How a Skinny Guy Built BIG Shoulders!

If you want to build big shoulders and feel that you’re too skinny to do it, you need to watch this. Here you will see how a hardgainer built bigger shoulders and be able to copy the same exact workout tips and tricks to make the same type of gains.

The first important key was to make sure you not skip the overhead press when you are trying to grow bigger shoulders. This is the key compound movement for the delts and the one that is most effective for packing on size and strength to the entire shoulder girdle. That said, it is not uncommon for someone that is very skinny to lack the strength to perform the barbell version of the OHP initially.

That’s ok, simply start with dumbbells. The advantages of the dumbbell overhead press are that they help you to overcome any muscle or strength imbalances that may exist between the right and left arms that often times gets hidden by the bar. They also help to teach you how to get the elbows out slightly in front of the body rather than pointed straight out to the side which can help improve the safety of the exercise for your shoulders. Finally, as mentioned, given that the barbell weighs 45 lbs, the minimum strength requirement needed to press it would be 22.5 pounds in each hand of a dumbbell press. If you don’t have that strength just yet, start with the lighter dumbbells and build up from there.

Now, when it comes to the OHP, you want to be sure that you’re not expecting huge strength increases quickly. This happens to be one of the slowest moving exercises when it comes to seeing big jumps in strength. That’s ok and to be expected. As long as you are informed about this and take your smaller jumps up in weight on the bar, you will steadily and surely build bigger shoulders just from overloading this one exercise.

That said, when you do seem to plateau on this lift, the second big thing you are going to want to do is remember to include the push press in your shoulder workout as well. This shoulder exercise enables you to involve the lower body to help generate some momentum to drive the bar up when the strength of the shoulders alone isn’t enough. Soon, after a consistent use of this exercise, you’ll be able to increase your top end strict press weights from the mere exposure to the heavier weights that can’t be lifted if no push press is used in the first place.

Next, you want to be sure that you are taking advantage of the stretch reflex to grow bigger shoulders. The unique thing about shoulder exercises more than any other is that you intentionally have to seek out the stretch on the exercise. None of the standardly performed exercises do a good job of placing the delts in a stretch position. Altering the way you perform your shoulder front raises and lateral raises can instantly help you to activate this reflex and do a better job recruiting the size building fibers of the delt muscles.

Of all the mistakes that hardgainers and skinny guys make when they are trying to build bigger shoulders is focusing only on the front and middle head of the delts. The rear delts are possibly the most responsible for rounding out the appearance of the shoulders when viewed from the side. Not only do you want to remember to perform rear delt exercises on shoulder or push day, you want to be sure to include ones on pull day too.

The seated cable row with a straight bar and the face pull are both great ways to hit this head of the delts.

Finally, making sure to not only seek out heavy weights as a way to overload the shoulders in your shoulder workout but also to max out the tension on the delts is key. Things that keep continuous tension on the delts like a plate circuit finisher or exercises that drive focused tension through the delts like the one and a half lateral raise or hip hugger, are all ways to make the delts to more of the work and get them to finally respond and grow to your shoulder workout.

If you’re looking for a step by step program for building bigger shoulders and a ripped athletic body, follow the plan that Jesse used by heading to via the link below and get the ATHLEAN-X Training System. Every workout and meal is laid out in a step by step fashion to make sure that there is no guesswork along the way to a new you.

For more shoulder workouts and dumbbell exercises for shoulders, be sure to subscribe to our channel here on youtube via the link below and remember to turn on your notifications so you never miss a new video when it’s published.

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52 thoughts on “How a Skinny Guy Built BIG Shoulders!

  1. ATHLEAN-X™ says:

    *NOTIFICATION SQUAD GIVEAWAY* – Alright guys, I’m giving away a complete 30 Day Workout program to 100 lucky clickers within the first hour this video is published! Remember, this is NOT THE FIRST 100, but those randomly selected within the first hour the video is published. Click the link to see if you’ve won. No strings attached!

    If you don’t win, no worries, you’re not going away empty handed. Just be sure you have your notifications turned on so you can get to my next video quickly and try again. Good luck and thanks for being a loyal subscriber…

    • Marc Mendelsohn says:

      Hey any mods there? I won! Yippee! But already have anabolix, any chance i can get a different month from nxt? Please let me know what to do!

    • Kris Gee says:

      @Arthur Wilson Yes I did but didn’t get to pick a program. I don’t know if it’s random or what. It took me a good while. Maybe Jeff is reinforcing consistency as a habit before you start a program lol

    • Wolf Pack Pete says:

      @Steve it sounds to me that because you put on muscle easily, your body wants a fat storage to support the muscle growth.
      It’s a decision only you can make, but while the guys with action figure bodies are strong… the really really strong guys look somewhat fat. It might be that for yourself, outright strength is more easily achieved than the action figure body. If keeping relatively lean while also working to build even more muscle is your goal… maybe consult a sports nutritionist about it.

    • Steve says:

      @Wolf Pack Pete That’s actually a great idea, i am saving up money so I can get my qualifications to becoming a personal trainer so having a sport nutritionist would be helpful then I can pass on the info to my future clients

    • Wolf Pack Pete says:

      @Steve it’s not entirely simple at all. There’s a lot of muscles in the body, and everyone responds differently to training.

      The nutrition side of things is even more complicated when we get into it – and like the training, everyone’s different.

      For me personally, I would get “skinny fat” if I ate too badly.

    • Steve says:

      @Wolf Pack Pete I know, everyone is different but as I said dedication and hard work and eventually you will see results.

  2. Alex Mill - The Zen Life says:

    Fabulous! I have a request. I’m doing the Elast-X program (which is 100% incredible—thank you!), and I’d love to see a workout for abs using bands. Jeff is a master at coming up with powerful, creative workouts, and I’d be most grateful to see what he can pull off with bands and abs! Thanks for your consideration, and keep up the great work!

