Shoulder to Waist Ratio and How to Improve it

There aren’t many things more impressive aesthetically than a set of wide rounded shoulders tapering down to a tiny waist. Though genetics will play a significant role in just how much you can improve your shoulder to waist ratio, you can always improve no matter what cards you’ve been dealt in life.

No one’s body is perfect. In fact, the term “perfect” as used in this context is purely subjective anyways, so you should do away with any unrealistic ideals that you may already have in your mind. That type of negative thinking is all you need to set yourself up for failure.


First and foremost, before we dive into this thing, I can’t really continue without discussing nutrition. You know, those late night cravings you have. Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Everyone’s human and struggles with eating healthy from time to time at some point in their life.

So, for the sake of organization, which is how I like to be, I’ll divide this article into three parts: Part 1 – Nutrition, Part 2 – Abdominal training, and Part 3 – Getting capped shoulders.

Let us begin shall we?

Part 1 – Getting your shoulder to waist ratio right first starts with eating right!

To truly get that v-taper and adonis belt that nearly all men envy to attain, you must first get your diet right. Because let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how HAM you go in the gym, without keeping your calories at a relatively low or “in-control” range, you will be training completely in vain. Controlling your caloric intake is key and is practically essential for improving your shoulder to waist ratio.

Depending on where you are body composition wise, you may not even need to worry about this section of the article. If you are already lean and are just looking for ab and shoulder workouts and techniques, then you can just skip this part. However, if you are interested in losing more weight and slimming up, I greatly encourage you to check out: ChooseMyPlate.gov. It can be a great resource for you and can greatly help you to get a better understanding of how to portion your meals and more specifically what those portions should consist of.

As most of you may or may not know already, I’m a certified personal trainer, not a registered dietitian. So, for specific calorie counts and meal plans, that’s who I’d recommend you see. It’s not only that it would be outside of my code of conduct, but it would just be safer and more effective for you overall to seek out professional help from someone who holds nutritional credentials. Nutritionists are recommended as well.

shoulder to waist ratio
Shoulder to waist ratio

As far as some ways to help you shed off some extra weight so you can begin to truly focus on improving your shoulder to waist ratio, there are the obvious things that most people overlook, like switching form soda to water, switching from beef to fish or chicken, eating more fruits and vegetables to compromise more of your carbs, taking a multi-vitamin to ensure that you don’t get any vitamin or mineral deficiencies, and maybe cutting back your sodium intake. These are all great ways to get started on your road to losing weight, getting healthier, and increasing your shoulder to waist ratio.

Unfortunately there is that natural human instinct called temptation. Your ability to resist temptation will depend on your current motivation level, type of motivation, what types of foods you allow yourself to have in your house (If there’s a box of cookies in there, they will be eaten. Probably all in one sitting.) This brings me to another type of vice that we will all experience at some point in our lives as we earnestly try to eat better and attain improved health. What is this you may ask?…

Fast food.

Fast food joints are all around us. There’s no question of that. See, what gets most people is not necessarily what they already know. You already know that fast food is not the most optimal choice to make as you take your lunch break or as you go on your weekend errand run, but what these places have that logic and reason can’t touch (in that dyer moment at least) is CONVENIENCE.

Convenience is what fast food restaurants thrive on. My only advice to you is to eat before you leave the house or bring meals with you. If you’re not into preparing meals and bringing them with you, then try bringing a RTD (ready to drink) protein shake in a small ice chest with you in your car. Either that or try bringing some healthy snacks with you like fruit in a container.

shoulder to waist ratio
Shoulder to waist ratio

Part 2 – Abdominal training to improve your shoulder to waist ratio

Now, let’s talk about ab training and how to get them bigger. This may sound sort of “off” to you due to the fact that you’d never say that you’d want your waist to get bigger. But as it is with all muscles, to get them to really show, they must be developed. So, none of that 100 repetition garbage. That may be good to just work up a sweat and increase your ab’s muscular endurance, but as far as developing them, it’s not optimal.

