Why are my shoulders so wide?

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How to Get Wide Shoulders

Below are a few exercises you can do to widen your shoulders. It’s recommended that you do the exercises one to three times per week with at least one day between sessions. Start with light to moderate weights, and build up duration and intensity. This will help prevent injury.

Seated rear lateral raise

  1. Sit on the edge of a bench with dumbbells at your side.
  2. Bend forward and rest your torso on your thighs.
  3. Keep your back flat.
  4. Slowly lift the weights up and to the side until your elbows are at shoulder height.
  5. Slightly bend your elbows and tilt your hands forward as you do this.
  6. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  7. Slowly lower your arms back down to the starting position.
  8. Do 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.

Face pulls

  1. Set a rope attachment and set it at the height of your upper chest or slightly higher.
  2. Hold the rope with an overhand grip and step back to create tension.
  3. Sit back into your hips as you start to pull the cable.
  4. Allow your elbows to flare out to the side and parallel to the floor.
  5. Pull the rope toward your face.
  6. Hold this fully contracted position for a moment while focusing on engaging your back deltoids and upper back.
  7. Slowly return to the starting position.
  8. Do 3-5 sets of 15-20 reps.

Dumbbell front raise

  1. Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Place your hands in front of you with your palms facing your thighs.
  3. Keep your torso motionless and lift the left dumbbell up.
  4. Keep a slight bend in the elbow and the palm facing down.
  5. Raise your arm until it’s slightly higher than parallel to the floor.
  6. Pause at the top portion and then slowly lower your arm to the starting position.
  7. Repeat on the right side.
  8. Do 2-3 sets of 16-20 reps.

45-degree incline row

  1. Lie on your stomach on a 45-degree incline bench.
  2. Allow your arms to hang straight down while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bend your elbows to lift your arms.
  4. Keep your upper arms perpendicular to your body throughout the movement.
  5. Pause at the top of the movement.
  6. Slowly return the weights to the starting position.
  7. Do 2-3 sets of 6-12 reps.

Overhead shoulder press

  1. Stand up straight and hold a barbell or dumbbells slightly above your upper chest with your hands a little bit wider than shoulder width.
  2. Press the weight straight up toward the ceiling while keeping your elbows drawn in.
  3. Maintain strength in your legs, lower back, and core for balance.
  4. Lower to return to the starting position.
  5. Do 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps.

About Philippe Leonard Fradet

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Shopping for clothes always seems like such a chore. Beyond the issues of succumbing to capitalist patriarchal standards of what “looks good,” shopping can quickly become a session of self-loathing, especially when you are “too big” for what you want to wear. You find something that looks great on the rack, but when you put it on, the buttons are stretched out, or you cannot move your arms, or you cannot sit down, or you cannot even breathe properly. You feel like a failure, as though there is something wrong with you, as though you will be judged for just trying on the garment. This feeling only intensifies when you do not realize how hard you are trying to uphold the same errant sense of masculinity that you claim you do not even care about.

I am 24 years old, and I have been big my whole life. I cannot remember a time that I did not feel as though I were taking up too much space, or as though people were going to make fun of me for being big. And they sure did make fun of me – not only for being a fat or chubby child, but also because I was not “man” enough to take their contempt. I would cry a lot, earning the “cry baby” nickname and all of the associated emasculating and homophobic terms – none of which will I repeat here. I fell into an extraordinarily complex cycle of self-hatred and crying. I negotiated with myself for years, trying to figure out why I could not be like the sports icons and the pro wrestlers and the super models I was inherently being compared to by my peers.

The interesting thing about being a big kid is that I wasn’t big for the reasons most people thought. My parents actually never let me eat too much; I would definitely eat more than my two older sisters, but they stopped me from eating to the point that I would get sick. I was also a very active kid and teenager. Even though I spent time playing video games with my family or in my room trying to draw my body idol – Goku from the Dragon Ball series — I participated in many different sports and played outside with my friends on a nearly daily basis. From martial arts, to soccer, to swimming, to skateboarding, to rollerblading, to trying to break dance, to playing Dance Dance Revolution, to riding my bike around the neighborhood, I spent a lot of time on my feet, running around and sweating in the San Diego sun. It did not make any sense to me: if I were just as active as my friends were, why was I still the “fat kid” of the group?

When I look back at myself as a kid and a teenager, so much of it was spent dealing with my size on top of dealing with not being “manly enough.” In one way or another, everything was a contest of dominance and masculinity with my guy friends. I wanted to be the best at 007 Goldeneye or Call of Duty. I wanted to be the best break dancer. I wanted to be the best guitar player and singer. I just wanted to be the best. It was, in all honesty, pretty pathetic, but it was all I knew about being a boy. Combine my masculinity complex with my body dysmorphia, and I fell quickly into bouts of depression and self-harm. I wanted so badly to be normal, to be manly, to be thin, and I could never quite attain any of those things so long as I was the sensitive fat kid.

It was not until I got to college that I started reassessing the way I looked at my body. I began embracing my “sensitivity” and caring a little less about the compulsory masculinity that had plagued me as a kid. I started looking at myself as an okay person – not loving myself completely, but not hating myself either. I distanced myself from the idea that I had to be the most masculine of all, especially as I continued seeing the flawed and problematic nature of the various forms of masculinity I faced.

