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Does Shoulder Press Work Side Delts?

Shoulder presses are arguably one of the best exercises that you can opt for to improve your shoulder’s strength curve.

But how effective are these shoulder exercises? Does shoulder press work side delts? Or are they just good for your anterior muscle growth?

To get straight to the point, yes, shoulder presses are highly effective for both your side & rear delts, especially the seated lateral raises.

But there are a lot of factors that go to determine that. And that’s exactly what we will discuss in this shoulder press guide.

We’ll dive deeply into the effectiveness of shoulder press on side delts, how optimal it is and whether you should do it or not.

What Is Shoulder Press?

Now you might already know this answer, but for those of you who don’t know, shoulder press, as the name suggests, is an exercise for your shoulder muscles.

This type of workout affects your biceps & triceps, trapezium, along with rotator cuff muscles. In short, it is a workout for your entire shoulder girdle.

There are various forms of this exercise, and your muscle development will vary depending on which one you are doing.

Generally, this form of exercise concentrates on the anterior deltoids and the lateral deltoids the most. But certain variations work wonders for the posterior deltoids as well.

We recommend that we create a compound exercise that incorporates different types of shoulder presses in order to maximize your shoulder mobility and growth.

Which Type of Shoulder Press Works the Best for Side Delts

When it comes down to different types of shoulder presses, there are a lot of choices that you can choose from.

Pick the ones that work on the muscles you want to grow, and you will be fine.

Or you can take up the challenge and start doing all of them in your strength training.

But this can have some negative effects if you try to go beyond your limiting factor.

So, get in touch with your trainer or a professional if you want to take up different shoulder presses.

Overhead Press

When people think of shoulder presses, the overhead press is arguably the one that they are thinking about.

As the name suggests, in this exercise, you take weights, keep your arms straight and lift them up and down over your head multiple times.

Types of Overhead Press

You should be aware of a few variations on overhead pressing.

For example, if you are raising your hands behind your neck, which is regarded as an overhead neck press, try to avoid this if you suffer from a herniated disc problem.

This version of the shoulder press works on your rear and side delts.

If you put your arms forward and lift the weight upwards, then this is called an overhead military press. Again, straight arms are the key to this exercise.

Depending on your hand grip and form, this exercise will either work on your front and rear delts or the middle deltoids.

Type of Weights

The effect of the overhead press also changes depending on what type of weights you are using.

Generally, people use dumbbells, but there are some that prefer overhead barbell presses.

The latter packs more weight and focuses on the anterior deltoid as well as the front and rear deltoids as well.

Just make sure to rest them on your upper traps, or you’ll drop sets.

Lateral Raises

For improving side delts, lateral raise is a great exercise that improves the lateral heads of the deltoid, the front delts, and the mind-muscle connection.

Performing lateral raises is quite simple. First, you need to stand up and put your arms wide.

Then you grab your weight and start lifting your arms in an upright row.

Again, grip plays a huge role in the area that exercise affects. Going with the regular grip will have the most effect in this case.

You can’t perform big compound lifts if you plan on doing lateral raises, but you are not focusing on the front deltoid in this exercise either.

So, adjust the weight depending on what your side deltoids can handle at this moment.

Seated Press

The seated press is arguably the best choice if you solely want to focus on side delts.

But they also work on front delts and have a good impact on the lateral head of our shoulders if you can maintain the proper form.

Start off by sitting with your lumber spine support.

If you don’t have one, you will have trouble maintaining your form, and it’ll be a nightmare for those of you who have herniated discs.

So, never do seated presses without spine support.

Next, you need to grab your dumbbell. Hold your dumbbells in a wide neutral grip.

And don’t go with a regular grip because the grip width can leave out the small muscles on your shoulder.

Now bring the dumbbells to your shoulder height and start doing your reps. It should look like chin-ups once you start doing them.

Turkish Get-up

The Turkish get-up focuses on one shoulder’s lateral deltoid at a time. This way, you can focus on your side delts more.

Your upper arm will do most of the work in this exercise.

You should start in a half-lying position, holding one dumbbell in your hand and slowly raising it as you stand up from your position.

Arnold Press

This is a slight variation of the military press where your palms will face upwards at the summit of the press.

For a side delt-focused workout, it is best to incorporate this one dumbbell.

But a barbell will also work if you want to take heavier weights.

Shoulder Press Tips to Utilize Maximum Work for Your Side Delts

Here are some tips that you will ensure that you are using shoulder presses to their fullest potential to work on your side deltoids –

Create Compound Movements

As you have seen in different shoulder press types, going with a single press won’t be much effective for your shoulders, and doing each and every one of them can be a hassle.

So, you can just mix the different types of shoulder presses up and then lift the weights. This will also help you to build muscle faster.

Maintain Your Form

Forms are heavily involved in any shoulder press. You need to keep your body in perfect form, and your arm’s form will determine where the pressure is working, and so on.

Your movement also needs to maintain form. Maintaining the perfect posture will determine how effective the workout will actually be.

Bench Press Isn’t Shoulder Press

Many confuses bench pressing with shoulder presses. While it has its effect on the shoulders, it is mainly an upper-body workout for the chest, elbows, and arms.

Thus it has a very low impact on the sides. So, if you just want to focus on your shoulder sides, then it might not be the best exercise to add to your routine.

Slow & Steady Movement

Keep a slow pace when you start your exercise. There is no need to go fast. Your lateral deltoids need to feel the pressure.

Therefore, slowly bring the weight around your head and shoulders. Doing five to ten reps on each set will do the job perfectly.

Final Thoughts

The shoulder press is a great workout for your side deltoids. And incorporating them into your workout will only bring good results.

We hope our article answers your question completely. Let us know if you have any further questions.

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About Ben Adler

I'm Ben, a passionate fitness enthusiast on a mission to help you achieve your fitness goals. With a love for lifting and building a well-rounded physique, I founded Swole Class to provide beginners with the guidance and knowledge they need to navigate the gym and embrace a healthier lifestyle. Join me on this journey as we unlock our potential and inspire greatness together. Learn more about me