How to Do Dumbbell Scaption Properly

The dumbbell scaption is one of the most effective exercises for building your deltoid definition. Scaption is the act of lifting arms from your sides and bringing them down at a 30 to a 45-degree angle.

It is also referred to as scapular plane elevation.

It is also an excellent exercise to build your upper body strength.

During scaption, you pull your shoulder blades toward your spine, which helps open your chest. This way you build strength in your shoulders.

Additionally, the dumbbell scaption can also be used to strengthen your back.

To do this exercise:

  • Stand holding two dumbbells at your side with your palms facing inward. Keep your feet under your shoulders.
  • Raise your arms up and to the sides at a 45-degree angle.
  • Hold then slowly return your arms to the starting position.
  • Do three sets of up to 12 repetitions.


The dumbbell scaption targets muscles in the back and shoulders.

1.      TRAPS

The trapezius is one of the widest muscles in the back.

The traps are two symmetrical muscles that meet at your vertebral column. The traps are made of the upper, middle and lower traps.

Together, the traps support the arms, stabilize and move the scapular, spine and neck.

Traps help you move your neck and head, shrug and steady your shoulders and move and twist your arms.

When doing the dumbbell scaption, your upper traps are engaged when you lift the dumbbells. If you squeeze your shoulders towards your spine, the middle traps are activated to stabilize the shoulder.

When you lower the dumbbell, the lower traps are activated. If you lift your arms to the side, you engage your upper and lower traps.


The serratus anterior is a large fan-shaped muscle that is located on each of your sides right on top of your ribs.

The muscle wraps around the outside of your rib cage and attaches to the sides of your shoulder blades. It originates on the top surface of the eight or nine upper ribs.

The serratus anterior can be felt below the chest and to the sides and under the armpit. The muscle works to help your arm reach forward.

It also helps your shoulder blade rotate upwards, lift your arms and move them overhead. It is engaged when you lift the dumbbells.

3.      DELTOIDS

This is a triangular muscle found on the shoulders. The deltoids are made up of three parts: anterior deltoid, lateral deltoid and posterior deltoid.

The anterior deltoid is found at the front of the shoulder. It helps you rotate your shoulder, with shoulder flexion. It is mostly activated by pushing chest exercises.

The lateral deltoid is found on the outer side of the shoulder. It mostly helps you lift your arm to the side. It is this deltoid that is most activated by the dumbbell scaption.

The posterior deltoid is found on the back of the shoulder, directly opposite the anterior deltoid. It helps with the external rotation of the shoulder joint.


This is a group of four muscles that hold your upper arm in place in your shoulder.

It helps facilitate all the motions of your arm and shoulder.

It is made up of the supraspinatus, the infraspinatus, the teres minor and the subscapularis.

The supraspinatus is responsible for moving your arm away from your body.

The infraspinatus is responsible for the lateral rotation of your arm away from the centre of your body.

The teres minor is a small narrow muscle on the back of your shoulder blade. It works together with the infraspinatus.

The subscapularis is a large triangular muscle found under the other three. It is the most used muscle of the rotator cuff. It helps with the rotation of your arm.


The dumbbell scaption has multiple benefits.


If you have a sedentary lifestyle, the scaption exercise can help maintain upper body strength.

It can help ensure your shoulder, arm and upper back muscles don’t atrophy.


Doing scaption helps determine if your shoulder blades are performing properly. If there are any imbalances or injuries, the exercise can help pinpoint the problem area.

Additionally, the dumbbell scaption helps correct back posture. With a strong back, you won’t slouch or feel tired when you operate with your back straight. This helps prevent back pain.


Strengthening your shoulders and upper back muscles reduces the risk of injury when doing other weight-based exercises.

Moreover, having a strong rotator cuff reduces the risk of tearing the tendons in your shoulders.


Scaption is useful for actions where you need to raise your arms.

Multiple activities and sports require overhead movements. Adding the dumbbell scaption to your workout routine will help boost your performance for overhead sports such as throwing and climbing.



To do this exercise:

  • Stand and retract your shoulder blades down and back
  • Hold this position for at least ten seconds.
  • Do three sets of up to 10 reps.

2.      SIDE RAISE

To do this exercise:

  • Stand while holding the dumbbells alongside your body with your palms facing forward.
  • Raise your arms to the side until they are parallel to the floor.
  • Hold then slowly lower your arms to the starting position.
  • Do three sets of up to 10 reps.


When doing the dumbbell scaption, avoid raising your arms higher than your shoulder level. This will make the exercise fail to build the delts.

Avoid using momentum during the lifts such that you bounce the dumbbells upon the uplift. You risk injuring your shoulder by doing this and you fail to build any muscle.

This is often a side effect of lifting weights that are too heavy for you and having poor form.

Failing to warm up your shoulders before doing any exercises that involve your delts increases the risk of injury. Ensure that you add some appropriate stretches before your workout.

If you experience any strain in your shoulders and back, stop exercising immediately and seek medical attention. You can first do the shoulder packing exercise to see if there are any problem spots.