Bony shoulders can leave you feeling and looking weak, and may even make it look like you have bad posture. While you can't get rid of bone and can't change the natural shape of your body, you can build plenty of muscle on top of your bones. The amount of time it takes to change the shape of your shoulders will vary depending on your physical condition and the intensity of your routine. For most people, though, a few months may be all it takes to drop the bony look and get strong shoulders.
The Right Diet
If you want to build muscle, now is not the time to needlessly cut calories. Instead, get rid of unhealthy meal choices such as processed foods, cookies and potato chips. Protein is the building block for healthy muscle tissue, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of 46 grams per day for women and 56 grams per day for men. If you stick to a low-intensity routine and only want to build a bit of strength, this is fine. If you want to lay down lots of muscle, aim for .7 to .8 grams of protein per day per pound of body weight. A 100-pound woman, for example, would need 80 grams of protein per day.
Cardiovascular training helps boost your endurance and forms the foundation of any healthy fitness routine. Regular cardio will also help you burn excess fat, allowing strong muscles to peek through. Focus on cardiovascular routines that work your shoulders, such as swimming, jumping rope and rowing. The CDC recommends at least 75 minutes of intense cardio or 150 minutes of moderate cardio per week. If you exceed these recommendations, you can improve your fitness and build even more healthy muscle tissue.
Weight training is the key to strong, defined shoulders. Kettlebell swings are an excellent choice because they move your shoulders through their full range of motion. You can also use kettlebells for rows and presses. Barbell shrugs, lateral raises, bench presses and deltoid raises are ideal options. If you prefer working on exercise machines, cable external and internal rotations can help strengthen your shoulders. Start with relatively low weights that are challenging for you to lift for more than a few reps. Aim for two or three reps, then build up to heavier weights and more reps.
Putting It All Together
At minimum, you'll need at least two days of strength training per week to see progress. If you want huge shoulders, though, you'll need to train almost every day, with one two two rest days to allow your muscles to recover. For a high-intensity muscle-training routine, try picking six or seven shoulder workouts. Perform circuit training by doing one or two shoulder exercises followed by a cardio routine. Continue repeating this pattern until you've completed all of the exercises on your list.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- Men's Fitness: The 6-Round Kettlebell Shoulder Circuit
- Muscle & Fitness: Get Bigger Shoulders With 5 Easy Moves
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do You Need?
- Musclemag: The Little-Known Secret to Massive Shoulders
- Men's Fitness: Protein -- A Guide to Maximum Muscle
- Photo Credit hammett79/iStock/Getty Images
- American Council on Exercise: Shoulder Exercises
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