T Nation

Medial Delt Isolation Exercises Useless?


OK - you can stop seething.

Yes, the subject (like all others) has been discussed ad nauseum, but I'm curious if picture evidence exists of a bodybuilder or athlete with developed anterior and rear delts, but undeveloped medials?

I ask because I'm trying to learn.

On one hand you have DC guys with complete shoulder development who do not use direct medial isolation exercises. They seem to get all they need from chest/shoulder pressing and back width/thickness exercises.

Of course there are some who exclusively rely on the above exercises for shoulder development yet still have underdeveloped medials, but they also have underdeveloped anterior delts!

On the other hand, using my inexperienced self as an example, I barely feel my anterior shoulders working when I overhead press; let alone the medial delts. When I do machine/DB lateral raises it definitely feels like it's recruiting different muscles. This makes me think that such exercises are needed.

The reason why I ask these questions is because my shoulder development sucks even worse than the rest of my body. While everyone wants to have the complete package some favor certain parts. For some it's guns, others it's chest... Well, for me it's shoulders; so your advice is appreciated.


What exactly is your definition of "complete shoulder development"? Post picturtes of these DC guys who never do lateral raises but have HUGE lateral delts that match those of high level bodybuilders.

Further, this isn't about what other people do. Why in the world would someone who wants complete shoulder development AVOID training lateral delts directly?

How does this make sense to anyone?


Why not both?

Presses, some raises.

If you build up to 365 lb overhead presses for 10 and use the 65 lbers for fairly controlled laterals you will have built some big ole delts. Genetics determine if they've got that round capped look, the rest is mostly up to you to make them bigger.




Even if your lateral delts weren't going to lag tremendously when never hitting them directly, they will always look BETTER if you do, and the guys with the biggest lateral delts always give them serious attention. So why even consider not hitting them directly?


Who the fuck told you DC guys don't do lateral raises? Watch some of Jason Wojos (prob the most well known DC guy) videos...he most certainly does do lateral raises following his main shoulder pressing exercise.

Basically what X said. Why the hell would anyone who wants full shoulder development neglect doing them? It doesn't make any sense to me...it's not like they are brutally tough or have a high injury rate. There's NO reason not to do them other than pure laziness/idiocy.


pussy...get in the fucking squat rack and rip some lateral raises up


If I were to live to be 1000 years old I will never understand why people need to investigate reasons NOT to do exercises that everybody's been doing for decades. As if their nuts will fall off or something if they just try some stuff.


DC's two way split is to get a focus on core moves and max poundages. Then the advanced 3 way split then offers ways to specialize on weak bodyparts.

but you're losing perspective. If you haven't gained a good 50 lbs of muscle yet, then DC is not for you.

Truth be told, getting some laterals in after the core moves is not going to slow recovery in the slightest anyway.

Its all relative to your experience, your current mass levels, and your current "needs".


And...its bull when people like Poliquin state that people don't need direct delt work. And its bull when all the gurus seem to be wanting everyone to become PLs or OLs lately. If you are a bodybuilder and want to look like a bodybuilder, thn you need isolation moves. Period. And they don't create nearly enough systemic fatigue to affect your frequency either.

This falls into the same category as gurus calling close grip chins the "best" mass builder for biceps. Only if you have a specific morphology and your biceps have a lower excitation threshold than your back. Then maybe its a decent move...maybe.

Notice how many of the authors here have started to add "10 minutes of accessory work" at the end of a session for delts, arms, etc... On the one hand they berate the moves as worthless and unnecessary, then "allow" you time to do whatever you want at the end because it wont make harm your progress anyway. All the guys saying this don't even look like they lift weights anyway.

When I add direct delt work to my heavy presses, my delts take on a new look within 2 weeks. Its really quite amazing.

Dont overthink this. Id suggest James Chan's Shotgun program. Do your core stuff 2x per week, then hit your beach muscles with isolation work a day after each. Its a solid approach for anybody, at most any level.



My mistake.

From the few DC articles I read I believed they shunned lateral raises because of the relatively limited potential to increase the load (at least compared to overhead pressing).

Because I was under the impression the DC guys achieved their level of shoulder development without lateral raises. So the question revolved around if it was necessary to do so.

Now I find out they do lateral raises, so that pretty much answers my question.




Well, for years people thought doing DB pullovers expanded their ribcage. Most now adamantly disagree with this.

Would it kill anyone to do DB pullovers? No. But if you were hoping it would expand your ribcage you might be disappointed.

That's why I asked my question.


Thanks for your input.

No, I wasn't considering DC for myself (I'm too inexperienced and too injured). I merely brought them up because I didn't think they did lateral raises.


Where can I find out more about this program?

I've recently returned to lifting, but the program I've chosen is wrong for me. It prescribes barbell back squats and deadlifts 3 times per week (each). I tried it figuring I was weak enough for it to work, but I have a history of back pain that has been aggravated by doing so. Until I get professional health care I'll need to minimize these types of lifts.


There is no comparison between the 2. Ribcage expansion never ever had the universal acceptance that a simple reliable movement like lateral raises has.

I wasn't picking on you, It was general statement gleaned from the one million threads about "should I or shouldn't I ____________". Try it man. What if 20 people responded that you should NEVER do lateral raises and one day you discover they were wrong? Pick up some dumbbells and try them.


Go to the home page here. Find "authors" in the upper right of the red "tool bar" and then scroll down to find james Chan. He has two articles here. Both are good. do the shotgun program and stick to it. Its a solid approach.



I didn't want to sound defensive.

You're right. I will add them back into my program. As I said earlier, from my limited experience, lateral raises did feel like they hit muscles overhead pressing don't, but I thought the DC guys didn't do them. Figured I was maybe too focused on the "feel" of the exercise instead of focusing on more important things.

Thanks for your advice.


Never mind. I googled it and saw it's a tmuscle article.



Understood correctly, do not underestimate the importance of "feel" in the process of building muscle. This is usually called the "mind muscle connection" and if you develop a solid one you'll know pretty quick whether a given movement is for you or not. If I were you I wouldn't worry about DC for now, like somebody already said. DC is a very solid method, but in my opinion you're actually on the right track at the moment just learning to feel how your muscles work. Once you have that down, picking exercises becomes a much more educated process because you can watch somebody and have a pretty decent mental idea of whether it's worth trying or not.