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11 Lateral Raise Alternative for 3D Delts

The Dumbbell Lateral Raise is a really popular exercise that can help you build strong shoulders. It’s actually quite easy to do, so even if you’re a beginner, you can give it a try. This exercise specifically targets your lateral deltoid, which is great for developing those shoulder muscles.

However, there might be times when you don’t have access to dumbbells or you just want to switch things up in your workout routine. Don’t worry, because I’ve got you covered! I can provide you with some alternatives to the Dumbbell Lateral Raise.

Whether you’re looking for different variations of lateral raises or exercises that use different equipment, I’ve got 11 options for you. These alternatives will give you a chance to mix things up and keep your shoulder workout interesting.

The Issue with the Dumbbell Lateral Raise

So, when it comes to the gym, you’ll often see people doing the lateral raise with dumbbells. However, I have to admit, the dumbbell side lateral raise isn’t usually done correctly.

Here’s the thing: many folks tend to choose weights that are way too heavy for their small medial deltoid head. And as a result, they start swinging the weights, using their hips, and failing to resist gravity when lowering the dumbbells.

Now, here’s the deal: you shouldn’t be relying on momentum during this exercise. It’s kind of like cheating, and we all know that building muscle requires actual work and effort, not shortcuts.

Not only does using momentum neutralize the effort you put into the exercise, but it can also lead to injuries like throwing out your back or hurting your muscles. Trust me, that’s something you definitely want to avoid because it could keep you out of action for weeks.

But hey, don’t worry! There are other options available to you.

Before we dive into the best alternatives for the dumbbell lateral raise, let’s take a moment to understand how to properly perform the exercise:

Here’s the right way to do the Dumbbell Lateral Raise:

1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides (not in front of your body). It’s important to choose lighter weights that you can easily control during the descent.

2. Keep your arms straight and pull your shoulders back while pinching your shoulder blades together.

3. Now, pivot from the shoulders and lift your arms up and out to the side until they are parallel to the floor—no need to go any higher.

4. Slowly lower the dumbbells, resisting the pull of gravity.

5. Remember to stop at the end of each repetition. This will prevent momentum from carrying you into the next rep.

There you have it! Follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to performing a proper dumbbell lateral raise. Take care and keep up the great work!

11 Dumbbell Lateral Raise Alternative

1. Y Raise

Another exercise you can try is the Y Raise. To perform this exercise, you’ll need an adjustable weight bench and a set of dumbbells. Set the bench to a 45-degree angle and lie face down on it with a dumbbell in each hand. Let your arms hang down over the edge of the bench. Keeping your arms straight, raise them out on an angle to form a ‘Y’ shape in the top position. Lower the weights under control and repeat the movement.

The Y Raise targets the same muscles as the previous exercises: the medial deltoid, trapezius, and anterior deltoid.

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2. Landmine Lateral Raise

The Landmine Lateral Raise is a great exercise that targets multiple muscles in your shoulders. To perform this exercise, you’ll need a landmine device (or you can even use a tennis ball cut in half), an Olympic barbell, and the Rogue Ohio Cerakote Bar.

Now, let’s talk about how to perform the Landmine Lateral Raise. Start by loading a barbell into a landmine attachment, and I suggest starting with just the weight of the barbell. Stand side-on to the landmine anchor point while holding the end of the barbell in your right hand. In the starting position, your hand and shoulder should be in front of your groin. Without bending your elbow, pivot at the shoulder to raise your arm out in an arc until your hand reaches shoulder level. Lower the weight under control and repeat the movement.

This exercise primarily targets the medial deltoid, trapezius, and anterior deltoid muscles. It’s a great way to build strength and improve your shoulder stability.

3. Big 30

The Big 30 consists of three exercises: Dumbbell Front Raises, Lateral Raises, and Rear Delt Raises.

Each exercise targets a different part of the deltoid muscle:

  • Front Raise focuses on the anterior deltoid.
  • Lateral Raise works the lateral deltoid.
  • Rear Delt Raise targets the posterior deltoid.

Grab lighter dumbbells than you would normally use for lateral raises. Start by doing 10 Dumbbell Front Raises, followed immediately by 10 Lateral Raises, and finish with 10 Rear Delt Raises. The key is to perform all three exercises without any rest in between and without setting the dumbbells down.

Big 30s are fantastic to do towards the end of your workout as a killer shoulder finisher.

4. Machine-style lateral raise machine

It’s not personally my favorite, but it’s quite popular in commercial gyms. If you come across one, give it a go!

The lateral raise machine can vary in design, but generally, it involves sitting down with circular pads on each side of you. Adjust the pads so they rest just above your elbows. As you raise your arms out to the sides, the pads will roll up your arms slightly.

As with any variation of lateral raises, make sure to control the weight and avoid rushing through the reps.

Are you tired of coming up with your own workouts? Well, I’ve got you covered! I post free workouts right here five days a week. You’re welcome to check them out!

lateral raise alternative

5. Dead Stop Lateral Raises

Dead Stop, or Pause Lateral Raises, are a simple yet effective way to increase the time under tension during the exercise. This helps recruit more muscles and promotes muscle growth (hypertrophy).

The starting position and arm raise remain the same, but the difference is that you’ll pause for a complete one-second or longer at the very top position. Adding this pause will have noticeable effects, and you’ll probably want to use a lighter weight compared to regular lateral raises.

lateral raise alternative

6. Band Lateral Raise

This variation uses resistance bands, which are more commonly found in home gyms than those bulky machines we mentioned earlier.

For Band Lateral Raises, grab a thinner band and stand on one side of it. Reach across your body and grab the band, similar to the starting position for a cable machine exercise. Lift the band away from the foot you’re standing on, raising it up to shoulder height.

