What is side lateral raise?

Those who are aiming to develop a V-shape body know the importance of shoulder exercises. For your biceps and abs to look impressive, your shoulders need to be well-built too. 

This is where the side lateral raise comes in. Also known as the lateral raise, this is a shoulder training dumbbell exercise that promotes muscle growth. 

Side lateral raise muscles worked include:

Besides these muscles, side lateral raises also involve muscles that stabilise your movements. These include wrist extensors and flexors and the levator scapulae.

How is the side lateral raise done?

Though it may look like a simple up and down movement of your arms, the side lateral raise exercise is challenging and you need to be mindful of your form. 

Wondering how to do side lateral raise? Here is how you can perfect the traditional dumbbell side lateral raise:

  1. To start the side lateral raise exercise, hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand straight. Your arms must be at your sides with your palms facing towards your legs. There must be a slight bend in your elbows. 
  2. Your feet must be hip-width apart and your knees must have a slight bend. Keep your weight distributed evenly along your feet.
  3. Your head and neck must be stable and in a neutral position. 
  4. Keep your chin tucked in throughout the movement. 
  5. Pre-tension the muscles in your hips and shoulders and engage your core
  6. To begin the upward movement, lift your arms slowly away from your body. Make sure that your shoulder blades move naturally with the joints without any sudden movements. 
  7. Continue raising your arms till your elbows are at your shoulder height or just below your shoulders. 
  8. Hold the pose for 2-3 seconds at the top of the movement.
  9. Lower the dumbbells in the same arch in which you lifted them.

Sets and reps of dumbbell side lateral raise: You can start with 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. 

Side Lateral Raise - Exercise Guide By Cult Fit

Increase arm strength with side dumbbell lateral raises. Learn to do it as our instructors have demonstrated Dumbbell Side Lateral Raises. Watch the video in full to see it in action.

What are some variations of side lateral raises?

Once you have perfected the traditional side lateral raise, you can try some variations of this exercise. Here are some effective variations of this exercise: 

  1. Seated side lateral raise: As the name suggests, the seated side lateral raise is done sitting on a flat bench. This is an effective and easier version of the exercise, especially for those who are just beginning with lateral raises. To do the side lateral raise seated, you need to sit at the end of the bench with your feet firmly on the floor. The remaining movements remain the same as in the traditional standing shoulder side lateral raise.
  2. Cable side lateral raise: This exercise is a great way to get broader and bigger shoulders. The cable side lateral raise focuses mainly on the deltoid muscles and middle and lower traps. To do this exercise, stand straight with your chest pushed forward. Your knees must be bent and shoulders must be pointed back. Grab the stirrup using your outside arm. Raise your arm sideways while bending your elbows. Hold the top movement for 2-3 seconds and return to the starting position.
  3. Side lateral raise resistance band: As the name suggests, this exercise is done using a resistance band. It not just targets your shoulders but also activates your abs. To do the side lateral raise resistance band, step onto the resistance band and tighten your abdomen. Without arching your back and while bending your elbows slightly, follow the same steps as in the traditional form of this exercise. 
  4. Wall press side lateral raise: This variation of shoulder side lateral raise is done by pressing one side onto the wall while performing a lateral raise with the other side. This is an excellent way to create a higher amount of tension in both the shoulders and to keep your form right while doing this exercise. 

What are the benefits of side lateral raises?

Side lateral raise is a great toning and strengthening exercise that has tremendous benefits for your fitness. 

Here is a roundup of some of those benefits:

  1. One of the most important side lateral raise benefits is that it tones and makes your upper body stronger. This not just gives you broader and bigger shoulders but also improves your range of motion.
  2. Side lateral raise benefits people who lead sedentary lives and suffer from postural problems. By strengthening your upper body, this exercise helps prevent and manage pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders. 
  3. Since in side lateral raise muscles worked include those in your entire body, doing this exercise regularly improves your functionality and makes daily activities easier. 
  4. This is a versatile exercise with several side lateral raise alternatives and variations to choose from. You can do this using dumbbells, cable machines, or kettlebells while sitting or standing up.
  5. All this exercise requires is a pair of dumbbells and some space, and you can do this exercise anywhere. This makes it a great addition to your workouts at home.

How to do side lateral raises safely?

It is not sufficient merely to know how to do side lateral raises, but you also need to do it safely. Keep these tips in mind while doing this exercise:

  1. Pick the weights wisely, especially during exercise for beginners. Don’t start using heavyweights at the outset to prevent muscle strain and injury.
  2. Whether you are doing side lateral raise seated or standing, never arch your back. Keep it neutral without rounding it.
  3. Making controlled movements without swinging the weights.
  4. Don’t raise your shoulders. This may cause neck or shoulder strain. 


Side lateral raise is a fantastic exercise that gives you a stronger upper body. To gain the benefits of this exercise, you must learn the technique from an experienced trainer and be consistent with your practice. It is also important to keep yourself challenged by doing side lateral raise alternatives and variations. 

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May 18, 2022

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