With any overhead pressing variation, the abduction of your shoulders (raising your arms to the side) is the movement that specifically trains the lateral deltoids.
With the standard overhead press your arms are pointing forward (likely at a 45 degree angle) and as a result your both anterior deltoids (front delts) and lateral deltoids (middle delts) are worked very nicely.
In order to emphasize the middle deltoids, you want to move your arms to the side of your body as much as you can.
Front delts will get heavy work done every time you do almost any pressing work, hence it can come handy to specifically target the middle deltoids which tend to be underdeveloped with many individuals.
Below are our recommended variations how to train your middle deltoids effectively and safely.
Behind The Neck Press
Exactly as the name implies: pressing behind your neck. Start the barbell resting on your upper traps and then press it overhead to straight arms.
Because the bar is behind your neck, your arms are pointing completely to the side, which means the lateral deltoid engagement is increased.
Klokov press is a special behind the neck variation where you are using a wide-grip (snatch-grip) instead.
The wide-grip will decrease the engagement of triceps and increase the muscle activity of middle deltoids and trapezius muscles.
Klokov press is almost completely lateral deltoids and traps, which makes it a superb compound exercise to make your middle delts and traps grow in strength and size very nicely.
Wide Headstand PUsh Up
Wide headstand push up is the bodyweight equivalent of the Klokov press.
The execution is slightly different though and for some reason wide headstand push ups don't hit the traps as much as the klokov press with a barbell. It's still a great exercise to train the middle delts though.
Sots press is another favorite of Dmitry Klokov. It's a klokov press in a squat position where you are pushing the weight up to an overhead squat.
The mobility of your lower body is heavily worked with this exercise, but the sots press will be the most demanding for your shoulders. If you learn how to do this properly, your shoulder mobility will develop incredibly fast.
In order to do learn how to do this properly, you need to be able to do ass to grass front squats, because the key to the sots press is the upright squat posture. The back squat style won't do the trick.
Start with a plain gymnastic stick, then move to an empty barbell. Eventually you should be able to lift heavier weights.
How to Train the Lateral Deltoids
You can either pick just one of these exercises and do them as a part of your workout routine. You can also do a middle delts blasting workout by following the routine below:
The Middle Delts Killer Workout
Warm-up: Front Press 2 x 5 reps.
Behind the Neck Press: 4 x 5 reps.
Klokov Press: 5 x 5 reps.
Wide Headstand Push Up: Until failure.
Take 1-2 minutes of rest between sets. You can do this workout 1-2 times per week.