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Best Exercises to Overload Medial Delts?

What are your favorite exercises for targeting the medial deltoids, aside from dumbbell lateral raises?



I don’t know if you are aware - but at some point a silly argument about muscle names erupted on this forum about what to call the middle deltoid. Personally I know what you’re talking about so I’ll help out.

I found nothing go my medial delt (middle delt) to grow like behind the neck press. It gets a bad reputation as it can aggravate any shoulder injuries. But if you’re moving free and easy already adding these should not cause any issues.
For reps - I find the extreme rotation of this movement to lend it self to higher reps - although there is a video of Paul Cater doing a 315lb behind the neck press for one rep (in which he almost murders a spotter).


yeah got me there, lateral delts is probably the correct term.¨

I think i’ll add the behind the neck press at the end of my shoulder workout, after i’ve got some blood in the rear and lateral delts. Maybe with a cable or the shoulder press machine facing the seat. Thanks!

What’s your shoulder workout like? And what’s the goal?

Type it up you might find there something we can help with.

Goal is hypertrophy
A. Partial Dumbbell Lateral Raises (Bouttom Half): 2X20
B. Cable Y Raises: 4x12-15
C1. Rear Delt Flies: 1x20
C2. Rear Delt Swings: 1X20
D. Behind the neck press: 2x20
All sets taken to concentric muscle failiure

You would be better off with more compound exercises rather than nearly all isolation stuff. You won’t get a whole lot out of any kind of pressing if you do 8 sets to failure first. Upright rows might help you too, you can use dumbbells if it doesn’t feel good with a bar.

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I know its a lot of isolations but are there any good compound movements that hit the lateral head besides upright rows? Rows hits rear delts and overhead presses mostly hit the anterior delts, right?

You’re correct. But I also see @chris_ottawa 's point.

I’d consider adding some dumbbell arnold presses as well, as I feel they hit the lateral delts better than most other pressing exercises, but I think you’re right in prioritising a relatively high volume of isolation exercises.

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Try standing overhead dumbbell press if you want a compound that will hit the medial (and every part) and is safer than BTN press. I don’t give too much credit to the EGM (Not sure if its the right term) but brett showed in a previous articlethat it was a good compound for all heads of the delts

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Trying to mimimize front delt work, they are way too big for my lateral and rear delts from just bench press and incline presses, but i’ll try that

Yeah, i saw a video from john meadows where he talks about getting capped delts, and he said presses are not very effective for hitting the lateral head

He starts talking about it at around 9.20

I think that even if your front delts are bigger, your whole shoulders will benefits from overhead pressing.

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As others have said, I would focus on compounds (DB presses and Arnold presses) first in the workout.
The incline bench raise as shown in the video is awesome.
I also use to do this as a finisher for shoulder hypertrophy:
Take a 10 lb weight plate in each hand then do
10 front-raises
10 “chicken-wings”
10 side laterals
10 overhead presses
Repeat for 2 minutes resting as little as possible.

It would be interesting to see a pic of your delt development. To see if the issue is as bad as you think it is.


I’m willing to guess, it’s not the front delts that are too develop, it’s the other heads that are too under-develop :man_shrugging:

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Thats the problem …you honestly can’t say without seeing it.

Why do you want to build your lateral delts at the expense of the rest of your shoulder? Presses might not be the single most effective way to build the lateral delt, but for overall shoulder development it’s probably the best. Just add some side raises and upright rows after.

Nobody ever complained that their anterior delts were too big.


My 1st thought was “too big”? I’m not sure that’s really an answer…

OP - the simple answer is press. You want big shoulders press. Shoulder size has for me been developed at higher reps. 531 has been good. But get my size on I did the following:

Incline bench - 531
Behind the neck press - 8-12 reps 2 sets.
Lat rises - 1 set to failure. I tried to get to 50 reps. It burns but its only a small muscle so the pain is not too bad.
Narrow hand press ups 2-3 sets to failure.

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Front delts are not TOO big, i just want to put the majority of my volume towards lateral and rear delts.
Thanks for input by the way.
Im thinking of doing john meadows capped delt workout with the partial laterals, y raises and single arm overhead lateral raise, and just add a arnold press at the end.