Dumbbell Lateral Raise Weight Standards For Males At Different Training Levels And Body Weights

Dumbbell lateral raise weight standards not only allow you to benchmark your performance against yourself but also against others.

For the average male, a good dumbbell lateral raise weight is above 78 pounds. This weight is for two dumbbells combined and a single repetition. However, an individual’s lateral raise weight will also be affected by their training level and body weight.

These benchmarks were important for me when I first started doing lateral raises, and they may also benefit you as well.

After all, you want to know if you’re doing a good job with your training right?

My research will reveal the numbers YOU should be hitting for it to be deemed “respectable”.

You’ll also find out how to improve your lateral raise if your numbers are below average.

Looking to Improve Your Lateral Raise At Home?

If you’re interested, here’s the setup I use and recommend!

Factors Affecting Dumbbell Lateral Raise Weight Standards

3 factors affect how much weight you can lift on the dumbbell lateral raise:

  1. Training Level. The longer you’ve been practicing the lateral raise, the more weight you can lift. As a general rule, beginners have been practicing for at least 1 month, intermediates at least 2 years, and advanced lifters at least 5 years.
  1. Body weight. The heavier you are, the more weight you can lift on the lateral raise. That’s because body weight has a positive correlation with muscle mass and strength.
  1. Rep number. The less reps you do, the more weight you can lift on the lateral raise. This post focuses on a 1-10 rep range which is generally accepted to be the best for building muscle strength and size.

Next, you’ll find out how these factors affect dumbbell lateral raise weight standards.

Beginner Dumbbell Lateral Raise Weight Standards

A beginner has been practicing the dumbbell lateral raise for at least 1 month.

Here’s how much weight you should be lifting as a beginner:

Bodyweight1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
8lb
4kg
7lb
3kg
7lb
3kg
6lb
3kg
6lb
3kg
6lb
3kg
150lb
68kg
12lb
5kg
10lb
5kg
10lb
4kg
10lb
4kg
9lb
4kg
9lb
4kg
200lb
91kg
22lb
10kg
18lb
8kg
18b
8kg
18lb
8kg
17lb
8kg
16lb
7kg
250lb
113kg
30lb
14kg
25lb
11kg
25lb
11kg
24lb
11kg
23lb
11kg
22lb
10kg
300lb
136kg
38lb
17kg
32lb
14kg
31lb
14kg
30lb
14kg
30lb
13kg
28lb
13kg
Male beginner dumbbell lateral raise weight standards. Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

Note: x-rep max is the maximum amount of weight you can lift for x-number of reps. Generally speaking, rep ranges closer to 1 are ideal for strength gains, whilst rep ranges closer to 10 are ideal for size gains (hypertrophy).

Here’s how much weight beginners should be lifting as a percentage of body weight:

  • 120lb body weight – 5 to 7%.
  • 150lb body weight- 6 to 8%.
  • 200lb body weight- 8 to 11%.
  • 250lb body weight- 9 to 12%.
  • 300lb body weight- 9 to 13%.

If you’ve been practicing the lateral raise for 1 month or more, and you’re above these averages, then you’re doing a good job!

Intermediate Dumbbell Lateral Raise Weight Standards

An intermediate has been practicing the dumbbell lateral raise for at least 2 years.

Here’s how much weight you should be lifting as an intermediate:

Bodyweight1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
50lb
23kg
42lb
19kg
41lb
19kg
40lb
18kg
39lb
18kg
37lb
17kg
150lb
68kg
62lb
28kg
52lb
24kg
51lb
23kg
50lb
22kg
48lb
22kg
45lb
21kg
200lb
91kg
78lb
35kg
66lb
30kg
64lb
29kg
62lb
28kg
61lb
28kg
57lb
26kg
250lb
113kg
94lb
43kg
79lb
36kg
77lb
35kg
75lb
34kg
73lb
33kg
69lb
31kg
300lb
136kg
108lb
49kg
91lb
41kg
89lb
40kg
86lb
39kg
84lb
38kg
79lb
36kg
Male intermediate dumbbell lateral raise weight standards. Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

Here’s how much weight intermediates should be lifting as a percentage of body weight:

  • 120lb body weight – 30 to 42%.
  • 150lb body weight- 30 to 41%.
  • 200lb body weight- 28 to 39%.
  • 250lb body weight- 27 to 38%.
  • 300lb body weight- 26 to 36%.

