How to Build Bigger Shoulders with Lateral Raises

Your typical dumbbell vanity routine is probably heavy on biceps and triceps work—what’s more classic than grabbing some weights and repping out some DB curls to end arm day?

But if you’re fixated on only working out your arms for size gains, you’re missing out. The lateral raise might be the best exercise for targeting another key area to make your flexes more impressive, your lateral deltoids—the muscles that make your shoulders look broader.

To perform the exercise, grab some moderately light dumbbells that you don’t struggle to lift. Hold them next to your sides, with a slight bend at your elbow. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and squeeze your core, bending your elbows.

Raise your arms straight out to your sides, maintaining your elbow position, until they reach shoulder height. Your body should look like the letter t, or a cross.

Pause at the top for a beat, then lower the weights at a controlled pace back to the starting position.

Lateral raise

Men's Health

If you’re not doing lateral raises already, start. But even if they’re already part of your routine, a small tweak can maximize your gains, according to former Men’s Health Fitness Director BJ Gaddour, C.S.C.S.

Rather than holding the dumbbells with your palms facing down, rotate your arms slightly so that your pinkies are higher than your thumbs. You’ll get more lateral deltoid activation this way, Gaddour said.

If you’re used to lateral raises and you’re an experienced lifter try the variation out—you’ll feel the difference. If you’re just starting out, though, you should be cautious with the internal rotation of the movement and stick to the old standard.

Grab lighter weights to get used to the new position, or to get used to the new move. Do three to five sets of 10 to 15 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

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