Egyptian Lateral Raise vs Lateral Raise: The REAL Shoulder Builder

Egyptian Lateral Raise vs Lateral Raise

The lateral raise is a staple exercise for building rounded, powerful shoulders. But should you perform your lateral raises with the traditional technique or use the unique Egyptian variation?

Both target the lateral deltoid muscles responsible for shoulder abduction. However, the Egyptian lateral raise provides some distinct benefits worth considering.

In this post, we’ll break down the proper form, the muscles worked, and the pros and cons of each lateral raise technique. Read on to determine which method suits your training goals and shoulder health!

Proper Form: Lateral Raise vs Egyptian Lateral Raise

First, let’s look at the proper form for each exercise:

Traditional Lateral Raise

  • Stand holding dumbbells at your sides with palms facing inwards.
  • Keeping arms straight, raise them to the sides until parallel with shoulders.
  • Slowly lower back down with control.
  • Keep the torso upright and stable throughout the movement.

Egyptian Lateral Raise

  • Stand holding dumbbells angled in front of thighs with thumbs down and pinkies toward each other.
  • Lean torso slightly forward from the hips.
  • Raise arms out to the sides, leading with the elbows.
  • Slowly lower back down, maintaining forward lean.

The main differences are the arm position, grip, and angled torso. Now let’s see how this impacts muscle activation.

Muscles Worked

The traditional lateral and Egyptian lateral raises primarily target the lateral deltoid muscles. However, the Egyptian variation recruits more muscles throughout the movement:

  • Increased posterior deltoid activation – The angled grip and elbow lead hits the rear delts harder.
  • More upper back work – The leaning torso engages the upper back to stabilize. Traps, rhomboids, and rear delts get worked.
  • Hits medial delts – Starting with arms angled across the body recruits the medial deltoid muscles.

So, the Egyptian lateral raise takes your basic side raise a notch by bringing more shoulder muscles into play!

Benefits of Each Exercise

What are the main pros of each lateral raise version? Let’s compare:

Traditional Lateral Raise Benefits

  • Isolates lateral delts through full range of motion
  • Upright torso works shoulders dynamically
  • Less stressful on the lower back
  • Familiar movement pattern

Egyptian Lateral Raise Benefits

  • Increases rear delt activation for balanced shoulders
  • Hits more upper back muscles like traps
  • Takes stress off the elbow joint
  • Puts shoulders in a vulnerable position to work stabilizers
  • Variation from traditional raises

The Egyptian lateral raise brings a lot more to the table by hitting your shoulders from new angles and working the stabilizers.

Potential Drawbacks

No exercise is perfect, so it’s important to be aware of potential downsides:

Lateral Raise Drawbacks

  • Can irritate shoulder joint or elbows
  • Not optimal for those with shoulder mobility restrictions

Egyptian Lateral Raise Drawbacks

  • Requires decent shoulder mobility to perform
  • Leaning torso places more stress on the lower back
  • Not recommended for those with shoulder impingement

Proper form is critical with both variations to avoid undue stress. Move through a comfortable range of motion and keep reps high and weight modest.

Which Is Better For Your Goals?

So, which lateral raise is right for you? Here are some key considerations:

  • The traditional lateral raise is time-tested for pure lateral delt hypertrophy. Use it if you have shoulder mobility limitations.
  • The Egyptian lateral raise brings increased rear delt and upper back work. Use it to hit all shoulder angles.
  • Alternate between the two for variation or combine them in the same workout for complete shoulder training.
  • Higher rep ranges like 12-15 reps are best for both moves to maximize hypertrophy.


The Egyptian lateral raise puts a fresh twist on a classic shoulder builder by incorporating new body angles and increasing stabilizer activation. Work it into your program for well-rounded shoulder development, but be careful with form.

When in doubt, stick to traditional lateral raises or alternate between the two versions. Focus on form, higher volume, and progressive overload for the best results.

With smart programming and proper technique, the traditional and Egyptian lateral raise can build bolder, healthier shoulders. Try them both out and see which feels right for you!

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