Muscles Targeted: The seated dumbbell side lateral raises target the medial (middle) part of the deltoids muscle. This exercise is great because by doing one arm at a time, you are able to really focus maximum tension on each shoulder and then alternate to the other shoulder as you perform this exercise. This exercise is considered more of a shaping movement for the shoulders and not a mass building movement, so you do not need to use a lot of heavy weight on this exercise. Focus on starting with a pair of very light dumbbells (5-10 pounds) and work on your technique to make sure you’re performing the movement correctly. It’s also very important to incorporate additional exercises along with the seated dumbbell side lateral raises in order to hit all 3 heads of the deltoids, so make sure you add some front and rear deltoid exercises into your overall shoulder workout routine.
Exercise Advice: Grab a light pair of dumbbells and safely position yourself in a seated bench which has a back rest attached to it which will provide proper back support. While allowing the dumbbells to hang naturally at your sides, slowly raise one arm to about chin level, pause slightly at the top, and then slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position. Alternate to the other arm and perform the same movement to complete a full repetition. Make sure to always use a slow tempo and pause for a brief second at the top of the movement (at chin level) in order to really hit the deltoid muscle and place maximum tension on it.
Things To Avoid: You want to avoid arching your back and shoulders while doing this exercise. Make sure your back is up flat against the back rest of the seat and keep it there throughout the entire range of the movement in order to provide support. Keep your shoulders back and your posture upright. Avoid hunching over or leaning over when you lower the weight back down to the starting position. Focus on solid posture and a slow and controlled tempo when performing this exercise. You do not want to raise the weight in a fast or erratic manner. Doing this usually means you’re using too much weight, so decrease the weight of the dumbbells you’re using and focus on your technique and form versus the amount of weight you’re doing. This is a shaping movement, not a mass builder, so you don’t need to use a heavy weight. Since this exercise is an alternating movement where you will switch arms, focus on making a smooth transition from one arm to the next. When lowering one arm, make sure it’s resting at your side before initiating the other arm. Place your feet squarely on the floor to provide maximum stability when doing this exercise.
Reps and Sets: Since this is a shaping movement for the shoulders, your overall repetitions will be in the higher range of around 12-15 reps per set. Start with a very light weight for your warm-up set and perform 15-20 reps to make sure you get blood into the muscle and properly warm it up before moving to heavier weights. Your overall sets will be in the range of 1-3 depending on your fitness level. Beginners will do 1 set of these and include additional movements into their overall shoulder workout (3-4 total sets). Advanced athletes will do 3 sets of this exercise and include 2-3 additional exercises to hit all 3 heads of the deltoids. Total sets will be 9-10 for the advanced athlete’s shoulder workout. However, always adjust your total load depending on how you feel. The overall time for your shoulder workout should be in the range of 45-60 minutes. However, it’s always good to set your goal at around 45 minutes for your total workout session since its always better to hit it hard for a short period of time versus going longer.
Other Exercises To Use: In order to hit all 3 heads of the deltoids, make sure to include both front and rear shoulder exercises into your overall deltoid workout routine. A few great exercises to include are front deltoid plate raises and seated cable rear lateral raises. A good rule of thumb is to do your heavier mass building movements first in your workout since you will have the most energy, so focus on exercises like barbell and dumbbell shoulder presses which hit the medial part of the deltoids. Then, move into frontal deltoid work and finish the workout with read deltoid movements. However, a lot of people like to warm-up with 1-2 sets of rear deltoid exercises in order to get their rotator cuffs warmed up before moving into their heavier sets. You can experiment and see what works best for you.