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How to Build Strong and Sculpted Shoulders with the Egyptian Lateral Raise

If you're looking to add some excitement to your shoulder workouts and effectively target your deltoids why not give the Egyptian lateral raise a go? It's a modified version of the lateral raise that involves leaning to one side and using your non-working hand for support. This technique allows for isolation of the working shoulder and a wider range of motion during the exercise.

In this article we will delve into what the Egyptian lateral raise entails, provide step by step instructions on how to perform it correctly, and outline the benefits it brings and even suggest some variations you can experiment with. After reading this article you'll be all set to incorporate this exercise into your shoulder routine and reap the rewards it offers.

What is the Egyptian Lateral Raise?

The Egyptian lateral raise is an exercise that specifically targets your lateral or middle deltoids. The muscles that contribute to shoulder width and shape and assist in moving your arm out to the side.

In terms of technique the Egyptian lateral raise is quite similar to the lateral raise. However there's a twist. You'll lean to one side and grasp onto a support using your non working hand. This tweak increases the tension on your working deltoid by extending the lever arm. It's a way to prevent any cheating with momentum or swinging and ensures that the exercise is maximizing its effectiveness.

You have some flexibility in choosing what equipment to use for the lateral raise. Dumbbells, plates, kettlebells or cables are all viable options. If you're looking for a tension experience throughout the movement, cables can be particularly handy.

Overall the Egyptian lateral raise is a solid addition to any shoulder workout, helping you develop those boulder deltoids while maintaining proper form and avoiding any shortcuts.

How to Do the Egyptian Lateral Raise Correctly

Here are the steps to perform the Egyptian lateral raise with proper form:

  • Grab a weight in one hand. This can be a dumbbell, plate, kettlebell, or cable handle.
  • Stand next to a support, such as a column, rack, or cable tower.
  • Hold onto the support with your off-hand and bring your feet close to its base.
  • Lean out to the side, so that your torso is farther away from the support than your feet, and your working shoulder is the farthest away.
  • This is your starting position. Your arm should be hanging straight down, perpendicular to the floor.
  • Keeping a slight bend in your elbow, raise your arm out to the side until it is parallel to the floor. Imagine scooping water with your hand as you lift it.
  • Squeeze your deltoid at the top of the movement and hold for a second.
  • Lower your arm slowly and under control back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps, then switch sides.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Fit Young Man Sweating after a Gym Workout Session

To get the most out of this exercise, make sure you avoid these common mistakes:

  • Leaning too far or too little. You want to find a comfortable angle that allows you to fully extend your arm without losing balance or stability. A good rule of thumb is to lean until your torso is about 45 degrees from vertical.
  • Raising your arm too high or too low. You want to lift your arm until it is parallel to the floor, no higher or lower. Going too high can cause shoulder impingement or activate your traps more than your delts. Going too low can reduce the tension on your delts and make the exercise easier.
  • Using too much weight or momentum. You want to use a weight that challenges you but allows you to maintain good form and control throughout the movement. Don’t use momentum or swing the weight up or down. Focus on contracting your deltoid and moving slowly and deliberately.
  • Shrugging your shoulders or rounding your back. You want to keep your shoulders down and back, and your chest up and out. This will help you isolate your delts and prevent injury. Don’t shrug your shoulders or round your back as you lift or lower the weight.

Benefits of the Egyptian Lateral Raise

The Egyptian lateral raise offers several benefits for your shoulder development and health:

  • It isolates your lateral deltoids better than other shoulder exercises. By leaning to one side and holding onto a support, you eliminate any assistance from other muscles and focus on working one shoulder at a time. This can help you improve any muscle imbalances or weaknesses in your shoulders.
  • It increases the range of motion of the exercise. By leaning to one side, you create a longer lever arm and increase the distance that you have to lift the weight. This means more work for your delts and more stimulus for growth.
  • It improves your mind-muscle connection with your delts. By focusing on one shoulder at a time, you can better feel your deltoid contracting and relaxing as you perform the exercise. This can help you improve your technique and activate more muscle fibers in your delts.
  • It enhances your shoulder mobility and stability. By moving your arm in different planes of motion, you challenge your shoulder joint and its surrounding muscles in different ways. This can help you improve your shoulder mobility and stability, which can prevent injuries and improve your performance in other exercises.

Variations of the Egyptian Lateral Raise

If you want to spice up your shoulder workouts even more, you can try these variations of the Egyptian lateral raise:

  • Egyptian front raise. Instead of raising your arm out to the side, raise it in front of you until it is parallel to the floor. This will target your anterior or front deltoids more than your lateral ones.
  • Egyptian rear delt fly. Instead of raising your arm out to the side, raise it behind you until it is parallel to the floor. This will target your posterior or rear deltoids more than your lateral ones.
  • Egyptian lateral raise with rotation. Instead of keeping your palm facing down as you raise your arm, rotate it so that it faces up at the top of the movement. This will add some external rotation to the exercise, which can activate your rotator cuff muscles and improve your shoulder health.


Here are some frequently asked questions about the Egyptian lateral raise:

How many sets and reps should I do?

The optimal approach may vary based on your objectives and training regimen. However it is generally recommended to perform the lateral raise with higher repetitions aiming for 12 or more along with moderate sets ranging from 3, to 4. This strategy helps maximize muscle growth and endurance. Alternatively if you aim to enhance strength and power you can opt for rep ranges of 6 to 8 combined with heavier sets of 4 to 5. Nevertheless it is crucial to prioritize maintaining form and avoiding the risk of injury while incorporating these variations into your routine.

How often should I do this exercise?

To successfully undergo this exercise it's advisable to incorporate it into your fitness regimen twice a week preferably alongside your shoulder or upper body routine. For added variety and to engage your muscles differently you may choose to alternate it with shoulder exercises. By doing you'll introduce diversity to your workouts and provide your muscles with new challenges.

What are some other exercises that work the lateral deltoids?

Some other exercises that work the lateral deltoids are: regular lateral raises, cable lateral raises, machine lateral raises, upright rows, face pulls, and wide-grip overhead presses.

Wrapping Up

The Egyptian lateral raise is a great exercise to add to your shoulder workouts if you want to isolate and grow your lateral deltoids. It involves leaning to one side and holding onto a support with your non-working hand, which increases the range of motion and tension on your working shoulder.

To do this exercise correctly, make sure you lean at a comfortable angle, lift your arm until it is parallel to the floor, squeeze your deltoid at the top, and lower it slowly and under control. Avoid leaning too far or too little, raising your arm too high or too low, using too much weight or momentum, or shrugging your shoulders or rounding your back.

You can also try some variations of this exercise, such as the Egyptian front raise, the Egyptian rear delt fly, or the Egyptian lateral raise with rotation. These will target different parts of your shoulders and challenge them in different ways.

The Egyptian lateral raise can help you build strong and sculpted shoulders that will make you look and feel great. Give it a try and see for yourself!

James Freeman


Liam Marshall, the friendly fitness coach, has spent 14 years sharing his love for sports and fitness. With degrees in sports science, he crafts workouts that fit like your favorite jeans. Beyond the gym, he organizes sports clinics and tech-savvy fitness apps that motivate people worldwide. He's all about making fitness doable for everyone, and it's not just about bodies – it's boosting confidence. In 2019, he scored the "Virginia Fitness Coach of the Year" award. Outside the fitness world, he loves family time and hikes in Shenandoah National Park. Liam's journey from a small-town fitness fan to a big-time coach is all about passion, inspiring people to see fitness as a body-and-mind thing. Catch him on Instagram to stay in the loop!