How To Fix Rolled Over, Rounded, Hunched Shoulders

Rolled over, stooped, hunched shoulders is a very,very common problem with beginning and intermediate bodybuilders.  We are going to talk about what causes it and how to fix it.  Often its not a posture issue which can be fixed just by thinking about it and holding yourself in a certain position but rather a muscular imbalance.

Here is an example of what it looks like:

Rolled Over, Rounded, Hunched ShouldersGood Shoulder Posture

Bad posture is never good for the body but its equally bad for the appearance and rolled over shoulders is no exception.  If your shoulders are rolled over, it makes your chest looks smaller, your shoulders narrower, and makes you look ape because of the what happens to your arm positioning – more on that later.

In bodybuilders, rolled over, hunched shoulders is often from an exercise induced muscular imbalance. The most common way this happens is with people who just do bench press and bicep curls. They get these huge strong pecs but don’t develop any muscles on their back to help counteract the pecs so their shoulders get pulled forward forward and toward each other causing their torso to cup forward.

If you are not sure if over-strong pecs are your problem, check this out. Stand relaxed with your hands at your sides and then look where your thumbs are pointing. If your chest, shoulder, and back muscles are well balanced then your thumbs will point forward or slightly inward.  If when standing at rest your thumbs point inward so you are dragging your knuckles then you muscles are seriously out of balance. If your pecs are strong out of proportion then they pull your shoulders forward like this:

Thumbs Inward Indicator Of Shoulder Posture ProblemThumbs Pointing Forward Indicates Good Shoulder Posture

 

So, if you are guilty of being bench press focused and building massive pecs, but nothing else then here is what you can do to fix your shoulder rounding problem:

  1. Stop working out chest till the rest of your torso catches up!
  2. Do reverse flys
  3. Do “Face Rows”.  This can be done with a barbell, cables, or resistance bands.  The key is to pull toward your face (not your chest or waist).  While your are pulling, keep your shoulders down and back.
  4. Do bent over shrugs.  Bend over 90 degrees at the waist and let the barbell hang from your arms.  Without bending your elbows, raise the bar as high as you can. See why its called a bent over shrug?  Same exact motion as a normal shrug but 90 degrees the opposite direction.
  5. Be conscious of your posture, practice holding it.

Here are the exercises you can do:

For many office workers who dont work out with weights, the cause of hunched shoulders can be sitting hunched over a keyboard all day. The solution for is the same though: exercise those muscles which pull the shoulders back. In my opinion, its not an issue of stretching. Virtually everyone is limber enough that they can hold their shoulders in the proper position. The issue is increasing the strength of the muscles which hold the shoulders back so that when at rest, the shoulders find the proper position. There are other causes of hunched, rolled over shoulders that are not muscular imbalance. For example, older people spines can actually bend and roll over forward because of the kyphosis associated with osteoporosis. For them, exercise will not help at all straightening them out but the exercises if done beforehand can prevent or reduce the severity of the kyphosis.

The best way to solve this is to keep this from happening in the first place. So please don’t be a bench-monkey, workout your whole body and not just chest! If you are just starting bodybuilding let this be a lesson to you about the importance of working out ALL muscles, not just ones you want to look good for that date on Saturday night.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YF7C6VV4RCEBCYBA4Y6VMB4K2I bishoy

    Thanks scoob for casting light on the position of thumb as I seriously have this problem and always thought about posture
    My problem is I am on a beginner workout (pushups, pullups, crunches)
    Shall I skip pushups and do the recommended exercise above?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001603514624 Dominik Grasheu

    hey scooby are these “face rows” done like bent over barbell rows? You only pull the barbell towards your face then, don´t you?
    Grüße aus Deutschland ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/sander.vandamme2 Sander Vandamme

    omg thank you so much i was endlessly looking for an answer why my shoulders were rolled over. Thank you!!!!

  • Fredrik Björk

    I’ve never noticed this before since I don’t have any problems like pain or so but I’m gonna fix this now. Thanks again Scooby! :D It’s not critical but it can be made better ;p

  • qazwert

    scooby you don’t mention how long it will take to correct the problem
    should i work shoulders twice a week ,
    wish i saw this a year ago

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexandrubg Alexandru B Georgescu

    funniest people in the gym have sticks for calves, big biceps that comes out of small shoulders that are rolled up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexandrubg Alexandru B Georgescu

    bodybuilding corrected my naturally bad stance I had from being tall and skinny and bending over to look down at people. bodybuilding is about an aesthetic, proportional body. and girls like bodies that are aesthetic more than a big bicep or a ridiculous chest on a skinny skeleton. pullups, chin-ups, lat pull-downs and barbell bent over rows all the way!

