Muscle group:   The shoulder muscles

Trained muscle:   Deltoid

Focused muscle:   Middle part of the deltoid muscle

Fitness level:   Beginner, advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Own body weight exercises, free weight exercises, machine exercises


Lateral arm raises represent an effective exercise for the middle part of the deltoid muscle. We can choose from different variations at various intensity levels.

Lateral arm raises

Lateral arm raises can be practised in standing, sitting, or lying position. The lying version starts in lateral position with the bottom arm resting on the floor. Both legs are bent in both joints (hip and knee). Bring your inwards rotated upper arm under the raised top leg. The back of your hand would be touching the lower leg above the ankle joint from below. From this position the lateral arm raise is performed against the weight of the upper leg. The shoulder of the working arm pulls back towards the floor.

Lateral arm raises against leg resistance

Lateral arm raises against leg resistance

Lateral arm raises on the bench

Lateral arm raises on the bench are a little similar to the lying version. Choose a back rest angle of approximately 45°. Kneel on the bench in lateral position with your bottom arm holding on to the back rest. Your top arm is inwards rotated and almost entirely extended. Raise your arm smoothly up to the horizontal line and bring it back to the thigh again to perform one repetition. This exercise might be too easy without extra weights so feel free to use a dumbbell or similar.

Lateral arm raises on the bench

Lateral arm raises on the bench

Lateral arm raises in standing position

Lateral arm raises can also be performed with both arms in standing or sitting position. In standing position either place your feet shoulder wide with slightly bent knees or make one step forward into lunge position. Your trunk and belly muscles are tensed and the pelvis is erected. Both arms are inwards rotated. Now move both arms smoothly up to the horizontal line and down again not touching your thigh. Choose extra weights (e.g. dumbbells) according to your physical conditions. The same exercise can be performed one-armed at the cable machine. Here, please hold on to the machine with your other arm to stabilize your body.

Lateral arm raises, standing

Lateral arm raises, standing

Lateral arm raises on the machine

Lateral arm raises on the machine are performed with both arms in sitting position. Your entire back touches the back rest in an upright position. The weight cushions sit on your upper arms or elbows what represents a short lever and allows you to work out with higher weights. This version can already be performed by beginners. All other variations require some experience.

Lateral arm raises on the machine

Lateral arm raises on the machine


Intensify the lateral arm raises by working out with highest lever (stretched arms). But it is recommendable to always keep the elbows at least slightly bent to spare the joint. Further intensify the exercise by remaining on the horizontal line with the training arm performing small up and down movements in the area of highest muscle tension.

Stretching: Shoulder stretches

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