If you care about creating an aesthetic physique, then you’ve got engaged within the quest of the coveted v-taper — broad shoulders and a large again main all the way down to a slim however hardened midsection.

The “swimmer’s look” is usually admired, and if you wish to obtain it, you want well-developed shoulders. In specific, the lateral head of the deltoid provides your shoulders seen width.

Credit: Nejron Photo / Shutterstock

The trick is that this specific physique half is definitely ignored and there aren’t many workout routines that instantly deal with it. The lateral elevate is the prime boulder-shoulder builder, however the fundamental motion is usually poorly carried out. This helpful train is nice for bettering your shoulders’ measurement, power, and joint well being, however you’ll be able to take issues even additional.

Here are 10 lateral elevate variations to refresh your exercises and supply your muscle tissues new stimuli that will help you get rounded delts.

Best Lateral Raise Variations

Cable Lateral Raise

The cable lateral elevate offers fixed pressure and shifts the toughest a part of the vary of movement from the highest place — in a dumbbell lateral elevate — to the underside, stretched place.

Switching the tools from a dumbbell to a cable pulley additionally modifications the stimulus of the train and delivers a critical deltoid stretch, which is sort of nonexistent with the dumbbell variation.

When to Do It

This is a superb motion for working in your common method and your mind-muscle connection, bettering muscle-growth on the similar time. (1) Program this train the identical manner you’d do dumbbell lateral raises — on the finish of a shoulder exercise or “push” exercise. Keep the reps comparatively excessive, use pristine kind, and deal with the muscle burn.

How to Do It

Stand subsequent to a cable station set to the bottom level. Grab a single deal with with the hand farthest from the station and flex your abs. Keep a inflexible higher physique and lift your arm out to your aspect whereas retaining your shoulder blade down and your wrist decrease than your elbow. 

Stop round shoulder-level, if you really feel the load shifting away out of your shoulder and to your traps. Exhale and decrease with management to the beginning place. Start mild and keep away from utilizing momentum. If the cable station is large enough, you are able to do the train with each arms on the similar time.

Leaning Lateral Raise

The leaning lateral elevate emphasizes the shortened place or peak contraction. Because of the leaning place, a portion of the aspect delt’s vary of movement is just not educated as a result of gravity’s pull doesn’t considerably have an effect on the load, however this lets you use a comparatively heavier weight and set off new progress. (2)

Along with the lateral head of the deltoid, this otherwise emphasised vary of movement additionally works the rotator cuff muscle tissues, notably the supraspinatus.

When to Use It

Even although you need to use extra weight than the usual lateral elevate, this variation is greatest carried out after your heavier compound (multi-joint) lifts of the exercise. Use it as your major lateral deltoid train of the day or in a spicy superset combining this train, which targets the height contraction, and a delt train specializing in the stretched contraction, just like the cable lateral elevate.

How to Do It

Grab a sturdy energy rack with one hand, place your ft close to the help, and lean away at an angle supporting your self from a locked arm. Hold a dumbbell in your free hand and carry the load sideways from a straight hanging place. You can elevate the load increased than shoulder-level with out worrying about muscle recruitment, as a result of the aim is to emphasise the shortened vary of movement which implies your traps might be recruited it doesn’t matter what. Make positive you management the motion velocity to optimize time below pressure. Don’t swing the load from the underside place.

Seated Lateral Raise

This variation is for the “accidental” cheaters on the market or anybody who has bother controlling a strict motion. The steady, upright place makes it virtually inconceivable to swing your torso with out noticing.

The bench help ensures strict kind for higher muscle pressure and a whole vary of movement to set off hypertrophy (muscle progress).

When to Use It

The seated lateral elevate is an effective way to study the standing variation with out interference from the remainder of your physique. It prevents involuntary dishonest, in addition to serving to to focus with laser precision in your lateral delts. Perform it in lieu of standing raises till you are feeling your kind is impeccable or if you wish to go heavier whereas nonetheless avoiding any dishonest.

How to Do It

Sit on a bench with a dumbbell in every hand and assume an upright torso place. Raise your palms out to your sides, close to shoulder-level, with out succumbing to the temptation of swinging your torso or shrugging your traps to compensate for this tougher execution. Lower the weights with management to keep away from momentum within the backside place.