If you’ve been practicing the lateral raise for 2 years or more, and you’re above these averages, then you’re doing a great job.

These are very respectable standards for beginners to aim for.

Advanced Dumbbell Lateral Raise Weight Standards

An advanced lifter has been practicing the dumbbell lateral raise for at least 5 years.

Here’s how much weight you should be lifting as an advanced lifter:

Bodyweight1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
120lb
54kg
84lb
38kg
71lb
32kg
69lb
31kg
67lb
30kg
66lb
30kg
61lb
28kg
150lb
68kg
100lb
45kg
84lb
38kg
82lb
37kg
80lb
36kg
78lb
35kg
73lb
33kg
200lb
91kg
122lb
55kg
102lb
46kg
100lb
45kg
98lb
44kg
95lb
43kg
89lb
40kg
250lb
113kg
142lb
64kg
119lb
54kg
116lb
53kg
114lb
52kg
111lb
50kg
104lb
47kg
300lb
136kg
158lb
72kg
133lb
60kg
130lb
59kg
126lb
57kg
123lb
56kg
115lb
52kg
Male advanced dumbbell lateral raise weight standards. Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

Here’s how much weight advanced lifters should be lifting as a percentage of body weight:

  • 120lb body weight – 51 to 70%.
  • 150lb body weight- 49 to 67%.
  • 200lb body weight- 45 to 61%.
  • 250lb body weight- 41 to 57%.
  • 300lb body weight- 38 to 53%.

If you’ve been practicing the lateral raise for 5 years or more, and you’re above these averages, then you’re doing a fantastic job.

These are also very respectable standards for intermediates to aim for.

Average Male Dumbbell Lateral Raise Weight

The average US male weighs 197.9-lbs.

Here’s how much weight an average US 200lb male should lift on the dumbbell lateral raise at different training levels:

Training Level1-rep max6-rep max7-rep max8-rep max9-rep max10-rep max
Beginner22lb
10kg
18lb
8kg
18b
8kg
18b
8kg
17lb
8kg
16lb
7kg
Intermediate78lb
35kg
66lb
30kg
64lb
29kg
62lb
28kg
61lb
28kg
57lb
26kg
Advanced122lb
55kg
102lb
46kg
100lb
45kg
98lb
44kg
95lb
43kg
89lb
40kg
Dumbbell lateral raise weight standards for an average 200lb male at different training levels. Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.

Therefore the average man should be able to lift 8-61% of his body weight.

The exact weight will depend on training experience and rep number (as seen in the aforementioned standards).

How Good Is Your Lateral Raise Vs Others?

Determining your current lateral raise weight as a fraction of your body weight is a reliable way to compare your performance with others.

To do this, simply divide the weight of both dumbbells combined by your body weight.

Here are the percentages of males who can lift their body weight on the dumbbell lateral raise:

Dumbbell Lateral Raise 1RM Weight (As A Fraction Of Bodyweight)% Of People Who Can Do It
0.10x96%
0.20x84%
0.30x67%
0.40x49%
0.50x33%
0.60x21%
0.70x13%
0.80x7%
0.90x4%
1.00x2%
Percent of males aged 24-39 at 200lbs bodyweight who can dumbbell lateral raise their body weight. Weights are for 2 dumbbells combined.
  • 75% of men can lateral raise 0.25x their bodyweight for a single repetition. This represents the lower percentile of males and is a respectable weight for absolute beginners to achieve. But you should aim for higher numbers with more training.
  • 50% of men can lateral raise 0.40x their bodyweight for a single repetition. This represents the median percentile of males and is a respectable weight for intermediates to achieve. It’s also a good target for beginners to aim for.
  • 25% of men can lateral raise 0.55x their bodyweight for a single repetition. This represents the upper percentile of males and is a respectable weight for advanced lifters. It’s also a good target for intermediates to aim for.

Building muscle and strength can be frustratingly difficult for beginners. You can check out my other article for a complete guide to gain your first 10 pounds of muscle.

Why the lateral raise is difficult.

5 Reasons Your Lateral Raise May Be Below Average

Here are 5 reasons why your lateral raise may be sub-standard:

1) You train with the incorrect range of motion.

How high you lift your dumbbells is important in the lateral raise.

