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 Instructions

  1. The dumbbell lateral raise is a good exercise for building width in your upper body which gives you the "V" shape. Grab a set of dumbbells and stand straight up with the dumbbells at your sides.
  2. Your palms should be facing your body. You should be holding the dumbbells slightly off your body, as this keeps the tension on the side delts. This is your starting position for the exercise.
  3. To execute, slowly raise the dumbbells up to around shoulder height. 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.
  4. Pause at the top of the movement, and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
  5. Do not let the dumbbells touch your body, and then raise them for the next rep.

​Lateral Raise Tips:

  1. The dumbbell lateral raise is one of those exercises that so many people do incorrectly. First, this is an isolation exercise, so you should be focusing on stretch and muscle contraction, not using heavy weights.
  2. Second, you MUST keep your rep timing slow and controlled. So many people use momentum to swing heavy weights up, and this is not going to get you the best results from the dumbbell lateral raise.
  3. Third, it very important that your elbows stay above your wrists. If your wrists come up too far, the focus comes off your side delts and onto your front delts. A good trick to ensure this does not happen is to tilt the dumbbells down as if you were pouring a jug of water as you raise them up. This makes it very hard to raise the wrists higher than the elbows.
  4. And finally, keep the side delts under stress for the whole set by not allowing the dumbbells to touch your body or "hang" at the bottom of the movement.
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.

Posted on: Tue, 11/12/2013 - 15:36

a lateral machine can just as well give you the same results as dumbbells can right?

Posted on: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 07:51

i`m 15 years old so is it alright if i do follow this exercise?

Posted on: Tue, 04/23/2013 - 16:19

Can women do this excercise also?

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Posted on: Tue, 04/23/2013 - 18:00


Posted on: Fri, 04/12/2013 - 00:03

Even I feel the wrist is going above the elbow! i am only saying that because I towards the end of my set starts yo cave in!

Posted on: Thu, 04/11/2013 - 10:59

For such a simple looking workout there are many ways you can do it wrong. My elbows seem to have this sharp pain when I do this exercise. Does anybody know exactly what I'm doing wrong?

Posted on: Tue, 07/09/2013 - 14:24

Shoulder excercises are hard to do, but this one is my favourite...try bending ur elbows slightly, thats how i do it anyway.

Posted on: Sun, 03/24/2013 - 07:13

Am I the only one who finds it almost impossible to add weights to this? I've been doing this exercise for a good 2 months and I'm still using 15s. I always try 20s but I can barely do 3 and I lose my form.

Posted on: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 17:39

Is there an alternative to this? The smallest plates I have are 3 pounds, and I can not lift a dumbbell with one on each side for 10 reps. Please help!

Posted on: Sun, 03/17/2013 - 17:45

man up bro..

Posted on: Sat, 12/29/2012 - 08:27

Why can I feel this in my traps?

Posted on: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 12:09

I always feel so weak when I do this one cause I usually use pretty small dumbells, but I guess that's isolation for ya.

Posted on: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 10:35

i am doing dough's 5 day workout and i like know what pounds to use for the side lateral raises my current weight is 174 and height is 5'6"

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 12:16

You'll use a weight where you struggle to complete the recommended reps. Once your'e able to complete all the prescribed reps, you'll move up in weight.

Posted on: Wed, 11/28/2012 - 18:36

So, I don't have the machine at my gym to do the leg exercises- are there substitutions? I have a calf and thigh machine(not sure if that's waht it's called), but nothing to do the leg curls... Any ideas?

Posted on: Thu, 11/01/2012 - 16:46

Is it me or are his wrists above his elbows in the video.

Steve P
Posted on: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 15:56

When he says to keep the wrist below the elbow he means to not allow the elbow to bend too much. If you try using too heavy a weight you will notice that your elbow will start to cave in as it compensates for the heavy weight. The result is a bent elbow where your wrist continues the motion but the elbow dips below it. In the video he is extending the exercise to a point where the wrist passes the elbow to increase the range motion, but notice how his elbow does not dip down even at the top of the motion.

Posted on: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:14

Thats called dombom jc adam pablo raise

Posted on: Sun, 05/19/2013 - 09:36

It's called kombo dombom jc adam pablo raise