Building well-rounded shoulders is a goal for many fitness enthusiasts, and achieving balanced shoulder development involves targeting different deltoid muscles. The lateral deltoids, often referred to as side delts, contribute to the width and aesthetics of the shoulders. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of side delt exercises, exploring a variety of movements that effectively target and sculpt this crucial muscle group. Without further wasting time, let’s know about these top 10 side delt exercises from which you can choose some of them to include in your shoulder routine to get a pair of big, round, 3D and muscular deltoids.
The Importance of Side Delt Exercises
The side delts play a vital role in creating the coveted V-taper physique. A developed lateral deltoid adds width and 3D round look to the shoulders, enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal and balance of the upper body. Incorporating effective side delt exercises into your routine not only promotes muscle growth but also contributes to improved shoulder stability and function.
Dumbbell Lateral Raises
The classic dumbbell lateral raise is a cornerstone of side delt training. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand upright. With a slight bend in your elbows, raise the dumbbells out to the sides until they’re at shoulder level. Control the movement both on the way up and the way down to maximize muscle engagement. This is one of the best side delt exercises if you wish to get defined & round shoulders.
Cable Lateral Raises
Using a cable machine, attach a D-handle to the low pulley. Stand sideways to the machine and perform lateral raises by lifting the handle to the side of your body. The constant tension provided by the cable resistance can be especially effective in targeting the side delts. It is kind of an advanced version of dumbbell lateral raises since it is tougher to perform and it can provide the muscles more time under tension. This is one of those amazing side delt exercises that you can try if you are already habituated with the standard dumbbell lateral raises.
Machine Lateral Raises
Seated lateral raise machines are available in many gyms. Sit down and place your arms on the pads provided, then lift the side handles out to shoulder level. The machine’s guided motion can help maintain proper form and isolate the side delts effectively.
It’s always safer with machines and great for beginners to learn proper form with the machine before using free weights like dumbbells or even cables. Furthermore, with machine, the muscle isolation is also excellent. So, if your gym has this machine, you should not miss the opportunity to utilise it for maximising your lateral deltoid gains.
Named after Arnold Schwarzenegger, this exercise is a variation of the traditional shoulder press. Start with the dumbbells at shoulder height, palms facing you. As you press the dumbbells overhead, rotate your wrists to face forward at the top of the movement. This rotation recruits more muscle fibers in the side delts.
Arnold press is not only one of the most effective side delt exercises but also a effectively targets all the heads of your shoulders. So, including it in your shoulder day can be really beneficial for overall muscle growth in your shoulders.
Upright rows target both the side delts and the trapezius muscles. Use a barbell or an EZ bar, holding it with a grip slightly narrower than shoulder-width. Lift the barbell towards your chin, keeping it close to your body. Be cautious with the weight used and ensure proper form to avoid undue stress on the shoulder joints.
Many people argue that upright rows are not safe and can get your shoulder joints injured but that’s far from truth. As we just said, if you do it with proper form, there should not be any stress on your shoulder joints. So, seek help from your trainer and execute the exercise with proper form.
Single-Arm Lateral Raises
Using a cable machine or a resistance band, perform lateral raises one arm at a time. This unilateral movement helps improve muscle imbalances and ensures both sides of your body are equally engaged. You can also use dumbbells but in my opinion, cables work best for this exercise as you can isolate the muscle almost perfectly during the movement.
Moreover, using one arm ensures you to raise more weight than using both arms. Thus, you can go for heavier weight while keeping one side isolated at a time. For all these reasons, it’s certainly one of the most effective side delt exercises that you should not miss.
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
It would be a sin not to include traditional dumbbell shoulder press in our list of best side delt exercises. With dumbbell shoulder press, along with side delts, you can target the other two heads as well. That means, overall shoulder development is possible with this movement. First learn the form using lightweight before going for heavy dumbbells because, in many times, poor form and stability leads to disappointing results. That’s why, you need to learn the form first so that you can push the dumbbells in a controlled movement for maximum shoulder gains.
Overhead Military Press/Barbell Shoulder Press
Just like dumbbell shoulder press, Military press is another classic shoulder movement that you can’t just ignore if you want strong and defined shoulders. This exercise is easier to perform and open the opportunity to push heavier weights. You can push heavier weights with this barbell version than dumbbell shoulder press because of its higher stability. On the contrary, with dumbbells, muscles get isolated way better compared to the barbell shoulder press because of the freedom of the movement. In a nutshell, just like dumbbell shoulder press, military press is equally effective for side delts and other heads of the deltoid muscles too!
Side Lateral Raises on Incline Bench
Perform lateral raises while lying face down on an incline bench set to about 45 degrees. This position allows for greater range of motion and recruits the side delts with a slightly different angle. With better stability, this is a great movement specifically for beginners who want to learn the form and control the weight properly without any unnecessary injuries. If you can execute it properly, this exercise is as beneficial as other side delt exercises.
Bent-Over Lateral Raises
In this exercise, you bend over at the hips while holding dumbbells. With a slight bend in your elbows, raise the dumbbells out to the sides while keeping your torso stable. This movement engages the rear deltoids as well, contributing to overall shoulder development. If you want to build your rear delts along with the lateral ones then this is the exercise you should try.
Conclusion: Chisel Your Shoulders with Precision
Including a variety of side delt exercises into your shoulder routine is key to achieving a balanced and well-sculpted upper body. Whether you’re a bodybuilder, athlete, or fitness enthusiast, these exercises offer an array of options to effectively target the side delts and contribute to a well-rounded shoulder aesthetic. Remember to prioritize proper form, start with manageable weights, and progressively increase resistance to continue challenging your muscles. By dedicating focused effort to side delt training, you’ll be on your way to achieving symmetrical and impressive shoulder development that will look round, big and 3D! Hope, you understood and found this article about 10 best side delt exercises helpful enough. If you really did then let us know your thoughts in the comment section. Thanks for visiting and appreciating our work.