How To Do Egyptian Lateral Raise

If you have heard of the lateral raise, then there is a good chance that you have heard of the Egyptian lateral raise as well.

How To Do Egyptian Lateral Raise

The Egyptian lateral raise is actually just a variation of the normal lateral raise, and doing this specific variation is able to assist you in both increasing the shoulder size as well as the shoulder muscle as well. 

Similarly to the classic lateral raise, the Egyptian lateral raise is a powerful exercise that will build your shoulders, but as well as this, it isolates your deltoids, with the anterior and medial deltoids being targeted in particular, for hypertrophy over low stimulus and high rep sets too.

This exercise is simply a unilateral lateral raise, where you will bend at a specific angle while supporting yourself using the hand that is not working. 

One of the best things about the Egyptian lateral raise is that you do not need much to do it. All you will need is a dumbbell as well as something sturdy you can hang onto to support yourself, one of the most common choices being a door frame. 

This is part of the reason why Egyptian lateral raises are so popular since you can do it almost anywhere and do not need much to try it. While the Egyptian lateral raise is a variation itself, there are also variations of the Egyptian lateral raise which are popular as well.

For example, there is the Egyptian lateral raise with a cable which is perfect for when you are under tension when training at a gym. 

If you plan to work out your shoulders, and you want a different workout to try, then we heavily recommend trying the Egyptian lateral raise, and if you want to try something slightly more simple, then you could just try the standard classical lateral raise as well, this will give you more support as well as also targeting and isolating your deltoids. 

In this guide we will give you all the information about the Egyptian lateral raise, so you know exactly what you are doing. We will go over how to do this exercise, but also, what it benefits in your body, as well as the specific muscles that you are targeting. 

We will also mention the downsides, and what you could be doing wrong when doing the Egyptian lateral raise to make sure everything is covered. Furthermore, we will even go over variations like the aforementioned cable version of the Egyptian lateral raise so you can switch it up if you want. 

So, if there is anything you want to learn about the Egyptian lateral raise, it is probably here!

How To Do An Egyptian Lateral Raise?

So, the most important thing to discuss first is how you actually do the Egyptian lateral raise. We will go through step by step to ensure that there is no room for error and you know exactly what you need to do.

Firstly, you want to ensure that you have a lightweight dumbbell or a plate to work with. You will not be able to do this exercise effectively unless you are working with your full range of motion.

This is why you want to use a weight you can move with properly, otherwise you will just be wasting time when doing this exercise. We recommend working with anything between 5 and 20 pounds when doing this.

Once you have the weight you want to work with, you want to look for a support beam which you can work with. 

The only specific requirements we need for this is that it is solid and that you are going to have enough space to perform the action of the raise without your movement getting inhibited.

Once you have your support beam you want to take a position where with one hand you can grab onto the support beam all the way out. While doing this ensure that you keep a firm core and keep your spine straight. 

Then lean in a bit, and let your arm move in sync with your torso. You want to ensure that your weight bearing arm is not going to get forced into an awkward position while you are moving. 

Then you will raise your arm which is holding the weight to shoulder height up from your waist. Then once you have done this you want to lower the weight down to the starting position slowly and with control.

You want to be dropping the weight at a slower speed than you raised it. This will regulate your negative phase. For each set you want to do at least 10 to 20 reps, and if the weight is too heavy, you will not be able to do this for more than 10 reps. 

After you have done the reps you want to, switch sides so that you can continue with the other arm. You will want to do about 4 to 6 sets for each arm, however, this will change and adapt depending on what your goals are for your training.

You will also want to properly integrate rest periods when doing the Egyptian lateral raise. This ensures that each of the arms will be able to rest when they are hanging onto the beam. 

You will not want to rest more than 30 seconds between sets, however. So, now you know how you should be doing the Egyptian lateral raise, let’s look at what muscles you are working when you are doing this!

What Muscles Are Worked?

What Muscles Are Worked?

As we mentioned earlier, the deltoids are what are predominantly worked out when you are doing the Egyptian lateral raise, being the anterior, the medial, and the posterior as well. These are usually just referred to as your shoulders. 

Your anterior deltoid is a muscle that is in front of your shoulders and it helps with raising the arm forward, then there is the medial deltoid which is usually called the lateral deltoid as well, and this is the largest muscle in the shoulder.