I would come to a bump in the road, though, whenever I tried finding clothes to wear. My ideals of masculinity shifted from super muscular or fit men on TV and in movies to the supremely skinny guys in the indie, pop punk, and emo bands I listened to. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to wear the skinny jeans. I wanted to wear super tight shirts and small hoodies. Throw into the mix my ethnicity and my tight curly hair, and I wanted to change my body to the point of chemically straightening my hair in high school. But in college, I found more reasons to see my body as flawed and wrong: I was too big to be good enough for the music I loved.

College was also the time that I began understanding the issues of riding a public bus while being “too big.” When I was in elementary, middle, and high school, I sat in larger school bus bench-style seats. Later in high school, I took the city bus for a short period of time between my mother taking me to school and me driving myself in my dad’s truck. But at the University of California at Santa Cruz, I did not have those options. I had to choose between standing after walking all over campus or sitting and hoping I did not make anyone upset over how much space I was taking up on the seats. My shoulders were pretty broad, but it was more than that; my thighs took over part of the seat next to me, and I wasn’t able to let people get by me easily when they tried to move to a different part of the bus. My disdain toward my own body then caused a strange association with the fact that I am a man. I did not want to be one of those men who deliberately took up too much space and pissed off other patrons, but I could not help but be that man because of my size.

It has taken me my whole life to understand the necessity of loving my body no matter what. I still have issues shopping for clothes as I gain more weight. I still have issues with my gender identity that extend far beyond my disdain for conventional masculinity. But I am understanding that my body is not something to be ashamed of. I look back now at my life, at all of the struggles I had with my body and wanting to replicate masculinity so badly, and I wish I could tell my younger self that my body was just fine the way it was.

I did not and still do not have to conform my body and myself to fit any horrible standards of masculinity or normalcy. I do not have to apologize to anyone for taking up space on the bus or on an airplane. I do not have to apologize for wearing clothes that are a little too tight. I do not have to expend the energy on explaining myself to anyone.

If there is one thing I want you to take from my story, it is that your body and your sense of self are defined best by you and only by you. It is difficult, with the various forms of pressure and self-loathing that can occur at various points of your life, but the most important thing you can do for yourself is to find what makes you happy in your body, what makes you happy with your identity and, if relevant, what makes you happy with your masculinity. The most important thing is to find out ways to be happy and to live a life free of self-loathing and full of self-love.

11 Unique Struggles Only People With Broad Shoulders Understand

I’ve been a solidly decent swimmer my entire life, but at the age of 14, I was far from decent at basic things like human conversation, or even making it known that I was in a room. I was that painfully awkward kid who wasn’t shy so much as calculating: I would always wait until the perfect moment to interject in a conversation, mentally rehearse my line for five minutes, and then blow it so massively that I was all too happy to rejoin the wallpaper where I belonged. So you can imagine that the day my swim coach personally sought me out, it was a day I felt important. The day I finally felt noticed. The day I found out… that my shoulders were such a massive force that I had become a swim coach’s dream.

And yes, although the size of my shoulders meant several years of swimming the 100-yard butterfly at meets and mortally humiliating myself (seriously, one time the fire alarm went off during the event, and all the other swimmers had hit the wall and were timed but by the time I finished everyone was gone from the building), they came with another set of unique challenges, too. While I have come to embrace them in adulthood, there are still some struggles that only those of us with broad shoulders can appreciate:

You spent your teenage years slouching like nobody’s business

I’m pretty sure strangers passing me on the street just assumed that everything I owned had just been burned up in a fire, given the way I slouched. In fact, I always thought that I just had Resting Sad Face because if I unexpectedly ran into friends in public, they would always ask me what was wrong when I was having a perfectly good time bein’ my bad self. It turns out I was just a one-woman slouch machine (much to the chagrin of my mother and fellow choir members who many times tried to fix me).

You can never fit dresses over your head

WHO EVEN DOES THAT?! I am flabbergasted when I happen on friends getting ready for parties and they just slip on dresses like it’s no big thing, and I’m stepping into them and tripping all over the place to avoid the dreaded shoulder snag.

Strapless anything is the enemy

It’s not that strapless tops and dresses look bad on people with broad shoulders, it’s just that nothing will stay where it should. It’s hard to reason with your bulked out shoulders when they’re like, “LOL, wouldn’t it be funny if you flashed your goods to the entire senior prom?” Over time, we learn to compensate with fashion tape, but until then, we’re all aboard the top-hoisting struggle bus.

You were the worst at hide-and-seek

Try shoving these shoulders into a small space. I DARE YOU. (I did get stuck in a swim team locker once for about ten minutes trying to do just that, and that’s all I will say on the matter.)

The school picture taker was clearly out to get you

Like, when you look at the whole of those of us with broad shoulders, I’d like to think that the overall shape of it is aesthetically pleasing. But school pictures were always cropped at the widest part of your shoulders and made you look like you were gunning for linebacker on the high school football team.

You’re never quite sure what to do with your arms

Is it just me or do they occasionally feel like limp noodles at the ends of a very long rod? Being the very vain individual I am, I spent ten minutes torturing my sister into taking a picture of me at the beach because I wanted to look cute in one bikini picture, and that poor girl tried so hard to give me directions until finally I just ended up letting my arms hang there like dead things.

