Dolphin Push Ups - Bodyweight Lateral Raises Without Equipment!

Dolphin push ups are the ultimate bodyweight exercise for your side delts that requires zero equipment.

All you need is the ground beneath your feet!

Dolphin push ups are one of bodyweight training’s best kept secrets!

In this article, we’ll talk about:

  1. The benefits of dolphin push ups
  2. How to perform dolphin push ups for building massive side delts
  3. What not to do when performing dolphin push ups
  4. How to make progress with dolphin push ups (making them harder or easier)

Let’s begin.

The Benefits Of Dolphin Push Ups

I really like dolphin push ups for building the side delts without any equipment because they:

  1. Build broader shoulders
  2. Work several different muscle groups at the same time
  3. Can be made harder or easier depending on your strength level

1. Dolphin Push ups Build Broader Shoulders

Building broader shoulders involves building a V-taper.

The V-taper makes you look wider from the front and the back.

And are the cherry on the top because the side delts widen your V-taper.

Read More: How To Build Broader Shoulders – The [ULTIMATE] Guide To Building A V-Taper

If you only work with your bodyweight then dolphin push ups will help you get that broad shouldered look.

2. Dolphin Push Ups Work Different Muscle Groups

Apart from just working the side delts dolphin push ups also work the:

  1. Front delts
  2. Traps
  3. Abs 

Shrugging while doing dolphin push ups will will work the traps while also working the shoulders, and abs.

3. Dolphin Push Ups Can Be Made Easier Or Harder

Having an exercise that can be made easier or harder means that:

  1. Everyone can use the exercise to build muscle
  2. Everyone can make progress with the exercise

The ability to make progress with dolphin push ups means that you can continue using the exercise to build muscle and get stronger!

How To Perform Dolphin Push Ups For Maximum Results

Activation of the side delts is the main objective of performing dolphin push ups.

This is done by flaring the elbows out to the sides.

The more you flare your elbows out, the more you’ll activate the side delts, thereby mimicking lateral raises with just your bodyweight.

Thus, your starting position is extremely important.

To perform dolphin push ups:

  1. Start on the floor in a low plank position. Flare your elbows out to the side and interlace your fingers. Adjust the width of your elbows if you feel any discomfort in the shoulder joint. The more your flare your elbows out the more you will isolate the side delts.
  2. From here, lean forward till your nose almost makes contact with the ground, or your hand makes contact with your chest.
  3. Then push yourself back to the plank position using just your shoulders.

It’s that simple.

What Not To Do When Performing Dolphin Push Ups For Your Side Delts

Form is extremely important when performing dolphin push ups, especially because we are trying to isolate the side delts.

To isolate the side delts as much as possible, make sure to flare your elbows out to the side!

The more you can flare your elbows out to the side, the more you will work your side delts.

This is because the function of your side delts is to abduct the arm – move your arm away from you to the side.

To place maximum stress on the side delts, make sure that you are using your shoulders to push your body back.

It is easier to lift yourself back to the starting position (plank position) by moving your hips.

Do not pull your body back with your hips, this completely removes tension on the delts and reduces the effectiveness of the exercise!

For maximum “core” activation, make sure to squeeze your glutes and abs. Don’t allow your hips to sink to the ground!

How To Make Progress With Dolphin Push Ups

Progressing with with any exercise is extremely important,  and it’s no different for dolphin push ups.

If you cannot do dolphin push ups on your toes, do them on your knees.

This will reduce the amount of bodyweight placed on your shoulders, thus making the movement easier to perform.

Try aiming for higher reps, start by doing 10 reps, then move up to 15-20 reps before making the exercise harder again.

To make the exercise harder, simply move your knees away from your elbows.

Keep doing this until you can finally perform the exercise on your toes.

Once you can do 15-20 reps on your toes, for 4-5 sets, it’s time to progress by making the exercise harder.

Placing your toes on an elevated surface will place more of your bodyweight on your shoulders, thus making the exercise harder to perform.

Elevating your feet during dolphin push ups will also increase the effective range of motion of the exercise.

This will give you the ability to recruit more muscle fibers while getting stronger.


Dolphin push ups are an excellent no equipment bodyweight exercise that mimics the lateral raise.

Getting stronger at this exercises will build your side delts, thus giving you that broad shouldered look!

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