Subtle exercise modifications can be a game changer. Sadly, many lifters are still under the impression that making an exercise safer means they're not going to reap the same benefits. Hogwash.
Individuals vary dramatically in structure, so naturally there's always going to be room for alterations. Moreover, when you factor in training age and injury history, you're in a whole different terrain.
If you can spare your joints while providing tremendous stimulation to the muscle, it's not a copout – it's being prudent with your training. Tailor your body to fit the training.
Take the shoulders for instance. The most fundamental exercise to bring up lagging medial (side) delts is the lateral raise. There's nothing wrong with the way it's commonly performed with the arms moving straight out to the side. But, as with any exercise, overloading the same movement pattern over and over again isn't very wise.
Spice Up Your Lateral Raise
Adopt a bent over position using an adjustable bench and you're essentially changing the direct line of pull on your shoulders. With a small forward lean you're stirring up a comparable training effect, but with the added bonus of decreased joint stress. That's what we ultimately want – optimal stimulation, minimal risk.
Now, the icing on the cake would be doing them in the scapular plane. By raising your arms in a wide V motion, you're inducing the least amount of stress on the passive structures of your shoulders, increasing your training longevity.