Machine Lateral Raise

Some train machines could be scoffed by skilled gymnasium goers for his or her simplicity or design, however the reality is that they will typically be as environment friendly as free weight workout routines for constructing muscle. (4)

Certain machines may not be as helpful for bettering power or coordination, however so long as your major aim is constructing muscle, you’re lined with a well-designed machine. It is perhaps even higher in some instances. For occasion, learners can discover some machine workout routines simpler to carry out that with barbells or dumbbells. Many machines are additionally designed to attenuate interference from non-target muscle tissues.

When to Do It

If you’re a newbie or superior lifter, or simply wish to change issues to refresh your exercises and prime new progress, give this variation a strive. For learners, machines are normally very simple to make use of and so they can guarantee correct kind, so that you’re coaching the specified muscle tissues. Advanced lifters will respect the truth that machines will isolate and fatigue a selected head of the deltoid, extra simply accumulating high quality coaching quantity for a physique half.

How to Do It

Sit down within the machine and place your elbows below the pads. Raise your elbows to your sides till they’re parallel to the bottom, then decrease them with management. The machine lateral elevate can function an amazing educating device for studying to “lead with your elbows” and never your wrists, focusing extra on the lateral head of your shoulders and fewer on straining the joints of your shoulders, elbows, and wrists.

Partial Lateral Raise

You’re used to mild weights if you carry out lateral raises, proper? It’s time to shock your muscle tissues into progress. Research has proven that utilizing a restricted vary of movement could be helpful for selling power and hypertrophy below the best situations. (3)

Use a shortened vary of movement to your benefit and supply the lateral delts one thing they by no means skilled to advertise hypertrophy — very heavy weights and super-high pressure.

When to Do It

Partial actions and “calculated cheating” could be helpful, however ought to be reserved for skilled lifters who’ve already mastered the total motion with good kind. If you’re utilizing heaving weights only for the sake of it, and begin swinging the dumbbells like a monkey with a pair of cymbals, you may set off accidents as a substitute of progress.

If you’re a gymnasium veteran that has lagging shoulders, give this high-intensity variation a go. You can use it earlier in your shoulder or higher physique push exercise with out bother, as a result of it’s a heavy-duty train.

How to Do It

Just as a result of it’s a partial vary of movement doesn’t imply you’ll be able to simply whack away at it with out care. Stand up holding a pair of comparatively heavy dumbbells. Keep your torso steady and inflexible with out swaying your hips. Raise your arms to your sides, just like performing common lateral raises. Stop at roughly half of your common vary of movement, when your arms are at an angle towards the bottom.

Even although you’re utilizing heavier weights, it’s nonetheless an isolation train. To stop lure activation and emphasize you shoulders, take into consideration pushing the weights to the aspect partitions and never up within the air. Avoid shrugging your shoulders with the heavy weights. Do not be afraid of making an attempt longer period units of 15 to twenty repetitions to compensate for the shorter time below pressure.

Landmine Lateral Raise

The landmine is a flexible device which might present numerous train variations, and the lateral elevate isn’t any exception. The thick deal with will problem your grip and the distinctive barbell path will prepare your core to a better extent than different lateral raises.

If you’re involved with athleticism or being useful whereas additionally rising shoulder measurement, this variation will present an efficient higher physique stimulus.

When to Do It

This distinctive single-arm motion can be utilized both initially of a exercise to prime you for a heavy pushing train, throughout a circuit combining completely different athletic attributes, or on the finish of your session to deal with hypertrophy.

How to Do It

Set a barbell in a landmine unit and seize the sleeve with a palm-down grip. Stand tall with the load round pelvis-level. Brace your core, briefly maintain your breath, and carry your arm “up and out” to the aspect. Lead along with your elbow to make sure most deltoid engagement and hold your arm straight. In the highest place, your palm ought to be dealing with ahead. Slowly decrease the load to its preliminary place. Perform all reps with one arm earlier than switching to the opposite aspect.


This train is usually utilized in rehab or “prehab” as a result of it’s restorative and never strenuous on the shoulder joint, however that doesn’t imply it could actually’t be used for constructing muscle.

The Y-raise is an efficient deltoid-builder and it’ll additionally reinforce different key muscle tissues liable for shoulder well being, reminiscent of the center and decrease trapezius and the supraspinatus.

When to Do It

This variation is comparatively tougher than many others on this listing, so that you’ll need to chorus from utilizing heavy weights. As such, use it on the very starting of a exercise, to warm-up your shoulders, or on the finish of your session to complete the lateral head of the deltoid.

