Lateral Deltoid Raise

The shoulder muscle, formally known as the deltoids, comprises of three heads: the lateral, anterior, and posterior. The lateral deltoid raise, also known as side deltoid raise or side raise, is an isolation exercise that targets the lateral head of the deltoid.

This exercises is most commonly performed with dumbbells and can be executed by individuals of all fitness levels.


A well defined lateral head can add to the overall size and shape of the shoulder. The lateral head is primarily responsible for the following shoulder movements: adduction, flexion and transverse abduction.

The anterior head of the deltoid, supraspinatus, lower and middle trapezius and the serratus anterior all assist the lateral head of the deltoid in this exercise movement.

The levator scapulae, upper trapezius and various wrist flexors help to stabilize the body during the motion.

Exercise Equipment

Typically the lateral deltoid raise is performed in an upright position using dumbbells. However, individuals may substitute dumbbells with a barbell, kettlebells, cables, or resistance bands.

Some gyms even have a lateral deltoid raise machine that can be used instead of dumbbells.

Additionally, individuals may perform this exercise seated on bench, chair, or on an exercise ball. This exercise can also be performed while seated on an incline bench or lying on one’s side.

Grip and Hand Placement

Grab the dumbbells with an overhand grip.


  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent.
  2. Keep torso upright at all times.
  3. Grab dumbbells and extend arms downwards along the outside of the thighs.
  4. Turn palms toward the thighs when arms are fully extended and keep the palms facing the ground during the raising of the weight.
  5. Keep a slight bend in the elbows.
  6. Raise the arms upwards until parallel with the ground and even with the shoulders.
  7. Pause at the top and slowly lower the weight.
  8. Repeat exercise for desired volume of sets and repetitions.
  9. This exercise can be done with both arms at the same time or alternating between arms.


Individuals should take the following cautions into consideration when performing this exercise:

  • If an individual has balance or coordination issues, then this exercise should be performed in a seated position with a back rest.
  • Do not swing the arms when raising or lowering the weight.
  • Do not lock out the elbows as this could lead to potential joint injuries.
  • Don not lock out the knees as this could lead to potential joint injuries.
  • Do not rock back and forth when performing this exercise.
  • Keep the weight under control at all times.
  • Do not bend over or backwards when performing this exercise at this could lead to low back and postural issues.
  • Keep a tight grip on the weight at all times to prevent injuries from dropping the weight.
  • If the individual is a beginner, elderly or recovering from an injury then they should use lighter weights.