Having well-built, strong shoulders is often seen as a sign of power and strength. But who actually has the biggest shoulders in the world? Let’s explore some of the top contenders.
- Cheick Sanou (Iron Biby) is said to have the strongest shoulders based on overhead pressing strength.
- Chuck Ahrens claimed to have the widest shoulders in the world at one point.
- Bodybuilders like Naseer El Sonbaty, Lee Haney, and Ronnie Coleman had incredibly developed delts.
- Determining the “biggest” shoulders depends on the specific criteria used.
- Genetics, diet, training style, and steroid use can all impact shoulder size and development.
Having broad, muscular shoulders has long been a goal of many serious weightlifters and bodybuilders. Beyond aesthetics, well-built shoulders also provide key functional strength for sports, fitness, and everyday activities. But when it comes to having the “biggest” shoulders in the world, it raises some interesting questions. What defines biggest – width, mass, strength? And how can you accurately compare different body types and shapes?
This article will take a deep dive into the world of big shoulders. It will look at several contenders based on different criteria, from overhead pressing power to outstanding delt development. Factors like genetics, diet, training philosophy, and steroid use will also be considered in evaluating candidates for the “biggest shoulders” title. Clear explanations and direct comparisons will help provide a definitive answer to this question.
Understanding the key traits, metrics, and methods used to develop huge shoulders can provide insight for anyone looking to bulk up their own training. Whether you want to overload your overhead press or maximize delt mass, learning from those with the world’s biggest shoulders is an invaluable resource. By the end, you’ll know exactly who has the greatest claim as having the most massive, powerful, or aesthetically stunning shoulders on the planet.
Who Are the Top Contenders for the Biggest Shoulders Title?
When evaluating who has the biggest shoulders in bodybuilding or strength sports, there are a few key names that stand out:
Cheick Sanou (Iron Biby)
This strength athlete from Burkina Faso is renowned for his incredible overhead pressing power in the log lift. According to Guinness World Records, Sanou strict pressed 209 kg (461 lbs) in 2016 to set a new world record in the axle press/log lift category. This unmatched overhead strength is a product of Sanou’s phenomenally developed delts and shoulders. Many consider him to have the strongest shoulders and overhead pressing capability in the world currently.
American bodybuilder Chuck Ahrens claimed to have the world’s widest shoulders at one point, purportedly measuring over 27 inches across. In his prime in the 1940s-50s, Ahrens had striated, full delts that contributed to his “Bigger Than Life” nickname. While not the most massive, Ahrens’ wide clavicle and sweeping delt tie-ins created a dramatic V-taper and certainly some of the broadest shoulders ever seen.
Naseer El Sonbaty
This Egyptian professional bodybuilder was a dominant competitor in the 1990s to early 2000s, earning IFBB Mr. Olympia titles. With his huge frame, El Sonbaty packed incredible mass onto his shoulders and delts. Many consider him perhaps the greatest “delts” of all time in bodybuilding, with mountainous, sharply peaked shoulders that exemplified 3D shape and granite-like density.
Other Top Bodybuilders
Beyond these standouts, bodybuilding history is full of massive shoulder development. Other names often mentioned include Lee Haney for his boulder-like, striated delts, Ronnie Coleman for his unmatched mass, and Nasser El Sonbaty for his sheer delt size and shape. More recently, Big Ramy has exhibited some of the biggest shoulders today. When considering size, proportion, definition, and symmetry, these champions represent the pinnacle of aesthetic shoulder development.
What Criteria Determine the “Biggest” Shoulders?
As these examples show, there are several ways to define and measure “biggest” when it comes to shoulders:
- Overhead Pressing Strength: The strongest shoulders for overhead lifts like the log press.
- Shoulder Width: The broadest or widest shoulders from delt to delt.
- Muscle Size: The biggest delts and surrounding muscle mass.
- Proportion: Shoulder size relative to waist and joints.
- Definition: Degree of separation, striation, vascularity in delts.
- 3D Impact: Overall shape, peakedness, roundness, thickness.
Depending on whether you prioritize brute strength, measured width, overall mass and size, aesthetic flow, or “pop” factor, different individuals could have a claim as the “biggest” shoulders.
