Side Deltoid – Shoulder Press & Lateral Raises Training Tips

Side/Lateral Deltoid is one of favourite parts for most people and we truly want a bigger and stronger shoulder.  Today, we are going to discuss some training tips about it.  There are two major exercises for side deltoid: Shoulder Press & Lateral Raise.


#1 Shoulder Press

Shoulder Press involves both front and side deltoids and we have discussed that in previous video.  If you want to target more side deltoid, wide grip is recommended.  Examples: Wide-grip Pike Push Up, Dumbbell Shoulder Press (Elbow out).  It is a compound exercise and heavy load can be used.


Training Method


Pyramid training is recommended.  That is method that increases load in each set.  Differs from the ordinary static load.

  • Examples: Shoulder Press 30/35/40/45 lbs,
  • Bodyweight: Increase intensity/slope of pike push up & HSPU


Since heavier load is used for each set, the no. of reps will decrease accordingly.  The rest time should be similar or slight increase throughout sets.  This method is safe and applicable for progressive overload.

Some of you may prefer reverse pyramid training where heaviest load is used first and then decrease load in next sets.  This is also an effective method.  However, since shoulder injury is very common,  pyramid training is more recommended as it is safer than reverse pyramid.


#2 Lateral Raise

Dumbbell lateral raise is the common isolation exercise for side deltoid.  How should it performs to maximise gains?  This is quite a controversial topic and we will skip it today.

Though, some points I wish to mention:

  1. Focus on elbow movement, not your hand nor your palm.
  2. Your hand(palm) and elbow will determine your shoulder position.  Thumb pointing down and elbow pointing up will lead to internal rotation, which is quite fragile position, but it targets more side deltoid.  Thumb pointing up and elbow pointing down will lead to eternal rotation, which is a safer position, but it targets less side deltoid as it shifts the load to front deltoid.  Everyone should adjust according to your goal and shoulder health.  The basic one is that thumb pointing forward and elbow pointing backward.  Moderate stimulation and moderate safety.
  3. Elbow should not be raised higher than your shoulder. (Safety reason)
  4. Shoulder should be depressed to avoid traps involvement from elevation.
  5. Avoid heavy weight and swinging. Lighter weights (8-15RM) are more effective.
  6. Control the eccentric movement. Fight against gravity.


Training method


#1 Different Angles

We may use different angles/strength curve to stimulate the side deltoid.  Please try different variations of lateral raises by Varying the slope.  The usual standing (vertical) lateral raises targets the top range.  Aka.

  • The more vertical you are , the heavier towards top range.
  • The more horizontal you are, the heavier towards the bottom range.
  • Holding handrail and then lean out, you can raise above the ordinary angle barrier and targets the top range as well.


Cable lateral raises can be used as well.

  • The closer you stand, the heavier towards the top range.
  • The farther you stand, the heavier towards the bottom range.


There are no winners among these variations.  You may target your weak spot or train all the variations at your preference.


#2 High Reps Training

Side deltoid is not a big muscle group.  Heavy load is not practical.  Moderate weight and light weights training can be more practical.  The simplest way is use a lighter weight for higher reps (15+).  Another way is to make uses of super sets/drop sets.

  • Examples: Dumbbell Lateral Raises + Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  • Bodyweight: Floor Lateral Raises + Wide Grip Pike Push Ups

High rep training is optimised for pumping your muscle to create soreness and metabolic stress for muscle growth.



At last, in order to well develop your Side Deltoid.  Both shoulder press and lateral raises should be included in your routines.  If you wish to see more shoulder muscle definition, then you have maintain your body fat at a relatively low level.



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