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Do Push-Ups Help Rounded Shoulders? (Or Cause Them?)

Rounded shoulders are a body position issue where your shoulders are sat in a forward position when in a relaxed state.

It’s a fairly common problem that quite a few gym-goers have.

It’s usually related to poor posture and overtraining of your chest while neglecting your back muscles to some extent.

While rounded shoulders can usually be rectified fairly easily, they can cause further posture-related issues and discomfort.

In this article, we explore whether push-ups can help rounded shoulders or if they’re more likely to make them worse.

In it, we look at whether certain push-up variations are better for rounded shoulders, as well as looking at other exercises that can help, or make worse, rounded shoulders.

Woman doing a push up in a crossfit gym

Do Push-Ups Help Rounded Shoulders?

As a general rule, push-ups won’t help rounded shoulders.

That’s not to say that certain variations of push-ups won’t help with them, but, as a standalone exercise, push-ups won’t be your best choice if you’re trying to correct your rounded shoulders.

Rounded shoulders can be caused by training your chest too much and your back not enough.

The result is that your chest is extra tight and strong while your back is weak.

This causes your chest to pull your shoulders forward as your back muscles aren’t strong enough to keep your torso upright.

As regular push-ups put a lot of focus on building size and strength in your chest (and other upper body muscles), your back won’t play too much of a role in the movement.

This means that your chest might continue to get tighter while your back continues to stay weak.

If this continues too much, your rounded shoulders could actually end up getting worse as a result of doing more push-ups.

What Push-Ups Variant Is Best For Rounded Shoulders?

Scapula push-ups are probably one of the best push-up variants to do in order to try and improve your rounded shoulders.

Commonly known as scap push-ups, these push-ups are fairly different to regular push-ups but they can certainly help your rounded shoulders.

To do scap push-ups, get into a regular push-up position.

This could be on your hands and knees if this is how you normally do push-ups, or it can be in the high-plank push-up position.

From here, you just need to squeeze your shoulder blades together and then apart while keeping your body in a straight line and not bending your elbows.

The movement will be much smaller than a regular push-up and it will only be your upper body moving in a slight up and down motion throughout the exercise.

Can Push-Ups Make Rounded Shoulders Worse?

Potentially, push-ups can make rounded shoulders worse.

The main thing to keep in mind is that to fix rounded shoulders, you want your back to get stronger so your shoulders can be pulled back into a more upright and central position.

Push-ups aren’t particularly good at strengthening your back muscles. However, they’re great at working and developing your chest.

This is counter-productive for fixing rounded shoulders as strengthening your chest will likely cause your shoulders to be pulled further forward instead of back into a more comfortable and natural position.

Push-ups won’t cause rounded shoulders but they can play a part in making them worse if you get things wrong.

Other Exercises That Help With Rounded Shoulders

Bent Over Row

Bent over row will make your shoulder blades move in a similar way to a scap push-up while also strengthening the muscles in your upper back.

As the middle section of your upper back is worked most during the movement, bent over row can be helpful in fixing rounded shoulders.

Chest Stretches

As well as strengthening your back, stretching out your chest can help reduce your rounded shoulders too.

A tight chest that pulls your shoulders forward is usually one of the common causes of rounded shoulders.

By stretching your chest, you can help reduce some of the pulling effects it has on your shoulders.

What Exercises Are Bad For Rounded Shoulders?

Bench Press

Topless man doing a bench press in the gym

It’s worth mentioning that you don’t necessarily have to avoid doing bench press if you have rounded shoulders.

However, you might find it useful to lift lighter weights and ensure you follow up your bench press with an equally challenging back exercise to keep things more balanced.

Heavy Chest Exercises

You can obviously still train your chest with rounded shoulders but you’ll need to be very careful that you aren’t working it too hard so it becomes tighter, pulling your shoulders even further forward.

Make sure you stretch your chest regularly and work your back muscles equally as hard as your chest.


In summary:

  • Regular push-ups are unlikely to help rounded shoulders and can even make them worse.
  • To fix rounded shoulders, you should focus on back exercises like bent over rows.

That’s all for this article, but do push ups help lose arm fat? Or maybe you’re wondering why you get back pain after push ups.

Hope this helped!


Scapula Push-Ups

Rounded Shoulders Causes