If you’ve got a historical past of joint ache, or if fundamental lateral raises depart you feeling achy (in a foul manner, not easy muscle soreness), then make the Y-raise your middle-delt builder of selection. It’s one of many least disturbing actions in your joints.

How to Do It

Get an adjustable bench and set it at a low incline, round 30 levels. Lay face down on it with a dumbbell in every hand, hanging your arms down towards the bottom. Keep your arms largely straight as you elevate your arms up and out. At the highest of the movement, your physique ought to resemble a large “Y” if seen from above. If you’ll be able to’t carry your arms till they’re according to your head, cut back the load. This train is just not meant for transferring heavy weight, so goal for units of 10 to twenty repetitions.

6-Way Raise

The 6-way elevate takes the fundamental lateral elevate up a notch by rising the vary of movement and recruiting much more muscle tissues.

This train, popularized by late bodybuilding legend John Meadows, is a mixture of shoulder raises in numerous instructions. It’s designed for full growth of the deltoids and trapezius. This is the variation you wish to make use of if you happen to want to construct a powerful “yoke” — the muscle tissues of the shoulders, higher again, and neck.

When to Do It

Consider this train in case you have a little bit of expertise below your belt, after you’ve mastered normal lateral and entrance raises. It is a superb finisher, carried out because the final train of your exercise. Try this train on the very finish of a shoulder or push session, to offer a burning session and terminate the deltoids. It’s additionally the proper match if you don’t have time or power to carry out a number of shoulder workout routines after your essential work.

How to Do It

Sit on a bench holding comparatively mild dumbbells and carry out a strict lateral elevate, bringing the weights out of your sides your to shoulder-levels. From there, carry your thumbs collectively whereas retaining the weights horizontal to the bottom. Next, elevate your arms over your head. Then, you must execute all of those motions in reverse — decrease your arms in entrance of you, then carry them to your sides, and decrease them down straight. That’s one single repetition.

You can perceive why it could be almost inconceivable to make use of heavy weights. Each repetition could be very lengthy, so you’ll be able to’t go loopy with the load, nevertheless it offers a really very long time below pressure to your complete shoulders and higher traps, which is superb for muscle progress.

Barbell Upright Row

The upright row isn’t technically a lateral elevate variation, however the train follows the identical anatomical movement — humerus abduction, or lifting your higher arm out to the aspect — and it trains the identical goal muscle tissues in just about the identical vogue. Using each arms to carry a barbell may also mean you can use a heavier weight, triggering extra muscle progress. 

This motion does have a status as a “shoulder wrecker,” nevertheless it all depends upon the person and the context. It could put stress in your shoulders and wrists, however avoiding a close-grip motion and adjusting the vary of movement might help cut back the dangers.

When to Do It

If you wish to embark on a muscle-building, bulking part whereas lifting some heavy weights, this motion is ideal for you. The barbell upright row will recruit barely extra muscle tissues total, however it’s nonetheless specializing in the aspect deltoids and higher trapezius. As such, you’ll be able to carry out it in a full-body exercise, or throughout your shoulder or push classes. More weight and extra muscle recruited implies that you’ll set off a better anabolic response from the physique, main to higher progress.

How to Do It

Grab a barbell or EZ-curl bar with a shoulder-width, palm-down grip and stand tall along with your arms straight down in entrance of you. Raise your elbows to the edges to carry the barbell whereas retaining it near your physique. Lead the motion along with your elbows, such as you would do with a lateral elevate. Stop when your higher arms are round parallel to the bottom or close to shoulder-level.

You can typically go heavier with this motion, however that doesn’t imply it is best to shift the main target of the train away from the important thing muscled. Don’t begin swinging the load up or excessively shrugging your shoulders. Keep your shoulder blades down and consider your elbows because the prime movers. Don’t get too loopy with super-heavy weights. Sets of eight to 12 reps will do the trick for constructing measurement and power.

Rope Upright Row

If you’ve got persistent joint issues and may’t discover a option to safely or comfortably carry out the barbell upright row, do this cable variation to get pleasure from the identical feeling and advantages.

The rope deal with permits extra freedom of motion in your wrists and shoulders, whereas the fixed pressure from the cable permits a very good coaching stimulus with out heavy weights.

When to Do It

With this train, you’ll be able to’t and shouldn’t go as heavy as with a barbell. So carry out it on the finish of your shoulder classes, to complete off your delts. If you’ve been afraid of the barbell upright row, or in case you have typically painful joints, take into consideration giving this train a go. You ought to be capable to set off hypertrophy with an extended vary of movement and with much less ache.

