T Nation

John Meadows Partial Side Lateral

Anybody here who does the Partial Dumbbell Side Lateral that John Meadows advocates? You only do the first half of the movement and do very high reps with it. And the Rear Delt Swings?
Since i can’t overhead press due to a shoulder injury, i was thinking of making these movements my ‘‘heavy’’ overload work for shoulders.

1 Like

@samul and @aldebaran have been doing these consistently for a while, so can probably speak more on these.

My thoughts are: they fucking burn.


Thanks for the tag @dagill2

Well if you can do them without pain, for sure the heavy partials are great! I’d couple them with regular raises or y-raises or stuff like that

Rear delt destroyer are amazing but I wouldn’t do them every week

Try also some BB facepulls or chest pulls

Thank you @dagill2.

The theory behind partial lateral raises isn’t the most sound to be honest: the first portion of the range of motion is mostly achieved by the supraspinatus, rather than the middle delt. I can tell you, anedoctally, that you will still feel them in your side delts, as long as you aren’t limiting the range of motion too much. Personally, I much prefer full ROM lateral raises.

As far as rear delt swings: they are very effective and I’ve seen noticeable growth in my rear delts over 3 months of very high rep rear delt training to failure.

That being said, if have ever done the destroyer set, you should know there is no way you can do it every week. I can’t find the source, but I think John Meadows recommends that you do one of those set a month or something along those lines. In his very high intensity Colossus program, you do them at the very end of the second to last week, and twice in the last week. Definitely tough, but something everybody should do at least once.


I think you have this backwards. A supraspinatus injury results in the inability to raise your arm above your shoulders, or to cause pain when doing so. /which would be the opposite of what you just said. It is also virtually inpossible for that little ribbon of a muscle to be the driver in a relatively heavy movement. The relative (to the individual) heaviness forces the medial delt (The much larger muscle) to do the action. Maybe you just need to go heavier.

Sir, I think you have it backwards.

Action. Contraction of the supraspinatus muscle leads to abduction of the arm at the shoulder joint. It is the main agonist muscle for this movement during the first 15 degrees of its arc.


This is possible because the lever arm is shorter the closer your arms are to your sides, thus making the movement more mechanically advantageous.

And the medial delt doesn’t exist.



I know what Wikipedia says. The fact is, the muscles being referred to present in the medial portion of the visible shoulder, so it is not really less correct than “Intermediate”, that’s just playing word games. That aside, your supraspinatus will NOT do much, possibly nothing at all, in a significant overload condition. The other larger movers overpower the movement in place of the rotator cuff muscles, there isn’t much choice there as no one has a supraspinatus capable of moving much weight. This is the main reason for the use of very light weight in preventative cuff work. You are going too light.

No. The fact that there is an author that wrongly refers to it as medial in an article doesn’t qualify as support for your point. And the second link directly disproves what you’re saying, as “medial” is defined as “close to the midline;” in the case of anatomy, that’s the midline of the body, and you can observe this in other instances, like the triceps, where there’s a medial and a lateral head (which obviously can’t be the same thing, if they’re two different things, right?). Besides, this is a dead horse that’s been beaten to the point it resurrected and it died again. And the medial delt still doesn’t exist after all this beating. There is a 30ish post argument on the forums you can find if you search for it, that’ll get you the answer to any counter-argument you might have, so I’m not going to go over this again. You’ll realize, mine was a toungue-in-cheek comment anyway, the main point being discussed having been the supraspinatus.


Due to increasing moment arm with abduction, lateral deltoid is more effective at shoulder abductor in higher abduction angles in contrast to supraspinatus which is more effective shoulder abductor at lower abduction angles.

Once again, a “heavy” load is not a heavy load in the first degrees of the abduction movement. This is how leverage works. You can go very heavy, relatively speaking, and it still won’t take much effort for the supraspinatus, relatively speaking, to get through those first degrees of abduction, due to the leverage arm being shorter and due to the angle of the movement not being direcly perpendicular to that of the resistance (this only ever really happens at 90 degrees, but it’s an ascending curve).

This is why, if you were holding very heavy db’s, let’s say those you can do partials with, and had somebody lift your arms to halfway through the range of movement, you would not be able to complete the second half of the movement at that weight, even though you would be able to do the first half. Wonder why?

The ability to abduct the arm is a crucial contributor to the full range of motion of the arm. Four different muscles control this action: supraspinatus, deltoid, trapezius, and serratus anterior. The supraspinatus is the primary muscle for the abduction of the arm to 15 degrees. The deltoid controls abduction from 15 to 90 degrees. The trapezius and serratus anterior coordinate with each other and the scapula to facilitate abduction of the arm upwards of 90 degrees.

Until 15 degrees of abduction, the deltoid isn’t even in a mechanical position such to be able to contribute to the movement!

1 Like

You make a good argument regarding the lever arm, but I don’t think that it is actually correct. It’s a good explanation, in isolation. I think the issues of how close you get to 90 degrees has more to do with the muscles ability to fully contract or continue contraction. The ability to maintain force over the full range of contraction is more at play than the angle, IMO. Lifting your arms part way is a false experiment, as you involve no real fibre recruitment and then would be trying to start from an odd angle and zero load. Practicing from the partial ROM angle would result in the adaptation to perform the lift in this way. Just like a Bottom Up Squat improves dramatically with practice, the neurological adaptation and recruitment training has to happen before you can make a true comparison. The further that you contract the muscle, the less of it is available to continue contraction. If you hold a shrug you will find your Supraspinatus removed even more from the movement, btw.

There is a lot of “clown dickery” being thrown around here. :wink:


They’re good movements. I probably wouldn’t completely neglect full ROM work, maybe every other week.

What pressing can/ do you do?

1 Like

Just thought of this too: if your shoulders are beat up, check out Meadows’ videos of spider crawls; they get a good pump with no joint cost


On the Rear Delt Destroyer Set being done every 2 or 4 weeks, do you guys think you could incroporate the rear delt swing without the drop set every week? Like one or two sets of 20-30 reps?

Same here. I don’t do them that often because they’re really painful and I’m a wuss. But they’re great if you have good pain tolerance.

1 Like

I think this answers your question.


I read your original post and I don’t think they are counted as “heavy overload work” just because they’re done with heavier weights. The worst thing you can do is sacrifice mmc and go crazy with the weights for swings(which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go as heavy as possible. Add weight when you can.). You’ll end up looking pretty silly in the gym too.

1 Like

I personally much prefer rear delts on the reverse pec deck machine for sets of 20-40