Dumbbell Lateral Raise Benefits – Great Exercise!

The shoulders are very important to a well-rounded physique, as well as strength in movements like the bench press and overhead press. We have many options to train them, and today I will be going over one of these options with the dumbbell lateral raise benefits. Within this article I will provide 3 benefits of the lateral raise which will go as followed:

  1. Isolation of The Lateral Delts
  2. Unilateral Movement
  3. Room For Variation/Specifics

Isolating The Lateral Delts:

While there are exercise options such as vertical pressing movements that challenge the lateral delts, they aren’t super effective at targeting the lateral delts. While they certainly have their place in training, a movement like the dumbbell lateral raise is quite beneficial and a staple exercise for targeting the lateral deltoid.

With respect to this exercise in relation to your training, it would definitely be a main exercise for targeting the lateral delts. This is because it is super effective at targeting your lateral delts, however, it doesn’t have the capability to be trained heavy enough to be your main overall shoulder movement.

Seeing as this exercise isn’t a compound movement that can be trained heavy enough, I wouldn’t suggest it as a main movement. However, performing this exercise after something like a dumbbell shoulder press is where I would suggest implementing it. Thus, once you get a main compound movement out of the way, your focus should be on your lateral and rear delts as the anterior deltoids already get a ton of training volume from horizontal pressing movements. Performing this exercise with sets relative to your volume needs and in the moderate rep range (8-12) is what I would suggest for most people/circumstances.

Unilateral Movement:

While we typically think of unilateral movements as compound exercises done unilaterally like a bench press and a dumbbell bench press, the unilateral raise still reaps those benefits. This because the exercise is still being performed unilaterally. Although this exercise isn’t a “strength builder” it is still great for targeting the lateral delts and working on muscle imbalances that you may have with them.

What this means for you is the bilateral pressing movements you perform can cause muscle imbalances if you don’t work on them. Consistently implementing exercises like the lateral raise can help work on these imbalances, specifically the lateral delt with this exercise.

As far as implementation goes, not much changes. Regularly performing these at a sufficient weight will allow you the reps to work on these possible imbalances. Although, performing some heavier “cheat reps” may be beneficial to help allow your lateral delts to feel some heavyweight and turn it into more of a “strength building” movement.

Room For Variation:

Lastly, one of the things I like most about this exercise is the fact that there are many ways you can perform it. This is due in part to the simplicity of the exercise, and the fact that a dumbbell is being used to perform it.

What I mean by this is the ability to tailor the exercise towards your specific goals. This could be in the form of the weight you use for the exercise and therefore how you perform it. Or some more advanced strategies such as drop sets or mechanical drop sets. Let’s talk more about the application of these below.

If you have the goal of hypertrophy, normally performing this exercise is the way to go with the occasional strict variation to get a strong contraction on the lateral delts. You can also consider some drop sets for a metabolic training style. For more strength focused training, think of a cheat side lateral raise as you can use a heavier weight and take advantage of the extra strength we have on the eccentric.

Lateral Raise Benefits in a Nutshell:

All in all, the lateral raise is a great exercise for isolating the lateral delts while reaping the benefits of unilateral movements in a unique way. On top of that, you can tailor it towards your goals to a degree as an additional benefit. The lateral raise is a staple exercise in my shoulder training and I would suggest it would be for the majority of others as well!

I am excited for this article to be able to benefit you and your shoulder training! I thank you for taking the time to read this article and as always, if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to leave them below and I will be sure to reply!


Until Next Time,


Kohl Johnson

Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for use of this information after reading.

Support is much appreciated if you benefited from this:

Kohl Johnson

I am a 16-year-old fitness fanatic! I have learned nothing but quality training and nutrition information from the utmost well-respected individuals in the field. Now, my only focus is to share this knowledge with you for your benefit, in the most honest way possible. We are all in this together! LET'S GO!

2 Responses

  1. Dumbbell lat raises are one of my favorite shoulder exercises. Sometimes I compound set them with dumbbell shoulder presses. But I do think lat raises should be part of everyone’s shoulder workouts, and if they can’t do dumbbells for some reason, then do it with cables or on a machine.

    • Hi Nate, they are one of mine too, you can get such a great pump with them! If I am super-setting them with dumbbell shoulder presses, I would perform the compound first so you can train it heavier. Then the lateral delts are already taxed and you can burn them out with the lateral raises. I do agree, cables are also a great option! While machine training can be the primary method for some, I prefer to use machines for a burn-out variation. Thanks for the interest in my article!

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