People are always getting irritated and nudging you on public transportation

I don’t take up much space but I cannot help the space that my bones take up, and I’ve noticed that on every long bus trip I’ve ever taken, a man (#notallmen, I know, okay, but I’m still going to tell this story) will sit next to me, thinking at first glance that I am mousy and will let him and his butt cheeks lord over the divide between our chairs, until he is rudely awakened by the piercing of my giant shoulder swords. And then he will proceed to indignantly worm around for the next few hours as if my shoulders will magically start phasing through the windows to give him the MAN SPACE he deserves. /endrant

Halter tops aren’t in style anymore

Our one salvation! The fashion beacon of the late ’90s/early 2000s! The one neckline that we could pull off no matter what! HOW COULD YOU HAVE FORSAKEN US?!

Reddit conversations like this one exist

No, I’m serious, a bunch of bros got together and asked, “Do you find women with broad shoulders a turn-off?” Head’s up to everyone in that forum: being a jerk on the internet is a bigger turn-off.

Everybody is always asking you to help them move their junk

Let me be very clear: Large shoulders do not necessarily mean STRONG shoulders. And while I do happen to own a pair of simultaneously large and strong shoulders, I also happen to own a pair of extremely lazy legs. So get lost (unless you are promising me pizza).

Hulk jokes are a thing

SHUT IT DOWN.

Images: Getty Images, Giphy (10)

9 Interesting Facts About the Ribs

Everyone knows that when you get cut, you bleed—a result of the constant movement of blood through our bodies. But do you know all of the functions the circulatory system actually performs? Here are some surprising facts about human blood—and a few cringe-worthy theories that preceded the modern scientific understanding of this vital fluid.

1. Doctors still use bloodletting and leeches to treat diseases.

Ancient peoples knew the circulatory system was important to overall health. That may be one reason for bloodletting, the practice of cutting people to “cure” everything from cancer to infections to mental illness. For the better part of two millennia, it persisted as one of the most common medical procedures.

Hippocrates believed that illness was caused by an imbalance of four “humors”—blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. For centuries, doctors believed balance could be restored by removing excess blood, often by bloodletting or leeches. It didn’t always go so well. George Washington, for example, died soon after his physician treated a sore throat with bloodletting and a series of other agonizing procedures.

By the mid-19th century, bloodletting was on its way out, but it hasn’t completely disappeared. Bloodletting is an effective treatment for some rare conditions like hemochromatosis, a hereditary condition causing your body to absorb too much iron.

Leeches have also made a comeback in medicine. We now know that leech saliva contains substances with anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and anesthetic properties. It also contains hirudin, an enzyme that prevents clotting. It lets more oxygenated blood into the wound, reducing swelling and helping to rebuild tiny blood vessels so that it can heal faster. That’s why leeches are still sometimes used in treating certain circulatory diseases, arthritis, and skin grafting, and helps reattach fingers and toes. (Contrary to popular belief, even the blood-sucking variety of leech is not all that interested in human blood.)

2. Scientists didn’t understand how blood circulation worked until the 17th century.

William Harvey, an English physician, is generally credited with discovering and demonstrating the mechanics of circulation, though his work developed out of the cumulative body of research on the subject over centuries.

The prevailing theory in Harvey’s time was that the lungs, not the heart, moved blood through the body. In part by dissecting living animals and studying their still-beating hearts, Harvey was able to describe how the heart pumped blood through the body and how blood returned to the heart. He also showed how valves in veins helped control the flow of blood through the body. Harvey was ridiculed by many of his contemporaries, but his theories were ultimately vindicated.

3. Blood types were discovered in the early 20th century.

Austrian physician Karl Landsteiner discovered different blood groups in 1901, after he noticed that blood mixed from people with different types would clot. His subsequent research classified types A, B and O. (Later research identified an additional type, AB). Blood types are differentiated by the kinds of antigens—molecules that provoke an immune system reaction—that attach to red blood cells.

People with Type A blood have only A antigens attached to their red cells but have B antigens in their plasma. In those with Type B blood, the location of the antigens is reversed. Type O blood has neither A nor B antigens on red cells, but both are present in the plasma. And finally, Type AB has both A and B antigens on red cells but neither in plasma. But wait, there’s more! When a third antigen, called the Rh factor, is present, the blood type is classified as positive. When Rh factor is absent, the blood type is negative.

Scientists still don’t understand why humans have different blood types, but knowing yours is important: Some people have life-threatening reactions if they receive a blood type during a transfusion that doesn’t “mix” with their own. Before researchers developed reliable ways to detect blood types, that tended to turn out badly for people receiving an incompatible human (or animal!) blood transfusion.

4. Blood makes up about 8 percent of our total body weight.

Adult bodies contain about 5 liters (5.3 quarts) of blood. An exception is pregnant women, whose bodies can produce about 50 percent more blood to nourish a fetus.)

Plasma, the liquid portion of blood, accounts for about 3 liters. It carries red and white blood cells and platelets, which deliver oxygen to our cells, fight disease, and repair damaged vessels. These cells are joined by electrolytes, antibodies, vitamins, proteins, and other nutrients required to maintain all the other cells in the body.

5. A healthy red blood cell lasts for roughly 120 days.

Red blood cells contain an important protein called hemoglobin that delivers oxygen to all the other cells in our bodies. It also carries carbon dioxide from those cells back to the lungs.

Red blood cells are produced in bone marrow, but not everyone produces healthy ones. People with sickle cell anemia, a hereditary condition, develop malformed red blood cells that get stuck in blood vessels. These blood cells last about 10 to 20 days, which leads to a chronic shortage of red blood cells, often causing to pain, infection, and organ damage.