  3. doughbones says:

    Watching Jesse’s transformation in real time has been genuinely inspiring. It’s motivated me a million times more than any “I did X for 30 days” videos by some guy already in great shape with just a sodium-bloated before & after thumbnail.

  4. InYourGrillBrunson says:

    Jesse definitely put in the time & work. I love seeing a natural fitness journey where the athlete takes his or her time and work from the base up never forgetting the fundamentals & going back sometimes to them if they start to see any weaknesses to strengthen them. That’s what being fit is all about.

    • Strength Hacks Coaching says:

      Yes I’d rather watch a natural progression than a roided progression any day, it’s just so much more relatable

  5. Matthew Kenny says:

    I’m not sure why, but I feel like I learned a lot from this video. Okay okay okay, I’ll be doing Face Pulls everyday. Good job Jesse, keep it up bud. Jeff thanks for explaining everything. Be good guys.

  6. Isaiah Danz says:

    Genetically, I also have lean shoulders, so I’m glad your pointing out that lean upper bodies can also grow their own style! I enjoy looking lean preferably; so my lean shoulders are a good negative for me. But if you want to look bigger, make sure your also; (along with the exercises of this video, choose the ones that you can master and really feel the tension on the shoulders), working on your back and chest-to allow the shoulders to be complimented and have the strength for proper technique in shoulder workouts.

    • Choa Ichal says:

      Genetics for Abdominal. not different shoulder and your look sleep the delts right horizon anywhere all body play the size delts? You need anthusiast genetic Abdominal pack because Anymously said Mystic no this real. You like Anymously get pack weirdo!?

    • Dually says:

      Proper technique…and I’d add that shoulders also require a really solid Warm Up to be on the safe side.

  7. Kirk Lazarus says:

    Good job, Jesse. I think many people don’t realize that the gains that you’re able to keep are earned over time, not overnight.

    • Lucke Yee says:

      @Jon Campo you are talking bs. that’s like saying that every person that plays snooker for 5 years should be twice as good, or someone who plays basketball for that time should be twice as good! He may not want to be huge, he may just enjoy it and not want to be slim. He has made great gains from where he started. Keep your stupid opinions to yourself.

    • DRIS says:

      @Jon Campo Naw, not at all. He’s made REALLY good gains for his frame. I think too many people are used to seeing illegal drug users make gains over a summer and think that’s “normal”.

    • DRIS says:

      @jeffrey pamplona 23 Naw, not much if you are healthy. At age 45 I got bigger, stronger and more ripped than I ever got at 25. In fact, I literally had 20 year old juiced up bodybuilders ask me what I was taking (because I was way more vascular and athletic than they were) and nobody believed I didn’t take a thing. The whole “if you are over 40 you can’t build muscle” is pure and utter BS.

  8. K M says:

    All staring deep into my soul jokes aside – you really deserve the thumbs up not just for the gains you’ve
    made (insert gains lost joke here) but from how you were vulnerable and exposed in front of millions for years now. You were the internet version of the skinny guy who walks into the gym and picks up those light dumbbells, regardless of the feelings of inadequacy or the side glances, and kept at it.

    You showed everyone of all body types that gains come in all shapes and sizes.

  9. Allen M says:

    Incredible to see how Jesse added layers of muscle to his body. I recommend this channel to anyone I talk to who says they are “skinny” and want to get big, and I especially recommend them to watch Jesse, how he transformed himself over years. I’m not skinny by any means, but I can use this information to build my shoulders, adding muscle over time to aid in my fat loss. Thanks Coach Jeff and Jesse.

  10. charles hudnall says:

    Jesse- I am impressed, big time! You should be proud of your progress. I bookmarked this video so that I can start doing these as well. Great job both of you!

  11. Copius Maximus says:

    I just realised I’ve been watching this channel for 5 years, and have seen Jesse grow from a string bean to a properly huge jacked man. Just look at that back!!
    Proud of you, Jesse.

  12. The Sting says:

    1:43 overhead press (start with dumbbells)
    3:23 lateral raise (one & half)
    3:58 hip hugger
    4:37 plate raise
    5:33 front raise
    6:36 cable

  13. Jaz says:

    There are two guys on youtube who are my biggest fitness inspirations. First – Jeff, for his knowledge and the way he breaks every exercise down to explain them. Secondly, Chris Heria – as I am currently training calisthenics and his strength/abilities are a massive inspiration to me. I want to combine the best of both worlds – by being a quality trainer like Jeff, who can teach the benefits and moves in calisthenics like Chris. I’m filming some of my gym instructing assessment tomorrow, the start of my fitness journey- wish me luck!!

  14. Smack Black says:

    Jeff I love the way you use Jesse’s journey to illustrate how consistency and discipline produces our desired results. Great Chanel!

  15. Vincent Prigioni says:

    Much Respect Jesse! Your back looks insane. So inspiring. Jeff, what a coach! You 2 make an amazing team

  16. clamum says:

    Coming from another skinny, Jesse’s progress is impressive, especially his back I think. Dang that’s a Chad back man, from what you started at.

    I was 117 lbs when I started lifting in early 2020. Had weighed the same since high school and I was 37, give/take a few lbs. I gained a bunch but then lost some cause I just have such an issue with eating; my appetite is just non-existent. Slowly going back up though.

  17. Marlon Bhagwandeen says:

    What a transformation Jesse! It’s great that Jeff has been able to guide you with the right exercises to achieve what you have to date.
    I’m 5 7″ and of slim build and I will be doing these exercises to challenge myself.
    I really enjoy the way Jeff explains the science involved with each exercise.
    Thank you both!

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