The Dumbbell Side Raises exercise is an effective way to target your lateral deltoids and improve your shoulder strength.
Want to get stronger and more defined shoulders?
Get the perfect shoulders with the Dumbbell Side Raise exercise. Our comprehensive guide on how to properly perform the exercise to target your lateral deltoids and strengthen your shoulders. Step-by-step instructions, tips, and variations included to help you achieve your fitness goals.
The Dumbbell Side Raise exercise primarily targets the lateral deltoid muscle, which is located on the outer portion of the shoulder. It is also known as the “side delt.”
This exercise also works the supraspinatus and the infraspinatus, which are rotator cuff muscles that help to stabilize the shoulder joint.
Additionally, the exercise works the trapezius muscle in the upper back, and the core muscles which help to maintain proper posture and stability throughout the movement.
What is a Dumbbell Side Raise?
Dumbbell side raise is a strength training exercise that targets the shoulder muscles, specifically the lateral deltoid. This exercise can be done standing or seated, with one or two dumbbells, and can be incorporated into a full-body or upper body workout routine.
The Dumbbell Side Raises exercise is also known by several other names, such as:
- Lateral Raise
- Shoulder Side Lifts
- Side Deltoid Raise
- Dumbbell Lateral Raise
- Lateral Dumbbell Raise
- Dumbbell Shoulder Raise
- Side Arm Raise
- Lateral Raise with Dumbbells
These exercises target the lateral deltoid, which is the outer part of the shoulder muscle. There are other exercises like the dumbbell shoulder press or barbell shoulder press that can target the deltoid muscles.
Benefits of Dumbbell Side Raises
The Dumbbell Side Raise exercise has several potential benefits, including:
- Increased muscle strength and endurance: The lateral deltoid muscle is responsible for lifting the arm out to the side, and the Dumbbell Side Raise exercise helps to build strength and endurance in this muscle. 1 2
- Improved shoulder stability: The rotator cuff muscles (supraspinatus and infraspinatus) that are worked during this exercise help to stabilize the shoulder joint, which can reduce the risk of injury. 3 4
- Better posture: The trapezius muscle in the upper back is also worked during this exercise, which can help to improve posture by pulling the shoulders back and down. 5 6
- Core stability: By engaging the core muscles during this exercise, it can improve overall core stability, which is important in maintaining a good balance and preventing back pain. 7 8
- Increased muscle mass: As with any strength training exercise, repeatedly challenging the muscles with weights will lead to an increase in muscle mass and overall muscle tone. 9 10
Is it compound or isolation exercise?
The Dumbbell Side Raise exercise is considered an isolation exercise.
An isolation exercise is an exercise that targets one specific muscle or muscle group, in this case the lateral deltoid muscle. The movement is performed with one joint (shoulder joint) and the movement is mostly isolated in one plane.
It is not considered a compound exercise because it does not involve multiple joints and muscle groups working together to perform the movement, unlike compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, or bench press.
It is important to include both compound and isolation exercises in your workout routine.
Compound exercises are great for building overall strength and power, while isolation exercises allow for targeted muscle development and can help to improve muscle imbalances.
How to do Dumbbell Side Raises?
It is crucial to have a proper setup before starting the movement to make sure that the exercise is executed safely and effectively.
Also, make sure to keep your core tight, your back straight and to avoid swinging the dumbbells or using momentum to lift the weight.
It is important to maintain proper form during the exercise to avoid injury and ensure that the targeted muscle is being worked effectively.
If you are new to this exercise, it is recommended that you start with a lighter weight and practice the movement with good form before increasing the weight.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to properly perform with setup, movement, tips, common mistakes, how to incorporate, repetitions, and who can do and don’t the Dumbbell Side Raise exercise:
- Start by selecting the appropriate weight for your fitness level.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, with your palms facing your thighs.
- Keep your core engaged and your back straight, and maintain a slight bend in your elbows throughout the exercise.
- Slowly raise the dumbbells out to the sides, keeping your elbows slightly bent and your wrists straight.
- Raise the dumbbells until they are at shoulder level
- Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps, maintaining good form throughout the exercise.
- Remember to keep your core tight and your back straight, and to avoid swinging the dumbbells or using momentum to lift the weight.
- Remember to breathe throughout the exercise, inhaling as you lower the dumbbells and exhaling as you raise them.
- When you finish your last repetition, carefully lower the dumbbells to your side and release them.
Here are some tips and techniques to help you get the most out of your Dumbbell Side Raise exercise:
- Maintain proper form: Keep your core engaged, your back straight, and your elbows slightly bent throughout the exercise. Avoid swinging the dumbbells or using momentum to lift the weight.