6. Blood might play a role in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2014, research led by Stanford University scientists found that injecting the plasma of young mice into older mice improved memory and learning. Their findings follow years of experiments in which scientists surgically joined the circulatory systems of old and young mice to test whether young blood could reverse signs of aging. Those results showed rejuvenating effects of a particular blood protein on the organs of older mice.

The Stanford team’s findings that young blood had positive effects on mouse memory and learning sparked intense interest in whether it could eventually lead to new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related conditions.

7. The sight of blood can make people faint.

For 3 to 4 percent of people, squeamishness associated with blood, injury, or invasive medical procedures like injections rises to the level of a true phobia called blood injury injection phobia (BII). And most sufferers share a common reaction: fainting.

Most phobias cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and often muscle tension, shakes, and sweating: part of the body’s sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” response. But sufferers of BII experience an added symptom. After initially increasing, their blood pressure and heart rate will abruptly drop.

This reaction is caused by the vagus nerve, which works to keep a steady heart rate, among other things. But the vagus nerve sometimes overdoes it, pushing blood pressure and heart rate too low. (You may have experienced this phenomenon if you’ve ever felt faint while hungry, dehydrated, startled, or standing up too fast.) For people with BII, the vasovagal response can happen at the mere sight or suggestion of blood, needles, or bodily injury, making even a routine medical or dental checkup cause for dread and embarrassment.

‘Rib Cage Bragging’: Beware Of This New Body Trend

Two models walk the runway at the Revel Rey 2017 Collection at SwimMiami – Runway in Miami Beach,… Florida. In this picture, the model on the right has a more visible ribcage. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Revel Rey)

“My darling, you have such wonderful…ribs.” Yes, apparently ribs are what some people are now looking for and what some celebrities are showing off on Instagram and other social media platforms. No, this doesn’t mean displaying ribs sold at Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. Rather, a new celebrity Instagram craze (according to Lindsey Kelsey for the Daily Mail) dubbed “rib cage bragging” is posing in a manner to clearly show your rib cage. The more rib cage you show, the more you effectively “brag.” Of course, the thinner you are, the more your ribs may show…and once celebrities do something, others follow, sometimes to the extreme. Gee, what then could possibly go wrong?

So far, this “beauty” trend appears to be focused on women, because women just don’t have enough beauty trends to follow. Men have not been major targets of the thigh gap (having space between your thighs when you stand) and the ab crack (a line going straight down the middle your abdomen, basically a butt crack but longer and in your front and higher up) thinness trends that have some similarity to this rib cage one. Also, most men would require X-rays to be able to show their ribs in a picture. Indeed, the celebs mentioned in this trend have been women, such as Bella Hadid:

#RibcageBragging la nueva y peligrosa tendencia en las redes sociales qué consiste en marcar las costillas.

FernandaF pic.twitter.com/4LoEMTo0eO

— Fernanda Familiar (@qtf) May 17, 2017

And this news report cites Kourtney Kardashian and Rita Ora as also flashing their rib cages:

Now, it’s unclear whether these three celebs were purposely trying to draw attention to their rib cages. Nevertheless, their poses end up accentuating their ribs, and as a result, others have taken notice. While people have ogled over their photos, the reception has not been universally positive. For example, Hadid’s picture is accompanied by Instagram comments questioning whether she has become unhealthily thin, such as “she looks sick/unhealthy…not in a good way” and “damn, you really need some food.”

The concern is that this new trend may lead to unrealistic body expectations. Those who cannot naturally show their ribs may starve themselves, exercise to a dangerous degree or even get plastic surgery to attempt to show their ribs. “Failure” to achieve this look may lead to anxiety, depression or other emotional and mental health issues.

It goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyways) that most people can’t be a healthy weight and have their rib cages protrude in such a manner. Remember that many models do not have “normal bodies.” They were selected and “groomed” by executives and fashion designers who want to advance a particular appearance that they like. Also, take a closer look at such rib cage photos. In each, the person is sucking in her tummy and in many cases arching her back to accentuate her rib cage. Normally, this is not how people sit, lie down, walk or exist, unless they want to talk like they are straining on the toilet. Even though a model’s rib cage can be seen in certain poses, it doesn’t mean that you can usually see the model’s rib cage. Additionally, who knows how much photos are Photoshopped these days? A few movements of the computer mouse and viola, ribs can appear while some pounds magically melt away. Interestingly, Numéro magazine did the opposite with model Karlie Kloss and Photoshopped away her ribs because they “liked that Kloss was so thin but hated that her thinness made her bones more apparent,” according to Jenna Sauers writing for Jezebel. Bottom line: photos of celebrities often do not represent reality.

In this photo, you can see actress Emily Ratajkowski’s rib cage. While this can be natural with some… body types, many cannot present such an appearance while maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for H&M)

Time will tell how big a trend “rib cage bragging” will become. Reegan von Wildenradt writing for Men’s Health actually thinks that it is not really a popular trend but rather one that was concocted and actively disseminated. It’s always difficult to tell what trends emerge naturally and which are artificial. Regardless, trying to emulate celebrities who show their rib cages is not a healthy thing. If you happen to naturally have a similar body type then perhaps seeing your ribs is not so bad…as long as you maintain a healthy weight, healthy diet and healthy amount of physical activity. (Rush University provides a guide to healthy weights here.) But if you don’t have such a body, don’t fret and just ignore this trend. Remember that attractive and healthy bodies come in a wide variety shapes and sizes, and not everyone wants you to look like celebrities. Besides, anyone who ribs you about not seeing your ribs may not deserve to see you at all.

