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8 Most Effective Machine Exercises To Build Broader Shoulders

Strong, defined shoulders are a staple of any muscular build.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Strong, defined shoulders are a staple of any muscular build. Given that shoulders are the first major muscle group that appears on your torso when people look at you, they're a body part you need to specifically train in the gym for a classic physique. But sculpting broad shoulders requires more than just a shoulder exercise here and there. Today, we're going to break down eight of the most effective machine exercises to build broader shoulders.

For optimal growth in your shoulder muscles, you need a targeted shoulder workout that hits every muscle group in and around your shoulders. Keep in mind that you can't get broader shoulders by solely doing outer-shoulder-focused exercises. For the best appearance, you need to hit them from all angles.

If you prefer machines over free weights for building muscle, you still have a ton of options on the table when it comes to machine exercises for broader shoulders. The following moves are my top favorite machine shoulder exercises. You can incorporate them into your existing workout or perform the entire list of exercises as a single workout. Complete three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise. Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

Keep reading to learn more, and next, don't miss Build Up Your Boulder Shoulders With These 5 Exercises, Trainer Says.

1. Seated Military Press

seated military press exercise

Seated military presses are an excellent machine exercise that hits your anterior deltoids very effectively, as demonstrated above. You usually have the option for an overhand or neutral grip. Overhand grips give slightly more leverage but place a tad more strain on your shoulders. This isn't a problem for healthy shoulders, but if you do feel pain or other issues when using an overhand grip, switch to a prone grip.

2. Cable Machine Lateral Raise

muscular man doing cable machine lateral raise exercise

This exercise hits the top of your shoulder, primarily your lateral deltoid. Use a light weight on this exercise and avoid shrugging your shoulders while performing the movement. Focus on feeling the muscular burn in your shoulder.

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3. Smith Machine Shrugs

Shrugs are a must if you want to really beef up your shoulders. Shugs primarily work your traps, which add significantly to the bulk of your shoulders and neck, furthering the broad look of your shoulders. When performing shrugs, work to keep your shoulders pinched backward as you elevate them toward your ears to lift the weight.

4. Dips

muscular man doing bodyweight dips to build broader shoulders

Dips work your anterior deltoids, as well as your chest and triceps. Dips are a great compound movement that works at a different shoulder angle compared to an overhead shoulder press. You can use the assisted dip machine or the dip attachment that comes with many exercise equipment setups.

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5. Cable Flies

man doing cable flies exercises to build broader shoulders at the gym

Cable flies hit your chest and shoulders, helping to fill out your shirt and give your shoulders an incredibly well-rounded, pumped-up appearance. Try to find an angle on the cable machine that puts your arms at a slight upward angle relative to your torso.

6. Lat Pulldown

muscular man doing lat pulldowns at the gym, concept of exercises to build a bigger back

The lat pulldown is typically included in back workouts. However, the size of the lats contributes greatly to the appearance of broad, developed shoulders. The lats span from your tailbone to your shoulders, where they attach. The lat muscle tends to build up in the rear shoulder area and can help "push out" your entire torso appearance when appropriately developed.

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7. Cable Face Pulls

Cable face pulls hit your rear shoulder to round out the entire appearance. Be sure to use a light weight when performing cable face pulls, and focus on the squeeze and rotation at the end of the movement. Stop if you feel any strain.

8. Cable Machine Rear Delt Row

Rear delt rows are the final exercise in the workout. They target your rear shoulder with incredible precision.

Keep a slight bend in your elbow throughout the movement, and keep your palm facing the floor or point your thumb upwards for a neutral grip. Put focus and effort into the posterior area of your shoulder muscles to help target the activation.

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT
Tyler Read is a personal trainer and has been involved in health and fitness for the past 15 years. Read more about Tyler
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