The deltoid or shoulder muscles are composed of three different heads — the anterior or front deltoid, the middle deltoid, and the posterior or rear deltoid. And although it’s important to have all three heads well developed for impressive shoulders, the middle deltoid is the MVP when it comes to sporting wide, round and massive caps. One of the best ways to focus on them is with lateral raises. Take a shoulder-width stance while holding two dumbbells at your sides with a neutral grip. Maintaining a slight bend in your elbows, raise your arms out and up until your arms are parallel with the floor. Hold the top position for a second and then slowly lower the dumbbells back to the start and repeat.
Alternatives: seated lateral raise, leaning one-arm lateral raise, cable lateral raise, machine lateral raise — Jim Stoppani, PhD
WHEN TO GO ’ROUND: Start your shoulder workout (when you are strongest and can go heavy) with multi-joint exercises, such as shoulder presses and upright rows to place greater overload on the muscles, specifically the middle and front heads, which can help to stimulate more growth. Then perform lateral raises, done for higher reps to place laserlike focus on the middle delts. Finish your workout with some rear delt raises.
FORM AND FUNCTION: As the name implies, the middle head of the deltoid is found smack in the middle of the deltoid muscle, where it attaches to the common tendon that is shared by the anterior and posterior heads and attaches to the humerus (upper arm bone). It performs the movement known as abduction, where the upper arms raise out to the sides, such as during lateral raises.