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Everyone has a different preference for how they wish to look, but some body parts complaints are more common. For instance, a lot of women wonder how to reduce broad shoulders in females.
Of course, broad shoulders are still desirable. Some women broaden their shoulders intentionally because they can contribute to the hourglass look.
While genetics do play a huge role in how you naturally look, as well as how difficult it is to make adjustments. Still, many females with broad shoulders can make a change if they’re consistent with a few different habits.
As with nearly everything involving the physique, girls with wide shoulders need to focus on diet and exercise to adjust the shape of the upper body.
I’ve been a personal trainer for many years, so I’ve witnessed how women with big shoulders can slim down their appearance. They must consistently eat in a caloric deficit, prioritize lower body exercises, and avoid working their lateral deltoids and lats.
Because the shoulders are slow to change, patience is key in the whole process. However, there is no need to feel discouraged; just keep at it, and you will see the results in no time!
Keep reading to learn all about how it’s done.
Anatomy and Muscles of the Shoulders
The shoulders have three muscles – anterior deltoid, lateral deltoid, and posterior deltoid.
The anterior deltoid allows your arm to be brought forward. The lateral lifts your arm up to the side. Finally, the posterior brings your arm back behind you.
Your shoulder also has two joints: the acromioclavicular joint and the glenohumeral joint.
What are broad shoulders in females?
Because naturally broad shoulders are a result of longer clavicles, it really comes down to that measurement of whether or not a female has broad shoulders.
The average female’s clavicle ranges from 112 to 153 millimeters. That’s just four to six inches. If your clavicle is on the larger end of that range or beyond, then you likely have broad shoulders.
What causes broad shoulders in females?
If you’re a woman with broad shoulders, there could be several reasons.
The primary cause of broad shoulders is genetics. Genetics determines the length of your clavicles. If this bone happens to be a bit longer than the average, you will have the appearance of broader shoulders.
Of course, you don’t have control over your skeletal frame.
However, you do have a say in how much body fat and muscle mass you carry on your shoulders. Ultimately, fat and muscle can make them look broader.
Female Celebrities With Broad Shoulders
Having broad shoulders isn’t inherently bad. As we learned at the beginning, broader shoulders can help create a very attractive hourglass appearance.
They’re also a common trait among exceptionally fit and healthy people. Having stronger, wider shoulders might reduce your chance of injury and make it easier to perform everyday lifting tasks.
Finally, having broad shoulders also doesn’t mean you look big or bulky. Plenty of petite people have broader shoulders. Even some celebrities who you might not consider “broad” have wider shoulders, such as:
- Halle Berry
- Jennifer Garner
- Kate Hudson
- Julia Roberts
- Renee Zellweger
Can you get rid of broad shoulders?
If the only reason you have broad shoulders is due to the length of your clavicles, then you cannot get rid of broad shoulders.
However, if it is due to the amount of muscle and fat you are currently carrying in the area, then it is possible to slim down your shoulders.
How to Get Rid of Broad Shoulders
Women with broad shoulders can take the same steps to reduce that broadness as they would to lose size anywhere on the rest of their body.
Being in a caloric deficit, eating healthy foods, and having a regular exercise regimen can lessen the broadness of the shoulders.
Different Ways to Reduce Broad Shoulders
Related: Resistance Band Shoulder Exercises
1. Toning up.
Toning up generally refers to tightening up the muscles of a region of the body.
An option you have to make this happen is to continue exercising the anterior and posterior deltoids, not the lateral deltoids.
This way, no more muscle is being added to the lateral deltoids that contribute to a wider frame.
However, you’re still able to grow and strengthen the front and back parts of the shoulders while providing a little activation for the lateral deltoids to help with overall function.
2. Building the muscles of the lower body.
Broad shoulders help create the appearance of a smaller waist. You can apply the same principle of optics to make shoulders appear slimmer by building up the lower body.
To do this, have a consistent lower body routine and eat plenty of protein to fuel your muscles.
When you have larger glutes, quads, and hamstrings, your upper body, and therefore your shoulders, will appear smaller in contrast.
You don’t want to neglect all the muscles of your upper body with this method. Still, putting extra effort into your leg day workouts can help reduce the appearance of broad shoulders.
