a small muscle and a fixed path is going to be more than enough to stimulate growth.

Whether sitting or standing up, there’s really no difference.


In regards to this, there’s nothing special about this muscle. If you hit it with lots of volume and intensity, give it at least 3 days of rest. If not, you can train it every 48 hours to speed up the growth (as long as you are recovering fine of course, which only you can tell).

Almost no compound exercise places a serious stress on the medial head, so you are free to put it on your back day, your shoulder and arms day, chest day… even leg day. In any case, this is very subjective to the kind of routine you are doing. Deadlifts and obviously shoulder press will certainly interfere with its recovery, so do it on the same day as these or at least not within 48 hours.


Just like with any other muscle, these two factors are going to determine whether you get the results you want or not. The more you sleep, the better. Try to take naps during the day.

When it comes to the diet, the more you eat the more anabolic your body is going to be, but keep it healthy and don’t get fat in the process. Just make sure that all your macro and micronutrient needs are fulfilled by the time you go to sleep.


[1] “waist-to-shoulder ratios as determinants”…

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