How to get big back, massive chest, enormous arms…Those are usually the subjects of workout articles, but very rarely you will find an article that will help you to improve your shoulders.

Believe it or not, but many people have difficulties to make shoulders grow. So, what are the best shoulder exercises? What can really do the trick?

With this article, we will try to answer those questions. But first let us tell you a bit more about shoulder muscles.

fit woman with strong shoulder muscles


Shoulder muscles are somewhat included into all chest exercises, back exercises, and even in some arm exercises and most of the shoulder exercises targets shoulder muscles just fine.

So what can be the problem then? Not all people are built the same, their structure is different, and to make things worse, different muscle groups of the same body respond differently to training.

A person can do standard chest exercises and watch its chest grow to unimaginable proportions, but on the other hand when the same person is doing calf exercises there are no results what so ever.

When it comes to the exercises, some people simply can’t do certain exercises like for example squats (pain in the knees, weak lower back), neck press (insufficient shoulder mobility), or bench press (pain in the shoulders and elbows).

Each person needs to figure out which exercises they are supposed to do and which they are not supposed to do.

An exercise that will make one person feel pumped and make that person’s muscles grow like weed won’t be worth at all for another person or can even cause an injury.

Some people do squats with heavy weights going down almost till their behind touches the ground and they still do not have any knee issues.

Others have unbearable pain while doing them the moment their thighs get parallel to the floor, so the squats are totally unacceptable for them.

Sometimes the reason for stagnation in the growth of a certain muscle group can be due to a simple incorrect form of the exercises you are doing, or too much cheating, which you do when you are using too heavy weights.

So how to know if you are using too heavy weights? The answer to that is quite simple. First you lose the feel of the targeted muscle, one that you intended to isolate with that specific exercise. Second, since the weight is that heavy, you are forced to include secondary muscle group to help you lift.

Let’s take, for example, the lateral dumbbell raise, instead of lifting straight, primary with the strength of the middle part of the deltoid, you lift them by swaying of the body thus using traps, thighs and arms.

The muscle action is no longer pure. The momentum and inertia are doing better part of the lifting and not the pure muscle reaction.

If you return the weight quickly into the starting position without opposing the gravity, you can do the entire workout and not manage to stimulate the muscle as you were supposed to.

What Are The Best Shoulder Exercises?

The lateral dumbbell raise is one of the best exercises for targeting the middle part of shoulder muscle, it gives width to your shoulders and makes them look good no matter at what angle are you looking at them.

At the same time, this is the exercise that is most done incorrectly. Look at any gym and you will see so many different versions of this exercise, of course, all done completely incorrectly.

Hands, elbows, dumbbells all over the place.

Dumbbells are going to the starting position with the speed of light. Body sways so much that it all starts resembling to some incorrect deadlift for back leg muscles.

We will try to explain to you how to do the lateral dumbbell raise correctly and finally benefit from this amazing exercise.

weight training man

Lateral Dumbbell Raise

You can do this exercise in sitting or in a standing position. Most of the people prefer doing it standing because then they can use a little sway of their body to go past the hardest point of the movement.

Technically, this can be the hardest exercises to be done correctly. The goal of this exercise is to isolate the middle part of the shoulder muscle.

This is easier said than done since all the other muscle groups are helping to lift the weight to shoulder height. You can have a little push with your legs, sway with your arms or bend backwards to get better lever over the weight.

Many people use these tricks in every rep and then they are wondering how come they do not feel the exercise, the burning in the muscles or that muscle pump feeling.

In order to realise how to do lateral dumbbell raise correctly, we will divide its technique into several parts explaining to you the role of hands, joints, arms (including the elbows) and the role of the traps that actually should not have any role in this exercise.

You should be holding the dumbbells with the over grip, preferably without using the thumbs, with your hand aways from the middle of the bar so your pinkies touch the weight plate.

At the start of each rep, hold the dumbbells in front of you in the height of your groin. The dumbbells should touch. Your joints should be firm and elbows slightly bent. 

Upper body is slightly bent forward 10-15 degrees, just as it is needed so the dumbbells are aligned with the shoulders. Do this exercise in front of the mirror so you can make sure the form is correct. Make sure your elbows are aligned with the shoulders. You do not want to lift with your hands in shoulder height but with your elbows in shoulder height.

If you need to lean a bit forward is is all right. Many people start this exercise with the upper body too straight, which makes them bend backwards too much when they are lifting the weights.

This is the most important part of the exercise. While you are slightly bent forwards and you are lifting the weights slowly, make sure that you are raising the elbows higher than hands.

In the upper position start twisting your hands slowly as if you want to pour the juice out of the bottle.

The goal is to raise the elbows to the height of your shoulders or even a bit higher so you can feel the outer head of the muscle working.

Do not forget one very important thing. Even in the upper position your upper body must remain slightly bet forward, same as it is in the start position. Don’t bend backwards.

From the upper position return the dumbbells slowly to the start position. Try fighting the gravity while doing it. Lifting the weights can be relatively explosive but returning to the start position must always be slow.

You can use lateral dumbbell raise in super sets, but always as a first exercise. That will be a great way to build your shoulder muscles.


If your shoulders stopped growing, it is time to step back and look at all the aspects of your training objectively. Are you using the incorrect form? Are you using too heavy weights and that is preventing you to isolate the muscle?

If your answers are affirmative, it is time to make big changes in your training. Make the feeling in your muscles the priority, not the weight that you are using. Train in a way so you can feel burning and muscle pump in each set. Maybe you will have to make sorter breaks between set or do super sets, but still you will get results.

If you have a good diet and you give your muscles enough time to recover, then believe me your shoulders will grow!