A lot of women grumble about a jiggly belly, cellulite thighs, and chicken-wing arms, but I’ve never heard another woman complain about the problem area I have, and, in fact, I’m embarrassed to complain about it.

Here it is: I have a wooly mammoth rib cage.

What is Wooly Mammoth Rib Cage Syndrome (WMRCS)? Well, it is often accompanied by Man Shoulders, which I also have. How does one contract this affliction? I developed it from years of competitive swimming. My case of WMRCS was also exacerbated from carrying twins. Apparently, women have extra cartilage in their rib cage to accommodate humans growing inside of them. My rib cage is maxed out. It is freakishly huge, and I hate it.

I know WWMRCS with a side-case of Man Shoulders isn’t high on most women’s lists of trouble areas, but it is for me. And, it is high time I vent about it. The body shape that served me well for training indefatigably — I could swim infinite yards of butterfly without tiring — has betrayed me. Standing up on the starting blocks looking intimidating was awesome in college, but it is just a nuisance now.

Here’s why:

1. I feel manly.

There, I said it. Big shoulders, big rib cage. Even without the striations in my shoulders and chest that I once had, WMRCS prevents me from feeling feminine. What’s left, though, is a body shape more suited to Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. For once in my life, I’d like to feel dainty.

2. Bigger is not better.

An extra millimeter of muscle and I look like Arnold Schwartzenegger, an extra millimeter of fat and I look like a sumo wrestler. Since my infrastructure is so big, adding extra layers to it really isn’t attractive.

3. It is so hard to find clothes.

The struggle is real. In high school, Grandma Lita would take me shopping for prom dresses. There were so many cute dresses that I couldn’t begin to zip up. I still have that problem. Cute button-down shirts. Nope. Can’t wear them. Loose fitting tops? Nope. They basically create a tent on my torso.

4. It seems inappropriate to complain about my rib cage.

I’d like to join in “I hate my body” conversations sometimes, too. My problem is, I’m happy with my stomach, my legs, and my arms. It’s a bit awkward chiming in, “Jiggly belly must suck. Let me complain about my rib cage.” It is far more socially acceptable to grumble about belly rolls, thigh spread, stretch marks, saggy rear ends (or flat rear ends), and wrinkles.

5. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it.

There are no diets, workout regimens, implants, injections, or other plastic surgery interventions that can reduce the size of my rib cage. The powerlessness is frustrating.

6. A lot of people assume that lean women are 100% happy with their bodies.

Sure, women are supposed to love their bodies, but I don’t love my rib cage. It sucks to look at a prehistoric mammoth skeleton at the Natural History Museum and realize, “That looks like me.”

My rib cage and shoulders also make me miss a time when I was a beast. Not a wooly mammoth beast, an athlete. A time when I could use my body for more than sitting on the sofa and taking my dogs for neighborhood walks. I miss being a badass in the water. Growing two humans simultaneously was a pretty awesome accomplishment as well.

I no longer swim, and I’m done having kids, yet I’m stuck with the infrastructure that enabled me to do both. I’m left with a daily reminder of what I used to be able to do, and what my body used to do for me.

Most of the time I hate it, but there are times I am thankful for it as well.

EN: Do You Have Good Genetics For Bodybuilding?

09/03/2016 door Kenny De Smet

I want to write something about how we can see if someone has good genetics for bodybuilding or any kind of physique sports. If you ask somebody if they could have a lean and muscular body without doing too much work, would they accept it? The answer would probably be ‘yes’. Everybody wants a good looking and healthy body, unfortunately not everybody can attain it easily. Of course, hard work combined with good nutrition and knowledge will bring you far, that’s where the famous quote “Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard” comes from. But it’s a fact that when talent works hard… you’re f*cked. So what are the key elements to tell if someone has ‘good genetics’ or is seriously gifted for the sport of bodybuilding and fitness?

First of all: the human body is not supposed to have insane amounts of muscle

To begin this article, let me tell you that there are no people walking this planet that have ‘the best’ genetics for bodybuilding. There are only ‘bad’ and ‘better’ genetics. Not a single person is predisposed to have crazy amounts of muscle at a low body fat. It’s against our nature. Our body is supposed to be as efficient as possible and muscle is a very metabolically expensive tissue. It costs a lot of energy (food) for our body to maintain or to build muscle. Our body won’t build muscle unless it has a very good reason to do so. That’s why it takes a lot of exercise stimulus to cause muscle growth. So building muscle is fighting against the will of your own body (working super-efficient) and this goes for everyone.

Of course, there are people that have slightly better genetics. Those with a moderate to fast metabolism, a wide and solid bone structure, long muscle bellies and short tendons can consider themselves lucky. They are more likely to attain a good physique and can probably achieve it in a shorter amount of time.

Bone structure

Big bones

People who can become really muscular and big are often people with a big bone structure. Not often you’ll see someone with very small wrists that has huge arms, unless he is on some kind of performance enhancing drugs. The guys with a large frame and big bones are usually a lot bigger. But since bodybuilding is still a sport of illusion, the guy with the big bones doesn’t always look bigger.

Bodybuilders with smaller bones can create the illusion that they are bigger. If your wrists are small, your arms don’t need to be enormous to look decent. Bodybuilding is all about the looks, so don’t worry if you are not build like Jay Cutler.

