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As a fitness and wellness mentor and online coach, I am a big advocate of full-body strength training. It is not only amazing for the improvement of your metabolism, fat loss, muscle, bone, and joint health but beneficial for your overall health. One of my favorite parts to train is the shoulder muscle. An exercise that’s amazing for the shoulders is lateral side raises.

Lateral Raises

Below we’ll look deeper into lateral raises and we’ll cover the following:

  • Muscles involved in lateral raises
  • Benefits associated with lateral raises
  • How to properly do lateral raises
  • Common mistakes when performing lateral raises
  • Video on how to do lateral raises
  • Shoulder exercises to complete your shoulder workout

Muscles Worked in Lateral Raises

The shoulder has several muscles that attach to the scapula, humerus, and clavicle. The largest shoulder muscle is the deltoid, which consists of the anterior, middle, and posterior fibers. Muscles that form the rotator cuff (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, subscapularis) are also vital in the dynamics of the shoulder movement. Other muscles involved in shoulder movement are the supraspinatus, coracobrachialis, serratus anterior, pectoralis, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, teres major, and rhomboid major among others.

Primary Muscles Targeted in Lateral Raises:

  • Lateral deltoid – the main muscle targeted is the side of the shoulder. It’s involved in shoulder abduction

Secondary Muscles:

  • Anterior deltoid – the front of the shoulder involved in shoulder flexion
  • Rear deltoid – the back of the shoulder, powerful extensor
  • Trapezius – triangular muscles extending over the back of the neck and shoulders
  • Wrist extensors – the brachioradialis, extensor carpi ulnaris, and extensor carpi radialis longus, and brevis. These muscles extend the wrist, helping you grip
  • Serratus anterior – muscle originating on the surface of the 1st to 8th ribs at the side of the chest and ending at the medial border of the scapula. It pulls the scapula forward


  • Aesthetics: Lateral raises give your body a great look by giving your shoulders a rounder look.
  • Mobility: They increase your shoulder’s range of motion.
  • Efficient: They don’t require a lot of weight and give you great results. You can feel them working even with light weights.
  • Strength: Strong shoulders help you with your daily activities when you need to pick up items or even the kids.
  • Versatility: You can perform different variations of the lateral raise. You can raise both arms at the same time, one arm at a time, or alternate arms.
  • Posture: Lateral side raises engage your core, upper back, and neck muscles which help you to maintain a more upright posture. 
  • Simplicity: There is not much involved in the movement – all you need is a pair of dumbbells.

How to Do Dumbbell Side Lateral Raises

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells in each hand at your sides.
  2. Stand with your back straight, core tight, and shoulders back.
  3. Lift the weights out to the side until your arms are parallel with the floor or a little bit higher, with the elbow slightly bent.
  4. Slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position,
  5. Repeat.

Mistakes to Avoid

  • Avoid Rushing: This exercise is not about speed. You feel it more when you are doing it slowly.
  • Avoid Shrugging: When you shrug or raise your shoulder blades during the rep, you use your traps to lift the weights up instead of your deltoids.

Dumbbell Side Lateral Raises Video

Shoulder Workout

You can complete your shoulder workout with Shoulder PressesFront Raises, and Seated Bent-Over Rear Delts

Lift, Burn more Fat, Get Stronger, and Live Healthier!

To a Fitter Healthier You,

Adriana Albritton

The Fitness Wellness Mentor

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