Lateral Deltoid Exercises

Well developed shoulders should look great from all angles. From the side they will look bulbous and rounded, forming clear definition from the triceps and the biceps below. From the front and back, they will be rounded and stick out, rather than be straight up and down like most peoples.

The deltoids are the muscles of the shoulder, and they are made up of three ‘heads’. Those heads are the anterior (front head), medial/lateral (middle/side head) and the posterior (rear head).

For developing width, we need to hit the side head of the deltoids. No physique is impressive without wide shoulders, and in and of itself, wide shoulders is a sign of masculinity.

I have 2 exercises which I typically use to build my wide lateral deltoids, and I’ll now take you through them:

Upright Rows

This is my favourite exercise for lateral deltoids. It allows me to lift a good amount of weight, and I’ve no doubt in my mind whatsoever that this exercise is most responsible for most of my impressive lateral deltoid development.

Stand with you feet around shoulder width apart. Grip a barbell at slightly wider than shoulder width to several inches wider, and allow it to hang down loosely down in front of you. Bend forward at the hip slightly, and bend at the knees slightly for balance.

Now, using your shoulders, lift the barbell up to your nipple area, and go slowly on the negative repetition.

By lifting in this way, you keep the strain on the lateral deltoids rather than involving the traps, and the position of the hands also helps to prevent rotator cuff damage, which the traditional variation of upright rows (close grip, pulled up to the chin) was notorious for.

Lateral Raises

This exercise uses dumbbells. Standing with your feet a few inches to shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and bent forward slightly at the torso, hold the dumbbells together in front of your knees, palms facing inward. Your elbows should be slightly bent.

Now, keeping you elbows bent, raise the dumbbells up to the sides until they are shoulder height, twisting your wrists forward slightly as you do so, to mimic a pouring motion where the rear end of the dumbbell is slightly higher than the front end.

You should always aim to keep your elbows above or level with the wrists, which keeps the tension on the lateral deltoids only without involving the anterior so much.

This is a tiring exercise, but you must fight for slow negatives on each rep for maximum muscle fibre fatigue. Doing so will give you the best lateral deltoid development.

Tip: Go light if you need to. It’s better to go light and use good form than it is to wildly swing the dumbbells up.

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