How to Do It

Stand in entrance of a cable station set on the lowest level. Attach to it a rope, seize it along with your thumbs pointed down and your palms dealing with your physique. Drive your elbows up and out, as excessive as you comfortably can with out feeling ache. Keep your elbows increased than your wrists throughout the motion. 

Do not particularly take into consideration your palms, simply allow them to transfer freely so you’ll be able to focus solely in your deltoids. If you wish to get spicy, pause on the high for a number of seconds.

Muscles Worked by the Lateral Raise

The lateral elevate is an isolation motion specializing in the lateral head of the deltoid, however different muscle tissues additionally contribute to the train. In reality, no train can technically “isolate” a single muscle, it simply emphasizes one. Here are all of the muscle tissues educated by these variations.


The deltoids, or shoulder muscle tissues, are composed of the three heads, all hooked up to the humerus (arm bone). The anterior head is on the entrance of the shoulder, hooked up to the clavicle, and shares perform with the pecs — internally rotating the arm, elevating it ahead, and adducting it (bringing the arms collectively).

The lateral head is positioned on the center of the shoulder and its fibers come up from the acromion technique of the scapula (shoulder blade). This is the prime mover throughout the lateral elevate, as a result of it’s liable for arm abduction (elevating it to the aspect). Finally, the posterior deltoid, additionally hooked up to the scapula, could be discovered on the rear of the shoulder and is concerned in externally rotating and lengthening the arm.

shirtless person in gym performing dumbbell shoulder exerciseCredit: Paul Aiken / Shutterstock

When you carry out a lateral elevate, all three heads will contribute to the motion, however the focus ought to be on the aspect delts. Rotating your arm internally or externally will make the entrance or rear delts contribute a bit extra, so you too can use that to focus on your weak point.


This large and robust again muscle, going from the bottom of your neck to the center of your backbone, is a giant contributor to the lateral elevate. The traps are composed of a number of areas having barely completely different features, however they’re all liable for scapular movement and stability. 

Your center and decrease traps maintain your shoulder blades again collectively and down, whereas the higher traps are recruited extensively as a result of the movement of elevating your arm additionally entails elevating your scapulae, to permit full vary of movement. Unless you don’t transfer your scapulae in any respect, which is sort of inconceivable, you’ll really feel the train in your higher traps.


This tiny shoulder muscle is without doubt one of the 4 members of the rotator cuff. It’s positioned on the scapula in a cavity between the acromion and clavicle and it attaches to the humerus. The supraspinatus assists the deltoids in arm adduction and might be concerned throughout the lateral elevate. Having a robust and wholesome rotator cuff is essential for harm prevention, power, and longevity. (5)

Lateral Raise Form Tips

The lateral is usually butchered for the sake of ego-lifting and transferring extra weight. This creates the standard blunder of shrugging the load up as your arms are raised, which makes use of the traps help the delts.

The downside is that the traps will then overshadow the shoulders, as a result of they’re a comparatively stronger muscle, which leaves the shoulders undertrained. Keep your shoulder blades down and restrict scapular movement to a minimal. A very good cue is to attempt to carry the load outward, not upward. This will cue your lateral delts to be recruited first.

person in gym doing cable shoulder exerciseCredit: Kzenon / Shutterstock

Hand and arm place may also be tough. If you’re not cautious, you’ll be able to very simply ask for the help of a intently associated muscle: the anterior deltoid. The entrance delts are already overstimulated by many urgent actions, so it’s typically greatest to focus in your aspect delts with this train. To try this, drive the load along with your elbows and have your wrists decrease than your elbows always. You may even barely rotate your arms internally (ahead) to focus extra on the outer delts. And hold your elbow near in-line along with your shoulder, not far in entrance of your physique.

Finally, one other mistake attributable to ego is to make use of extreme momentum. This will increase the chance of accidents, recruits the traps an excessive amount of, and diminishes the vary of movement. Flex your abs exhausting to stabilize your higher physique and forestall swinging. Use your shoulders, not your decrease again, to carry the load.

Raise Your Shoulders to the Next Level

The lateral elevate is a should for any lifter who needs broad shoulders. Focusing in your aspect delt is one of the best ways to get there and obtain the coveted v-taper look. If the simplicity of the basic dumbbell lateral elevate isn’t sufficient and also you’re prepared for extra challenges, embody one in all these variations in your coaching plan to get your delts to the subsequent stage.


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