Lateral Raise Side-Lying

Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. Grasp a dumbbell with a closed grip and lay on your side on an incline bench (angled at approximately 30 degrees).
  2. Position knees on bench accordingly to ensure stability and balance on the bench.
  3. Extend arm at your side (palms facing downward) while keeping a slight bend in your elbows.

Upward movement/concentric phase:

  1. Raise arm out to your side, lifting the dumbbell. Lift until your arm reaches the level of your shoulder.
  2. Maintain a slight bend in the elbows throughout the entire movement.
  3. Keep the torso motionless throughout the movement.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

    1. In a controlled fashion, slowly lower the dumbbells by reversing the movement to starting position.
Do not hold your breath. Exhale during the concentric phase and inhale during the eccentric phase.


Exercise Data

  • Primary Muscles: Middle deltoids
  • Synergists: Supraspinatus
  • Stabilizers: Biceps brachii (long head), wrist extensors and other rotator cuff muscles
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance
  • Mechanics: Shoulder abduction
  • Equipment: One dumbbell and incline bench
  • Lever: 3rd class lever
  • Level: Beginner to advanced
  • FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Lateral Raise Side-Lying

    What Is A Dumbbell Side-Lying Lateral Raise?

    A dumbbell lateral raise is a resistance exercise, which targets the middle deltoid. This exercise is performed lying sideways on an incline bench with one dumbbell. One arm is raised against resistance to the side of the body.

    The concentric portion of the lift is shoulder abduction. The eccentric portion is shoulder adduction as the dumbbell is lowered.

    The purpose of the lateral raise is to strengthen the middle deltoid while also promoting the hypertrophy (increases in size) of this muscle.

    Why Do A Dumbbell Side-Lying Lateral Raise?

    The lateral raise activates the middle deltoid as the middle deltoid is a primary shoulder abductor. Activating the middle deltoid contributes to the hypertrophy of the shoulder muscles, providing roundness and a fuller appearance. Performing this exercise in a lying position allows the lifter to further isolate the movement to their upper body. The positioning of this exercise also places less stress on the shoulders and may preferable for individuals recovering from shoulder injury and/or beginners.

    Although it is primarily an exercise for aesthetics, lateral raises also serve as an auxiliary exercise that can increase strength involved in other multi-joint exercises.

    Performing this exercise one arm at a time allows the lifter to isolate the contraction of each arm. This may also help determine any weaknesses, if any, as each arm contracts individually.

    Anatomy Of A Dumbbell Side-Lying Lateral Raise

    The deltoid is a thick, multipennate muscle that forms a curtain around the shoulder. It is the primary muscle involved with arm abduction and the middle fibers are a primary shoulder abductor. When developed, the deltoids give the shoulder their round shape. The origin of the deltoid is located at the insertion of the trapezius, lateral third of the clavicle and the acromion spine of the scapula. Its insertion is located at the deltoid tuberosity of the humerus.

    The supraspinatus is one of the four rotator cuff muscles. It is located on the posterior aspect of the scapula, underneath the trapezius. The supraspinatus assists the middle deltoid fibers with shoulder abduction. Its origin is located at the infraspinous fossa of the scapula. Its insertion is located at the greater tubercle of the humerus.

    The biceps brachii consists of two heads, the long head and the short head. The long head tendon helps stabilize the shoulder joint and its origin is located at the tubercle and lip of the glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder blade). The long head of the biceps brachii acts as a stabilizer of the humeral head during shoulder abduction.

    The wrist extensors and rotator cuff muscles play an essential role in stabilizing the wrists, forearms and shoulders during this exercise.

    Variations Of A Dumbbell Side-Lying Lateral Raise

    Standing lateral raise, seated lateral raise, cable lateral raise.

    How To Improve Your Dumbbell Side-Lying Lateral Raises

    Perform standing lateral raises to enhance the strength and development of your middle deltoid.

    Focus on the concentric portion of the contraction, concentrating on “squeezing” as the arms approach shoulder level.

    Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the eccentric portion of the contraction, may also be incorporated in a training program focused on increasing strength. This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue.

    It’s important to note that your repetition and set volume will depend on your goals (e.g. strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance). It is also important to allow adequate recovery days in between shoulder training days to allow muscles to repair.

    Common Mistakes When Doing Dumbbell Side-Lying Lateral Raises

    Raising the arms above the level of the shoulder can minimize the activation of the deltoid and place negative stress on the shoulder joint.

    Swinging the torso and/or moving the legs throughout the movement minimize the activation of the working muscles and increase the risk for injury. Do not use body momentum to lift the weight during concentric phases. Do not drop the weight on its way down. The concentric and eccentric phases should be controlled.

    Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding Dumbbell Side-Lying Lateral Raises

    If the lifter has a compromised range of motion with the shoulder joint and/or performs this exercise incorrectly, this exercise can increase the risk of injury and/or exacerbate a previous injury. Performing this exercise with a weight too heavy for the lifter can also increase the risk for injury.

    If proper technique and recovery are not adhered to, impingement syndrome, rotator cuff injuries, and glenoid labrum tears may result.

    Lifters with a history of shoulder injury or present state of injury should consult with a physical therapist or orthopedic physician before performing this exercise.