3. Fat loss.
Related: Virtual Personal Trainer
Some women have broad shoulders simply because their body fat percentage is higher, and they carry some excess fat in that area.
This can be a simple fix because you just need to put yourself in a caloric deficit. However, it won’t be as effective if you eat fewer calories but remain sedentary.
Working out while in a caloric deficit means your body will burn stored body fat for that energy.
While you can’t choose where the fat will be burned first, just know that it will come off your shoulders eventually, so patience is vital!
4. Following a healthy diet.
If you currently have a rather poor diet, simply skipping meals isn’t an ideal way to get into that caloric deficit.
Instead, following a healthy diet is the best way to put yourself in a caloric deficit. In some cases, this might mean you actually start eating more.
The difference is, you’re eating higher-quality foods that happen to be much lower in calories.
Healthy foods like lean meats, fruits, and veggies tend to have fewer calories per serving while still being able to fill you up with more significant portions.
Your body will also be able to burn fat more effectively if you are consistently providing it with all the vitamins and minerals it needs from nutrient-rich foods.
5. Change your fashion philosophy.
What you wear will always affect the way your body looks.
If you’re less than confident about having broad shoulders, you might be doing too much to cover them up. Trying to hide shoulders with bulky fabrics like thick knits simply adds more bulk.
Instead, create an optical illusion that draws the eye elsewhere.
Use this to your advantage by doing things like wearing v-necks, collarless blouses, and lower necklines. These draw the eye toward the chest. Wearing a longer statement necklace can do the same.
When choosing tank tops, go for wider-set straps with scoop necks instead of narrow, high-neck cuts. The latter exposes the entire width of the shoulders.
Finally, as we touched on a few times, broad shoulders are desirable when creating an hourglass shape.
Lean into this. Clothes that cinch or emphasize the waist don’t make your shoulders look too big; they help give you pleasing proportions.
6. Doing more cardio.
In congruence with following a healthy diet for fat loss, cardio may help your body burn excess fat that sits on your shoulders.
Try to make the most of your time by doing more intense forms of cardio that burn more calories fast. A few examples are HIIT workouts, jumping rope, and sprints.
How to Reduce Broad Shoulders in Females – Exercises at Home
Related: Calisthenic Shoulder Workout
In addition to cardio, strength training can help build the lower body and keep the shoulders fit and toned without adding size.
Here are some of my top moves to do that. They can be done at home with just a set of dumbbells. A few require no equipment at all.
1. Dumbbell Squats
Squats are one of the best lower body exercises because they target multiple leg muscles simultaneously. In addition, performing squats with resistance regularly will increase the size of the lower body.
This will help with making your shoulders not appear as broad in comparison. Be sure to do dumbbell squats at least once a week on a leg day!
How-To Perform Dumbbell Squats
- Grab two dumbbells and start in a standing position with the dumbbells by your sides.
- Place your feet hip-width apart and ensure your back is straight and your chest is up.
- Push your glutes back and bend your knees as you come down into a squat.
- Pause when your thighs are parallel to the floor before pushing through your heels to come back to standing.
- Works the glutes
- Challenges the quads and hamstrings
- Do not let your knees go in front of your toes to prevent injuries.
- If you only have access to one dumbbell, you can hold it in between your legs rather than having one on either side.
2. Glute Bridges
The glute bridge is a classic exercise you can do at home if you want to grow and develop your glutes, and they can be done with just bodyweight or added resistance.
Having larger glutes will contribute to the appearance of a lower body that is larger than broad shoulders.
How-To Perform Glute Bridges
- Lay on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms by your sides.
- Push through your heels as you lift your hips toward the sky.
- Pause when your body forms a straight line from your knees to your head and squeeze your glutes.
- Slowly bring your hips back to the floor before repeating.
- Builds the glutes
- Stabilizes your core
- If you want to add resistance, try holding a dumbbell on your hips.
- Keep your chin tucked into your chest for the duration of the movement to ease any strain on your neck.
3. Fire Hydrants
The fire hydrant is an abduction exercise that helps with adding size to your glutes and hips.
Wider hips can take away from the appearance of broad shoulders, so this exercise is a great one to include on a lower body day every week!
How-To Perform Fire Hydrants
- Get on your hands and knees on the floor with a neutral spine and your gaze on the floor.
