While there is no way to spot reduce, there are some tips you can follow to help make your shoulders smaller.  Where we store fat and lose it, is largely determined by genetics.  If your body is prone to store fat in the shoulder area, by following weight loss strategies you can help lose fat in your upper body.

If you want to make your shoulders smaller because you have too much muscle mass in your shoulders, you can change your workout to make it less focused on building muscle in your shoulders.

Although you can’t spot reduce with any exercise, focusing on losing fat mass while strengthening shoulder muscles can be a reasonable approach to making your shoulders smaller.

Losing fat with cardio exercise

If you want to lose body fat that is stored in your upper body, aim to follow an exercise plan that focuses on weight loss.  This will typically be a combination of cardio exercise and strength training.

Even if you want to make your shoulders smaller, don’t shy away from doing exercises that build strength in the shoulder region.  The goal is to shed fat mass and gain muscle so you can have chiseled shoulder muscles.

Doing a combination of moderate and vigorous exercise will give you the weight loss benefits of both types of activities.

The time you need to spend doing exercise for weight loss will be vary individually, a general place to start is to aim getting 30-60 minutes of exercise most days of the week.

Pick a cardio exercise you enjoy doing: hiking, biking, jogging, dancing, etc. and alternate which days you do longer time in moderate intensity or shorter bursts of vigorous exercise.  Changing up your exercise routine can help you from getting bored.

Balance your food intake so your body is in a calorie deficit but getting enough nutrient dense foods.  This way your exercise will help use your body fat sources for energy, which is the goal of weight loss.

Toning exercises for the upper body

There are numerous exercises you can do to strengthen your arms and shoulders, and before you start creating a workout plan it is a great idea to consult with an exercise specialist.

If you have any previous injuries or health conditions, make sure you are cleared medically to start an exercise program.

To get the most gains from strength training, you need to give your muscles time to rebuild.  This means you should be strengthening different muscle groups on different days or doing all your strength training on one day with rest days in between.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends training each muscle group 2-3 days a week.  Depending on your fitness goals, you should aim for 2-4 sets per exercise with 8-12 repetitions.

Exercises that help build strength in your shoulders and arms:

Push-ups: This simple exercise can be done practically anywhere.  It not only focuses on the triceps but also core, back and shoulders as well.  You can do them on your knees if you can’t do them on your toes.  Bend your arms to about 90 degrees and push yourself back up.

Shoulder raises: Grab some lighter weights (or use cans if doing at home) and keep your arms relaxed at your side.  Keeping your arms straight, raise your weights in front or to the side of your body.

Do not raise weights past your shoulder height and avoid if you feel any pain or pinching with this exercise.

Seated dumbbell press: Sit in on a chair or bench with your back straight.  Grab some weights (or cans at home) and bend elbows with the weight by your ears.  Lift arms straight up without locking your elbow and repeat.

These exercises can get you started to building shoulder strength, but there are many other exercises you can do to build up strength in your upper body.  As weight loss happens, ideally fat loss would come from the upper body if that’s where you are carrying most of it.  Then muscle definition is more visible from the hard work you put in from strength training.

Too much muscle?  Change your workout

If your shoulders are too big because of muscle mass, you can change your workout to not focus strength building in your shoulders.  You can do more cardio exercise, do more lifting exercises for your lower body or use lighter weights for upper body workouts.

As with any muscles, if you don’t use it you’ll lose it.

How to make your shoulders look smaller with clothes

If your body type just naturally has broader shoulders, you may only be able to change your physique to a certain point.  There are other ways to naturally make your shoulders look smaller if that’s your goal.

Fashion company Paris Ciel suggests women with broad shoulders can wear certain types of clothes to easily balance out broad shoulders.

One suggestion is to wear V neckline or halters to naturally draw focus away from shoulders.  Avoid neck lines like strapless shirts or dresses or spaghetti straps which would make shoulders look even broader.

Another trick is to wear darker colors on your upper body and lighter colors on the bottom.


If you want to make your shoulders smaller, you can’t spot reduce just by doing shoulder exercises.  However, doing a combination of cardio exercise and strength training along with a healthy balanced diet that will put you in a calorie deficit can help your body shift into utilizing fat stores as a main fuel.

If you have more muscle mass than you want in your shoulders, simply modify your workout to focus more on cardio and lower body exercises.  When you do shoulder exercises, use lighter weights than you did before.