Huge Shoulders For a Small Waist

Dec 29, 2010
Huge Shoulders For a Small Waist

Widen the Top to Shrink the Bottom with this routine by Ian Lauer

Everybody wants a small waist.

Let me rephrase that…everyone wants a waist that appears small. Losing weight and letting the waistline slim is one way to get there. There is another way that you may not have fully considered up to this point. This is as simple as increasing the width of your shoulders.  Wider shoulders give the appearance of a smaller waist and relatively speaking the waist is smaller.

So why would you do this instead of just shrinking your waist line? 

Simple, losing a large number of inches off of your waist is not always easy and in the process you will likely lose muscle mass you worked so hard to gain.  This is because frequently when we reduce caloric intake to the point necessary to burn the fat off of the midsection we usually reduce it too far and lose lean mass as well.  Of course resistance training and increased protein intake are one way to combat this; however, it is not full proof.  Increasing the size of the shoulders is a full proof way of making the waist look smaller and maintaining and potentially gaining total mass. Now that’s a winning combination!  So are you going to be a cardio PANSY and lose all of your lean mass or are you going to move some iron and build some muscle?

To reiterate the point, let’s take a quick look at the math. You probably remember the ol’ circumference formula from math class back in the day:

  • 2 π r = Circumference      AKA:    Diameter x 3.14= Circumference

So why am I going into geometry class here? 

The point is this:  In order to look ONE INCH narrower (Diameter) in the waist you must lose OVER 3” total (Circumference) off of the waist!  Whereas if you add only ½” width to each of your shoulders, you will achieve the same or even better aesthetic change in your physique.  So how do you make this happen?  You religiously engage in a solid shoulder training regimen. 

Fortunately for you I have just the thing!

The solid workout program to follow is exactly what you need.  If you are like me you also like to add some quality basic supplements to support your gains. I choose Kreation by Sci-Fit as my Pre-workout drink.  It has all the ingredients that the other companies claim to have in their pre-workout products plus it is infused with 500 mg of Kre-Alkalyn. Kre-Alkalyn is a superior form of Creatine that absorbs well and works for increased size and strength.  Choosing to use supplements or not is entirely up to you, I add them to get the absolute most out of my excruciating workouts.

The Lift:

  • General Warm-Up
  • 5 minute warm-up
  • Muscular Specific Warm-Up
  • Dumbbell Side Raises/Front Raises/Shoulder Press: 1x15 each (Muscle Specific Warm-Up)
  • Plyo-metric Style Exercises
  • Medicine Ball Explosive Shoulder Press Toss 5x6
  • Sand Bag Plyo-style Shoulder Press 5x6
  • Traditional Training Portion
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Presses: 3×10
  • Dumbbell Front Raises: 3×10
  • Rear Delt Machine: 4×15,15,12,10
  • Cable Upright Rows: 4×15,12,10,10
  • Machine Side Raises: 4×15,12,10,8
  • Seated Dumbbell Side Raises: 3×10
  • Pre-hab Exercises
  • Cable Internal/External Rotation: 2×20,15

General Warm-up

5 Minutes

Before beginning any lifting program it is important to warm-up.  This preps the muscles and helps prevent injury.  A good warm-up will help you get the most out of your workout.  You will clear your mind of all out of the gym distractions and focus on your upcoming workout.  Five minutes of jogging will be perfect to precede your shoulder trashing workout you’re about to jump into.  You can do the jog outside or on the treadmill…either way just make it happen!

Muscular Specific Warm-up

-Dumbbell Side Raises/Front Raises/Shoulder Press: 1x15 each (Muscle Specific Warm-Up)
As you are closing in on making an awesome workout happen it is imperative to get the muscles fully prepared.  A huge part of that is doing a few muscle specific warm-ups.  When training the shoulders grab a set of light/medium weight dumbbells and do a set of 15 side raises.  Move immediately into a set of 15 reps on alternating front raises.  Once you complete that go into shoulder press.  These exercises are all done with the same set of dumbbells.  This is not about moving large amounts of weight or getting an insane burn (That comes later!).  This is just about increasing blood flow to the muscles about to be abused and lubricating the joints.  Following the Muscular Specific Warm-up, you are ready for the onslaught.

Plyometric Style Exercises:

In life we often move with speed.  Not all of the time do we have the luxury of taking our time moving at a 1 second pace to extend the arm and 2 seconds to lower it back down.  Fortunately our bodies are made to move and improve at a number of different speeds.  This is why plyometric exercises are so important.  These fast explosive exercises can be just what the doctor ordered to bust through a training plateau and stimulate growth you thought impossible. 
The First of the Plyometric exercises requires the use of a medicine ball.

-Medicine Ball Explosive Shoulder Press Toss 5x6

  • Stand with the feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent.  Hold the medicine ball at chest level.  From this start position fire the ball vertically.  The ball should leave your hands and go as high as possible and of course catch it on its way down at chest level and continue for the 6 reps.  Do five sets of these.
  • Note: This need to be done with high ceilings.  If this is not an option try doing this exercise from a seated position.
  • This exercise should not tire you out.  This is about maximum output for each and every rep!

