How to Train Your Lateral Delts?

If you want strong and athletic-looking shoulders, you’ve got to focus on your lateral deltoids. These are the muscles on the side of your shoulder. They’re key for that 3D shoulder look.

We’ll share tips on how to grow them and give you some great exercises. Plus, we’ll help you fit these exercises into your workout routine. Let’s dive in and get started!

Lateral Delt Anatomy

Lateral Delt Anatomy

Your lateral deltoids are a key part of your shoulder muscles, situated in the middle of the deltoid muscle group. They start from the acromion, a bony bump on your shoulder blade’s upper part, and stretch over to the outer area of your upper arm bone (humerus) across the shoulder joint.

These muscles play a crucial role in various arm movements. Their main job is to lift your arm away from your body to the side, like in a lateral raise. They also assist in moving your arm outward while rotating it externally, known as transverse abduction, seen in exercises like the reverse dumbbell fly.

Besides movement, the lateral deltoids provide essential stability during certain activities, especially when lifting or carrying heavy objects. They help keep your arm steady, preventing strain on your shoulder joint and ensuring proper alignment.

Knowing the anatomy of your lateral deltoids is important for getting the most out of your shoulder workouts. By targeting these muscles with appropriate exercises and training techniques, you can enhance their strength, size, and overall function.

Exercises such as lateral raises and overhead presses are great for activating the lateral deltoids, contributing to a well-developed and balanced shoulder complex.

3 Lateral Delt Exercises

Working on your lateral deltoids, the middle part of your shoulder muscles, is vital for achieving a well-rounded shoulder shape. Here are three effective exercises to target and strengthen these muscles:

1. Overhead Press

The overhead press, also called the shoulder press, is a key workout that works various muscle groups, including the lateral deltoids. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Setup: Stand or sit with good posture. Hold the weights (barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells) at shoulder height.

  2. Movement: Press the weights upward until your arms are straight.

  3. Lowering: Slowly lower the weights back to shoulder level.

The overhead press works the lateral deltoids, front deltoids, and triceps. It’s great for strengthening and stabilizing your shoulders. The lateral deltoids work hard as you lift the weights overhead, supporting the outward motion. You can vary the exercise and adjust the weight to effectively target and build your lateral deltoid muscles.

2. Dumbbell Lateral Raise

The dumbbell lateral raise is a targeted exercise for your lateral deltoids. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Starting Position: Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, arms by your sides.

  2. Movement: Raise both arms out to the sides until they’re at shoulder level, maintaining a slight bend in your elbows.

  3. Lowering: Slowly bring the dumbbells back down to your sides.

This exercise isolates and focuses on your lateral deltoids. Use light to moderate weights for the best results and pay attention to controlled movements and proper technique.

3. Barbell Upright Row

The barbell upright row engages the lateral deltoids, front deltoids, and upper traps. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Starting Position: Hold a barbell with a grip slightly narrower than shoulder-width.

  2. Movement: Keep the barbell close to your body and lift it toward your chin, leading with your elbows.

  3. Lowering: Slowly lower the barbell back down with control.

While this exercise targets the lateral deltoids, it’s important to maintain proper form to prevent strain on the shoulder joint. Some people may find it uncomfortable, so choose a grip and range of motion that suits your comfort and anatomy. Listen to your body during this exercise.

Learn more: Best Exercises for Building Muscle and Strength

Lateral Delt Workout Plan

This workout plan is designed to help you build prominent lateral deltoid muscles effectively. By targeting the middle part of your shoulders, these exercises help create a balanced look and boost your strength. Let’s get started!

Exercise 1: Overhead Press

To begin your workout, do the overhead press. It works your side and front shoulder muscles, as well as your triceps. Do 3 sets of 6 reps each.

You can do it sitting or standing, and you can use barbells, dumbbells, or kettlebells.

This exercise is great for building up your side shoulder muscles.

Exercise 2: Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Focus on your side shoulder muscles with the dumbbell lateral raise.

Try to do 3 sets of 10 reps each. While your front and back shoulder muscles help a bit, the main target is your side shoulders.

Keep your form right, use lighter weights, and really feel the muscles working for the best outcome.

Exercise 3: Barbell Upright Row

To focus more on your side shoulder muscles, add the barbell upright row. Do 3 sets of 15 reps each.

While there are some worries about shoulder safety, if you do it carefully, go slowly, and keep good form, it can be safe.

Use a light barbell, grip it a bit narrower than your shoulders, and lift it up toward your chin while feeling comfortable.

Final Words

Big strong, rounded shoulders have numerous benefits besides just looking good. The deltoids are amongst the most important muscles in the body as we use them in everyday life activities to push, pull and lift objects over our head. 

For example, the lateral deltoids help stabilize the weight during exercises like bench press and overhead press. By strengthening them directly, you’ll see improvements in your other lifts too.

By incorporating some of the exercises we mentioned earlier into your workout routine, you stand a good chance of increasing the size of your lateral deltoids.

Aim to target your side delts directly at least twice a week, but if they’re a weak point, consider working them more frequently. Keep your total weekly sets under 20 and vary your rep ranges for a well-rounded approach.

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