Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise

Train your shoulder muscles with the dumbbell side lateral raise "Laterals". This is one of the most important shoulder exercises and should not be missing in your routine. Do 3 sets with 20 to 30 repetitions. If you don't have any dumbbells, you can also do you side laterals with 2 olympic plates, a rubber band, bags, small children or whatever. Find more shoulder exercises on the main page for weight training and bodybuilding.


  • Stand up straight and hold two dumbbells with your palms facing your thighs. You can also start with the dumbbells touching each-other in front of your hips, but I personally prefer to start from the thighs, because it's harder to cheat and your shoulder muscles don't get that much rest in the lowest position. Bend your elbows a little but keep them still throughout the entire exercise. If you don't have any dumbbells, you can also do this with two olympic plates, bags, small children or whatever.
  • Raise both arms sideways and don't move the shoulders and the upper body. Actually push your shoulders down and back the whole time. Exhale at the same time and don't lean back. Only the arms move. Also make sure you don't lift the weights too high. If you stop at shoulder height, that's perfect, but going over the ears is not only wrong, but also bad for your shoulder joints... At least in this position!
  • If you think you need some rest, THIS is the only position where it's ok to stop. I see a lot of people relaxing in the lowest position, but guess what? THATS bull?!$=?!
  • Go back down to the starting position and inhale slowly. Don't let the weight fall and don't create momentum for the next repetition. The down-motion should be slightly slower than the up-motion.


  • You can also do this exercise in a sitting position.
  • If you want to emphasize on the front of your shoulders, you can twist your hands, so that your thumbs point up at the end of the repetition.
  • If you wanna emphasize on the back of your shoulders, lean forward. But that's actually a whole different exercise.


  • Do the side lateral raise in front of a mirror.
  • If you want your shoulders to sound like popcorn, grab the biggest dumbbells you can find and jerk up the weight. Don't get me wrong, it's no secret that the side lateral raise is one of the most important shoulder exercises. But it's NOT designed for heavy weights. Use light dumbbells and do between 15 and 30 repetitions. If you wanna lift heavy, do shoulder presses. Or even better, warm up with side laterals and then do shoulder presses. So here is a little trick if you have already reached muscle failure but want to do a few more repetitions. Simply bend your elbows. The closer the weight is to the body, the easier it is to raise the arms. You can also extend your arms in the down motion, which is a nice way to add a few negative repetitions.
  • The most common mistakes are:
    • Moving too fast
    • Jerking the weight
    • Moving back, hips or knees
    • Pressing air
    • Lifting the shoulders
    • Letting the weight fall
  • And BTW!, It doesn't matter if you do the side lateral raise in a wide stance, or with your legs closed. Just make sure your stance and the whole movement are symmetrical.
  • In case you don't know what olympic plates are: That are the ones with the big 2 inch holes - It's is easy to 3 or 4 fingers through the hole so you can almost hold them like dumbbell.