Skip to content

Lateral Deltoid Exercises

Lateral Deltoid Exercises

Lateral deltoid exercises are a must for everyone who aims for toned and strong shoulders. Ironically, athletes often forget about the muscles, influencing the most noticeable change in their physical appearance. It’s better not to make such mistakes with lateral deltoids because they are responsible for giving your shoulders definition and strength. Read on to know more about deltoids’ heads and the best exercises to get in shape.

3 Different Heads Of Deltoids

The deltoid is a muscle located on the shoulder’s surface and is responsible for giving it a fully rounded shape. Although the deltoid is considered a single muscle for all intents and purposes, it has three separate groups of muscle fibers and muscular bellies, which are referred to as “heads.”

Deltoid heads

There are three distinct heads:

  • anterior deltoid (front)
  • lateral deltoid (located on the side)
  • posterior deltoid (rear)

The humerus is attached to the collar bone by the anterior deltoid. The primary role of the anterior delt is raising and bringing the arm closer to the body’s center. 

The lateral deltoid is also called the side, middle, or even outer deltoid. The acromion process of the shoulder blade is its origin, and the humerus is where it attaches. This muscle’s primary role in shoulder abduction is to raise it to the side.

Posterior delts begin at the top of your shoulder blade and run down the back of the arms. Back and forth motions are what the posterior delt’s primary purpose is.

1. Dumbbell Lateral Raise

The dumbbell lateral raise will isolate your rear deltoid. This is its main benefit. Traps are also on the list of the main targeted muscles. The movement is perfect for building strength, tone, and stability in your shoulders.

How to do dumbbell lateral raise:

  • Stand up straight and grab a pair of dumbbells. Keep your hands along your body.
  • Your knees should be a bit bent and your back – slightly arched.
  • Lift the dumbbells to the sides, keeping your shoulder blades pinched. Breathe out as you exert force.
  • Go up until the dumbbells reach your neck level.
  • Bring the dumbbells down.

2. Upright Row

The shoulders and upper back benefit greatly from upright rows, which are often used in weight training. You’ll be bringing the weight toward you and working your posterior chain, comprised of muscles on your back. Your deltoids, trapezius, and triceps are all targeted by the movement.

How to do upright row:

  • Stand with your feet about shoulder-length apart. Grab the dumbbells and keep them in front of you in your outstretched arms. Ensure your core is tight, and bring your shoulders back.
  • Bring the arms up, so the dumbbells reach your chin level, keeping wrists straight and bringing elbows apart to the sides. Squeeze the traps as hard as you can.
  • Go back to the starting position.

3. Arnold Press 

The Arnold press is a compound movement that thoroughly targets the shoulders. In contrast to other workouts for the upper body, the action of an Arnold press engages all three heads of the deltoid muscles. Most athletes use it as a warm-up or burnout at the end of the workout.

How to do Arnold press:

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells. Maintain a shoulder-width distance between your feet. At the starting position, your palms are going to be facing forward.
  • You should turn your arms out to the sides and simultaneously push the weight up while maintaining your shoulders down. 
  • Keep your spine in a neutral position and try to prevent hyperextending your back at the peak of the action.
  • Lower the weights, slowly returning to the starting position.

4. Behind The Back Cable Lateral Raise

Cable lateral raises can give your muscles extra tension and resistance during the whole range of motion. It’s an isolated workout, primarily targeting your lateral deltoids. The technique is pretty simple and suits all fitness levels.

How to do behind the back cable lateral raise:

  • Grab a grip linked to the lower pulley cable and hold it behind your back while leaning slightly backwards.
  • Lift your arm while maintaining a slight bend in your elbow. Elevate your elbow, ensuring it stays higher than your wrist the whole time.
  • Before returning the weight to the starting position, gently squeeze at the point of maximum contraction.
  • Switch arms and repeat all the steps.

5. One-arm Dumbbell Lateral Raise

The exercise primarily focuses on working lateral deltoids. Use a post or perform it free-standing to test your core strength and stability. As the title says, you need a pair of dumbbells to perform this exercise.

How to do one-arm dumbbell lateral raise:

  • Grab the dumbbell with one hand. Keeping your balance will be easier if you lean towards your working arm and away from the hand that is not active at the moment.
  • Hold the dumbbell at arm’s length, palm facing you, with a straight back and shoulders.
  • Lift the dumbbell to your side with a small bend in the elbow and your hand slightly slanted forward.
  • Pause for a moment at the peak when your arm is parallel to the floor.
  • Carefully lower the dumbbell back to the beginning position.

6. Military Press

In addition to working your shoulders, upper chest, triceps, and core, the military press also engages your glutes, biceps, and lats. Motion is regarded as one of the most effective ways to gain muscle strength. It also saves your time and effort, loading many muscles simultaneously.

How to do military press:

  • Position your feet so that they are about shoulder-width apart. Pick up the bar from the floor or off the rack, whatever you like.
  • As you lower the weight, bend your arms and keep your elbows in.
  • As you raise the bar, make sure your arms are completely extended. Use the complete range of motion by pushing all the way to the top.
  • Keep your shoulders back. Maintain a 90-degree angle with your wrists and elbows.
  • Go back to where you started and place the bar between your collarbone and chin this time.

7. Cable Front Raise 

The cable front raise trains the front deltoids. If you’re looking to increase shoulder strength and function, this is an excellent exercise. While moving, the body maintains its correct posture due to the cable machine.

How to do cable front raise:

  • Stand in front of the cable machine with the pulley in the low position. The cable should run between your thighs.
  • Lift the bar to your shoulders as you exhale. To achieve maximum tension, take a few breaths at the peak of the action. 
  • Avoid slouching to maintain a straight posture.
  • Lower the cables, slowly returning to the starting position.


When it comes to the shoulders building, it’s hard to overstate the importance of the side delt muscles. The lateral deltoid may greatly impact your upper arm, its toned appearance, and its power. Therefore it’s essential to give it the greatest workouts possible. 

Proper exercises can help you build and enhance overall upper body strength. Also, such workouts support proper posture and help make daily and athletic movements easier. We hope our list of the best lateral deltoid exercises will help you get the most out of your workouts and build the powerful 3D shoulders you aim for.