- Focus on the muscle: Try to isolate the lateral deltoid muscle as much as possible by focusing on the movement of the arm and the contraction of the muscle.
- Keep your wrists straight: Keeping your wrists straight will help to target the lateral deltoid muscle more effectively.
- Control the movement: Move in a slow and controlled manner, both on the way up and the way down. This will help to activate the muscle more effectively and reduce the risk of injury.
- Use proper breathing techniques: Inhale as you lower the dumbbells, and exhale as you raise them. This will help you to maintain proper form and will also provide your muscles with more oxygen, which is important for muscle growth and recovery.
- Vary your routine: Incorporate different variations of the exercise like alternating side raises, cable side raises or resistance band side raises to target the muscle in different ways and to prevent boredom.
- As you become stronger, increase the weight: As you become stronger, you should increase the weight to continue challenging your muscles and promoting growth.
- Incorporate into a full body workout: Use the dumbbell side raises as a part of a full-body workout routine and not as a standalone exercise.
4. Common mistakes
Here are some common mistakes people make when performing the Dumbbell Side Raise exercise:
- Using too much weight: It’s important to use a weight that allows you to maintain proper form throughout the exercise. Using too much weight can cause you to swing the dumbbells or use momentum to lift the weight, which will reduce the effectiveness of the exercise and can also increase the risk of injury.
- Not keeping the elbows slightly bent: If you lock your elbows, the load will be transferred to the joints rather than the muscles, which can lead to injury.
- Not engaging the core: Keeping your core engaged will help to maintain proper form and stability throughout the exercise. Failure to engage the core can lead to poor posture and an increased risk of injury.
- Not keeping the back straight: Poor posture can cause the load to be transferred to the lower back, which can lead to pain or injury.
- Not controlling the movement: Moving too quickly can cause momentum to take over, which reduces the effectiveness of the exercise and can also increase the risk of injury.
- Not focusing on the muscle: It’s important to focus on the movement of the arm and the contraction of the muscle in order to activate the lateral deltoid effectively.
- Not vary the routine: Doing the same exercise repeatedly can lead to muscle adaptation, reducing the effectiveness of the exercise over time.
- Not warming up before exercising: Warming up before exercising is important to prevent injury and to prepare the muscles for the workout.
5. When and how to incorporate Dumbbell Side Raises?
The Dumbbell Side Raise exercise can be incorporated into your shoulder workout routine in several ways:
- As part of a full-body workout: The Dumbbell Side Raise exercise can be incorporated into a full-body workout routine, along with exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and push-ups to work the entire body.
- As part of an upper-body workout: The Dumbbell Side Raise exercise can also be incorporated into an upper-body workout routine, along with exercises such as the Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Dumbbell Bicep Curls, and Pull-ups to work the upper body.
- As a finishing exercise: The Dumbbell Side Raise exercise can be used as a finishing exercise to target the muscle at the end of a workout, when the muscle is fatigued and more susceptible to growth.
- As an isolation exercise: The Dumbbell Side Raise exercise can be used as an isolation exercise to target the lateral deltoid muscle specifically.
- Incorporating variations: Incorporating different variations of the exercise like alternating side raises, cable side raises or resistance band side raises to target the muscle in different ways and to prevent boredom.
The number of repetitions (reps) for the Dumbbell Side Raise exercise will depend on your fitness level and your goals. Here are some general guidelines for reps:
- For muscle endurance: 12–15 reps with a lighter weight and a moderate to high number of sets (3-4)
- For muscle strength and muscle mass: 8–12 reps with a moderate to heavy weight and a moderate number of sets (3)
- For muscle power: 3–5 reps with a heavy weight and a low number of sets (3)
It’s important to note that as you become stronger, you should increase the weight and/or the number of reps to continue challenging your muscles and promoting growth.
It’s essential to remember that the most essential thing is to choose a weight that allows you to maintain proper form throughout the exercise, and not to compromise your form by using too heavy weight. Always start with a weight that you feel comfortable with and gradually increase it as you get stronger.
It’s also influential to vary your routine and to include different types of exercises in your workout to target the muscle in different ways and to prevent boredom.
7. Who can do and don’t it?
The Dumbbell Side Raise exercise is a relatively simple exercise that can be performed by a wide range of individuals, from beginners to advanced fitness levels.
However, there are certain precautions and considerations that should be made depending on the individual’s fitness level and any pre-existing conditions.
Who can do it:
- Healthy individuals with no pre-existing shoulder or elbow conditions
- Beginners looking to improve their overall fitness and muscle strength
- Intermediate and advanced fitness levels looking to target and strengthen the lateral deltoid muscle
Who should avoid it or be careful:
- Individuals with pre-existing shoulder or elbow conditions such as rotator cuff tears, impingement, or tendinitis should avoid this exercise or perform it under the guidance of a physical therapist or doctor.
