Nobody wants rounded shoulders, but so many lifters live day in and day out with this type of poor posture. From fostering muscle imbalances and feeling a lack of confidence, there is not one good reason to live with rounded shoulder posture. 

Fortunately, there are a handful of exercises and stretches to combat the effects of rounded shoulders. Primarily, these strength building movements focus on the lower traps, rhomboids, and rear delts.

More often than not, rounded shoulder posture is the result of an overly dominant chest and upper traps. By also stretching your chest and upper traps, your body becomes one step closer to equilibrium.

By incorporating anti-rounding exercises and stretches to your routine, you can feel free to stand and sit upright without strain. 

What Causes Rounded Shoulders?

For many gym-goers, the bench press is by far the most popular lift. Whether you started out young or not, chances are that your training concentration is on chest. Even if this is simply out of habit, training chest more than back forcibly pulls your shoulders forward.

The Supreme Guide To The Bench Press

Another culprit of bad posture is always being hunched over. Driving, sitting at desks, and looking down at phones and computers make rounded shoulder posture seem normal.

Bad Posture

Although many of these activities are a large part of our lives, we still have the power to alleviate these imbalances. 

On the other hand, if poor posture chronically goes unchecked, cervical osteoarthritis and osteoporosis can occur. 

Exercises to Solve Rounded Shoulder Posture

Everyone has different needs even though we are all relatively similar. The muscles that are known to be weak and or overstretched are the lower traps, rhomboids, posterior deltoid, and rotator cuff group.

By strengthening these specific muscles, rounded shoulders can be a thing of the past.

Perform the following movements as accessory exercises at the end of back and pulling workouts. Experiment with them all to gain an understanding of what works for you. Before you know it, you may be upright in no time. 

Barbell Rows

If you are looking for an exercise that targets your lower and upper back simultaneously, barbell rows are for you. Similar to a conventional deadlift, you need to practice on homing in good technique before bumping the weight up.

Depending on your hip and hamstring flexibility, bend over 45 to 90 degrees and row the bar close to your abdomen. Focus on smooth scapular retraction on the upward pull and a full range of motion on the controlled downward movement. 

Rear Deltoid Flys

With light dumbbells, bend over at the hips to 90 degrees. As if you were a bird trying to fly, keep control of the dumbbells and raise them up to be parallel with the floor. 

Bring them back down underneath your chest in a slow and controlled fashion. This exercise is great for building both upper back and shoulder strength at the same time.

Prone Lateral Raise

Similar to rear deltoid flys, the prone lateral raise uses an incline bench instead. By laying your stomach on the bench, this version helps isolate your rear deltoids. 

If you ever had trouble growing and strengthening your rear deltoids, you need to try this exercise out. Since it is such a small muscle, a natural mind-muscle connection may be more difficult, but the prone position enhances that connection. 

Plus, your rear deltoid is surprisingly more essential for adequately pulling your shoulders back into proper alignment.

Wide Grip Pull-up

If you feel like pullups are not an accessory workout and more of a main back day exercise, use an assisted pullup machine for more reps.

Before performing pullups, make sure your shoulder mobility is warmed up. Wide grip pullups are optimal for pulling your shoulders back and strengthening the upper lats. 

Remember, do not skimp on a full range of motion with pullups or you will not reap the reward of fixing rounded shoulders.

Wide Grip Seated Cable Row

By engaging your upper and mid lats on the seated cable row, you can bring back your rounded shoulders. A wide grip is vital to activate the latissimus dorsi. 

If you can push yourself further, change to a close underhand grip so that your elbows are tight by your sides. This tighter, underhand grip hits more of the lower lats. 

Stretches to Fix Rounded Shoulder Posture

There are many muscles that can be shortened and tight as a result of rounded shoulders. These include your pectoralis major and minor, anterior deltoid, upper trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and levator scapulae. 

With a proper stretching regimen that focuses on these muscles, relief from roundedness can be found. Check out and put the following stretches to the test.

Hand Lock Stretch

Probably the most natural way to stretch rounded shoulders is the hand lock stretch. By interlocking your hands behind your back and straightening out your elbows, your chest opens up and stretches. 

Not only your chest, but your rotator cuff and anterior delts are stretched as well. As you progress, open your chest up to the sky for a deeper stretch.

Doorframe Stretch

Using a doorframe, pole, or stable wall, put your arms up in a 90-degree angle and stretch your chest and shoulders out. To focus more on the upper traps, lower your elbows and arms closer to your sides.

Cobra Stretch

Commonly known as a yoga pose, the cobra stretch is a great way to completely reverse rounded shoulders over time. By starting in the prone position, raise your torso up and fully extend your elbows. 

Leave your legs relaxed on the ground. You should feel a great stretch throughout your lower back, chest, upper traps and shoulders. 

Keep your head up or looking straight forward. With consistent effort, it is best to keep the cobra stretch in your back pocket for whenever you have time and feel the need for better posture.

Putting It All Together

Remember, fixing rounded shoulders is a timely process and does not happen overnight. However, through consistent training and posture awareness, a straight, robust posture can be all yours in the near future.

Try out these exercises and stretches the next time you focus on back. Not only will these movements help with your rounded shoulders but they can greatly aid both your deadlift and overall confidence. 


Tony G
Tony G

Anthony is a fan of all things gym related. Growing up very overweight and out of shape, Anthony whipped himself into shape and stunned his entire community becoming a "fitness guru". Tony then set his sights on strength sports (Weightlifting/Powerlifting/Strongman) and learned all about body mechanics, mobility work and injury prevention. Tony found his true love in the strength sports, particularly Olympic Weightlifting. He earned a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree from Fitchburg State University in Exercise and Sports Science. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the NSCA.

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