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Want Bigger Shoulders

My Nine Favorite Exercises To Grow Your Lateral Delts

If you look up people’s favorite exercises or the best exercises to grow your “insert muscle group here” you would likely rarely hear lateral delts as a hot topic. Although your lateral delts play a large role in the overall development, size, and aesthetic appeal of your shoulders, let’s face it, anterior deltoid dominates those conversations. This does not make lateral deltoid strength and size any less important so if you want to know about some great shoulder exercise choices to grow the medial deltoid, take a look below.

What Makes Up The Lateral Deltoid

 

The lateral deltoids, which are also known as the side or middle delt are located on the side of the shoulder. The lateral deltoids are one of three muscles within the overall deltoid musculature, in addition to your anterior delt and posterior delt (or rear delt). Lateral deltoids are used in many shoulder exercises, even if it is to a small degree. Having a great set of lateral delts can really set your physique apart and strong lateral delts will also keep your upper body healthy.
Strengthening your lateral delts can also help prevent injuries by reducing the likelihood of overdeveloped anterior deltoids or pecs. Because of their critical function, extremely high range of motion, strong shoulders are essential for maximum performance and a well-rounded, fit physique. it doesn’t hurt that they also help create wider shoulders.

What Are My Favorite Shoulder Workout Exercises To Build My Shoulder Muscle?

 

Standing Lateral Raises

  • Grab a set of dumbbells or kettlebells and start the weight at your side and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Keep your elbows straight
  • Keep your chest up and bent very slightly forwards (maximizes your ROM)
  • The weight should end up horizontally in line with your shoulders
  • You can also use a resistance band to perform this exercise.

Incline Lateral Raise

  • Position the bench between 45 and 60 degrees to perform a full range of motion, without hitting the bench or the floor
  • Keep your arms straight and completely out to the side
  • Raise your elbows to shoulder height, approximately parallel with the floor, and control the movement back to the starting position

Side leaning Unilateral Raises

  • Lean on an incline bench, sideways (one shoulder leaning on the bench)
  • Keep the dumbbell just above your hip and raise it out to the side
  • Keep your arm almost fully straight
  • Go all the way up until your arm is perpendicular to the floor

Arnold Press

  • You can perform this standing or seated and also unilaterally
  • Start with the dumbbell or kettlebell at shoulder level and a supinated grip (palms toward your face)
  • Press the weight while you rotate your hand outwards, ending in the same position as a regular overhead press
  • A sumo stance can aid in balance

Bench Kneeling Lateral Raises

  • Grab a set of dumbbells or kettlebells and kneel on a bench and this is one of my favorites as the kneeling helps mitigate any momentum to perform the exercise.
  • Keep a slight bend in your elbows
  • Raise the weight out to the side until your arms are parallel with the floor
  • The weight should end up horizontally in line with your shoulders
  • Control the weight on the way down

Upright Row

  • In order to protect your shoulders, from impingement, keep your chest up
  • Bend forward slightly
  • Pull your elbows up and slightly back, without going above shoulder height
  • You can use an E-Z bar if there is discomfort with your wrists
  • You can also use a Smith Machine

Unilateral Side Raises

  • Grab the weight in one hand and start the weight at your side, stand with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Keep a slight bend in your elbow
  • Keep your chest up and bent very slightly forwards (maximizes your ROM)
  • The weight should end up horizontally in line with your shoulders

W-Press

  • This is both a great anterior delt and middle deltoid exercise
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell (or kettlebell) in each hand and arms in a W position
  • Keep your elbows fixed and raise the weight in a circular motion until they nearly touch each other over your head
  • Control the weight back down to the starting position

Prone Incline Side Raises

  • Position the bench between 45 and 60 degrees to perform a full range of motion, without hitting the bench or the floor and lay facing the bench
  • Keep your arms straight and completely out to the side
  • Point your thumbs to the floor
  • Raise your elbows to shoulder height, approximately parallel with the floor, and control the movement back to the starting position

How do I Train My Lateral Deltoid Muscle?

Your lateral delts will grow the same way that other muscles do, as long as you are not neglecting them. Strength training using a wide range of repetition ranges, loads, and a variety of exercises, to work every muscle fiber there is. However, I do tend to stay in the 8 to 15 rep range for a couple of reasons. First, this is primarily because when using higher loads, I feel the range of motion can be negatively impacted. As you significantly increase loads, it becomes more difficult to complete a full ROM. I also feel that much like any other muscle, your form can suffer from high weights. Let’s face it, your lateral delts are already a small muscle group that can’t put up weights like you can on your bench press or squat so once you get too high, I see the two things mentioned above suffer.
If you want them to grow, you’ll need to use proper form as well as use a full range of motion, 4-inch lateral raises just won’t cut it. Also, your lateral delts will require some direct training as they do not get worked like your anterior delts do in a large number of traditional pressing exercises, whether directly training them or not.

Some Additional Shoulder Tips

  1. First and foremost, train all 3 parts of your shoulders, no part should be neglected, including your rear delt.
  2. Listen to your body, when they say they need rest and recovery, listen. Shoulder injuries can happen early and often, if not cared for.
  3. I only train my shoulders once per week, even when other muscles are trained typically twice. Why, because I feel my shoulders are extremely sensitive to being overworked, especially after 30 years of strength training.
  4. If I were to train any shoulder part more than once, it would be the posterior deltoid and lateral delt. Your Anterior delts good significant work on any pressing work you do for your chest and triceps.
  5. I mix up pressing exercises and other accessory work for my anterior delts.
  6. I include a few exercises for shoulder mobility every week.
If your goal is building muscle on your medial delt, give these 9 delt exercises a go. They use a variety of equipment, positions, and movements to ensure that your shoulders are constantly challenged and encouraged to grow stronger and get bigger.
Take your shoulder training to the core and build those amazing shoulders you have always wanted. If you want some free workouts that have direct training for every delt muscle, just visit here and lay claim to what fits your schedule the best.

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