Last updated on August 23rd, 2023 at 05:43 pm
I would hazard a guess that some people would love their biceps to be bigger than their shoulders.
I mean, who doesn’t want a huge set of bulging biceps?
However, in terms of aesthetics, massive biceps and puny shoulders just won’t cut it.
So, in this article I’ll explain the various reasons why your biceps are bigger than your shoulder.
Plus, I’ll reveal what you should do to even out your physique.
The main reason your biceps are bigger than your shoulders is simply that you train your biceps more often and with more intensity. However, overdeveloped biceps can often lead to bicep tendonitis. The soreness of which is often felt in the tendons near the front delts. And this of course can affect the intensity of which you train your shoulders.
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What Should Your Bicep to Shoulder Ratio Be?
So, you would think that your shoulders should always be bigger than your biceps.
However, in truth, when it comes to aesthetics, and the perfect body, there is actually very little information available.
That being said, from an anatomical perspective it’s easy to see why the shoulder should be the bigger muscle.
Let me explain what I mean by this.
Steve Reeves, the former champion bodybuilder and actor, was often revered as having the perfect physique.
However, there was no real information to actually calculate an ideal bicep to shoulder ratio.
In fact, fast-forward a number of years, and in the bodybuilding community the only real measurements for shoulders and biceps don’t actually compare the two body parts.
Basically, it is said that your shoulders should be 1.618 times the size of your waist.
And your ARMS (so including triceps) should be the identical size of your neck circumference.
So, this doesn’t really give us much to go on.
That being said, according to the website largest.org, which lists various things in order of size, the deltoid muscle is quite clearly larger than the biceps.
In fact, they state that the deltoid has an approximate muscle volume of 380m³.
But, the biceps brachii only has an approximate muscle volume of 143m³.
As you can clearly see, the deltoids should be larger than the biceps.
So, now let’s focus on why your biceps are bigger.
Is Your Biceps Training Interfering With Your Shoulder Training?
The most obvious reason that your biceps are bigger than your shoulders is that you train your biceps more often.
Basically, your biceps are far more developed than your shoulders.
Now, while this is true, there is certainly more to it than that.
Firstly, from a personal perspective, I know that I never used to train my shoulders anywhere near as much as I should have.
However, in my defence, I performed a high volume of push ups and dips at home, for many years, so my “push-training” in the gym was somewhat limited.
That being said, I know that many beginner and intermediate lifters have a massive focus on building their arms, especially the biceps.
Let’s face facts, most of us want massive guns.
Huge, well-developed, bulging biceps are viewed as the ultimate sign of masculinity, or so we believe.
Nevertheless, this typically leads to many gym-goers having far more of a focus on training their biceps.
That being said, this primary focus on biceps can actually impact your shoulder training.
When your biceps are overdeveloped this can irritate the tendons near the front of your shoulder.
This can actually also be a sign of bicep tendonitis.
However, even though it is your biceps that are initially affected, the simple fact that it is the tendons near the anterior head of the shoulder will also affect your shoulder training.
Essentially, you won’t be able to get as much intensity into your shoulder training, as you’ll typically feel a soreness around the anterior head.
Is Your Bench Press Affecting Your Shoulder Training?
Now, if we’re talking about popular and potentially overused exercises in the gym, then the bench press is right up there.
In fact, how many beginner trainees enter the gym environment and then concentrate solely on bench press and bicep curls?
Go on, admit it, you’ve done it yourself.
I guess this comes down to the pecs and biceps being two of more visible muscle groups at the front of the body.
And once more, pumped up pecs and guns is the ultimate sign of masculinity.
The anterior, or front, deltoids get trained extremely hard during bench press.
In fact, this will explain why many people complain of shoulder pain when benching.
However, this “overtraining” of the front delts can leave the rotator cuff muscles undertrained, which can eventually lead to muscle imbalances and injury.
But, in much the same way as “shoulder pain” from overtraining biceps occurs, the same can be said if you’re overtraining the bench press.
In effect, your front delts feel sore, your rotator cuff muscles are underdeveloped, and this can once again affect the intensity with which you train shoulders.
Weak Triceps & a Lack of Shoulder Training Variety
Okay, so far I’ve mainly focused on either overtraining your biceps, or indeed the bench press.
This can leave your shoulders fatigued, which in turn means that you don’t train your shoulders with as much intensity.
However, let’s say that this isn’t the case, and you train your biceps, bench press, and your shoulders with the same regularity.
Something that can affect your shoulder size is weak triceps.
Admittedly, this is mainly for the compound pressing movements such as overhead press, military press, push press, dumbbell shoulder press, and the Arnold press.
So, let’s say that your shoulder training is mainly focused on raises and flyes, e.g. lateral and front raises, rear delt flyes.
Yes, this will certainly train the three shoulder heads, i.e. anterior, medial, and posterior.
However, you certainly won’t be using as much weight as a compound pressing exercise.
Additionally, your triceps get a fantastic workout from the compound shoulder exercises that I’ve mentioned above.
Therefore, without these exercises you could certainly be lacking in tricep development.
This will mean that you won’t be pressing as much weight, and so, once more you aren’t working your shoulders with the required intensity.
If you add to this that your arm training is far more focused on your biceps, it’s easy to see why your biceps are bigger than your shoulders.
Simply put, your shoulder training lacks variety, and you perhaps need more focus on the heavy pressing movements.
There are various reasons why your biceps are bigger than your shoulders. These include:
- You train your biceps more often than your shoulders.
- Your biceps are overdeveloped, thus irritating the tendons near the anterior head of the shoulder. This will affect the intensity with which you train your shoulders.
- You bench press excessively, which can leave the front delts overdeveloped and sore, while your rotator cuff muscles become weaker. This can, once again, affect the intensity of your shoulder workouts.
- Your triceps are weak, thus affecting how much weight you can press.
- Plus, your shoulder training lacks variety. Perhaps you concentrate more on isolation movements than the compound presses.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.