The Single-Arm Lateral Raise is an isolation exercise that primarily targets the lateral deltoid muscles of the shoulder. It is a simple yet effective movement that involves lifting one arm to the side, away from the body’s centerline, against resistance. This exercise helps to develop broader shoulders and improve shoulder stability. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the technique, benefits, and alternatives to the Single-Arm Lateral Raise.

Instructions for Single-Arm Lateral Raise


  1. Equipment: To perform the Single-Arm Lateral Raise, you will need a dumbbell of an appropriate weight for your fitness level.
  2. Stance: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart for stability. Ensure that your core is engaged to maintain good posture throughout the exercise.


  1. Starting Position: Hold the dumbbell in your right hand, with your palm facing your thigh and your arm fully extended by your side. This is your starting position.
  2. Lifting the Weight: Exhale and slowly lift the dumbbell to the side in a controlled manner. Keep your arm extended and your elbow slightly bent but not locked. Continue lifting until your arm is parallel to the ground or slightly below. This is the top position of the movement.
  3. Squeeze and Hold: At the top position, pause for a moment and focus on squeezing your lateral deltoid muscle to maximize the contraction.
  4. Lowering the Weight: Inhale as you lower the dumbbell back to the starting position in a controlled manner. Keep your movement slow and deliberate.
  5. Repeat: Perform the desired number of repetitions on one side before switching to the other side.


  • Keep a slight bend in your elbow throughout the movement to reduce stress on the joint.
  • Avoid using excessive momentum to lift the weight. Focus on using the targeted muscle (lateral deltoid) to lift the dumbbell.
  • Maintain a neutral spine and avoid leaning or tilting your torso while performing the exercise.
  • Control the weight during both the lifting and lowering phases to prevent any jerking or swinging movements.

Benefits of Single-Arm Lateral Raise

  1. Shoulder Development: The Single-Arm Lateral Raise primarily targets the lateral deltoid muscle, which is responsible for the rounded, broad-shouldered appearance. Regularly performing this exercise can lead to improved shoulder aesthetics.
  2. Shoulder Strength: This exercise helps increase the strength of the lateral deltoid, enhancing shoulder stability and functionality. Strong deltoid muscles are crucial for various daily activities.
  3. Isolation: The Single-Arm Lateral Raise isolates the lateral deltoid, reducing the involvement of other muscle groups. This isolation can help you concentrate on targeting and developing this specific shoulder area.
  4. Improved Shoulder Symmetry: If you have one shoulder that is weaker or less developed than the other, single-arm exercises like this can help address any muscle imbalances and promote symmetrical shoulder development.
  5. Enhanced Shoulder Function: Strong lateral deltoids contribute to better shoulder function and mobility, which can be beneficial in sports, weightlifting, and everyday movements.


While the Single-Arm Lateral Raise is an effective exercise for targeting the lateral deltoid, there are alternative movements that can provide similar benefits and add variety to your shoulder training routine:

  1. Dumbbell Lateral Raise: Similar to the single-arm version, this exercise involves lifting dumbbells with both arms simultaneously. It targets both lateral deltoids simultaneously and allows for greater resistance.
  2. Cable Lateral Raise: Using a cable machine with a single-arm attachment, you can perform lateral raises with constant resistance throughout the range of motion.
  3. Machine Lateral Raise: Some gyms offer lateral raise machines that provide controlled resistance and support for this exercise.
  4. Front Raise: Raise a dumbbell or barbell in front of you instead of to the side. This variation targets the front deltoids, providing a different aspect of shoulder development.
  5. Seated Lateral Raise: Perform lateral raises while seated on a bench or chair. This can help stabilize your body and reduce the chance of using momentum to lift the weight.
  6. Plate Raise: Hold a weight plate with both hands and raise it in front of you or to the sides, focusing on maintaining a neutral wrist position throughout the movement.
  7. Bent-Over Lateral Raise: Bend at the hips to create a forward-leaning position and then perform lateral raises with dumbbells or a cable attachment. This targets the posterior deltoids more than the lateral deltoids.
  8. Barbell Upright Row: This exercise involves lifting a barbell with both hands close to your body. It targets the lateral deltoids as well as the upper traps and can be an effective alternative for shoulder development.

Incorporating a variety of shoulder exercises into your training routine can help you achieve well-rounded shoulder development, prevent overuse injuries, and promote overall shoulder health. Depending on your goals and preferences, you can rotate through these exercises to keep your workouts challenging and effective.

In conclusion, the Single-Arm Lateral Raise is a valuable exercise for targeting the lateral deltoid and enhancing shoulder aesthetics and strength. When performed with proper form and controlled movements, it can be an effective addition to your shoulder training program. If you’re new to this exercise or have specific fitness goals, consider consulting with a fitness professional or personal trainer for guidance and a customized workout plan.