When we talk about shoulder exercises, we often think of the lateral deltoid in particular. 

The job of this muscle is to elevate your arm outwards or in a sideways direction, it will change with your arm’s abduction as well as the adduction. Then there is the posterior deltoid which is at the back of your shoulder and this is what moves your arm behind you. 

However, it is still worth noting that this exercise is not just going to help with your deltoids. The Egyptian lateral raise will also aid in working out your triceps as well as your pecs too.

This will all depend on the angel you are working at, as well as your range of motion. The isolation you get from the Egyptian lateral raise and the cable lateral raise as well is one of the most important benefits of this exercise as well. 

This is why this exercise is so good for working out the deltoids in particular, with the medial deltoid getting a lot of attention specifically. 

While you can do overhead shoulder presses to work out your anterior deltoid, this will usually not do much to stimulate your medial and your posterior deltoid either.

You will want to combine a lateral raise with an overhead press when you are doing your next workout on your upper body since this will help when it comes to targeting your shoulders. 

You could also help to further isolate your deltoids and the synergist muscle groups by making some changes. There has been research that has shown that when you rotate your humerus externally as well as internally when doing a lateral raise, that this will target different muscle groups. 

This was done by using electromyographic analysis on bodybuilders to measure muscle activation. The front, the medial, and the posterior deltoids were all shifted differently while the humerus was rotating when doing a lateral rise, this will impact the synergist muscles as well which were included. 

This shows that the posterior deltoid, as well as the triceps brachii and the upper trapezius as well were all more activated when the humerus was rotated internally. The external rotation was show to promote anterior as well as medial deltoids in activation too. 

The anterior deltoid as well as the pectoralis major were shown to be activated by doing frontal lateral raises, but not Egyptian. So the next time you are doing a lateral raise, we recommend making certain tweaks so you can target synergist muscle groups.

This will impact the results you get from your shoulder work out regimen and this will improve dramatically.

Benefits Of Doing An Egyptian Lateral Raise?

Benefits Of Doing An Egyptian Lateral Raise?

When doing exercises like these it is useful to know what benefits you can get from doing them. Luckily regularly doing Egyptian lateral raises will result in a variety of cosmetic as well as functional advantages, another reason why you should start to incorporate this exercise into your routine.

So, no matter what reason you are exercising, there is likely a reason why you will want to do Egyptian lateral raises.

If you are doing an Egyptian lateral raise with all the right form and execution, you should be able to get all of these benefits when doing the exercise yourself!

Aesthetic Physique

This is something that a lot of people like to willingly overlook, or pretend not to notice when it comes to exercises like these, however, there is an aspect of vanity results you can get from doing Egyptian lateral raises. 

You will be able to develop your shoulders in a way which you could find aesthetically pleasing. A lot of people want to give themselves broader shoulders to make themselves happier with their appearance, and there are plenty of reasons for this. 

Especially if you are a bodybuilder, building up your shoulders is a way to make your waist look slimmer which is also a goal for certain people. If you are wearing almost anything on your top half, like a T shirt, a button down, or even a sweater, if you have wider shoulders, then you will look stronger and leaner.

This is also a good way to achieve a V shape in your upper body which is also a goal for a lot of people, and also looks great when wearing certain clothing as well. 

The Egyptian lateral raise is particularly good at getting good results in this category since it will give you a good pump through isolating your deltoids in particular.

If you want to cover up lapses while you are building up the rest of your physique, then doing Egyptian lateral raises to work on your deltoids is a good idea!

Isolates The Deltoids

As we just mentioned in the previous section, but also a few times throughout this guide, the Egyptian lateral raise will aid you in isolating your deltoids, and this is perfect in helping with shoulder based compound style exercises. 

If you are aiming for hypertrophy, then doing Egyptian lateral raises will aid in breaking through plateaus when doing other exercises. If you are doing an overhead shoulder press, or a bench press, or push ups, then all of these will work better if you have worked to isolate and then develop your deltoids. 

If you are doing Olympic level lifting, then doing this workout will aid in make your overhead squats better.

Another area which benefits from how Egyptian lateral raises isolate your deltoids is if you are doing sports like baseball, basketball, football, golf, hockey, swimming, or tennis, so if you do any of these, then considering Egyptian lateral raises is a good idea.