Now you may be wondering why it’s even important to train the abs at all if your sole focus is to improve your shoulder to waist ratio. Well, there is not only the tale of the tape, but also there is the element of illusion. Yep, that’s right. This may be no surprise to some of you, but a lot of bodybuilding is nothing more than mere illusioned semblance.

So, if you take the actual measurements out of the equation, then abdominal training with aspirations of hypertrophy should be your focus.


Check out these 3 ab workouts to help you improve your shoulder to waist ratio:

Workout #1 – 

  • Leg raise on machine (straight leg) 3-4 sets 10-14 reps
  • Crunches (without lower back touching floor) 3-4 sets 10-14 reps
  • Broomstick twists 3-4 sets 10-12 reps

Workout #2 – 

  • Air bike crunches 3-4 sets 10-14 reps
  • Lying leg raise (without heels touching the floor) 3-4 sets 10-14 reps
  • Jackknife sit ups 3-4 sets 10-14 reps

Workout #3 – 

  • Oblique leg raise 3-4 sets 10-14 reps
  • Machine ab crunch 3-4 sets 10-14 reps
  • Scissor kicks 3-4 sets 10-14 reps

Part 3 – Improving your shoulder to waist ratio with intense delt training

Once you’ve leaned down a bit, you are now ready to really focus on growing your shoulders so you can attain that “capped”, rounded look. This development will give you the shoulder to waist ratio that you desire. Keep in mind though, I’m not merely talking about just doing regular shoulder workouts. They must be designed with the aspiration of improving your shoulder to waist ratio. So, how do we do this?

Well, you should focus the zenith of your efforts on lateral movements and other exercises that emphasize the side deltoid muscle (e.g. barbell upright rows).

With this being said, the KING of all side delt exercises is the dumbbell lateral raise. 

Even though this exercise is INCREDIBLE for capping your shoulders and giving them that rounded look, it is often performed incorrectly.

I remember when I was much younger, just getting into fitness, and I read Arnold Schwarzenegger’s book “The Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding”. In his book, I learned an incredible trick that Arnold himself revealed. When doing dumbbell side lateral raises, at the top of the movement, you want to make sure that your pinky and thumb are AT LEAST parallel to each other. In fact, I believe he actually claimed that it’s best to have your pinky higher than your thumb. You may be wondering what the big deal is about how your fingers are aligned at the top of the movement. Well, let me tell you why this is such a vital factor for optimal side delt development and how it helps you to improve your shoulder to waist ratio…


See, when doing dumbbell side lateral raises with your pinky and thumb parallel to each other (or having the pinky higher than your thumb) once you reach the top of the movement, this will put virtually all of the resistance on the side delt and not the anterior delt. So many people do side lateral wrong. They raise the dumbbells with their thumbs leading, when in fact it should be the other way. At the bottom of the movement, it should be your pinky that should lead the way as you concentrically contract toward your clavicles.

Check out these 3 delt workouts to help you improve your shoulder to waist ratio:

Workout #1 – 

  • Seated dumbbell side laterals 3-4 sets 10-12 reps
  • Rear delt machine 3-4 sets 10-12 reps
  • Upright rows 3-4 sets 10-12 reps (2-4 drop sets)

Workout #2 – 

  • Wide grip upright rows 3-4 sets 10-12 reps
  • Arnold press 3-4 sets 10-12 reps
  • Close grip upright rows 3-4 sets 10-12 reps

Workout #3 – 

  • Standing dumbbell lateral raises 3-4 sets 10-12 reps
  • Standing alt. dumbbell front raises 3-4 sets 10-12 reps
  • Smith machine upright row 3-4 sets 10-12 reps

Final thoughts on how to improve your shoulder to waist ratio…

On a final note, it’s imperative that you keep your diet in check if you truly wish to attain an improved shoulder to waist ratio and really get that stream lined v-tapered look. Not only will proper diet be the cornerstone of your success at acquiring such a look, but intensive training will also be essential.

Proper abdominal and shoulder (side delt) training will be THE key factor to whether or not you can improve your current condition once you have leaned out, regardless of any genetic disadvantages you may have (or think you have). Nevertheless, these are the things that encompass what it truly takes to improve your shoulder to waist ratio. Good luck on your journey and keep pushing forward!

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