Achieving wide shoulders is a goal for many fitness enthusiasts. Firstly, understanding the muscle that is culpable in creating wide shoulders is essential before choosing any exercises.

Three muscles make up the aesthetics of the shoulder, the anterior (front), medial (middle) and the posterior (rear) (1). To create a broader look to the shoulder, developing the medial deltoid should be the priority and solely focusing on pressing movements will not benefit you in reaching the desired goal.

Should I perform a shoulder press?

Popular pressing movements such as the dumbbell or barbell shoulder press is an excellent all-round shoulder exercise, however, most development will be visible in the anterior deltoid muscle, not the medial which should be the focus (2).

One of the medial deltoids function is to move the arm away from the body (abduction), therefore, executing movements that emphasise that is important for medial deltoid developme

Incline Bench Lateral Raise

  1. Place both knees on the seat of bench.
  2. Lie on your side with the arm rested over the top of bench.
  3. Begin with the dumbbell/disc resting on the thigh.
  4.  Squeeze the shoulder blades back.
  5. Exhale, and raise dumbbell/disc to the side until shoulder level.
  6. Lead with the elbow.
  7.  Inhale, and lower slowly back to the start position.

Standing Single Arm Cable Lateral Raise

  1. Have the pulley at the opposite side to the working arm
  2. Palms facing down
  3. Have a stable base with feet shoulder width and core engaged
  4. Start with the hand by the hip
  5. Elbows bent and fixed
  6. Exhale and raise the hand to just below shoulder height
  7. Hold for a second
  8. Inhale and slowly lower the hand to the hip

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

  1. Stand tall with a dumbbell/disc in each hand.
  2. Begin with the palms resting on the thighs.
  3. Squeeze the shoulder blades back.
  4. Feet hip-width apart with toes straight.
  5. Slightly bend the knees and engage the core to stabilize the body and prevent arching of the back.
  6. Exhale, and raise to the sides until they are at shoulder level.
  7.  Lead with the elbows.
  8.  Keep palms facing the ground and lower slowly, back to the start position.


All three movements target the medial deltoid, and if the goal is a wider look to the shoulders, then lateral raises should be the foundation of achieving that. Shoulder pressing movements have less of an effect on the medial delt than lateral raises, thus, the focus should be placed on progressing with the chosen lateral raise movement (3).

The above presents three different exercises that can be used to target the medial delt. Pick what you enjoy and the most applicable to your situation and follow the guidelines in performing the exercise to reap the most benefits possible.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534836/
  2. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/prosource/september-2014/4972/dynamite-delts-ace-research-identifies-top-shoulder-exercises 
  3. https://www.bisp-surf.de/Record/PU201312008451