If the dumbbells travel too low, you miss out on a lot of deltoid activation and your lateral raise won’t progress.

But if the dumbbells travel too high, you risk pain and injury.

So how high should you lateral raise?

As a general rule, the arms should be horizontal and parallel to the floor during the lateral raise. This will promote maximum deltoid activation. Going significantly past the horizontal line does not confer added benefits and should be avoided, especially if there is pain.

“A good rule of thumb is to at least break the horizontal line with your arms”.

Dr Mike Israetel, Renaissance Periodization.

2) You’re using body momentum to cheat.

A common lateral raise mistake is to cheat.

Cheating involves using your body momentum to help heave a dumbbell up.

As a general rule, it is not advised to cheat on the lateral raise. Cheating reduces the amount of deltoid activation and increases activation from the neighboring muscles. As a result, deltoid strength and lateral raise progression will be negatively impacted.

“If you’re using an amount of weight that requires you to swing your upper body back and forth, you’re reducing the stimulation of the side delts and increasing your chances of shoulder injury”

Sean Nal.

Sitting on a weight bench can help prevent cheating by stopping you from using your hips to generate momentum. Check out my other article for 11 other advantages of using a gym bench.

3) You’re using too much weight on the lateral raise.

Dumbbell weight matters a lot in the lateral raise.

If the dumbbell is too light, you could miss out on a lot of mechanical tension and deltoid gains.

But if the dumbbell is too heavy, this will encourage cheating.

As a general rule, a heavy weight is not important for the lateral raise. Instead, it is recommended to choose a lighter weight that challenges you for 8 to 12 reps with good form. This will increase deltoid activation and promote maximal deltoid strength gains.

4) You aren’t allowing enough time for deltoid contraction.

From my research, it’s clear that the deltoids respond particularly well to prolonged contractions.

In other words, you should control and reduce the speed of the upward and downward phases.

If you’re swinging the dumbbells up and down, you minimize time under tension.

And this can cause you to lose out on deltoid strength gains.

“Using a controlled motion allows you to take advantage of time under tension. That’s the benefit here: more overall volume for your shoulders”

Matthew Bertrand, T-Nation.

5) There isn’t enough variation in your deltoid training.

The lateral raise works the following muscles:

  • Lateral deltoids (primary driver).
  • Anterior deltoids (stabilizer).
  • Posterior deltoids (stabilizer).
  • Biceps (stabilizer).
  • Triceps (stabilizer).
  • Trapezius (stabilizer).

If any of these muscles are weak, they will act as a chokepoint in your lateral raise progression.

Therefore it makes sense to vary your training such that all these muscles are strengthened.

How to improve your lateral raise.

5 Ways To Improve Your Lateral Raise

Here are 5 ways you can improve a sub-standard lateral raise:

1) Perfect your lateral raise form.

To improve a sub-standard lateral raise, the first thing you should do is perfect your form.

Doing so will set the foundations for you to add more weight.

Here’s how to do the perfect lateral raise:

How To Dumbbell Lateral Raise - The Right Way! (BIG SHOULDERS!)

2) Train with seated lateral raises.

The best way to prevent cheating and losing out on deltoid gains is to do the lateral raise seated.

Form-wise, this is the same as the standing lateral raise.

The only difference is you’re sat down rather than standing up.

This prevents your hips from swinging outwards to generate body momentum.

As a result, your lateral raise will generate maximal lateral deltoid activation.

Seated lateral raise with Powerblock dumbbells.

The seated lateral raise can be done on a chair, or you can even kneel on the floor.

But the safest way to do it (especially at heavier dumbbells and body weight poundages), is to use a weight bench.

I use and recommend the Flybird FB149 adjustable weight bench (link for cheapest price).

This bench has a 700-lb weight capacity, which is more than enough for home dumbbell training at any training level for all exercises.

Its 7x angle adjustments also make it very versatile (you can use it for other exercises like the flat bench press, seated shoulder press, incline press, and more).

It’s ideal for people between 5’7″ and 6’0″.

If you fall below/above this height range, then the Fitness Reality adjustable weight bench (link for cheapest price) provides a more comfortable user experience for your body dimensions.

3) Deacrease weight and progressive overload regularly.

Once you’ve mastered good form at low dumbbell poundages, you can begin to work on increasing the weight.

This is called progressive overload.

