Your shoulders are probably the most noticeable body parts. The well-developed shoulders give your upper body its width and make you look strong. The best way to develop your shoulders is through side delt exercises.
These moves are essential for building a rounded, toned shoulder and developing your deltoid muscles. They help enhance your overall upper body strength by engaging the core muscles.
If you want to improve your shoulder mobility and build better strength and definition, start training your side delt at least twice per week.
You won’t get firm muscles that make your shoulders wide if you don’t incorporate side delt exercises into your workout routine.
While you can work on your rear and middle deltoid muscles, the side deltoids are the most important because of their role in shoulder abduction.
This article discusses several side delt exercises to help grow your shoulders. It explains how to deploy these side delt exercises into your workout programming.
What Are Side Delts?
The deltoid muscle is the triangular-shaped part of your upper arm and shoulder muscle whose purpose is to move the arm away from the body and the to the side.
The middle deltoid muscle known as the side delt handles the health of your shoulders. It is on the outer side of the shoulder, and its primary function is the abduction of the shoulder joint, making it possible to leave your arm up and out to the side.
Having strong, well-built side delt has many benefits, including influencing how the shoulders look and feel. These muscles give your shoulders are wide look, which can help achieve the coveted tapered V silhouette.
It helps abduct your shoulders when picking up objects and is involved in a range of other motions. Work out your side deltoids regularly because they are important for shoulder abduction. By training these muscles, you get bigger and more defined shoulders.
Different Side Delt Exercises
Here are some of the best side delt exercises you can perform.
This list comprises the best exercises for muscle growth, core strength, and overall health and well-being.
#1 Side plank with arm raise
This exercise challenges your side delt and your core, particularly your obliques. It is a great exercise for your side deltoids that you can perform without hitting the gym.
While strengthening your muscles and the obliques, this side plank with arm raise emphasizes motion in the shoulder joint. The addition of an arm raise in this exercise is a smart way to work out both side-delts simultaneously.
How to perform the side plank with arm raise
Lay on the floor on your side, resting on your left elbow. Hold a dumbbell in your free hand and slowly lift yourself on your grounded arm.
Keep your arm as straight as possible and raise it to almost 90 degrees until you feel the tension in your side deltoid.
Engage your core and lift your hips, supporting yourself on the left elbow
Slowly lower yourself back down.
Do up to 12 repetitions on each side and complete them before moving on to the other arm.
#2 Dumbbell side/lateral raises
Use this isolation exercise to strengthen and define your side deltoids. It provides a killer workout for the shoulders, helping to build mass and strength while developing a toned appearance.
The exercise also engages your triceps for additional upper body gains. It helps strengthen, stabilize, and tone your shoulders more than other upper body exercises.
How to perform
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand
Keep your torso straight and your arms straight at your side
Hold the dumbbells in such a way that your palms are parallel to your body
Lift your arms until they’re in line with the floor. Keep them straight without moving them too much.
At the top, stop for a second before slowly lowering your arms and getting back into your starting position
Do up to 15 repetitions
#3 Arnold press
This classic side delt exercise targets your side deltoids. It hits all the muscles in your shoulders, activating the posterior, anterior and lateral deltoid. The move could also improve your flexibility by engaging the rotator cuffs.
You need a pair of dumbbells of equal weight to perform the exercise. If you’re starting, use light weights for three sets of 8 repetitions.
You can include this workout two to three times per week when working your upper body if you want to hit the full range of shoulder muscles.
How to perform
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Ensure the dumbbells are placed in front of you horizontally.
Slowly rotate your hands outwards and move them upwards. Extend the arms upwards on either side of your head with the weights in a horizontal position.
Slowly move the weights back down by bending your elbows as you lower the
Finish with the weights still in a horizontal position in front of you with their ends touching
#4 Incline W-raise
Incline W-raises allow growth and strength development in the muscles while improving your rotator cuff strength. The move also hit the rear delts creating a broader overall upper body.
Use these exercises when working your shoulders and improving flexibility as they focus more directly on the shoulders.
Biceps and traps are also used in the workout, making it a nice complement to other upper body exercises. Use this exercise 2-3 times per week when working your shoulders.
How to perform
Grab two dumbbells of equal weights and an incline bench set at a 30-degrees degree out. Make sure your biceps are pointing downwards, and your forearms are parallel with the floor.
Lift the dumbbells up and down to either side in a rotation motion to engage your core and shoulder blades. Make sure the elbows remain bent so that your arms form a W-shape.
Maintain the top position for a moment with your arms and head forming a W-shape when viewed from above or behind
Bring the weight back down by returning your arms slowly to the starting position.