Objectively proving who definitively has the biggest shoulders gets difficult since body shapes, bone structure, genetics, and training goals all vary. But looking at the standouts in each category gives a picture of the upper echelon of shoulder development.
What Allows These Contenders to Build Such Massive Shoulders?
Some key factors allow the top names in bodybuilding and strength sports to take their shoulders to the extreme:
- Genetics: The right bone structure, shoulder joint anatomy, and muscle bellies set the framework.
- Diet: Consuming sufficient calories and protein to support extreme muscle growth.
- Training: Intense workout regimens focused on progressive overload.
- Equipment: Leverage from supportive gear like bench shirts.
- Drugs: Anabolic steroids and growth hormones to maximize mass.
- Time: Years if not decades of dedicated training to build muscle.
While hard training is essential, the contenders for the biggest shoulders often have inherent physical advantages. A wide clavicle, rounder joint, high number of muscle fibers and receptors all facilitate developing bigger delts. Nutrition must be meticulously planned to supply nutrients without unwanted fat gain. Advanced equipment like bench shirts can allow greater overload as well.
And most obviously, chemical enhancement via steroids, growth hormone, and insulin allows bodybuilders to transcend natural limitations. Along with many years of determined training, this pharmaceutical muscle “optimization” enables the extreme shoulder growth exhibited by leading pros.
What Are the Best Exercises to Build Bigger Shoulders?
For anyone inspired by these giants of shoulder-building and wanting to pack size onto their own delts, certain exercises are more effective than others:
- Overhead Presses: Strict shoulder presses are the gold standard. Can use barbells, dumbbells, logs, axles, etc. Emphasize full range of motion.
- Lateral Raises: Isolates the medial delts. Use strict form and controlled motion. Partial reps at peak contraction are useful.
- Front Raises: Works the anterior delts. Can use barbells, plates, dumbbells.
- Upright Rows: Compound move that hits all three delt heads. Use close grip for more rear delt focus.
- Face Pulls: Great for posterior delt development. Can use bands, cables, or dumbbells.
- Rear Delt Flyes: Bent-over variations primarily work the rear delts. Can use machines, cables, bands.
- Arnold Press: Starts as front raise and transitions to shoulder press. Challenging multi-plane move.
Leading bodybuilders use heavy compound lifts like overhead presses along with higher volume isolation moves like side and front lateral raises. They train shoulders 2-3 times per week or more, hitting them from multiple angles with progressive overload principles applied. Patience is required, as developing bigger delts takes years of consistent work. But applying the right training methods pays off.
Who currently has the biggest shoulders in bodybuilding?
Currently, Big Ramy and Brandon Curry have some of the biggest and most impressive shoulders in professional bodybuilding. Other contenders include Hadi Choopan and William Bonac.
Were there bodybuilders with bigger shoulders than Ronnie Coleman?
At his prime mass, Ronnie Coleman had some of the overall largest and freakiest shoulders ever seen. However, other champions like Nasser El Sonbaty may have exhibited greater shoulder width and more aesthetic shape.
How often should you train shoulders for maximum growth?
Most experts recommend hitting shoulders 2-3 times per week for optimal growth.Common splits are: 1 heavy press day, 1 lighter pump day; or combining shoulders with chest and back respectively. Avoid overtraining.
What is the best shoulder workout for mass?
Focus on heavy overhead presses followed by lateral/front raises for multiple shoulder growth. Use 8-12 reps on presses, 12-15 reps on raises, and hit multiple exercises for 3-5 total sets per move.
Can you build big shoulders without steroids?
Building impressive shoulders naturally is achievable through years of proper training, nutrition, and recovery. However, the extreme mass exhibited by top bodybuilders is realistically unattainable without steroids. Be patient and consistent focusing on progressive overload if drug-free.
When all factors are considered, Cheick “Iron Biby” Sanou likely has the strongest overhead pressing shoulders currently. Bodybuilders like Nasser El Sonbaty and Lee Haney are top contenders for most massive and aesthetic shoulders. While the “biggest” title is subjective, these athletes represent the upper limits of natural and enhanced shoulder development. By applying their training principles, diet strategies, and determination, anyone can build their best shoulder physique possible.