Lying Side Lateral Raise: Build Full-Blown Gangster Delts

Cory Gregory
Written By: Cory Gregory
April 24th, 2015
Updated: December 17th, 2020
81K Reads
Bodybuilder in tank top doing dumbbell lateral raises in the gym
Stop neglecting your deltoids by implementing this long-lost classic Arnold exercise into your routine and watch your delts swell up in no time.

There are certain glamour exercises when it comes to the bodybuilding and the lifting world. They includes popular movements like the bench press, pretty much any type of curl, and a host of other movements. Unfortunately for whatever reason, there are just as many beneficial movements that somehow get lost in the shuffle.

Believe me, I’ve found some gems along the way when I’ve sat down and looked through a lot of unique movements the Golden Era bodybuilders used.

Don't Neglect The Delts

In a previous article, I talked about one of those lost movements: the pullover. Hopefully it’s sparked some interest in people to implement that into their workout plans and have seen big results from it. 

From getting the chance to watch some old school, never seen before footage of Arnold training, I was able to find another classic Arnold exercise, and it’s been a huge addition to my own training. It’s the lying side lateral raise, a tremendous movement for overall shoulder development.

I realize working your rear delts isn’t a huge attention-getter and that a lateral raise may not seem to get your adrenaline rushing, but keep reading and I think I’ll sell you on its importance and why it’s extremely beneficial to include them into your routine, whether it’s some extra work with chest, back, or shoulders.

First and foremost, most people tend to skip rear delt work altogether, which if you are looking for a balanced physique is never a good thing. Without question, bencher’s shoulder is at an all-time high in gyms worldwide. You know the look I’m referring to – shoulders hunched forward, no upper back, or rear-delt development. Not only does it show a flaw and imbalance in the physique, it’s a great way to get injured. Everything in the front delt, bicep and chest tie-in area is bound up, there’s too much focus on those areas when doing a heavy pressing movement and there’s no rear delt or upper back activation at all.

It’s not an ideal look or an ideal way to train. If you’re looking to move maximum weight, that area needs to be balanced and your rear delts need to be heavily involved in any pressing movement.

Physique-wise, getting that full shoulder cap look can go a long way in building that wide-looking shoulder appearance. In my mind, it truly is the final straw in putting those softballs on your shoulders.

That’s where the lying side lateral raise comes into play and, as you see in the video, was another go-to move for Arnold to really maximize his shoulder development.

It was ideal in shaping the rear delt – a must for top-notch shoulders – and also increase stability of the entire shoulder joint, huge for heavy compound pressing movements.

The Schwarzenegger Side Laterals

Arnold loved this exercise, and went to it often at Gold’s Gym back in the 1970s. He went as heavy as he could, repping until failure in a lot of cases.

My recommendation is using a number of different rep and set schemes. You can do 3 sets of 12, 4 sets of 10, go heavy and go 4 sets of 6, get in high reps and do 3-4 sets of 20-25 reps or even do a couple of 50-rep burners, but the main key is just getting the work in.

To perform:
  1. Lie on one side on a slightly inclined bench with your head at the top end, grasping a light dumbbell in your free hand.
  2. Begin with the weight hanging toward the floor, your arm across your body and your elbow slightly bent.
  3. From there, squeeze your delt to pull the dumbbell straight toward the ceiling until your arm is perpendicular to the floor.

It’s as simple as that, but the benefits are huge. Add these into your routine, and not only will your shoulder joint feel better, you will have full-blown gangster delts. They may not be on Arnold’s level, but you will definitely see some big-time improvement.

Posted on: Tue, 05/09/2017 - 13:06

Been doing this exercise for two weeks now and it truly makes the shoulder swell up.

Posted on: Tue, 04/28/2015 - 11:03

Arnold is the man! Tried this move last night and it burns!!!

Posted on: Sun, 04/26/2015 - 12:22

This exercise really work at posterior delt and help to make a definition at ur back part of shoulder

Posted on: Sat, 04/25/2015 - 07:32

Just tried this exercise after reading this article. Much harder than you think it'd going to be! I tried 20lbs and it was too heavy.. ended up using 15s. You can really feel this in your back and side delts

Posted on: Sun, 04/26/2015 - 21:19

Oh yea? I think I'll be getting into this tomorrow