HomeExercise LibraryHow To: Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise

How To: Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise

Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise

The dumbbell side lateral raise and all of its variations are fantastic for building up the medial (side) of the deltoid.

If you want those round, cannonball style shoulders this is one exercise you cannot afford to neglect!

I recommend hitting the side lateral raise immediately after you've finished up the heavy pressing movements (e.g. barbell overhead press) during your shoulder workout.

Movement: Isolation

Targets: Shoulders

Required: Dumbbells

Optional: N/A

Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise Form:

Grasping a pair of dumbbell stand straight with palms facing towards your body with a slight bend in your knees.

Maintaining your straight position proceed to raise the dumbbells to your sides with a slight bend in your elbows.

As you reach the top of the repetition tilt the dumbbells slightly as if you were pouring a glass of water.

Lower the dumbbells back down to your side.

Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise Variations

One Arm Side Lateral Raise

Hanging off of a smith machine or barbell with one arm, grasp a dumbbell in the opposite arm and lean into the arm grasping the dumbbell.
Perform strict form isolated lat raises with one arm before swapping sides.

Front/Side Raise Combo

Perform one repetition of the side lateral raise followed by one repetition of the dumbbell front raise, continue alternating for the desired number of repetitions.

See also
How To: Dumbbell Walking Lunges

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Common Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise Mistakes

Not Hitting All Areas Of The Deltoid

Your shoulder is not just made up of one muscle, the shoulder is comprised of 3 ‘heads’, these are known as:

  • The anterior deltoid (the front of your shoulder)
  • The medial deltoid (the side of your shoulder)
  • The posterior deltoid (the rear of your shoulder)

If you are not training all 3 heads you will not get round, full shoulders.

Shoulder training is based around 2 main movements, presses and raises, the traditional dumbbell and barbell presses are a great starting exercise for your shoulder routine as they are a compound exercise (and therefore hit all heads of the deltoid) we can then hone in on the anterior, medial and posterior heads individually through different variations of raises.

See also
How To: Straight Arm Pulldown

Bouncing The Weight

Your stance should be shoulder width and you should maintain a slight bend in your knee (I have seen quite a few people performing standing shoulder exercises with locked out knees, however for stability and reduced risk of injury a slightly bent knee is superior).

At the bottom of the repetition you pause for a split second before proceeding with the following rep – no bouncing.

Using Limited Range Of Motion

Partial reps can be used to push yourself beyond your point of failure at the end of your set, however strict, full range of motion must be practised first.

The dumbbells should be raised until they are at least parallel and lowered all the way back down to your sides.

Incorrect Scheduling Of Your Workout

I highly recommend having at least 1 day between your chest and shoulder workouts.
The flat barbell bench press, incline bench press and dips place a large amount of tension on the front deltoids (even though the chest is the primary muscle targeted during this exercise).
If you’re going straight from a heavy chest workout on Monday into a shoulder workout on Tuesday you won’t be getting the best bang for your buck out of your workout – your shoulders will be recovering and from my experience you won’t be able to lift anywhere near as heavy as if they were fresh.

See also
How To: Seated Leg Curl

Ongoing, excessive amounts of stress placed on the shoulders can result in a shoulder impingement which’ll have you out of performing the vast majority of upper body exercises for weeks if not months, not good.

If you’re strapped for time and can only train three times a week the push/pull/legs workout regime is an option which hits both chest and shoulders in the same (push) workout however if you’re able to train 5 days a week I recommend performing a split in the following order:


Alternatively, through a leg or rest day between your chest and shoulder workouts.

Similar & Substitute Exercises 

  • Dumbbell One Arm Side Lateral Raise
  • Dumbbell Front Raise

Any Questions Regarding The Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise? Ask Below!

Scott J.
Scott J.
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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