Starting a gym program and seeing the results is one of the most satisfying aspects. It is a massive reward for the hard work and dedication it took to start and continue.
However, sometimes, the hoped-for improvement in muscle development takes a little longer than expected, which can be discouraging. So here’s why your side delts aren’t growing and some tips on how to improve muscle growth in your side delts.
The reason your side delts are not growing may be as follows:
- You are not spending enough time exercising them
- You are using weights that are too heavy
- You are exercising the anterior delts (front) instead of all sides
- Your form is wrong, and the wrong muscles are compensating
One of the most important disciplines you can exercise in the gym is having a balanced program that focuses on the whole body and not just the aspects you want to develop. It is also essential to never sacrifice form in your quest to push the heaviest weights.
See the table below if you are in a hurry to see the products we recommend to help you with these exercises.
- 1 The Reasons Why Your Side Delts Aren’t Growing
- 1.1 Your Side Delts Are Not the Focus of Your Training
- 1.2 Your Delts Are Not Growing Because You Are Trying Too Hard
- 1.3 Your Delts Are Not Growing Because You Are Unfocused
- 1.4 You’re Not Contracting Your Deltoids in the Correct Way
- 1.5 You Are Doing Insufficient Reps
- 1.6 You’re Not Working the Medial Deltoids Enough
- 2 Conclusion
The Reasons Why Your Side Delts Aren’t Growing
There are several possible reasons why your side delts aren’t growing, which we detail below. Also, see our posts Side Delt Exercises for a Stronger Lateral Deltoid and 30 Best Shoulder Workouts to Get Bigger Delts for even more tips.
Your Side Delts Are Not the Focus of Your Training
Working on your side delts can often be something of an afterthought.
We all have a training routine which is very important to achieve a balanced level of fitness, and it’s most common to split this by activity. So, we have:
- Leg days
- Arm days
- Chest days
- Back days
It is a very positive discipline; however, it often results in less work on the muscle groups that are not targeted on specific days. It is easy to ignore the side delts, which means they won’t develop.
If this is the issue, the only way to fix it is to start prioritizing the side delts. Either allocate a whole session each week or decide to concentrate on them on one of the other days. See great tips at A Legs and Shoulders Workout for Building Strength.
Your Delts Are Not Growing Because You Are Trying Too Hard
If you are trying to squeeze too much weight into one exercise, the result will be that you may not use the full range of motion.
Using too much weight will restrict the range of motion, and your arms won’t move in a steady, controlled movement.
The best way to correct this situation is to reduce the weight by at least 50%.
It does not mean you can’t carry a heavier weight, but reducing it to a lower weight will allow you to concentrate on your form.
Doing this will allow your muscles to learn the new movement patterns, proper contractions and control and avoid injury.
Your Delts Are Not Growing Because You Are Unfocused
In your desperation to develop your side delts, are you doing too many different exercises which concentrate on the anterior (front) side instead of a single movement to focus on the issue?
You may perform dumbbell presses, machine/Hammer presses, and front raises. While these have value, they will only develop the front of the delts and not work on the side delts.
If this happens, reduce your anterior exercise to a single multi-joint overhead pressing movement and possibly (if you feel it’s a weak point) a higher rep front raise.
Doing this will help you spend more time on the side delts.
See our top three recommended adjustable dumbells to help with these exercises.
You’re Not Contracting Your Deltoids in the Correct Way
If you are performing the exercise with too much weight and are concentrating on lifting by any means necessary, you will lose the correct form; the wrong muscles will develop to support the bad form.
A natural consequence will be that you don’t contract your deltoids correctly.
To fix this, reduce the weights, concentrate on correcting your form, and contract your deltoids with each lift.
When you pick up a weight that is too heavy, you tend to lean back and turn your shoulder press into an incline chest press.
Sit upright with your back straight, lower the dumbbells until they almost touch your shoulders, and lift them without banging them at the top.
Keep your elbows back and in line with your shoulders, constantly working on slow and steady movements. Learn more in 4 Reasons You Have Underdeveloped Rear Delts.
You Are Doing Insufficient Reps
Your bias should be on doing more reps rather than the weight you pick.
Remember, this exercise is all about form, and if you lift too much weight, you will be doing an insufficient number of reps while compromising your form.
Once again, the fix is simple, albeit it may seem like you are going backward, but you should reduce the weight of the dumbbells and concentrate on doing more reps with the correct form.
You need to do enough reps that you cannot carry on.
You’re Not Working the Medial Deltoids Enough
The deltoids consist of four parts, namely the:
- Anterior deltoids (front)
- Posterior deltoid (back)
- Medial deltoid (middle)
- Side deltoid (side)
When you work to build your deltoids, it is easy to concentrate only on the anterior and side deltoids and not the others. Your routine must include exercises that work both the posterior and medial deltoids.
Ace fitness organization has conducted a formal study in which they validated the most effective training exercises to develop all parts of the deltoid muscles.
The study found the following.
Posterior Deltoid (Back)
The Seated Rear Lateral Raise is the most effective exercise to activate the posterior deltoid.
You can do this exercise as follows:
- Sit on the edge of a bench and place your feet on the floor.
- Bend over and rest your torso on your thighs. Grasp the dumbbells while your arms are extended under your legs.
- Maintain a flat straight back and slowly raise your arms to your sides until your elbows are shoulder height.
- Throughout the exercise, your arms should be perpendicular to your torso, with a fixed elbow position (10° to 30° angle)
- Slowly reverse the action and return the dumbbells to the starting position.
Here are our top three adjustable benches to help you do these exercises.
The Medial Deltoids (Middle)
The study found that the medial deltoids’ best exercise target is the 45-degree incline row.
You can perform the 45-degree incline row as follows:
- Lie on a 45-degree incline, and let your arms hang straight down with a dumbbell in each hand.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lift your arms as high as possible.
- As you lift the dumbbells, ensure that you keep your upper arms perpendicular to the body, with the forearms pointed toward the floor.
- After reaching the top of this movement, lower the dumbbells slowly back to the starting position.
There are several potential reasons why your side delts aren’t growing.
You can summarize these reasons under one word “Attention.” You are not paying adequate attention to these muscles.
You are trying to lift weights that are too heavy and ruining your form, or you are concentrating too heavily on the anterior deltoid and not on the side, median, and posterior delts.
It’s easy to lose focus in a gym program and do too much of a few types of exercises without balancing developing the entire body rather than just parts.
If you enjoyed this, see our posts on Shoulder and Triceps Workout for Upper-Body Strength and How Do You Hit Shoulders With Dips.
Last update on 2023-09-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API