Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredDumbbell
  • MechanicsIsolation
  • Force TypePull
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
Target Muscle Group


Shoulders Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Dumbbell Lateral Raise Overview

The dumbbell lateral raise is a shoulder exercise used to strengthen the muscles of the shoulder. It's a good exercise for building width in your upper body which gives you the "V" shape.

Dumbbell Lateral Raise Instructions

  1. Select the desired weight from the rack, then take a few steps back into an open area.
  2. Take a deep breath and raise the dumbbells to shoulder height using a neutral grip (palms facing in) while keeping the elbows slightly bent.
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position under control.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Dumbbell Lateral Raise Tips

  • Focus on keeping the reps slow and controlled. Because this is an isolation exercise, the focus should be on correctly working the muscle - not moving as much weight as possible.
  • Don't bring your arms up too high - up to shoulder height is far enough.
  • If you encounter pain in the shoulder while performing the movement, consider implementing one of the following tweaks:
    • Tilt your pinkies slightly higher than your thumbs. Imagine you’re pouring out a cup of water.
    • Turn your palms forward so that your thumbs are pointing away from your body. This will put the shoulder in a more externally rotated position and potentially open up the shoulder joint to allow for a bit more movement.
Joshua Lee
Posted on: Mon, 06/17/2024 - 01:40

This says force type pull but it’s on the push day exercise ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 06/18/2024 - 08:34

Hi Joshua, the shoulders are primarily considered a pushing muscles group, which is why you see lateral raises included with them. I guess the description depends on the mindset of the lifter. You can say that either you are pulling the weights up and to the sides or that you are pushing your arms against the resistance of the weight. Don't feel like you are locked in one way or the other. Do them where you feel they serve you best.

Posted on: Sun, 01/14/2024 - 08:13

Anyone performing lateral raises for the first time should do some homework on the scapular plane 20-30 degrees anterior to straight lateral. You will crash in burn in a hurry if you don't learn to stay in plane(intended).

Posted on: Wed, 12/21/2022 - 11:54

Is this the correct form of doing it?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 12/28/2022 - 18:00


Posted on: Tue, 09/20/2022 - 21:52

So is he doing the exercise incorrectly since his wrists are above his elbows at the top of the movement?

Posted on: Sun, 09/04/2022 - 02:55

I am not able to see the demonstration video
In this site. Anyone with same problem?

Posted on: Tue, 10/04/2022 - 03:49

Disable your ad blocker

Posted on: Sat, 08/27/2022 - 15:34

What is the ideal rest time for this exercise?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 08/28/2022 - 13:58

45-60 seconds.

Posted on: Sun, 08/28/2022 - 13:59

Thank you.

Christopher Herring
Posted on: Mon, 07/24/2023 - 22:10

Increase RT for full core exercises, correct?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 07/31/2023 - 08:57


Posted on: Tue, 07/05/2022 - 02:42

Any alternative for this exercise in your 5 day full body plan?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 07/05/2022 - 11:01

Training in a gym or at home, Pav?

Posted on: Tue, 07/05/2022 - 11:23

Home,dumbbells, ez bar ,barbell with squat rack to use.

I’m just finding this exercise difficult compared to dumbbell front rise from your same plan I need to use much lighter weight and I have a feeling I’m no getting most of that one ….

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 07/14/2022 - 08:24

You may have to simply go lighter with them, Pav. However, I will suggest a very wide grip upright row. This will help you work more of the side delt than the rear as you would with a normal grip. You can also do the lateral raise one side at a time so you can put more effort into each side.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Mon, 06/13/2022 - 00:38

In the instructions, it states NOT to raise your wrists above your elbows while lifting, but in the video, he does lift the wrist ABOVE the elbow and starts to form a V shape as he reaches the top. Should the arms NOT go further than parallel with the shoulders to avoid this?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 06/14/2022 - 12:56

Hi, HS. Opinions may vary, but in my opinion, parallel is the limit.

Posted on: Tue, 12/07/2021 - 05:31

What's the recommended dumbbell weight for this Lateral Raise, especially for a beginner?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 12/08/2021 - 21:19

Hi, Dileep. There is no recommended weight to start with. Grab a pair of light dumbbells and see if you can perform the raises with good form. If so, try to go a little heavier. The heaviest weight that you can lift with good form is the best choice.

Posted on: Thu, 12/09/2021 - 22:34

Hi Tiger,

Thank you very much for the detailed explanation.

Posted on: Sat, 01/22/2022 - 07:54

i only have a single pair of dumbells that are moderately heavy. then is doing fewer reps build muscle muscle and prevent injury

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 01/24/2022 - 17:58

Hi, irfan. If you're able to perform at least five reps with that weight, then here is a way you can make the most out of it.

Perform 3-5 reps, rest 20 seconds, then do 3-5 more. Rest for another 20 seconds, and repeat one more time. This is called a cluster set, and it allows you to do more reps with heavier weight than a traditional straight set.

Posted on: Wed, 06/09/2021 - 22:02

Should my elbows be locked during this exercise? Or should I have a slight bend in them?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 06/11/2021 - 09:42

Hey Dominic - you should have a slight bend in your elbows.

Posted on: Mon, 06/14/2021 - 15:43

Okay thanks! Appreciate it!