Jay Cutler is known for his insane bone thickness. He was already big at a young age and you can immediately tell from this picture that he is the kind of person that can pack on a lot of muscle mass.

Shoulder-to-hip ratio

Far more important than the density of your bones, is the shoulder-to-hip ratio. Smaller boned athletes may have it harder to pack on a lot of muscle mass, but if they have a good shoulder-to-hip ratio, they might look even bigger and more aesthetic at low body fat.

The shoulder-to-hip-ratio will depend on two things: the shape of your pelvis and the shape of your rib cage.

As you can see in the picture above, the guy on the left has a wide rib cage and his pelvis is smaller than his rib cage. The guy on the right has a narrow rib cage and his pelvis is much wider than his rib cage.

It’s obvious that the guy on the left his bone structure is much more ideal for the sport of bodybuilding. He will look wider from the front and the back, and his wide rib cage and narrow pelvis will give you the appearance of wider shoulders and a more narrow waist. This in turn will shape that popular V taper of the torso, one of the most important aspects and criteria in (male) physique sports.

So what did we learn about bone structure?

1. Big boned guys are most of the time the heavier and bigger athletes, but that doesn’t make them look big or aesthetically pleasing.

2. Far more important is a good shoulder-to-hip-ratio. This will create the illusion that the shoulders stand further apart and this will contribute to the V-shape that athletes are striving for.

Athletes who have big bones and perfect shoulder-to-hip ratio are most likely to become successful bodybuilders these days. If you have small bones, and your shoulder-to-hip ratio sucks, you’ll have a hard time creating a good bodybuilding physique. You’ll be pretty much doomed in front and back poses, because it’s hard to create a wide appearance. Side shots are your go to shots if you have a bad shoulder-to-hip ratio and you don’t want to look small.

In the Golden Age it was still possible to be a good bodybuilder if you were not a big mass monster. Frank Zane is a great example of a light weight yet successful bodybuilder with a great V taper and excellent conditioning. He was aesthetically pleasing and defeated a lot of heavier bodybuilders.

Muscle shape, -tendons and -attachments

A long time ago people still believed that you could change muscle shape and attachments through training, but surprise, surprise, you can’t! The tendons insert where they insert and your muscle bellies will grow between them. So the muscle bellies will only become bigger, but their shape is predetermined. You can get bigger and you can get stronger, but the shape of your muscles will never change through training.

So having the right muscle insertions and attachments is pretty important, and it’s a case of choosing the right parents a.k.a. genetics.

There are two extreme types of insertions: long insertions and short insertions. And of course everything between them.

People with short tendons have a higher potential for muscular growth. The shorter your tendons, the more space there is between them and the larger the muscle belly can get. People with longer insertions have shorter muscle bellies which limits the possibilities of the muscle belly for growth.

If we look at the calf muscles for example: a person with big calves usually has a short Achilles tendon and long muscle bellies, and a person with small calves usually has a long Achilles tendon. A long Achilles tendon is considered beneficial for long distance runners.

In this picture you can see Larry Scott who was known for his phenomenal insertions of his arms. He had very short biceps tendons which made his arms appear super full and allowed him to pack on a lot of mass there.

Another place where good insertions are important is at the lower part of your lats. If your lats insert super low at your lower back, it will allow you to build an extremely wide and complete back. The lower back will look rather empty and less thick if the insertions of the lats are high.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was known for his excellent lat insertions. Notice how they insert so low on his lower back that it almost looks like they connect with his glutes.

Metabolism

The speed of your metabolism is another important tool to be successful in bodybuilding. People with slow metabolisms are more likely to store fat, for people with a fast metabolism it will be easier to shred fat. A metabolism that’s too fast is not good though, you still need to deliver nutrients to the muscles without spending too much waste energy, as in warmth. An efficient metabolism, not too fast and not too slow, seems to be ideal for the sport of bodybuilding.

Knowledge

A part of the body that many people tend to overlook… the brain. It’s one of the best things you can have, a good working brain. A smart person usually is better in everything he sets his mind to. To be good at any sport, it helps to have a brain. The myth that all bodybuilders are stupid guys is very far from reality. It takes a lot of knowledge about training techniques, recovery, nutrition, supplements,… and so on.

If you want to improve your body, you’ll have to be a good learner. And the better you can learn, the faster it will go.

Hormones

A less important part, but it’s of some importance, is the production of endogenous testosteron and growth hormone, low levels of cortisol, and sensitivity to insulin. If you have an above-average hormonal profile, you’re not going to be a beast, but you’ll probably have a very small advantage in building muscle. Although there are some studies that claim that within the natural physiological range of testosteron, it’s unlikely to see a lot of differences in the ability to build muscle. Professional high level bodybuilders increase there testosteron levels exogenously, through medication.

My genetics don’t seem to be ideal, should I give up now?

It’s fun and motivating to know that you seem to have better genetics than someone else, but if this isn’t the case, I wouldn’t get too caught up in the genetic component of bodybuilding. There are a lot of bodybuilders out there that started out with less than optimal genetics. Arnold may have been born with good insertions and muscle bellies regarding arms, back and chest. Yet, his calves were not the best in the business when he first started his bodybuilding career in the early 60’s. But with constant effort, killer work ethic and a lot of volume training, he turned his biggest weakness into a strength.

