Shoulder Training – Dumbbell Lateral Raise

The dumbbell lateral arm raise exercises your shoulder muscles. It focuses on the middle delt. This article describes the basic strength training technique for this exercise.

Muscles Exercised

The dumbbell lateral arm raise focuses on your delts. The emphasis of this exercise is on the middle delt. It also exercises your traps to a degree.

Exercise Technique

  • Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, and knees bent slightly
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip. Begin with the dumbbells at your side resting against your thighs.
  • As you raise the dumbbells, your elbows should be bent slightly
  • Take a deep breath and raise both dumbbells simultaneously away from your body until they reach shoulder height
  • Lower the dumbbell back to your side in a slow, controlled fashion, exhaling as you do
  • Keep your upper body motionless as you raise the dumbbells to reduce the use of momentum to assist the delts. This will increase the effectiveness of the exercise. If you cannot raise the dumbbell using proper technique, select a lighter dumbbell.
  • The lateral arm raise should be performed with relatively light weights and high repetitions. Select a weight that you can perform all of your repetitions using proper technique. On your last 1-2 sets, your last repetitions should be difficult, but you should not have to relax your form to complete them.


The shoulder is a vulnerable joint. Take care to prevent injury to the shoulder. Use weights that you are able to control each repetition with strict form.


  • Starting position: alternate the starting position of the dumbbells, starting with them in front of the body and behind the body as well as to the side. This will work the middle delt muscle thoroughly. When starting with the dumbbells in front of the body, avoid using momentum to start the exercise.
  • Finishing position: raising the dumbbells above shoulder level will increase the emphasis on the traps. Take care that this does not increase the strain on your delts and lead to injury.
  • Pausing: holding the dumbbells at the top with the delts contracted before lowering them can increase the intensity of this exercise

Building Shoulder Strength: As with any muscle group, you need to train with balance. To build strong shoulders, you need to train the anterior, middle, and posterior delts. You also need to train supporting muscle groups such as your traps.

Additional Shoulder Exercises

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