DB Side Raise

Dumbbell Side Raise (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

Dumbbell Lateral Raises, or Side Raises, is 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 are how to do Dumbbell Lateral Raises, 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 the head of the dumbbell down.
  • A slight pause, then lower to starting position under control.
  • Keep your arms straight with just a slight bend in the elbow.
  • 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.

Benefits of Dumbbell Lateral Raises

Dumbbell lateral raises provide several benefits, including:

  • This exercise is one of the best movements for isolating the lateral deltoids, improving their strength and stability.
  • By strengthening the shoulders, Dumbbell Lateral Raises can help to reduce the risk of injury, particularly in sports that involve overhead movements and repetitive motions.

How Many Reps?

Dumbbell Side Raises are always done in relatively high rep ranges. I generally program Side Raises as 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps per set.

Muscles Worked

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

  • Deltoid (Medial, Anterior and Posterior heads)
  • Supraspinatus
  • Trapezius (if dumbbells are lifted slightly higher than shoulders at the top)

DB Lateral Raise Alternatives

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

Want even more options? Check out my 11 favorite dumbbell side raise alternatives.

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 either case.

Barbell Upright Row

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


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