“I dedicated myself to build the biggest, most impressive pair of calves around, whatever it took. I would cut all of my training sweatpants at the knees to constantly remind myself that they needed my attention.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

So please don’t give up on weight training if you don’t have the ideal genetics. If you enjoy doing it, that’s all that matters. Don’t forget the many health benefits it has later on in life, such as better blood circulation, lower risk of heart disease, prevention of osteoporosis, etc.

“Fitness is not about being better than someone else, it’s about being better than you used to be.”

Men appear to be more drawn to women who slightly curve their backs, revealing what could be an evolutionary tactic used by females to imply they are willing to mate, a new study from Portugal finds.

Using 3D models and eye-tracking technology, researchers found that slight changes in posture can affect the perception of a woman’s attractiveness. For example, when a woman shifts her hips backward, it creates a curve in the lower back that captivates an observer’s gaze, according to the study.

“Increased curvature increases the perception of attractiveness,” lead study author Farid Pazhoohi, a psychology researcher at the University of Minho in Portugal, said in a statement. This may explain the lure, for some, of “twerking” and wearing high-heeled shoes.

In the study, researchers created six computer-generated 3D models of a woman’s upper body. Each model featured a slightly different posture and was photographed from the front, side and back. The images were then presented to a group of 82 heterosexual male and female undergraduate students, who rated the attractiveness of each model.

The models’ backs were arched at slightly different angles, with their backsides extended outwards. As the participants analyzed the photos, eye-tracking technology was used to monitor their eye movement.

The more arched a model’s back, the more attractive, on average, the participants rated the models.

In addition, both men and women spent a longer amount of time looking at images of the 3D models whose backs were more arched, which suggests that perceptions of attractiveness are largely influenced by this type of posture, the researchers said.

The eye-tracking data also showed that both men and women looked at the rear view of the models much longer than the side or front perspectives. And while women trained their eyes on the models’ waist, men tended to focus on the models’ hips, according to the study.

“The perception of attractiveness and visual attention to the hip region suggests that ‘lordosis,’ or the arching of the back, might signal human females’ ‘proceptivity,’ or willingness to be courted,” Pazhoohi said in the statement.

Previous studies have found, for example, that the lordosis posture— when the lower back curves in toward the belly — is a sign that animals such as rats, guinea pigs, sheep, cats, ferrets and primates are ready to mate. Therefore, the researchers suggest that a similar signal could have evolved as part of the courting behavior of humans.

“This also might explain why women wear high heel and why wearing high heel shoes increases women’s attractiveness,” Pazhooi said.

The findings were published yesterday (Oct. 25) in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science.

Originally published on Live Science.

5 Scientific Reasons Why Your Wife is Attracted to Your Shoulders

Men have plenty of ridiculous insecurities about their bodies, but worrying about the size of their shoulders may be a legitimate one. Multiple studies confirm that women are more attracted to men with large, muscular shoulders — perhaps because they’re indicative his status and potential to become a dad. These studies explain why men have to carry the weight of the world—well, you know where.

Big Shoulders Are More Important than Waist-to-Hip Ratio

A person’s waist-to-hip ratio has been shown to accurately predict of health, fitness, and attractiveness for both men and women. And while there is an optimal WHR for male attractiveness (it’s 0.8, if you’re curious) another study found that women don’t care much about a man’s hip ratio—they care about waist-to-chest ratios. Guys with bodies shaped like an inverted triangle, or bigger shoulders and smaller waists, are considered more attractive across the board. A body shape of V stands for victory.

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It’s Also More Important than How Fat You Are

Body Mass Index, or BMI, is an important factor in how women rate men’s attractiveness. But it, too, is not nearly as important as their shoulder size, research reveals. Men who are overweight may not be struggling as much as they think — as long as they keep those extra pounds in their shoulders.

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Big Shoulders Might Intimidate Other Men

Women are not alone in their preference for men with large shoulders. Guys regard this as an ideal body type as well, one study found. Men participating in the study cited shoulders as generally one of the most important body parts, and noted that muscular ones are crucial. Men also said that their shoulders were one of the body parts they’d like to change most, particularly to make them appear bigger and stronger. Ultimately, most men thought that big shoulders were symbols of strength, dominance, and manliness, so they may keep other guys from picking a fight with you.

They Might Make You More Money

Men with stronger shoulders are perceived as better leaders with higher status than their peers, one study found. From an evolutionary perspective, this might be because humans tend to associate status with attractiveness, which is why attractive people tend to make more money. Since larger shoulders are likely to make men more attractive, they may also be status symbols that make bulkier guys more likely to get the promotion than their counterparts — and they don’t even have to wrestle for it.

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Men With Big Shoulders May Make Better Dads

As much as broad shoulders are a symbol of attractiveness, strength, and status, what these big guys have going for them the most is that they’re more likely to become dads. That’s because their attractiveness makes them more likely to attract mates and be more discerning about it when they do. One top of that, attractiveness also sends a message that they are more genetically fit and their offspring is more likely to survive, while their strength shows they can protect their families. Finally, their capacity to obtain status and resources means that they will be good providers for the kids.

And that’s a responsibility you should be happy to shoulder.

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Never Underestimate the Power of Broad Shoulders

Especially in a woman. The effect that our shoulders have on the overall look of our bodies is something that we wouldn’t normally even think about. This is a little bit of a beauty secret. Because, really….shoulders? What do shoulders have to do with anything? The message we get from society is that women should be petite, delicate, skinny, tiny…We think about arms, bra fat, muffin tops, saddlebags—who thinks about their shoulders? It is something that I personally would have had no idea about if my mother—who is an artist—hadn’t pointed out to me how fortunate I was to have inherited her broad shoulders instead of my father’s narrow ones. I was eight years old at the time, so this news was completely lost on me. But once I became a body sculpting guru, I got it.

