DB Side Raise (How To, Muscles Worked & Alternatives)

DB Side Raise

DB Side Raises are a shoulder isolation exercise and one of my favorite supplemental lifts.

They’re good on their own, but in my opinion work even better when paired up as part of a giant set (multiple shoulder exercises paired together) or a superset.

Here’s how to do DB Side Raises, or Lateral Raises as they’re also called, what muscles the exercise works and a few alternatives.

How To Do DB Side Raises

Equipment Needed

  • Dumbbells


  • Hold dumbbells-palm in, arms straight down at sides.
  • Raise dumbbells in semicircular motion slightly above shoulder height tilting head of the dumbbell down.
  • Slight pause, then lower to starting position under control.
  • Keep arms straight.
  • Use the same path to continue repeated reps.
  • Exhale up, inhale down.

Coaching Points

To keep the focus on the medial delt, make sure to keep your palms down at the top of the movement. Many lifters like to pull back, instead of lift straight out to the sides, which brings the stronger muscles of the upper back into play.

Also, always start the movement at the side of the thigh. Bringing the dumbbells in front of the body allows for more of a momentum swing and takes away from the stress placed on the delts.

Muscles Worked

Side Raises work both the Delts and the Traps, but they’re primary focus is on the medial deltoids.

DB Side Raise Alternatives

If you’re unable to do DB Side Raises, for whatever reason, here are a couple alternatives you can replace them with.

Cable or Band Side Raise

If you simply don’t have dumbbells, you can replace DB Side Raises with either a cable if you have access to a cable machine or a band. Keep the movement exactly the same in the either case.

Barbell Upright Row

This isn’t an exact replacement, but barbell upright rows are another good exercise that works the trapezius and deltoids. So, if all you have to work with is a barbell (which I did when I first started my garage gym), barbell upright rows are a suitable alternative.

More Links and Info

Featured Image Photo Credit: Vladimir Sukhachev / Shutterstock.com

Horton Barbell has a growing Exercise Library including many more Upper Body Exercises

Ryan Horton

Horton Barbell was created by Ryan Horton who has served as a Sports Performance Coach for almost 20 years. My mission is to create a training resource to help as many coaches and athletes as possible maximize athletic potential.

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