Side Laterals - One Of Rich’s Favorite Exercises


Recently, we talked about the incline press, one of Rich’s favorite exercises. Next, we’re going to look at Side Laterals - Another Rich Piana Favorite! Keep reading and find out how to develop those barn-door wide delts with side laterals!

Side Laterals

This is an isolation exercise that helps build the width of your shoulders. You can do these several different ways. Using standard dumbbell side laterals as an example, some suggest raising your pinky as you get near the top of the exercise as if you were pouring a pitcher of water. There are a few others that advise keeping your hands straight. Still, others feel you should keep your pinky raised right from the start. This was Rich’s approach. He also suggested beginning the exercise by keeping your arms at your sides rather than in front of you, as some lifters suggest.

Muscles Worked

This exercise directly targets the medial or lateral head of the deltoids. It’s more commonly known as the side deltoid and, as noted, it’s responsible for shoulder width. Besides the side head, the front head and the traps come into play.(1)

Side Lateral Variations


This is the traditional way to do this exercise. Follow Rich’s example as discussed above for the best results.(2)


There’s more than one way to do these. Rich preferred one arm at a time, and he would pull the D-Handle across his body. It can also be done both arms at a time, also across the body.(3)


This variation is done the same way as with dumbbells. 


Also known as Power Laterals, this exercise involves using a very heavy weight. You’ll only be able to move the dumbbell a couple of inches. This is a great addition to your shoulder routine but should not replace standard full range of motion laterals.(4)

All of these variations can be done 1 arm at a time or both arms at once. Plus, you can do these standing, seated or even lying on an incline bench (1 arm at a time). This was an Arnold favorite.

How Rich Used It In His Routine

Cable Side Laterals - 6 sets - 30, 28, 25, 20, 15, 12 reps

While Rich usually used dumbbells, he would do these for variety. 

Or do them this way:

Dumbbell Side Laterals - 8 sets - 30, 25, 20, 18-20, 15, 12, 10, 8 reps

Here’s an example using dumbbells. Rich added 2 more sets and mixed up his reps.

Here’s the rest of this example routine. Remember, Rich mixed things up constantly.

Rear Laterals - 5 sets - 30, 25, 20, 15, 12 reps

These directly hit the rear head and can be done with all the variations available for side laterals. 

Machine Shoulder Press - 5 sets - 30, 25, 20, 15, 12 reps 

Rich liked to do these on a Smith machine, but in this case, he used a Shoulder Press machine and sat forward a little bit, so his hands were in the same place they would be if he were using dumbbells. Of course, you can use a straight bar, an EZ bar, dumbbells, or bands. 

Shrugs - 5 sets - 30, 25, 20, 15, 12 reps

In this case, Rich did these on a Smith machine. You can use a straight bar, EZ bar, dumbbells, or bands. 

Don’t Forget 5% Nutrition!

Of course, you’ll need to stock up on all your favorite 5% Nutrition supplements if you want to get the most out of this, or any, routine. The 5% pre-workout of your choice will help you power through your training session. Don’t forget All Day You May! Mix it up like Rich did, and freeze for 20-30 minutes before you hit the gym. Talk about a super-refreshing intra! Once your workout is over, don’t forget your post-workout shake. Real Carbs + Protein is a great choice and talk about delicious.  While you’re here, check out our apparel and gear. There’s no reason not to shout out your 5% lifestyle, whether it’s in the gym or on the street! 


Leaderboard (AD)