6 Reasons You Need to Do Side Laterals

Don’t be fooled into thinking that doing overhead presses is all the work you need to do for big, fully-rounded shoulders, even though they are a very important part of a good deltoid program. When it comes to effectively targeting the lateral delts and getting wide shoulders, nothing beats side laterals.

The V-Tapered, athletic look

Every guy desires the V-tapered look that is considered the ideal male shape, displaying the ultimate level of fitness and athleticism. One of the key features of the V taper, besides the narrow waist, are broad shoulders. You simply cannot have a complete physique without fully developed shoulders.

Although overhead pressing exercises should be the staple of your shoulder training regimen, incorporating side lateral movements is as much important component as the pressing movements. They further sculpt and work your side deltoids that pressing exercises do.

6 reasons why you need more side laterals in your shoulder routine


Side lateral raises will strengthen your shoulders and improve their flexibility, sculpt the mass that pressing movements have helped you develop… and much more!

1. Side Laterals for Better isolation

No other exercise can isolate the lateral deltoid head as effectively as side lateral raises. To force the lateral delts to take the greatest part of the load, begin the exercise with the weights at your sides rather than in front of your hips.

Keep in mind that going heavy isn’t optimal for lateral-delt isolation and it will place extra pressure on the elbow and shoulder joint. Therefore, choose a weight with which you can perform at least 8-10 reps with good form. Once you get stronger you can slowly increase the weight.

2. Variety

Side laterals can be done in many different ways, each of them offering a unique stimulus on the target muscle. You can do them unilaterally or bilaterally, in a standing or seated position, and with dumbbells, cable or on a machine.

That being said, one-arm side laterals can offer immense help in fixing strength imbalances and sculpting powerful, symmetrical shoulders.

A very effective variation would be to do them with a single arm using a cable, where the cable would be positioned behind you and you would be holding the handle behind your back.

3. Superset-friendly

Supersets are a popular technique for stimulating massive growth in less time, and this exercise can be easily incorporated in a shoulder-blasting superset. Lateral raises work great when combined with upright rows, giving your medial deltoid head a really brutal and agonizing workout.

You could use pre-exhausting supersets, where you do some variation of a side lateral movement, which is then followed by a compound pressing movement or an upright rowing movement.

At other times, you can switch them up and do a post-activation superset by doing the compound exercise first and then do the side laterals.

Both types of supersets present an effective stimulus to the shoulder muscles and the CNS. For best results, alternate between “pre-exhaust” supersets in which side laterals are followed by a compound pressing or rowing movement, and “post-activation” supersets in which the compound movement comes first.

4. Powerful peak contraction

Hold the peak contraction for 2 seconds on each rep. This technique will cause a massive pump and engage a lot more muscle fibers, which in turn will promote a stronger muscle stimulation.

Also, keep in mind that machine and cable side laterals offer a superior opportunity for intensifying the peak contraction than the dumbbell version of the exercise.

5. You can never have too big side deltoids

Certain exercises have been proven to cause asymmetrically or disproportionate looking bodies by overdeveloping certain muscle groups, Bench presses, for example, are one such exercise.

Unlike with many other upper body movements, with side lateral raises there’s no reason to worry that you might overdo it and contribute to creating a disproportionate look.

The primary benefit of side laterals is building upper body width and we bet you’ve never heard of someone who’s built themselves a physique that’s too wide. Make side laterals a staple of your routine and keep them that way. Also, starting your shoulder workout with a variety of side laterals as a pre-exhaustion technique is an excellent idea.

6. You can use half-reps

Going through a full range of motion is one of the keys to making gains with any training protocol, but for the advanced lifter, partial reps offer a new level of muscle stimulation that can translate into unprecedented mass gains.

A partial rep is defined as only using half the range of motion for a particular exercise, usually the strongest portion of the rep.

One way you can adjust side laterals to stimulate side delts more, is by grabbing a pair of dumbbells weighing 20-30 percent more than you would usually use, and just try to do a set using half reps with strict form.

Another way you can make half reps more effective is by keeping tension constantly throughout the movement by never allowing the dumbbells to fully return to your sides. This way you will keep your side delts under constant tension through the whole set.

Shoulder sessions comprising of both full reps and half reps can generate tremendous growth, so next time grab a pair of dumbbells about twice as heavy as you normally would and perform only the first half of every rep on side lateral raises.

Now go blast those shoulders. Good luck!