Was there ever a hero (or heroine) who didn’t have broad shoulders?
Even if you have narrow or medium shoulder width, you can pack on extra width with these side delts exercises.
Building size to your side delts will give you a fantastic V-taper and the appearance of a trim waist!
Due to the popularity of the bench press, there’s no shortage of massive front delts.
But emphasizing your side delts will add balance to your shoulder development…giving you the look you deserve!
Warm Up Thoroughly.
I’ve been nursing a rotator cuff injury for months. And I’d hate for you to suffer a similar injury.
That’s why I can’t stress enough the benefits of a proper warm up.
The shoulder joint is very susceptible to injury. Therefore, I also recommend performing some pre-workout rotator cuff exercises.
Start Your Routine With a Compound Exercise.
Especially true if you want mass. You can simply lift more weight wth proven compound presses.
Performing them at the start of your routine, when your strength is high, means you can lift more.
Of course, overhead presses will activate your front delts. To maximize side delt growth, keep your elbows back and out to your sides.
Dumbbells make a great choice for side delts exercises.
Really stress those muscle fibers. Use a heavy load with a 6-8 rep range.
Side Delts Isolation Exercise.
The lateral raise is hard to beat for eye-catching wide shoulders.
If you really want to isolate the medial head…perform them seated. Avoid swinging, shrugging or rocking forwards and backward.
A standing movement, will allow you to use a little more weight. It’s also helpful for getting past the notorious sticking point.
In both variations, keep your arms out to your sides. That’s what really hits those outer heads.
The Perfect Lateral Raise.
Hold the dumbbells with a thumbless, overhand grip. As you lift, raise the dumbbells as if pouring a jug of water.
This helps to hit the side delt. Leading with your thumbs up, recruits the stronger, front delts, which is what we want to avoid.
Tip: to help with this pouring action, grip the handles off-center, with your little fingers against the edge of the dumbbell.
Start with your palms facing each other…dumbbells touching at upper thigh level…elbows slightly bent.
When choosing a weight, don’t go too heavy. Lateral raises are most effective in the higher rep range. 10- 12 will give you a nice pump.
Too much weight will place a strain on your elbows. It will also encourage sloppy form.
The goal is not to lift the bells with your hands. Lead with your elbows and keep them in line with your shoulders.
Raising your elbows just slightly higher than shoulder level forces the side delts to work very hard.
Don’t go all the way to the top as this works the trapezius muscle.
I find it helps to close my eyes so I can really feel the side heads working.
Leaning And Lying Laterals.
Very effective side delts exercises. If you’ve not tried these two variants…I highly recommend them.
Using a single arm gives you even greater focus. You can lean either way. Against a wall or the opposite way, holding onto a door handle or other stationary object.
Lying laterals simply involves resting on your side on a bench. This exercise is also great for pumping those often neglected rear delts.
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Switch It Round With Pre-Exhaust.
Great champions are built on variety!
Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you feel mentally or physically stale…start your routine with lateral raises. This will pre-exhaust the muscles.
Finishing with the compound exercise forces your delts to work harder.
However, you don’t have to change things simply for the sake of it. Many, myself included, obtain superb results by sticking with what works.
Here’s what Jay Cutler has to say:
‘I’ve always been a big proponent of pre-exhausting the muscle…you’ve got the blood flowing and you’ll be ready for heavier compound movements’.
Go Easy On Chest And Trap Work.
Many athletes have no problem building impressive pecs. It’s often one of the first areas of progress.
Happy with your chest and traps? Then cut back a little on training those muscles. Most chest and trap work strongly stimulates your delts.
Going easy on these muscles, gives your shoulders a greater chance of recovery.
Remember: Your muscles grow at rest. Not in the gym.
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Full Range vs Effective Range.
Years ago, I read an article by Ronnie Coleman explaining the difference between full range of motion (FRM) and effective range of motion (ERM).
He proposed that a full range of motion in the dumbbell press may work against you.
By lowering the bells no further than upper arms parallel to the floor, this puts you in a much stronger position to power the weights up.
Result: you overcome the sticking point and press more poundage.
Perhaps consider ERM vs FRM in your compound moves.
I love going ‘up and down the rack’.
I start with my max for 10-12 reps to failure. Set those down and perform another 10-12 with lighter weights. Then I’ll finish with one last set using even lighter dumbbells.
Drop sets are a fantastic way to take the muscles beyond failure.
An alternative is a very high rep pumping set to finish off or partials in the lower third portion.
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Great info on this post. I’m not much into lifting but do water aerobics to keep in shape. I may get back into lifting in the fall. You come verse a lot of stuff here! Only thing missing…more pictures!
Hi David. Thanks for leaving a comment! You’re right about the images. I include a lot more on my most recent posts and I’m gradually working my way back. Looks like I’m going to have to upgrade my Shutterstock subscription! Glad you liked the post and thanks again for reading. Cheers, Peter.
Very interesting article. I read this and shared it with my husband as he is so much into the muscles thing. He is going to try out the side delt. Thank you for sharing.
Hi Ramen. Thanks for replying and sharing my post with your husband. I hope that he gets some value from the article. Cheers, Peter.