When training shoulders, Side Lateral Raises are a great follow up exercise to your Overhead Press. Where the Overhead Press uses heavy weight and lower reps to develop maximal strength, the Side Lateral Raise uses less weight and more volume (reps) to build strength and thickness in the shoulders.

To perform this lift, hold dumbbells at arms length just in front of your thighs with palms facing each other. Lift the dumbbells out and to your sides with a slight bend at the elbow (10-30 degree angle). Raise arms to parallel with a brief hold at the top. Lower the weight slowly to starting position.

Although it seems simple enough, the devil is in the details. Here are some tips to ensure you are getting the most out of this exercise.

  • Keep elbows in line with the shoulder joint as you raise the dumbbells directly out to your sides.
  • Elbows should be bent 10-30 degrees. Bending too much at the elbows will take torque out of the lift, making it too easy. Straighter arms will put more stress on the deltoids making the exercise more beneficial.
  • A slight bend in the knees and a slight forward lean will keep tension on the side delts.
  • Don’t cheat by using momentum or leg thrust to power through this exercise. Better to use lighter weight and perform this exercise with strict form.
  • Engage your core. Keeping a tight core is essential for maintaining stability and good form. Performing this exercise standing requires more stabilization effort, but seated will reduce the likelihood of cheating.


After a good set of 10-12 Side Lateral Raises, a matching set of Front Plate Raises is sure to set your shoulders on fire.

Immediately after completing a set of Side Laterals, grab an appropriately weighted plate and hold it in front of your waist at 9 and 3 o’clock. With a very slight bend at the elbows, lift the plate up in front of you to the height of your head. Hold the weight briefly at the highest point before slowly lowering back to the starting position.

Raising the plate to shoulder height is enough to engage the front deltoid, but going above shoulder height activates the upper traps as well. I suggest going to the height of your head or just above to include the traps and get more bang-for-your-buck with this exercise.


Using dumbbells for the Side Lateral Raise makes it easy to superset with another exercise.

The shoulder joint has the most range of motion of any joint in the body so there are a lot of good options for choosing a superset exercise. I usually combine the Side Lateral Raise with either the Front Plate Raise (for front delts) as demonstrated in the video above, or a Rear Lateral Raise (for rear delts).

With any upper body pressing movement (overhead press, bench press) the front deltoids see plenty of action. From a bodybuilding perspective, adding another front delt exercise to your shoulder routine is a bit redundant. Front deltoids are the most often used and usually the biggest of the three heads of the deltoids. Bodybuilders concerned with balanced development of the shoulders may want to choose a rear delt exercise for this superset instead of the Front Plate Raise.

For those concerned with Maximal Strength, strong and healthy shoulders that can handle heavy loads are essential to performing heavy pressing lifts. Following the Overhead Press, shoulder exercises like Lateral Raises and Front Plate Raises are considered accessory exercises, meant to strengthen and condition the muscles that contribute most to the major compound lifts.

When I superset the Side Lateral Raise with the Front Plate Raise, I usually follow it up with a separate exercise to hit the rear delts to make sure all three heads of my deltoids get an equal beating.

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In case this superset alone isn’t evil enough for you, the embedded track “Tamam Shud” by Destroyer 666 should make your next shoulder workout purely demonic.


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