Projects The Joints

A more practical aspect of doing Egyptian lateral raises that is often overlooked is that you can protect your joints by doing this exercise. If you are working on your deltoids, then you will be helping in removing some strain from your joints. One joint in particular which you can help by working on your deltoids is your rotator cuffs. 

It is actually pretty common to get injuries with your rotator cuff, especially if you are a weightlifter. This is even more common the older you get, so you should also consider this as well as our bodies will forgive the stress we put it under less and less as we get older. 

This is why strength training is so important, and one of the most important advantages to strive for when doing strength training is to relieve any pressure that we are putting on our joints and our bones.

As we know, lifting weights is eventually an investment which can increase the structural integrity of your body, however, you need to make sure you are doing it right!

Downsides Of Doing Egyptian Lateral Raises?

Downsides Of Doing Egyptian Lateral Raises?

There are some drawbacks that come with Egyptian lateral raises that you should also know, so in this section we are going to break this aspect of the exercise down so you can understand what you are doing. 

It turns out that one of the main pitfalls that comes with doing the Egyptian lateral raise is also one of the main benefits of doing the exercise, and that is the focus on isolation work.

Isolation work of course has its benefits which we have already covered, however, there are also some drawbacks. 

The main drawbacks that come with isolation work, and therefore Egyptian lateral raises is that they are not the most efficient and that they do not have that much global sue either.

Isolation work tends to be inefficient because they are only working out a certain small section of our muscle mass, and this means it can take quite a long time on them. 

For example, if you are doing a whole overhead press, then you will be working your full torso, as well as your core, and you are lifting it more, and are working a greater strength and hypertrophy as well. 

But when looking at Egyptian lateral raises, they simply do not do as much. And when we look at the lack of global use, this means that since we are isolating certain muscle groups, we are not encouraging coordination between multiple joints and the muscle groups together either. 

Getting this coordination is something that we need, especially if we want to work on improving our strength, as well as overall athleticism. Try not to let these downsides completely discourage you however, this is because variety is key and we need to remember this. 

When working on our shoulders, we will employ heavy and large compounds, so start with an overhead press or a seated military press, but then once you have burnt yourself out doing these, then you can move onto the isolation movements like Egyptian lateral raises.

If you focus on balancing exercises like these, then they can cover the weak points the other has, and you can also get better variety in your workout as well!

Variations And Alternatives For An Egyptian Lateral Raise

So, if you have been using the Egyptian lateral raise for a while, or if you simply want to try a slightly different version of it, then there are a wide variety of variations and alternative versions of this exercise you can try.

You can use these alternate versions of the Egyptian lateral raise as a progression, or simply just as another option. 

As we have mentioned, there are some disadvantages to doing the Egyptian lateral raise, and because of this it is not the only shoulder exercise that you should be doing since it only focuses on the deltoid isolation.

Because of this, there are alternatives which we have listed here which will focus on deltoid exercises, but also other aspects as well. 

So, if you want to try a different type of Egyptian lateral raise, then read this section and see what options are available.

With A Cable

With A Cable

One of the most common alternative versions of the Egyptian lateral raise is using a cable. This is a great workout to try since the cable will give you more time under tension, and this gives you a consistent and regulated negative when you are doing the adduction phase of the list.

So, if you want to try and do an Egyptian lateral raise with a cable, then follow the steps here. 

You want to find a cable machine that will allow you to pull from the ground while also holing onto a form of support structure. 

Most single cable machines will have a handle or pole which you should be able to support yourself with. Then you want to set the weight of the machine to a more modest level similar to the weight you would use in a standard Egyptian lateral raise.

Because of this, we recommend keeping the cable between 10 and 20 pounds. 

To do this exercise, you will need to have a full range of motion to work with and this usually means having a lighter weight. You want to use a weight where you will be able to complete 10 reps comfortably. 

Then take the position, the beginning posture will be the same as the standard Egyptian lateral raise using dumbbells. Then bring your feet as close to the cable’s starting position on the floor, and keep hanging to your support.

You want to let your arm hang from your support while you are leaning out. Then grab the handle with your arm that is not attached to the machine. Then pull the cable up to your shoulder height or near to this while doing each rep. 

Then slowly lower the cable until your hand is touching your side. On each of your arms you want to repeat this for about 10 to 20 reps and then do about 4 to 6 sets.

