T Nation

Hitting That Middle Delt


Guys, I need some help here- no matter what I do, I can't seem to get that feeling that I'm targeting my middle delt head, regardless of whether I'm doing compound or isolation lifts; upright rows, lateral raises, overhead press, it just never seems to feel as if I'm quite hitting it. Can anybody give me any advice to exercises which I may not have tried, or perhaps ways in which to tweak a particular exercise to better isolate the middle delt? Thanks for your help fellas


I honestly can't think of anything that directly hits the middle delt more than just DB laterals. Of course some people have natural imbalances where the surrounding muscles (front delts, traps) will naturally start to dominate the movement. In the past, I've always done very strict seated laterals in an effort to not allow this to occur. However, in an attempt to move heavier weights, lately I have been doing a little less strict 1 arm lean-away db laterals. What I would suggest for you, is to incorporate both of the exercises I just listed.

Do a few sets of very strict seated DB laterals (whatever weight allows you to get about 8-10 reps in a slow, controlled manner), and THEN, try a few sets of the leaning away versions, which will let you move a bigger DB, and will incorporate a little 'cheating' as well as assistance from other muscles. Because you did the very strict movement first, I'm hoping this will act as a sort of pre-exhaust situation.



Also keep in mind that almost no one gets soreness in their middle delts. I can count on one hand the number of times my medial delt was sore and this seems to be typical of others from what i've read.

So don't get discouraged just cause you wake up and don't feel soreness there.


I think the problem with lateral raises is that very little weight is actually needed to produce good results. I see allot of guys in the gym that choose to swing around 40 pound dumbbells because they're afraid people will think they're a pussy for using the 25s with good form. Pay attention the next time you lift shoulders. If you sense any movement in your hips, legs, or middle to lower back STOP. Go grab some lighter dumbbells and start over again. If you want to feel the burn try doing 3 circuits of Bent-standing-front laterals-overhead presses all with the same weight. It kills.


DB lateral raises seem to be the best. Form on this exercise is so important though. Make sure to concentrate on lifting with your elbows rather then your hands. Make sure your elbows stay above your hands until the very top, and try to keep your pinky higher than your thumb. This is what works for me. You have to find what works for you.

Another thing that works for me is very slow and controlled wide grip upright rows. Again, lift with your elbows.


My middle delt gets sore...I know this is going to sound odd, but I really do use the mind muscle connection...i can feel the middle delt contracting

laterals and btns presses work for me tho

I also messed around with a DB lateral/upright row hybrid exercise...basically you just upright row the DB with a super wide spacing between the hands...


I think my shoulders get more comments lately than anything else and the only thing I do for lateral delts is lateral raises going as heavy as possible.

I haven't seen someone yet who can use over 55lbs for that movement who has small lateral delts.

Also, if you are getting stronger and they are growing, whether you can "feel" it is irrelevant. But I do question just how much weight you are using. I can SEE my delts working when I train them.


For me, upright rows and (hehe) cable lateral raises. The latter seems to hit them the hardest judging by the pump what I've got. (pity that I haven't done them in the last 3 months). I know that "cable is inferior" and things like that, but I can hit that portion of my delts harder with them. ^^


5' 10" and 131 lbs. and your worried about middle delts???? I think your delts need more than "tweaking".



Yeah but at 5% bofyfat..... :wink:

I didn't notice the height and weight till this post.


Prof. X, well, that's why I train in sleeveless when doing delts. Easier for me to feel them working when I'm actually see them working.


i agree with everyone here about the lateral raises probably being the best thing but i dont think anyone mentioned neutral grip dumbbell presses. this is one i picked up from reading an interview with roc shabazz and i used to do it with great results. start like you're doing a regular seated db press but move your arms out to the side so your palms face the side of your head and your elbows are near your ribs then press them overhead making a semicircle and touch them together at the top. i know some of you didnt need the directions but if you focus on keeping your arms directly at your sides instead of letting them drift in front of you you'll hit the lateral delts much better


As soon as the force is more directly above the anterior delts will take over.

Honestly, are people experiencing lack of growth from heavy lateral raises? I'm not saying that is ALL someone should ever do, but why doesn't this get top billing when it comes to what works to make them really pop out there?


I would use the movement you described sparingly. Much like Arnold presses, hitting them with different movements can help with overall development....but don't ever leave out the basics that work the best.

Overhead presses
Lateral raises
Rear delt (pec deck or bent over rows)

...these should be the first things added to any shoulder routine unless there is some injury or physiological problem.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


I have to echo Professor X and also add my favorite specific type of overhead presses that have worked best for me.

There has been a lot of talk about Kevin Levrone recently. Not only is he probably my favorite bodybuilder of all time but he has a way of training shoulders that I copied and adopted in my training with a lot of success.

Behind the Neck Smith Machine Presses:

I really feel it hit my shoulders as a whole. Then I follow up with db side laterals and reverse pec deck for rear delts, if you want it to grow train it right? Simple enough.

Levrone training for '97 Olympia:

I added this one just because I enjoy it so much. One word comes to mind, focus.

Good luck with your shoulders.


In one of the articles a while back, one of the authors suggested doing lateral raises with your thumbs pointed down to isolate the medial delt better. How much it helps, I don't know, but I guess it's worth a shot.



That seems like it would be more of a rear delt exercise...

Hmmm musta been Chad Waterbury.


I think it was CT who wrote about pitcher raises (angling the thumbs downwards as you perform the movement as if you are pouring watcher from a pitcher).

So, not straight down (ouch if you try that standing up), but just so the back of the dumbbells are higher than the front at the top of the movement.


I was having the same problem I just couldn't hit the middle delt or rather feel it all I do know is usually lighter weight 25 to 30 pund dumbells seated and I always use the tipping a glass motion start out level at the bottom and as u raise your arms start tipping the dumbells forward. And at the top u should end up with pinkies up thumbs down not to extreme but quite noticeable and squezze it at the top for a second or two.


Sorry Way, I can see how you misinterpreted it. Anonym said it, though... You don't want your thumbs pointing completely down (as in, vertical), but rather at just an angle.

LOL at the CW comment. For some reason I thought it was Nick Tumminello, but I can't seem to find it. I guess it could have been CT.