- Individuals who are new to strength training should start with a lower weight and focus on proper form before increasing the weight.
- Pregnant women should also avoid or perform it under the guidance of a doctor or a physical therapist.
The Dumbbell Side Raise exercise is a great way to target and strengthen the lateral deltoid muscle, which is located on the outer portion of the shoulder.
It is an isolation exercise that can be incorporated into a full-body or upper-body workout routine, and it is suitable for a wide range of individuals, from beginners to advanced fitness levels.
The exercise involves standing or sitting with dumbbells in hand, raising them out to the side while keeping the elbow slightly bent and the wrist straight.
The number of reps and sets can vary depending on the goals, muscle endurance, muscle strength or muscle power.
However, it’s important to remember that proper form and technique are essential for safety and effectiveness. If you have any doubts about your form, it’s always best to consult a trainer or a doctor before starting the exercise.
Sharp Muscle guides you on the transformational path with expert yoga, exercise, nutrition, recipes, beauty, health, and fitness information and core awareness. Like our community, the Sharp Muscle editor is driven by curiosity, passion, and a desire to grow, to continue the spiritual journey and discovery. Our community inspires our own authenticity: the quest for change is never-ending. If there’s a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. You can also join us as contributing writers and help connect with Sharp Muscle readers by sharing your knowledge, ideas, and information that promote conscious living.
- Mangine GT, Hoffman JR, Gonzalez AM, Townsend JR, Wells AJ, Jajtner AR, Beyer KS, Boone CH, Miramonti AA, Wang R, LaMonica MB, Fukuda DH, Ratamess NA, Stout JR. “The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men.” Physiol Rep. 2015 Aug;3(8):e12472. doi: 10.14814/phy2.12472. PMID: 26272733; PMCID: PMC4562558.
- Coratella G, Tornatore G, Longo S, Esposito F, Cè E. “An Electromyographic Analysis of Lateral Raise Variations and Frontal Raise in Competitive Bodybuilders.” Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Aug 19;17(17):6015. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17176015. PMID: 32824894; PMCID: PMC7503819.
- Zhang M, Zhou J, Zhang Y, Zhang X, Chen J, Chen W. “Influence of Scapula Training Exercises on Shoulder Joint Function After Surgery for Rotator Cuff Injury.” Med Sci Monit. 2020 Oct 29;26:e925758. doi: 10.12659/MSM.925758. PMID: 33116073; PMCID: PMC7607672.
- Maruvada S, Madrazo-Ibarra A, Varacallo M. “Anatomy, Rotator Cuff.” In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441844/.
- Bae WS, Lee HO, Shin JW, Lee KC. “The effect of middle and lower trapezius strength exercises and levator scapulae and upper trapezius stretching exercises in upper crossed syndrome.” J Phys Ther Sci. 2016 May;28(5):1636-9. doi: 10.1589/jpts.28.1636. Epub 2016 May 31. PMID: 27313388; PMCID: PMC4905927.
- Park SH, Lee MM. “Effects of Lower Trapezius Strengthening Exercises on Pain, Dysfunction, Posture Alignment, Muscle Thickness and Contraction Rate in Patients with Neck Pain; Randomized Controlled Trial.” Med Sci Monit. 2020 Mar 23;26:e920208. doi: 10.12659/MSM.920208. PMID: 32202262; PMCID: PMC7115121.
- Hsu SL, Oda H, Shirahata S, Watanabe M, Sasaki M. “Effects of core strength training on core stability.” J Phys Ther Sci. 2018 Aug;30(8):1014-1018. doi: 10.1589/jpts.30.1014. Epub 2018 Jul 24. PMID: 30154592; PMCID: PMC6110226.
- Huxel Bliven KC, Anderson BE. “Core stability training for injury prevention.” Sports Health. 2013 Nov;5(6):514-22. doi: 10.1177/1941738113481200. PMID: 24427426; PMCID: PMC3806175.
- Ralston GW, Kilgore L, Wyatt FB, Buchan D, Baker JS. “Weekly Training Frequency Effects on Strength Gain: A Meta-Analysis.” Sports Med Open. 2018 Aug 3;4(1):36. doi: 10.1186/s40798-018-0149-9. PMID: 30076500; PMCID: PMC6081873.
- Schoenfeld BJ, Grgic J, Van Every DW, Plotkin DL. “Loading Recommendations for Muscle Strength, Hypertrophy, and Local Endurance: A Re-Examination of the Repetition Continuum.” Sports (Basel). 2021 Feb 22;9(2):32. doi: 10.3390/sports9020032. PMID: 33671664; PMCID: PMC7927075.