A full, round and evenly balanced set of deltoids is what distinguishes us as bodybuilders from the masses that surround us. One quick look at a set of bowling ball sized delts and you know that person is different from the rest, has put in the work and is on their way to establishing themselves as one of the few among many.
Whether your choice of clothing starts with a tank top or you prefer instead to keep
covered up in a hoodie, you can't hide massive deltoids and you can't hide the fact that your end goal is to have to walk through doors sideways because of the width you've accrued. And if more width is your goal, then you have to settle into the fact that lateral raises, in all its forms, are going to be your go to exercises for detonating your delts.
Try incorporating the following movements into your routine to pack on the size and roundness that you're after:
Standing/Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raises
This exercise is the gold standard for stimulating the medial head of the deltoid complex which is responsible for giving your that wide and round look. It's also, in my experience, one of the most difficult exercises to teach someone and have them master it immediately. Often times what you'll see is an altered version of this exercise being performed and chances are, if you aren't experiencing any growth from this movement, then you too might be doing it wrong. The key with dumbbell lateral raises is to ensure that when you elevate your arms that you're leading with your elbows and really only hanging onto the dumbbells with your hands acting like hooks. Far too many times people will really grip the dumbbells hard and that makes them lead the movement with their wrists instead, so don't do that.
At the top, your arms should be at least parallel with the floor or just slightly higher than that with your elbows in a position that is just higher than your wrists. Then follow the same arc down as you did up and repeat. You might even hear someone say pretend you're pouring water out of a bottle as you lift your arms but that's just to ensure the elbow is higher than the wrist at the top.
Cable Lateral Raises
Second to the dumbbell lateral raise for stimulating the medial deltoid would be the low pulley cable lateral raise. Many people like this exercise and often times perform it prior to working with the dumbbells because of its value in really warming up the area by virtue of the constant tension the cable offers. You do this exercise one arm at a time which can really help with establishing that mind to
muscle connection. Also, when you work with a cable, there's really no dead spot within the range of motion in your reps because of the angle you are working at with respect to where the weight stack is. If you position yourself at arm's length from the stack, the angle at which you will be pulling the handle as you complete the exercise will always provide that constant tension you're looking for. Now from here you have two options: option number one is to allow your arm to travel in front of your body and option number two would see your arm traveling behind your back.
My personal preference is the second version simply because I feel more of a stretch in the delt with my arm behind my back and it helps eliminate the front delt and isolates the medial delt much better.
Machine Lateral Raises
This exercise can either be performed as a seated version where you place the top side of your forearms and elbows up against the pad and laterally adduct your arms up or in the standing version where you hold onto handles with your hands and raise your arms up from there. Either version is highly effective for isolating the side deltoid and really provides for an awesome pump. I like finishing things off with the
machine because you don't have to think about stabilizing your body so much and you can really zero in on just making the medial delts go to work. You also have the option of performing this exercise having both arms going up at the same time or you can perform it in unilateral fashion. Either way, you're going to get great results from including these in your program.
Now here's the thing about lateral raises and especially so with the dumbbells; you don't need to go all that heavy. Heavy, is of course a relative term, so what I'm saying here is the goal isn't to swing and heave your arms up and have momentum move the weight for you. I can tell when someone is doing this because their heels lift up off the floor and that shouldn't happen especially when you've made a concerted effort to purchase and wear your flat soled Super Shift Bodybuilding Shoes to specifically keep you planted firmly to the floor.
So stop doing that, slow down your reps, execute the movement with precision and control and let your medial delts takes over and grow so big and wide that building codes have to be changed and doorways widened to accommodate your new found width.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.