  • sherman_blackrock7

    Heyy Scoob! I weigh about 55kg.Okay! I’m skinny! I’m trying to get lean muscle in an effective way. And no, I’m not taking protein shakes. I do visit the gym at least twice a week and I do the rest of the workouts at home. And after 2 hard weeks, I find myself getting slightly bigger at the chest area but there are still some visible bones on my chest. I tried everything for the past 3 months and nothing’s working. Could you please help me out here? I don’t know if my food has anything to do with it or is it just because the way I’m conducting those workouts, Need help here.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000358432551 Kristian Johansson

      You need to be patient, it takes time to build muscle and especially cheast. So just keep eating right and working out and you will see progress.

      • sherman_blackrock7

        Okay! Thanks a lot man!

  • Armin °°°°°°°°

    Hello Scooby,

    thanks a lot for this very Good Explanation!! I never looked at this in the past. But right now I saw that I have this Problem, too. Not that much, but it´s there. I only find your Webpage yesterday randomly but I like to follow your Tips.
    Du hast einen neuen Fan in Deutschland! ;-)
    Vielen Dank

  • http://www.facebook.com/pauloconeglian Paulo Henrique Diniz Coneglian

    Hi Scooby! I’ve watching your videos since I found out about them, great help for me and my buddies. Speaking of “posture”, what about people who work sitting down the whole day (I am one of those)? This is a doubt I always had, and no one could give me a convincing answer. What should people in this condition do? Is that true you gain belly fat faster? About the proper posture while sitting? I would appreciate if you could answer these questions. I believe everyone who works at an office and likes to work out has the same doubt. Thanks for this awesome job you have been doing. Auf Wiedersehen!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JVCG2MVNQ7DSUZWLZULJCT7CFE Onikiri

    I think I literally have naturally rolled and rounded shoulders. I have not done any significant weight lifting yet and I think it’s my genetics. It’s very unusual having these broad and round shoulders the looked rolled over.

  • gokul kumar

    u said to workout everypart of our bodypart to overcome or to avoid rolled shoulder…but ur teen workout plan does not consist any shoulder workout…..i really fear wether i will get rolled shoulder….pls help teens

    • rancur

      if it’s becoming a problem you’ll notice it. It’s not a “problem” yet for me, I just notice that my upper back feels really sore and I desire to work it out. When I do these exercises, it feels great, and the balance is restored to the force (the force is in my pects lol).

  • Mohammad Tahir

    should you stop working out your chest at all or work it out lightly ?

    • Samuel Lamontagne

      I might be wrong but what I did in my case is workout my chest lightly (let say only pushups or flys, whatever you prefer, I guess) and concentrate on back and shoulder exercises. I did notice a slight improvement in my posture doing this for one month now. I don’t use much weight for reverse flys but, boy! oh boy! do I feel it at the end of the day ;)

  • Duane

    haha! I love it when Hans says ‘What a retard’!. Seriously though, i’ve now incorporated the reverse flys. It makes sense. I had to buy a bench, though. I really don’t like the idea of bending over to do weights. I find you don’t need much weight at all for this exercise. Thanks again, Scoob.

  • Haris Rizwan Khan Ghauri

    Ok so I have rounded shoulders. I was doing way more push ups. Now i have realized i should stop that for a while and focus on shoulders. My question is should I stop pull ups and chin ups too? Would it make my shoulders even worst? thank you.

  • Justine Lengson

    The background reminds me of Destiny Islands from Kingdom Hearts, ahaha. XD

    • Ghost_of_Computers_Past

      Wow, never thought I would see a Kingdom Hearts reference on this site. LOL. If Scooby painted his body glowing dark blue/purple, he would kind of resemble the final boss :3

  • http://www.facebook.com/tehanshanaka Tehan Shanake Muhandiramge

    Hey Scooby! Thanks for your tips. I ve been doing lots of chest exercises and I have this problem even before i start to workout. I realized this recently and I stopped using lot of weights on bench press and chest exercises and switched to only 3 sets of guiguillotine presses and lots of push ups(100+). Is It enough If I stopped guilatine press for a while and continue doing push ups on my chest and triceps day?.Or should I stop that too? I train other body parts too.( back and biceps Tuesday, Thursday legs, shoulders Friday) . Thanks in advance.!

  • rancur

    wow thanks! I have this problem! worked out pects a lot, back only some, pects were my favorite, now that I don’t work out anymore and am sitting at desk in office the tension is rounding my shoulders forward and my thumbs point inward!

