Lateral Raises are amazing for shaping killer delts and rounded shoulders. DLRs isolate and strengthen the entire shoulder and tone the deltoid muscles.

This exercise was designed for shaping rather than building. It is meant to separate and define the muscles and not necessarily increase their mass.


However, if you switch between a full range of motion and limited range of motion, you both shape and increase your shoulders and delts.

This is an isolation exercise that works one joint – the shoulder joint and trying to isolate the Medial Delts. Because of this, you need to start light, not heavy. More weight to lift doesn’t mean more shape to the muscle – it’s quite the opposite. As you move your hands up and away from the body, the weights get heavier anyway. So you don’t need to load the iron. You need to load the muscle.


If you’re trying to define the shoulders and get that beautiful rounded shape to them, here are 2 methods in which you can use Lateral Raises to achieve that:


Limited Range Of Motion – Dumbbell Lateral Raises

  • You are going to need 2 lighter dumbbells.
  • Sit with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Your knees are slightly bent.
  • Your core must be tight.
  • Try to pinch your back slightly and make sure your chest is up.
  • At all times remember that your wrists must face DOWN.  
  • This keeps the load on the muscle because it’s coming from the bottom to the top.
  • Exhale as you slowly DRAG the dumbbells upwards.
  • Allow a slight bend to your elbows – always keeping the wrists facing down.
  • Drag your arms upwards and keep the arms parallel to the body, not behind or in front of it.
  • Level your arms with the horizon, don’t go all the way up.


* Do a controlled negative:

  • Inhale as you slowly drag the dumbbells down.
  • Don’t go all the way down, instead stop when you're parallel to your hips. That limits the range of motion and keeps your shoulders loaded.
  • Repeat!



Full Range of Motion – Dumbbell Lateral Raises

  • Hold 2 lighter dumbbells
  • Feet shoulder width apart
  • Knees slightly bent
  • Hold your core tight
  • Chest is up
  • Pelvis slightly bent outwards
  • With your wrists facing down at all times, exhale as you drag the dumbbell up on a slow tempo. Allow a slight bend of your elbows as you go up.
  • Level with the horizon and don’t bring your arms over your head – it’s necessary that they remain parallel to your body at all times and slightly higher that the line of your shoulder joints.


* Controlled Negative:

  • Inhale as you drag the dumbbells down with a slow movement.
  • Go all the way down until your dumbbells meet.


We recommend you do Dumbbell Lateral Raises – 3 sets x 10 reps -  2 to 4 times a week.


This sounds like a very easy exercise to incorporate into your sessions, but there are some common mistakes people make when they do Lateral Raises. Try not to do these, otherwise, you are doing it totally wrong:

  • The only hinge you want is a shoulder hinge with a slight elbow arch.
  • Too much weight simply ruins the exercise, as it gets harder to perform it correctly.
  • You want to do this exercise in a slow tempo, with controlled isolated movements. This means your body must be stable. So no momentum lifting! That will make you swing back and forth and it defeats the purpose of this exercise.


Overuse of Improper lifting is very common at the gym. To prevent pain and injury, you might want to consider a compression shirt. This will protect your muscles against common shoulder injuries such as strains, tendinitis & bursitis. It’s very easy to get a shoulder injury and very hard to recover from one. So be careful!


We really liked how Buff Dudes Workouts demonstrated and explained how to do Dumbbell Lateral Raises. We truly appreciated the ‘rotating your thumb down’ tip. That’s one easy way to make sure your wrists keep facing down at all times.


Make sure you do this exercise properly using slow tempo, controlled movements, loading the shoulders only and leveling with the horizon. Don’t forget to keep your wrists down at all times and to lift lighter rather than heavier – at least in the beginning. Try to do them 2-4 times a week.




How many times a week do you incorporate this exercise into your training? Do you have any tips or methods that can help withDLR furthermore? We'd love to hear about it!!!

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