Does Shoulder Press Work Side Delts? Find Out Here
Do you ever struggle to figure out which exercises are the best for working your shoulders, specifically the side delts?
We all know that the shoulder press can be effective in building strength, but do these really target your side delts?
In this post, we’ll break down exactly how and why a shoulder press is beneficial when it comes to those often neglected side delts.
Get ready to fine-tune your workout routine with tips on how you can maximise your gains with targeted shoulder pressing.
Does shoulder press work side delts?
The shoulder press is a great exercise that engages both the anterior (front) and lateral (middle) deltoids, making it an effective way to build overall shoulder strength. Using a variety of exercises can help to develop total shoulder development, but how much does the shoulder press really target your side delts? It’s true that the pressing motion itself will engage the front and lateral deltoid muscles to a lesser degree. However, to target and maximize activation of the side delts when pressing, you’ll want to use a different grip. For example, having a neutral grip (palms facing each other) using dumbbells can help to target the side delts better than a barbell does. For additional shoulder development, you can supplement your shoulder press with other exercises like Arnold press, lateral raises and face pulls which will further engage the anterior (rear) deltoids. Utilising a combination of different techniques, grip types and other targeted exercises can be effective in honing in on those hard-to-reach side deltoids.
You may or may not know the specifics relating to the shoulder muscles. The shoulder joint is composed of three main muscles, the anterior (front) deltoid, medial (side) deltoid and posterior (rear) deltoid.
All three of these muscles are equally important when it comes to creating balance in your shoulder strength and stability.
However, you must take care when using heavy weights and performing the shoulder press. If the exercise isn’t done properly due to lack of flexibility or technique, it can lead to injury.
For this reason it’s important to warm up the shoulders before you begin and practice proper form with lighter weights.
The shoulder joint is an important part of your body as it can be used for many everyday tasks like reaching and lifting. Taking care of your shoulder is important for avoiding injury and maximizing gains in strength and stability.
It’s important to approach your shoulder training with care and attention, because if you injure it, you may be out of the gym for a while.
Engagement for anterior and lateral deltoids
The shoulder press is a compound exercise that engages both the anterior and lateral deltoids, as well as your triceps.
The exercise will also work your core and help to strengthen the stabilizing muscles around your shoulder joint.
The anterior head of the deltoid is located on the front of your shoulder and helps to provide stability when you press overhead.
The lateral head of the deltoid is located on the side of your shoulder and is responsible for abduction, or raising your arm up away from your body.
The shoulder press is effective at building shoulder strength, however to really target and maximise activation of the side deltoids you’ll want to work on technique.
This is because the shoulder press uses both a pushing and lifting motion, which engages the muscles of the shoulder.
Using a variety of grip types can help to target the side delts better, so its well worth giving them a try.
For example, having a neutral grip (palms facing each other) using dumbbells can help to target the side delts better than a barbell does. This is because it gives you greater range of motion and creates a bigger stretch on the lateral deltoids when raising your arms overhead.
Using an underhand grip (palms facing down) with a barbell can also help to target the side delts when pressing. This grip allows you to keep your arms internally rotated and gives you a better range of motion when pressing overhead.
When using an overhand grip (palms facing up) with a barbell, you will be engaging the triceps more than the delts. Therefore its best to use a neutral or underhand grip for maximizing deltoid engagement.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to working out, so find what works best for you and your goals. In this case, focus on exercises that target your side delts (shoulders) for the best results.
Related: Does Shoulder Press Work Your Traps?
Using dumbbells is also a great way to target the side delts, as they allow you to use a variety of angles and grip types.
For instance, when performing an overhead press you can use a neutral grip (palms facing each other) and this will help to target the side delts more than a barbell, this is because it gives you a greater range of motion when pressing the weights above your head.
You can also perform lateral raises (raising the arms out to the sides of your body) with dumbbells to help isolate and target the side delts.
No matter which exercises you choose, be sure to practice proper form for avoiding injury and gaining the maximum benefit from each exercise.
I like training with dumbbells due to the fact that sometimes barbells can feel uncomfortable when pressing overhead and they limit your range of motion.
Using dumbbells can also help to keep the shoulders in a better position when lifting, as the wider range of motion allows for more deltoid engagement.
One exercise I also enjoy is the “Arnold press”, named after Arnold Schwarzenegger, is another great way to target the side delts.
This exercise involves rotating your palms as you press the weights up and overhead, which helps to target the side deltoids more effectively than a regular overhead press and gives you a wicked pump in the process.
The seated shoulder press is one of the most popular exercises used to target the side delts.
It focuses on engaging the anterior and lateral deltoids, but also allows you to isolate the side delts and also allows you to use heavier weights and gives you better control, as the seated position can help with stability.
The seated press is a variation that can be done with either a barbell or dumbbells. To further target the side delts, use a neutral grip (palms facing each other) to allow the lateral delts to be engaged more.
Remember, when using a seated press always make sure you’re in a comfortable position and that your back is straight.
I like to do this version because it allows me to really focus on the side delts, while concentrating on my form and range of motion.
It also takes the potential of cheating out of the equation as you don’t have to use your entire body to lift the weight.
This variation of the standing press is a great way to target your side delts. By focusing more on the movement and isolating each side, you can get a better workout for your shoulders.
In addition to the shoulder press, you can supplement your shoulder routine with other exercises that will help to target your side delts.
Adding exercises like lateral raises, Arnold press, upright row and cable lateral raise will all target the side deltoids and help to build balanced shoulder development.
These exercises can be done with dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands or machines. Try to mix up your routine and work both sides of the shoulder joint evenly for best results.
For the posterior deltoid, try exercises like bent-over lateral raises, face pulls and band aparts.
The shoulder press is a great exercise for developing overall shoulder strength, but its important to remember that by itself, it will only target the front and lateral deltoids to a lesser degree.
To maximise shoulder gains, you want to focus on a variation of exercises that target the different heads of your deltoids to make sure you have balanced muscle development.
Finally, its important to always warm up your shoulders before each workout.
This will help to reduce the risk of injury and improve performance while also increasing range of motion.
Failure to warm up your muscles properly can lead to soreness, fatigue and potential injury, plus you arent going to be getting the most out of the exercise.
Getting a shoulder injury because you havent warmed up properly is no fun and can keep you out of the game for months and even then it might never be the same, take it from a person who’s been there.
So take the time to stretch and get your muscles ready for the workout.
A good warm-up should include dynamic stretching, light cardio and some shoulder rotational exercises which will help to get your muscles ready for the workout ahead.
To conclude, the shoulder press is an excellent exercise for developing overall shoulder strength, but by itself it doesn’t quite maximize activation of your side delts.
By supplementing your shoulder routine with additional exercises that target the different heads of the deltoids, you can ensure balanced shoulder development.
Remember that proper form and a good warm-up is essential for avoiding injury and getting the most out of your workout, so make sure to warm up properly before you start.
Now that you know how to best target your side delts with the shoulder press, it’s time to get out there and start building those shoulders! Good luck.
Do you feel your lateral deltoids working when doing shoulder press? Let me know in the comments section below.