It involves adding weight to your dumbbells to increase intensity.

By overloading slowly but regularly, your deltoid strength should increase accordingly.

If you’re training at home, dumbbells with small weight increments are essential to overload effectively on small exercises like the lateral raise.

If the weight increments are too large (i.e. over 5lbs per dumbbell), you’ll struggle every time you increase the weight.

I use and recommend the Powerblock Elite series (link for cheapest price).

These are great all-around adjustable dumbbells.

Being selectorized dumbbells, they’ll replace up to 28 pairs of fixed-weight dumbbells, saving you a lot of space and money.

At the lower settings, you can increase their weight by 2.5lb increments per dumbbell.

And at the higher settings, they can go as heavy as 90lbs per dumbbell.

This makes them great for overloading on the lateral raise, as well as for heavy compound lifting (bench press, shoulder press, etc).

4) Practice time under tension lateral raises.

Another way to increase the intensity, aside from increasing weight, is to increase the time under tension (TUT).

This requires you to perform the lateral raise in a slow and controlled manner.

I like to count for 2 seconds on the upward phase and 4 seconds on the downward phase.

Don’t forget that the eccentric (downward phase) is as important as the concentric (upward phase).

So when you exaggerate the eccentric, you’ll get a greater deltoid pump.

As a result, your deltoid strength should also increase

And this leads to lateral raise progression.

Undersun resistance band lateral raise.

Resistance bands are a perfect way to perform TUT lateral raises.

Unlike dumbbells, bands provide tension even at the bottom phase of the lateral raise (when the arms are by your sides).

Then as you raise your arms and go through the movement, the stretched band elicits even more resistance.

This unique resistance profile makes them excellent for breaking strength plateaus.

Additionally, you can use bands for other potent shoulder exercises like the shoulder press and upright row.

I use and recommend the Undersun Fitness bands (link for cheapest price).

They come in a set of 5 bands, each with a different resistance profile.

This makes them great for beginners to advanced lifters alike.

They cost a bit more than their budget competitors.

But having gone through 2 sets of budget bands in the past (both of which snapped), I would advise you to not be lured in by the cheap prices of low-quality bands.

If you’re going to train with resistance bands, I’d also recommend getting gloves to protect your hands from friction burns.

Gloves don’t need to be expensive.

I use the Ihuan ventilated neoprene gym gloves.

They are cheap but also durable and do the job perfectly well.

5) Perform lateral raise variations and alternatives.

As you now know, the lateral raise mainly works the lateral deltoids.

But the posterior deltoids, anterior deltoids, biceps, and triceps are also recruited to stabilize the movement.

This makes it essential to perform a variety of shoulder exercise variations to target these muscles.

My favorite lateral raise alternatives include:

  • Bent-over row. To work the biceps, posterior deltoids, and back muscles.
  • Shoulder press. To work all the deltoids and triceps.
  • Upright row. To work all the deltoids and biceps.

These serve to strengthen your deltoids and upper body in general.

And this makes them great additions to any shoulder-building program.

The compound lifts mentioned above are best performed with heavy dumbbells. Check out my other article for 9 of the heaviest adjustable dumbbells you can buy.

How These Weight Standards Were Calculated

The numbers for my research were sourced from Strength Level’s database of 38,000 user-generated dumbbell lateral raises.

Dumbbell lateral raise strength standards.

Average dumbbell lateral raise standards.

Lateral raise 1RMs were taken from the Strength Level database.

These were then multiplied by the following fractions to get the 6-10RM weights:

  • x0.84 for 6RM.
  • x0.82 for 7RM.
  • x0.80 for 8RM.
  • x0.78 for 9RM.
  • x0.73 for 10RM.
Lateral raise body weight standards.

% of people who can lateral raise their body weight.

The Strength Level database also allows for different lateral raise weights to be sampled against a total population.

I sampled a variety of weights for 200-lb male beginners aged 24-39.

Recommended Products Recap

Conclusion

I’ve shared dumbbell lateral raise weight standards for different training levels and body weights.

If you’re above these averages, then you’re lifting a very respectable weight and you should be proud of yourself.

But if you’re below average, then you can try some of the tips I share to improve your lateral raise strength.

How much weight do you currently lift on the lateral raise?

Let me know in the comments!

Or check out my other posts to find out:

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,

Kal

(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)

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