Posted on: Mon, 04/05/2021 - 18:15

I can’t go all the way up. I don’t really feel it on my shoulders, more on my triceps.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 04/06/2021 - 09:57

Hey Filipe - most likely you're using a weight that is too heavy.

Posted on: Tue, 01/16/2018 - 20:23

My inner elbows get sore. Is that supposed to happen?

Posted on: Tue, 01/08/2019 - 04:42

Lighten the weight

Ray Arnold
Posted on: Sun, 05/05/2019 - 12:54

Hey watch Seth Feroce shoulder routine he shows you how to do the exercise correctly they way this guys doing it looks like he is a bird trying fly away also need bend elbows there way is hard on elbows and shoulder joints they should take it down that exercise is so wrong with forum and joint concern what Seth Feroce shoulder lateral Raise my shoulders stopped hurting so did elbows and using Seth Feroce way my shoulders grow like crazy

Posted on: Tue, 11/28/2017 - 21:37

Can I split Friday into two separate days? I.e, Shoulders/Legs. If so, what would the schedule look like on the 4(?) Day Split?

Posted on: Mon, 02/27/2017 - 02:50

Can I do this with lighter weights and do more reps? Will I still get the same results?

Posted on: Fri, 10/07/2016 - 09:58

In the description it says "It's important that you do not let your wrists go above your elbows while raising the weight, as this will take the work off the side delts and put it on the front delts." And the guy in the video does it wrong? lol

Phillip Robbins
Posted on: Mon, 02/07/2022 - 19:41

I came here to see if anyone else thought the same. Bit confusing...

Phillip Robbins
Posted on: Wed, 02/16/2022 - 21:52

This is probably it. It looks close in the video though.

Posted on: Sat, 02/12/2022 - 00:31

I think it is supposed to mean that in the plane of you arm your wrist should not go above you elbow. Meaning if you draw a line from you shoulder to your wrist your elbow should always stay above that line.

Posted on: Fri, 03/18/2022 - 10:11

Yup. Noticed it too. Wonder why.

Posted on: Tue, 03/17/2015 - 21:30

Why did they remove the drawing of a very muscled toon with indications what muscles are being worked on? Could we please have them back? It is very helpful for novices like me to identify what side delts are and how are they placed on the body. Thank you.

Posted on: Sat, 04/23/2016 - 14:50

The muscle portrait is missing from the mobile view. In Firefox you can "request desktop site" from the menu to see it. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Sun, 01/25/2015 - 21:41

According to the description he's doing exercise the wrong

Posted on: Mon, 09/29/2014 - 10:17

nowhere is the importance of breathing mentioned
when should we breathe in and when should be breathed out

breathing control is the base of weight lifting
but there is silence on this main point

Posted on: Sun, 06/22/2014 - 22:52

Doing it the way this guy is doing it you will get an impingement. Never go above the shoulders.

Mike Riley
Posted on: Fri, 10/22/2021 - 15:36

Slight wrist rotation solves the impingement issue for most folks. I used to have impingement issues with this (and the overhead barbell press), but got a suggestion that fixed this for me. I rotate my wrists slightly so the my thumbs are slightly higher than my pinkies. I have no issues with lateral raises will above the horizontal plane. I've heard the conflicting opinions on how high to go but just keep in mind that impingement might be easily solved with hand position allowing the range of motion to be a non-issue.

Posted on: Wed, 05/21/2014 - 08:40

You can do low weights in isolation as much as you want, even with the calves also, but it wont do anything except tone. Do yourself a favour and see what Arnie says about all this. He used to do this for years without any gains until he WENT HEAVY. The only way you can do this is already have concrete lower back and a super strong core. In other words your wasting your time doing sideways raises UNLESS you have been hitting the gym 4/5 times a week for 2 to 3 years. Then your body will be ready to add mass to the shoulders and get that V shape. If your new to the gym or returning and hitting side ways raises, or for that matter, any isolation excersies, your wasting your time. Stick to bench press, military press, pull ups, dead lifts and squats to build your mass. Later much later do this. Else yeah you may look pretty, but on low weights your doing nothing, only potentially gaining an injury as your core is so weak.........

Posted on: Mon, 09/14/2020 - 19:04


Posted on: Thu, 04/03/2014 - 11:04

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Posted on: Thu, 12/05/2013 - 12:55

Have been trying this excersise for 5 months. Left shoulder continues to pop 2-3 times every rep regardless of weight. Really want to do this excersise or something equivalent but feel the shoulder should not be aggregated like this. Possibly aggregating a childhood injury like a broken colarbone or something to do with 2 neck surgeries 10 yrs ago. Any alternatives?

Mike Riley
Posted on: Fri, 10/22/2021 - 15:54

I used to have shoulder issues (probably related to being a side sleeper) and shoulder/overhead movements were a major issue. Ever since my late 20's I've had clicking and discomfort/impingement. Now, getting back into weight lifting in my 50's, I was able to regain my shoulders thru the overhead press. I changed to a closer grip with my thumbs as wide as the outside edges of my shoulders. This puts my elbows in front of me rather than out to the sides. I started with just an empty bar for weeks, then was able to gain enough comfort to begin putting weight on the bar. It's been 16 weeks or so and I'm pressing 95 lbs comfortably, 4 sets of 10/12 reps. I always warm up with a light set.