However, like with the standard Egyptian lateral raise, you want to adjust this in accordance with the rest of your workout plan. Also similarly to the normal Egyptian lateral raise, keep the rests to less than 30 seconds.

Dumbbell Side Raises

Dumbbell Side Raises

Another alternative that works instead of the standard Egyptian lateral raise is the dumbbell side lateral raise. 

This is perfect for using as a muscular synergist, as it is a great progression which works to stimulate and engage both the left and the right deltoid at the same time. It will also aid in enhancing your core muscle stability as well as your latissimus dorsi strength too.

If you want to do this exercise just follow the guide here. You want to take two lighter dumbbells or plates since this is a low weight but high rep style workout. If you add too much extra weight then you are going to compromise your range of motion and this will just mean that you get less gains. 

Of course there are some exercises that will work if you have a lower range of motion, but unfortunately this will not work for that. You want to have your knees slightly bent while you are standing, and also keep a straight back as well as a firm core too. 

Then slightly lean in and then pull your shoulder blades back as you activate your lats. Then raise both of your arms simultaneously and raise the weights up to your shoulders and then slowly let them return to your sides. Then repeat this about 10 to 20 times and perform between 4 to 6 sets.

Tips For Doing Egyptian Lateral Raises

While just following our guide will give you the basic information you need on how to successfully do an Egyptian lateral raise, there are some extra pieces of information you can keep in mind to ensure that you get the most out of this exercise as possible. 

The first one is to adjust your starting position to place more tension on your deltoids as this will further isolate them and aid the exercise. 

To do this, begin each of your reps by moving your hand slowly out to the side, and then lean forwards slightly. When doing this keep your chin and your chest up, as well as your collarbones broad too. 

Raise the weight you are using a couple of inches towards the side, then pause to breath, and begin the rep. You also do not want to worry too much about what you are doing with your hands when doing this exercise.

They are just holding the weight and are not part of leading the movement. Instead, you want to give more attention to your elbows as they should be leading each of the reps and forming the highest part of the arm while doing it. 

You want to raise the elbows to shoulder height, hold them and then return which will emphasize the contractions of the deltoid. While doing this, you also want to rotate the wrists slightly when you are at the top of the rep.

Each of the reps will finish with the pinky fingers at the top, and this will aid in leading your shoulders and will work out your medial deltoids specifically which is otherwise a pretty tricky target. 

You also want to keep in mind that Egyptian lateral raises are not a power move and you want to go for lightweights and max time under the tension.

This is why you want to keep this exercise light when you are beginning as you do not want other parts of your body aiding with the movement. 

You want the arm to be moving slowly and under your control, then pausing to breath at the top of the rep, and then lowering your arms at a slower speed than when it was raised.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Muscles Does The Egyptian Lateral Raise Stimulate?

The goal of an Egyptian lateral raise is that it will isolate on and stimulate your deltoids.

There are alternatives and progressions you can make to this exercise to make it work on other parts of your body and different muscles, but if you want a good way to stimulate your deltoids in isolation, then use an Egyptian lateral raise.

Why Should You Do An Egyptian Lateral Raise?

The main reason you should be doing Egyptian lateral raises is that they stimulate your deltoids, however, they can also aid in stopping or slowing down joint issues which is more important as you grow older as well. 

You can also just simply help build up your shoulder muscles to look more broad and big which is a goal for a lot of people.

How Can You Change The Egyptian Lateral Raise?

There are plenty of different alternatives and progressions you can make to change the standard Egyptian lateral raise, especially considering as it is just an alternative to the standard lateral raise. 

There are loads of different alternatives to try, but two of our favorites are the version where you use a cable, and the version where you lift on both sides simultaneously, both of which have been covered in this guide.


Hopefully this guide has given you all the information you need on Egyptian lateral raises and what you need to know on getting the most out of this exercise. There are plenty of benefits to doing this exercise, but you also need to know its limitations, and what kind of exercises work well alongside it. 

If you are doing the Egyptian lateral raise perfectly, you will only want to be using your deltoids. Some supporting muscles might get stimulated as well, but the strength of this exercise is in the isolation aspect.

Because of this, find a way it can be used effectively and efficiently alongside more synergistic exercises so you can work out in a more effective way and develop your shoulders as well!

Laura Simmons
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