- Keeping your knee bent, lift one leg up to the side as high as you can.
- Pause at the top of this movement before slowly lowering your leg back down to the floor and repeating.
- Works your glutes
- Adds size to the hips
- If you want to add resistance to the exercise, you can wear a band right below your knees.
- Try adding a pulse at the top of the movement to make this exercise more challenging.
4. Front Raises
While women with broad shoulders do want to avoid working the lateral delts, they can still exercise their anterior delts to maintain strength in that area.
In addition, front raises can isolate the anterior delts, making them a great exercise for an upper body day!
How-To Perform Front Raises
- Start this exercise standing while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Position the dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing you.
- While keeping your arms straight, slowly lift them in front of you until they are parallel with the floor.
- Pause here for a moment before releasing your hands back down to your thighs.
- Works the shoulders
- Builds protection with the shoulder joints
- If you experience any pain in your elbows with this movement, bend them slightly to add extra protection.
- Be sure not to swing your body to get the weight up. If you find yourself doing this, try using lighter dumbbells.
5. Rear Delt Flys
Similar to the front raises, rear delt flys target the shoulders but not the lateral delts. As the name suggests, this exercise works the rear delts.
Do this exercise in partnership with an anterior delt exercise on an upper body day.
How-To Perform Rear Delt Flys
- Get into a seated position on a bench or chair with two dumbbells.
- Have your feet flat on the floor and hinge at the hips with your gaze on the ground.
- Hold the dumbbells under your thighs.
- Keeping your elbows slightly bent, raise the dumbbells up to the sides until your arms align with your shoulders.
- Works the rear delts
- Stabilizes the upper back
- Start with a lighter weight for this exercise to deter any shoulder injuries.
- Play around with how far you lean forward to see how your rear delts are activated.
Limitations of Changing the Width of Shoulders
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, it is genetics that determines quite a few things about how your body can look.
Genetics will determine the length of clavicle bones. So, if you do everything you can to reduce the width of your shoulders and still feel as if they are too wide, this is likely due to natural bone structure that cannot be altered.
If you fear you have “bad genetics,” that doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up on the idea of having a body you feel happy and confident in.
You may just have to put in a little more work than others and have extra patience with the process.
Carrying excess body fat around your shoulders will lead to them appearing broader.
While putting yourself in a caloric deficit for a period of time will lead to a reduction of body fat percentage, you cannot target the fat on your shoulders.
Your genetics also determine where the fat is burned on your body first, so do not give up if you are seeing fat loss everywhere except your shoulders. It’s likely to happen eventually!
I hope you enjoyed my guide to helping women understand how to reduce broad shoulders!
It can be a more complicated topic considering how genetics play a role, but with a plan and dedication, you can make a difference.
Do genetics indeed determine that your clavicles are longer than average and losing fat and muscle in the area isn’t getting you the results you want?
This is when gaining mass on your lower body can be extremely helpful due to how it will contribute to an illusion of slimmer shoulders.
Also, doing something as simple as paying more attention to how you dress can change how you feel about your shoulders.
Comment below which tip you are going to try first to reduce broad shoulders, and don’t forget to share this article with anyone you know who may benefit from it!
Frequently Asked Questions
How to get smaller shoulders?
To get smaller shoulders, eliminate or keep exercises that target your lateral deltoids and lats to a minimum.
You can also work on building muscle on your lower body and eat in a caloric deficit to eventually lose fat stored around your shoulders.
Why are my shoulders so broad?
Your shoulders could be broad due to a few factors. These include genetics, body fat percentage, and muscle mass.
How to lose weight in shoulders?
While you cannot target fat loss in your shoulders, girls with broad shoulders can put themselves in a caloric deficit using exercise and diet to eventually lose weight in their shoulders.
How to dress broad shoulders?
A woman that dresses for wide shoulders does have the capability to make them appear smaller and slimmer.
A few ideas to try utilizing are wearing tops with v-necks and scooped necklines. You can also try wearing flared pants that draw attention to your lower body and balance a wider upper body.
Can you make your shoulders smaller?
Females with broad shoulders do have the capability to make them smaller to a certain degree. However, genetics will ultimately determine just how small someone’s shoulders can look.