  • http://www.facebook.com/wyatt.fabre Wyatt Fabre

    I use to BMX, and it requires lots of cardio, and shoulder and back muscles to be used. I quit and began to do a lot of pushups. Now I am a hunch back. How can I fix this problem?

    • chris

      read his article, dude!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kieron.davis.3 Kieron Davis

    I have been wondering how to fix this for ages… just did that thumb test and I have ape arms and rolled shoulders, now I am going to stop bench and hit the back big time! some guy scoob… Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gorship Jordan Gibson

    its weird cause my upper back could be tighter, however i dont look or feel that hunched in my chest.. it almost seems like the rotation of my forearms just curls in a little bit. my thumbs are substantially turned in, just a little … I think im going to go back to an upper/lower split and get my foundation back in check.

  • Krijn

    A really good way to train your back and work on your posture is this:

    Buy
    a proper backpack: Berghaus or Bergans; one with a waistband and good
    shoulder straps. Ask the people in the outdoor store or the local
    boyscouts for advice on how to position it.

    Then start tabbing. First with just water and your lunch in the backpack then start increasing your load.

    This
    will force you to use proper posture and work the muscles all along
    your back and shoulders. It is weight and cardio all in one!

  • Sam Dan

    Great Tip, Scooby. Thank you for your informative, thoughtful and well presented videos.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lukas.antczak.9 Lukas Antczak

    Hey scooby,

    I think stretching the pecs does help in the short and long term. It should loosen up the fibres in the chest. Maybe overstretched back muscles (rhomboids, tapezius?) are a cause too in rolled shoulders. Many office workers who dont work out suffer from the same problem.

  • BigMike

    First, I want to thank Scooby for creating this website. I found it this morning and have been reading it non-stop for the last couple hours. Its safe to say I’ll be adding this page to my bookmarks.

    So I realized my problem with rolled over shoulders months ago and backed way off the chest exercises. At one point my standard chest workout included 4 sets of 225 lbs on the flat bench press and I wasn’t working by back AT ALL. I couldn’t bench that much even if I wanted to. I’ve just dropped it down to the bare minimum to maintain some strength. Now my back is a lot stronger and my shoulders are starting to pull back into alignment.

    When I stand with my arms relaxed to my sides (like you did in this video) my thumbs point forwards, but are angled inwards at about 25 to 30 degrees. My question is should I just stop chest workout completely until my shoulders get back into alignment? I think that’s what you said in this video but I wanted to be sure.

    Thanks

  • George

    it makes me tired to hold my shoulders back all day long… what do you mean shoulders back?

  • Jeffrey Meyer

    Scooby, you are an absolute genius! In my opinion, a genius is someone
    who can see the truth through all the distracting BS. There’s a lot of
    distracting data out there, and you cut through all of it in this article.

    Sure, a million people say that good posture consists of keeping your
    shoulders back, and yes, I can do that. And a lot of articles I read give
    plenty of exercises to do, almost as if the exercises were meant to remind you to
    hold your shoulders back (I’m exaggerating some here). But you have driven the
    point home. It’s not about pulling your shoulders back. They should be back
    naturally from proper muscular balance. You can do all the shoulder exercises
    you want, but if you’re still benching as much as you can and trying to max out
    on curls, then your back muscles won’t have time to catch up, especially if
    you’re just using Thera-Bands.

    I cannot tell you enough how much genius is in this article.

    I suffer from rounded shoulders, and when I was lifting weights hard
    (which I want to get back into), I always got jazzed about the growth of my
    chest and biceps, especially since my biceps seem to develop quickly compared
    to the rest of my body. I think that’s why I ended up getting two right
    shoulder surgeries and one left. Sure, I worked out my back. I did a few reps
    and tried to max them out. But that was AFTER I went full out on my chest and
    arms.

    And, yes, it’s not about holding your shoulders back or stretching. I try
    to hold my shoulders back now, since I’ve become cognizant of the problem a few
    years ago, but they don’t stay there naturally. That’s the key.

    Wow! I feel like I’ve been enlightened. Well, I have. Why didn’t my
    orthopedic doc tell me this? Or my physical therapists? Because, I don’t think
    they knew.

    Scooby, how long will it take for my thumbs to naturally face forward
    when I’m at rest? I know it depends upon how hard I work out, but can you give
    me a guess, taking the rigor of working out into consideration? It’s going to be hard to stay away from my favorite exercises.

    Thank you so, so much!

    Jeff

  • Zain Cheema

    Scooby!please tell me that how much time can it take to correct my round shoulders