#5 Barbell upright row
This side delt exercise isolates your side delts while giving the biceps a little workout because you have to bend your elbows. It helps develop strength in the posterior chain meaning your back and spine will build mass and be less prone to injuries.
The exercise helps achieve a nice broad upper body. It also gives your traps and biceps a workout for all-around upper body gains.
How to perform
Get into a standing position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Keep the arms straight down in front of your body
Bend your arms and slowly reach out for the barbell close to your body
Lift the bar off the floor and stand up straight with your arms fully extended and the bar around your waist.
Ensure the barbell is in line with your shoulders with your elbows higher than the bar
Achieve the full range of motion without lifting the bar too high and straining your shoulders
Slowly lower the bar back down to the starting position.
#6 One-arm cable raise
The one-arm cable raise is an effective side delt workout that hones in on a range of other shoulder muscles. It helps build strength in upper and lower body muscles, helping improve your posture and balance.
This workout helps build a stronger and more stable spinal region by bringing in your back and core muscles as you raise the cable.
Perform it two to three times per week as part of our strength training gym session to build your upper body and develop your shoulders.
How to perform
Place the cable pulley in the lowest position on the cable machine, then take the cable handle and hold it behind your back.
Brace your core and add a slight bend to your elbow
Lift the cable up and out to the side until your hand is above your shoulders
Slowly lower back to the starting position
#7 Side-to-front raise
This exercise targets your side deltoid and anterior deltoid. It is an excellent progression from a dumbbell side raise and can improve flexibility by activating the rotator cuffs.
The workout can help strengthen your shoulders by bulking up around the area. Include the side-to-front raise exercise as part of your shoulder routines 2-3 times per week. Ensure you do this exercise slowly and in a controlled manner
How to perform
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
Keep your knees slightly bent and hold dumbbells in your hands
Bend your elbows as you lift your arms to your sides while raising your shoulders or tightening them
Once the dumbbells are aligning your shoulders, swing them in front of you
Keep your arms extended, then lower the weight back down
Repeat the move in reverse by lifting the weights in front of your body and swinging them out to the side
#8 Behind-the-neck press
Behind-the-neck press is great if you’re looking for the best side delt workout that targets the upper body. This exercise affects your traps and rhomboids to deliver a solid workout across the upper torso.
However, don’t overdo this exercise if you are new. Start with one to two times per week until your shoulder mobility and strength adapt and improve. Once you’ve mastered the move, it will open the shoulder blades and work out the deltoids.
How to perform
Sit on a bench with a barbell resting over your traps behind your neck.
Place your feet firmly on the ground with your knees at 90 degrees.
With your palms facing forwards and hands positioning at shoulder-width, brace your core and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Push the barbell up and over your head, then pause and slowly lower it back to the starting position behind your neck.
#9 Seated dumbbell military press
This exercise is a pleasant introduction to building your shoulders if you’re not ready for the standing military press with the barbell. It also targets muscles in your chest and arms for additional upper body games.
The move suits people suffering from back issues or those not ready to lift heavyweights. Use the exercise 2 to 3 times per week as part of your upper body routine to build up core strength and a stronger back.
How to perform
Set up a bench with the backrest in an upright position and take the dumbbells of your weight preference
Sit down and raise the dumbbells, holding them at shoulder height
With your palms facing forwards, lift the weights up and over your head until it fully extended your arms
Paul then lower the weights back to the starting position above your shoulders
#10 Cable lateral raises
The cable lateral raise is a great exercise if you want a side delt workout specifically geared towards targeting side muscles.
When performing this exercise, the anterior deltoid comes into play to build around the overall shoulder. It also benefits the middle and lowers traps by helping them experience growth.
How to perform
Start by choosing your weights and positioning the cable machine pulley at the bottom of the machine.
Stand to the side of the machine with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Push your chest forward and shoulder blades back to tighten your core
Reach across your body and take the pulley cable in your outside arm
With a slight elbow bend, lift and raise the cable across your body until it points away from your body. Make sure the cable is level with your shoulders.
Lower the cable slowly back to the starting position to complete the rep.
Having big broad shoulders can add a lot to your physique. If you want to grow your shoulders, consider these side delt exercises. They will help you challenge your shoulders and encourage them to grow stronger and bigger.
The best site deltoid exercises help bring better strength and definition to your shoulders while improving your overall upper body muscle mass. If you include these exercises in your training, you’ll get an upper arm workout that will challenge you and maximize results.
You can get the most out of these exercises using the right weight and set and rep scheme. For example, perform sets of 1-5 reps using heavy weights while resting 3 to 5 minutes between sets to increase strength.
If you want to improve endurance, do 6-12 reps with moderate weights while resting 60 to 00 seconds between sets. Each of these exercises uses various equipment and positions such as standing or seated.
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