The Workout Guide: How To Get Round Shoulders

Many men and women typically want to boost the size of their shoulders for aesthetic or functional reasons. Your shoulder muscles are some of the most used muscles in your entire body and can really boost your upper body strength.

Getting rounder shoulders can help you become more confident and more proficient at many different types of sports.

How to Get Round Shoulders

To get round shoulders, you need to do compound movements that involve your shoulder muscles, followed by a series of single-joint moves for each part of the deltoid muscle. Each part of the muscle needs to be worked out equally in order to achieve strong, well-rounded shoulders.

Focus on Compound Movements First

When working out, start with compound movements. With these exercises, multiple sets of joints are working together, so the movement engages the most amount of muscle mass.

The reason it’s best to start with these movements (rather than with isolation exercises) is because you’ll have the most energy at the beginning of your session. Additionally, this helps to warm up the three shoulder heads, which you will be targeting individually later in your workout.

Woman in a black sports bra with strong shoulders

Once you get through your compound exercises, transition into single-joint movements. This is where you can really focus on targeting the three deltoid heads: the anterior, lateral, and posterior. 

Target the Each Deltoid Head Equally

To fully develop your shoulders and have them look proportionate, it’s important to work the anterior, lateral, and posterior muscle fibers equally. By placing too much emphasis on just working one or two of these heads, it can lead to joint injuries because of a muscle imbalance.

Additionally, as you perform these exercises, mix up the order you do them in your workouts. Rather than always starting with the anterior part of the deltoid, rotate so the anterior is sometimes the delt you work first. If you notice a certain delt is weaker than the others, prioritize it during your workout routine.

As you get further along in your workouts, muscles become fatigued. If you always work out your posterior muscle last, it can result in that muscle developing slower than the other two.

Also, be aware of which heads are being worked out through compound movements on other workout days. For example, if you spend time on the rowing machine on back day, the posterior delt will get worked out.

While this is fine, it’s important to be aware of this so you can be sure to balance out the other two shoulder muscle fibers throughout the week.

Don’t Work Out Your Shoulders Every Day

Even though the goal is to get rounder shoulders, you do not want to work them out every day. Doing this will fatigue the muscles in your shoulders.

Additionally, it could end up damaging your muscles. If this happens, it will take longer to develop round shoulders. Instead, aim to allow your shoulders to recover for 1-2 days in-between each workout focused on this body part. 

Different Exercises to Get Round Shoulders

From compound movements to single-joint exercises, there are a variety of shoulder workouts you can do to build round shoulders. 

Do Overhead Presses

Overhead presses are probably the most common compound exercises to do for your shoulders. With these presses, all three of your deltoid heads will be engaged.

You can choose to do overhead presses on the machine or with free-weights. Additionally, you have the option to do it in both a standing and seated position. There are pros and cons to each, which are outlined below.

Pros and cons of standing presses:

  • Pro: Ability to do more reps (while using a heavier weight)
  • Con: Movement is not as targeted to your shoulders, because you gain some momentum from your knees and hips

Pros and cons of seated presses:

  • Pro: Can isolate the movement to primarily your shoulders 
  • Con: Typically do less reps (while using a lighter weight)

Incorporate Various Arm Raises

Arm raises are a single-joint movement. Because of this, aim to do them towards the second part of your workout (once all of your compound exercises are completed).

As mentioned earlier, there are three parts to the deltoid muscle. Each of these muscles have a different arm raise you should do to target each specific delt muscle:

  • Anterior: Perform front raises. This is where you extended the dumbbells directly out in front of you.
  • Lateral: Do lateral raises by raising the dumbbells out to the sides of your body.
  • Posterior: Focus on bent over raises. Bend over at your waist and while keeping your back straight, extend the dumbbells out to your sides.

When doing these various single-joint raises, it’s important to slightly bend your arms by locking them at the elbows. You want to keep your arms in this locked position throughout the exercise to keep the focus on the individual muscle.

If you open and close your arms during the movement, your triceps will also get a workout. This defeats the purpose of doing a single-joint exercise.

When looking for how to get bigger shoulders at home, doing these different arm raises is a great option. They can be done with just a pair of weights, so the amount of space you need is minimal. 

Focus on Cable Pulls

Cables are extremely effective for building round shoulders. Unlike dumbbells, cables provide a constant amount of tension and resistance throughout the entire movement.

When using cables, you also have the ability to adjust the specific height and placement of where it begins. This results in giving your targeted muscles a really effective workout, all while keeping your shoulder protected.

As you create specific shoulder workouts, try swapping out dumbbells for cables for certain movements.

Woman in a fitness class pulling on cables

There are a variety of cable pull exercises you can add into your workout routine. Here are some we recommend:

  • Face pulls
  • Cross-body upright row
  • Cable rear lateral raise
  • Upright cable rows


Regardless of the exercises you choose for how to get round shoulders, remember to always be mindful of the weight you select. Deciding to lift a weight that’s too heavy can greatly damage your shoulder joints. The key to getting round shoulders is working out the three deltoid heads equally.

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