If you have a squat rack or something sturdy, you can also loop the band around it instead of standing on it. This allows for more comfortable and less awkward lifting.

By the way, if your resistance band is long and thin enough, you might be able to lift both arms at once instead of one arm at a time.

7. Use Weight Plates

If you want to do Dumbbell Lateral Raises but you don’t have any dumbbells on hand, no worries! I’ve got a simple solution that you might not have thought of yet.

Why not try using Weight Plates? If you have weight plates available, you can easily substitute them for dumbbells. You can use 5, 10, or even 25-pound plates to get the job done.

Depending on the type of plate you have, you might need to get a little creative with how you hold them. But generally, placing two fingers through the center cap works just fine. Weight plates can be a perfect alternative for dumbbells, allowing you to do lateral raises without any major variation.

8. Single Arm Lateral Raises

As the name suggests, you’ll be lifting one dumbbell at a time instead of using both. This allows you to focus on each arm individually, and it also engages your core more to stabilize your body.

Now, let’s say you don’t have dumbbells but you have access to a cable machine, like at a hotel gym.

lateral raise alternative

9. Cable Lateral Raises

Cable Lateral Raises can be a great substitute for Dumbbell Lateral Raises. Lower the pulley all the way down and attach a single handle. Reach down and across your body to grab the handle. Now, lift your arm out to the side, away from the machine, performing lateral raises one arm at a time.

Remember not to rush the movement and maintain control, especially while lowering the weight back down.

10. Wall Press Lateral Raise

Now, let’s move on to the Wall Press Lateral Raise, which is another effective variation. For this exercise, you’ll need a single dumbbell and a wall. By pressing one hand into the wall, you minimize cheating by using momentum and create more tension in your deltoids. Stand side-on to the wall and hold the dumbbell in your other hand alongside your thigh. From there, pivot from the shoulder and raise both arms out to the side until they are parallel to the floor. Lower the weight slowly, resisting the pull of gravity, and make sure to stop at the end of each repetition to prevent momentum from carrying you into the next one.

The Wall Press Lateral Raise also targets the medial deltoid, trapezius, and anterior deltoid muscles. It’s a great exercise to add to your shoulder workout routine.

11. Barbell Upright Rows

Now, let’s focus on Barbell Upright Rows. Many people see them as a back exercise, but they’re actually excellent for your shoulders as well. They work the upper trapezius, deltoids, and biceps.

To perform Barbell Upright Rows, grab a bar with an overhand grip about shoulder-width apart. Experiment with grip width to find what feels most comfortable for your shoulders. Brace your core, pull the bar straight up to just below your chin, then lower it back down under control. Avoid any rocking or swinging motions. If the weight feels too heavy to maintain proper form, lower it.

Quick tip: Some people find Barbell Upright Rows uncomfortable for their shoulder joints. If you experience this, you can try Dumbbell Upright Rows instead or choose one of the other lateral raise alternatives we’ve discussed.


In conclusion, when it comes to targeting the medial deltoid, your exercise options are limited. However, these lateral raise variations provide a pure movement and help eliminate momentum. Once you’ve tried them out, choose your favorites and add them to your shoulder workout routine. Use a range of repetitions, from 30 down to 10, to challenge yourself and control the weight. Happy training!

Frequently Asked Questions

Which lateral Raise alternative is suitable for beginners?

If you’re just starting out, the Downward Dog pose is a great option. It doesn’t require any fancy or expensive equipment, and it’s perfect for beginners. This exercise will help you gradually build the strength needed for more advanced weightlifting moves in the future. Plus, it has some additional benefits for your spine, legs, glutes, chest, and neck.

What are some best lateral Raise alternative exercise?

In summary, some of the top Lateral Raise variations commonly practiced by strength trainers, bodybuilders, athletes, and others include the Seated Arnold Press, Behind the Neck Overhead Press, Barbell Military Press, Downward Dog, Face Pulls, and Reverse Flys.

Can Lateral Raise alternative exercises assist with shoulder pain management?

Lateral Raise alternative cannot cure shoulder pain. However, when performed with caution and proper form, they can help strengthen the shoulders, potentially reducing future pain and preventing muscle deterioration. It is important to avoid using excessively heavy weights, as they can cause or exacerbate shoulder pain.

Can Lateral Raise alternative fully replace traditional Lateral Raises?

Lateral Raise alternatives can indeed replace traditional Lateral Raises. There is a diverse range of exercises available, catering to beginners, experienced lifters, and those with or without equipment. Many of these alternative movements are more intricate and effective for building overall strength compared to traditional Lateral Raises.

Which alternative exercise to the Lateral Raise is more effective for developing shoulder muscles?

The Seated Arnold Press is the best alternative exercise to the Lateral Raise for strengthening and enhancing the shoulder muscles. This straightforward yet comprehensive exercise specifically targets the posterior deltoid, lateral deltoid, and anterior deltoid muscles of the shoulders.


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Brian Shaw
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Brian Shaw

Brian Shaw is a renowned fitness guru, accomplished author, and elite-level personal trainer devoted to guiding others toward optimal health and vitality. With a wealth of experience spanning decades in the fitness realm, Brian has mentored numerous individuals in realizing their fitness aspirations through tailored exercise regimes and nutritional guidance. His literary works embody a comprehensive approach to wellness, emphasizing the significance of harmony, sustainability, and mental fortitude in attaining enduring results. Brian's writings offer actionable insights, evidence-backed methodologies, and unwavering motivation to inspire readers on their journey to wellness. Brian is steadfast in his mission to democratize fitness, ensuring it is both accessible and enriching for all.

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