Develop Your Middle Delts
Your middle – or lateral – deltoids often don’t get as much love as the front and rear delts. When it comes to lateral raises, you might think that all that matters is the lifting, but the position of your elbows and palms can make a difference. By bending your elbows you place emphasis on the front delts. Make sure you keep them straight so that the focus is on the mid delts. The same goes for your palms; keep them facing down. If they face upwards this will tilt your arms and again will place the strain on your front delts.
This principle applies through all manners of weight lifting, but particularly when you are aiming to isolate one particular muscle you should make sure you are minimising the support of other muscles. With the lateral delts, you will potentially bring the rear and front delts into the mix, and also your traps.
To avoid working your trapezius too much, keep your shoulders down. When it comes to volume, single joint exercises are not your best bet. Lateral raises, being single joint isolating exercises, will not allow you to work with the same weight that you could in a multi joint compound lift, like a shoulder press.
The catch here is that you would then draw on your stronger muscles and most likely bear the main weight on your front delts above your mid delts. This is because the likes of shoulder and chest press mainly focus on the front delts, and because these are likely exercises you perform a lot, your front delts will be more developed. It’s for this reason that you ought to find a balance of both.
Whereas high rep low weight lateral raises may ideally target the middle delts, this approach to lifting will provide a more temporary pump than heavy lifting would. You could work out like this every day and would reach a plateau.
Single joint exercises will place more stress on the joint that you’re using than compound lifts, which spread the weight, so you don’t want to overload them and cause an injury. For this reason, aim for lower weight and higher reps. The first muscle you work in a session will be the first to recover, so you could begin with an isolating exercise, such as a lateral raise, before going into a heavy compound lift. In other words, you’d be pre-exhausting your targeted muscle.
Here is a list of single joint and multi-joint exercises for you to use:
✓ Single Joint
✓ Lateral raise (dumbbells or cables)
✓ Lying side raises (dumbbells)
✓ Front arm raises (dumbbells or cables)
✓ Arnold press
✓ Barbell military press
✓ Dumbbell military press
✓ Upright rows (barbell or cables
Taking this one step further, many lifters recommend supersets, combining one of the above swiftly followed by another. For example, you could lift a heavy set of shoulder presses and do a set of lateral raises immediately on the back of those.
Our advice is to pre and post exhaust with lateral raises, with heavy presses in between. When it comes to raises, go for cables in place of dumbbells so that the pulleys offer some support when adding on the weight.