If it weren’t for my broad shoulders, I wouldn’t have a waist. Broad shoulders give the whole body proportion.

This is something you probably wouldn’t know about if you didn’t have a semi-neurotic mother like mine, but without broad shoulders, very thin women just look that—very thin. If they’re super skinny, they look spindly. Shoulders can add that “wow” factor. So what can you do to make your shoulders appear broader? Obviously, contouring your lower body with liposculpture is an extreme option, but it works. Check out our website DRTROTT.COM to see a gallery of before/after pics. And for some less expensive, faster tips, check out this Paris Ciel article: “Tips and Tricks for Dressing Women with Narrow Shoulders.” Here are some highlights from the article:

  • “Wear necklines that elongate your narrow shoulders. Go for bateau, off-the-shoulders, square and wide V neck evening dresses or tops. These necklines will help make the shoulders look wider because of the horizontal and diverging lines.”
  • “Wear wide shoulders straps.”
  • “Avoid necklines that highlight your narrow shoulders. Absolutely no narrow V-neck, halter and gathered necklines as these necklines will dramatically reduce the length of your narrow shoulders!”
  • “Avoid raglan sleeves, dolman sleeves and kimono sleeves. Wear wide collars and lapels.”

And of course…small, subtle shoulder pads can make a nice difference. Who knew…broad shoulders = a secret weapon! XO, LQ

5 Reasons a Woman with Broad Shoulders Should Feel Great

Women who have broad shoulders should prize their dimensions, not despise them!

Why is it that if a woman has a trait that’s “more,” she so often detests it?

I wonder if women who hate having broad shoulders, or who hate being very tall, etc., were raised to believe that it’s wrong for women to take charge in situations, voice opinions and show some feistiness and fire when push comes to shove.

I’m a woman with broad shoulders and I love them!

Though I’m not super tall, my height of 5-8 in combination with my broad shoulders creates in me a presence that can hardly be described as demure and classically feminine.

#1. They can be intimidating to a man.

WAIT — before you go, “What? That’s the problem!” let me say this: A man is less likely to mug a woman whose shoulders are as broad as his.

A rapist might think twice before “interviewing” a potential victim when he spots the broad shoulders.

To a man, this stunning trait in a woman might indicate the ability to throw a knockout punch — whether she can or can’t. It’s all about what seems to be.

#2. They can help you find Mr. Right.

Yes, that’s correct: Broad shoulders in a woman can help her quickly determine which men are put off by a trait that, quite frankly, should be seen as exceptionally attractive.

/eanstudio

Though many men find this trait to be sexy and appealing, it’s also true that some men do not like broad shoulders in the opposite gender.

If a man blows you off because of this trait, then this isn’t the right man for you, and you found out before you wasted six months of your life dating him (if you had “normal” shoulders).

#3. When the body gets old, it shrinks.

Look at the shoulders of elderly women. They’re atrophied, often shapeless.

/wavebreakmedia

Now, if a woman does some serious strength training before she reaches senior age, she can dramatically delay and partially prevent much of the shriveling up of her upper body with old age.

Sharon Smith of Denver, CO, is 71 years young! Are her shoulders awesome or WHAT!

A woman with broad shoulders won’t look as shrunken, vulnerable and frail when she’s elderly.

Clothes will fit much better on her old body; the shoulders will be like hangers.

#4. I have to believe that this trait means that she is that much more efficient at certain sports.

I’ll admit I’ve never read any research studies on this topic, so I’m basing my assessment on common sense.

Imagine a woman with a small upper body swinging a golf club to make a 250-yard drive; throwing a softball to the first baseman from center field; attempting to whip out a Frisbee to her dog to chase after; or lifting heavy weights.

Now, imagine a woman with broad shoulders doing these same things.

Seems to me that broad shoulders would produce more torque; torque is a physics term that applies to rotary force.

#5. This next reason might seem silly…

A woman’s broad shoulders better hold up a purse strap.

I’ve seen those with tiny shoulders constantly pushing up a falling purse strap!

I’ve seen them keeping their shoulder in a hunched-up position to prevent the strap from slipping.

So such are my five reasons a woman can feel great about having broad shoulders!

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.
Top image: /YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV

Wear Shirts with Plenty of Stretch

Worries about hulking out in cotton shirts? Button-down shirt makers have taken a cue from gym wear and started making many of their shirts with stretch. The added spandex or elastane in shirts often helps with that fit across the shoulders and in the arms with a bit more give for ease of movement.

Add Aetthlic Fit Shirts to Your Closet

Sure, we’ve all heard of slim fit for those men with a lankier build and body type. Lo and behold, shirt manufacturers didn’t forget about the broad-shouldered guys out there too. Specifically designed with a wider cut across the shoulder and chest area and tapering in the waist.

Balance your Shoulders with Straight Leg Pants and Untucked Shirts

If you’re looking to minimize broad shoulders, balance with a pant in a straight cut instead of a true slim or skinny fit pant. An untucked shirt is more likely to have a straighter look than a shirt tucked into a waistband that’s narrower than your shoulder width, so wearing your shirt untucked gives you that balance you’re looking for as well.

—Jennifer D.

Want to try some stretch fit shirts? Let your Stylist know when you schedule a Fix!