After the medicine ball sets are done grab a sand bag preferably 25-75 pounds.

-Sandbag Plyo-style Shoulder Press 5x12

  • For the sandbag plyo-style shoulder press you will be standing with a staggered stance and knees slightly bent.  The bag will be held at your collarbone and then pressed with explosive force towards the ceiling then pulled back down quickly in prep for the next rep.  Do five sets of 12 reps.  By the end of each set you should feel the fatigue setting in a bit, but be sure to maintain your explosive speed.
  • Note:  If you have previous shoulder injury any overhead press is one you should discuss with your physician before doing.
  • The key to this exercise is explosive force upward then ripping the weight back down towards your body.  You will be pushing the weight up as well as “pulling” it down if done correctly.  When finished with the plyometric portion of this workout you will move into the more traditional style training.

Traditional Training Portion

When looking to put on mass you must NEVER OVERLOOK THE BASICS!  I am beyond tired of hearing “I do core training” or “I only do functional training.”  Here’s a news flash…have you ever noticed the people that say that look like shit.  Something to think about.  If you want to build a physique that is comparable to Greek sculptures you must train like the greats such as Arnold and Zane.  Guess what…the cornerstone of their training was…the basics.  Functional training is fine and dandy as a PORTION of your training.  For real results you must do REAL TRADITIONAL Training.

-Dumbbell Shoulder Presses: 3×10

  • This is an oldie and a goodie!  Not gimmicks or tricks.  Do a few sets of old school shoulder press. 
  • There is no better exercise to build overall shoulder mass.  If you are feeling like taking it up a notch turn the last set into a drop set and bump this up to 4 or 5 sets instead of three.  DO IT!

-Dumbbell Front Raises: 3×10

  • You must develop all three heads of the shoulder to get the most out of your training.  Following the press, move into the Dumbbell Front Raise.  This develops the anterior portion of your shoulder. 
  • Note: When doing front raises keep a slight bend in the elbows to protect the shoulder from injury. 

-Rear Delt Machine: 4×15,15,12,10

  • Often neglected is the posterior portion of the shoulder.  Really when guys train the body in general they tend to forget about the backside.  The rear delt is no different, it is often neglected but really gives shape to the shoulder. 
  • The rear delt also is one of the muscle groups responsible for support during other exercises such as Bench Press.  The Rear Delt Machine or Rear Dumbbell Flys is a great exercise for developing the back portion of the shoulders and should be given the proper attention. 
  • Often I will do multiple sets of both exercises in any given shoulder workout.  So, if you are up for the challenge do four sets on the Machine then four more sets with dumbbells.  That is if you aren’t a candy ass?  I ask you: are you a candy ass?  I didn’t think so!  Now, DO IT!

-Cable Upright Rows: 4×15,12,10,10

  • You have already done a press as well as some raises, it’s time to get some pulling in.  Use a short bar on the bottom attachment of a cable machine.  Stand facing the pulley and pull the bar up just below your chin.  Slowly lower the weight back to hip height and continue for the desired number of reps (Tip: the “desired number of reps” is always one more!)
  • Note: When you pull the bar upward at the top of the movement your elbows will be the highest part of your arms.
  • This exercise is great for developing shoulder and trap mass!

You’re probably wondering what about side raises?  They are here near the end of the workout. I want the shoulders anterior and posterior portions fatigued going into them so that the caps have to work extra hard.  This will result in increased size and width on the shoulders.

-Machine Side Raises: 4×15,12,10,8

  • Have a seat and start lifting!  This is simple and when you really need to buckle down.  I know the shoulders are tired but this is when the men step up and the shoulders are prepped for growth. 
  • Work on peak contraction at the top of each rep.  Rest only 30 seconds between sets and power through this exercise.

-Seated Dumbbell Side Raises: 3×10

  • Once you finish on the machine go to the dumbbells and grab a set. 
  • Thirty second rest periods continues.
  • Crank out three sets of 10. 

You have finished the Traditional Training portion.

All that is left is a couple of Pre-hab exercises to keep you healthy.  Staying health is imperitive to making continued gains.

Pre-hab Exercise

  • -Cable Internal/External Rotation: 2×20,15
  • Keep your elbow at a 90 degree angle and rotate the arm inward for internal rotation and outward for external rotation.  These exercises are done with a light weight and will help prevent injury and can increase your overall strength.  Do two sets of 20-15 reps on each arm. 

Congratulations!  You did it…or if you just read this and haven’t yet, DO IT!

This program will make your shoulders grow and make your waist look smaller in the process.  Fast twitch, slow twitch, joint health, strength and aesthetic improvement will come from doing this workout consistently.  Do this program 1-2 times per week depending on your schedule and how long your body takes to recover and you will get results.  I take Gluta-lyn and BCAA-lyn by Sci-Fit immediately post workout to expedite recovery so I can be sure to train each muscle group twice every week.  Better Shoulders, Better Performance, Better Body, Period.  Now get into the gym and create the body you deserve!

You can see more of my workouts at

Ian Lauer CSCS

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