How to Do a Lateral Raise: Variations, Proper Form, Techniques

The lateral raise is an isolation exercise that helps to increase strength in the pectoralis major (chest) and in the musculus deltoideus (shoulders). Apart from building strength, it also contributes to improving your posture, increasing grip strength, and challenging your muscles so that they get thrown off their routine.

To master lateral raise, begin with your feet shoulder-width apart and plant your feet firmly on the ground. Now, hold a dumbbell by each side of your thighs with your palms facing the outer part of your thigh. Slowly move your arms up and away from your body until they are horizontal with the floor.

For those looking to change up their lateral raise routine, you may try the lateral raise variations like the cable lateral raise, wall press lateral raise, three-way lateral raise, landmine lateral raise, kneeling lateral raise, leaning away lateral raise, lateral raise holds 1.5 rep lateral raise, dead stop lateral raise and the Y-raise. Each of these alternative methods will help isolate other muscles in the body.

Be careful not to apply excessive weight, not to go too high, and not to twist your wrists as these are the common mistakes with the lateral raise. As a result, common injuries of the lateral raise are strains or muscle tears when proper form isn’t maintained.

How to Perform Lateral Raise with Proper Form?

To dominate the lateral raise, the first step is to perfect its form. It’s important to have slow and controlled movements during this shoulder exercise

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your sides, palms facing in.
  2. Make sure your shoulders are neutral (don’t shrug), and your abs are engaged.
  3. Slightly bend your legs.
  4. Maintain this stance.
  5. Raise the dumbbells to your sides.
  6. Do not raise higher than shoulder height.
  7. Check your posture.
  8. Lower the dumbbells gradually to the starting position. 
  9. Repeat for three sets of eight to twelve repetitions.

You must maintain a neutral spine position and have the decent grip strength to work the correct muscles. 

Remember to breathe normally throughout your workout because this supplies your muscles with oxygen and keeps you focused.

What Are the Benefits of Lateral Raise?

A lateral raise has numerous benefits for people looking to strengthen their shoulders using flexible exercises.

What Are the Benefits of Lateral Raise
What Are the Benefits of Lateral Raise?

1. More Aesthetic Shoulders

When you master lateral raise, you will quickly notice your shoulders bulking up and becoming more defined. Later raises help work your mirror muscles that are the most visible. 

2. Improved Shoulder Muscle Mass

If you want to add some mass to your shoulders, lateral raises are effective. They bulk up your muscle, so you end up with much larger shoulders and upper arms. 

3. Better Shoulder Muscle Endurance

Once you incorporate lateral raises into your routine workout, you’ll notice you can do longer sets and more of them. Your endurance increases quickly, which is useful in day-to-day life when lifting heavy things. 

4. Stronger Shoulder Muscles

A common reason for performing lateral raises, they significantly increase your shoulder strength. 

5. Lateral raise is a versatile workout for your arms. 

Lateral raise is a compound lift, which means it works with groups of muscles rather than just one muscle. A compound lift means you get more out of this exercise compared to others that focus on one muscle at a time. 

6. You can work out one arm at a time or both arms.

If you want a less intense workout, doing one arm at a time is a great way to slow your workout and focus on individual areas of your body. 

7. Improved Posture

The neutral spine position required for this exercise naturally corrects your posture. 

What Are the Mistakes for Lateral Raise Form?

There are many common lateral raise mistakes when it comes to form.

  1. Excessive Weight: Don’t overexert your muscles by choosing a weight that is too heavy for you. Excessive weight can result in injury, and you won’t complete the exercise in good form. 
  2. Going Too High: Your arms should stop when horizontal to the floor. From another point of view, you should appear to be in a cross-like position or shaped like a ‘T.’ 
  3. Wrist Twist: Another major mistake in db lateral raise form is twisting your wrists as you raise your arms. Your palms should be facing the floor the entire time. If you flip your wrist over to lift the weights, they may be too heavy for you.

Injuries that result from these common mistakes are usually muscle strains or pulls or a hernia. 

How to Determine Proper Weight for Lateral Raise?

The best way to determine the ideal weight for you is to base it on body weight. Beginners should start with about seven pounds if they don’t have experience with arm and shoulder exercises. 

How to Determine Proper Weight for Lateral Raise
How to Determine Proper Weight for Lateral Raise?

The safest method to choose your lateral raise weight is to multiply your body weight by 0.05 if you are a beginner and 0.1 if you feel confident doing other arm workouts regularly. 

Which Muscles Are Involved While Performing Lateral Raise?

A lateral raise is a compound lift, so it works multiple muscles, including the triceps, trapezius in your upper back, and the deltoid muscle group, especially the anterior and lateral deltoids. Most of the muscles in the upper back are pushing muscles. 

What Are the Lateral Raise Variations?

A lateral raise variation is the same exercise but performed in a different position, with added equipment, or in conjunction with another movement.

What Are the Lateral Raise Variations
What Are the Lateral Raise Variations?
  1. Cable Lateral Raise: A cable lateral raise uses the cable on a pulley machine to exercise one arm at a time. A cable lateral raise is effective in strengthening deltoids because there is a constant tension in your muscles. After finishing a set, you switch arms and do the same number of reps. 
  2. Wall Press Lateral Raise: A wall press lateral raise is a one-arm lateral raise while your other arm is pressed flat against a wall. The flattened arm increases tension in your shoulders, so the weight works your muscles evenly. It also stops you from cheating by bending or hunching when you lift the weight up. 
  3. Three-Way Lateral Raise: The three-way lateral raise’s purpose is to target your entire shoulder, so all the muscles work in varying positions. To do this, you can move your arms slightly forward and then move forward, similar to a front raise. 
  4. Landmine Lateral Raise: A landmine lateral raise uses a barbell rather than dumbbells. One side of the barbell remains on the floor while you lift the other end per good lateral raise form. Using the barbell increases grip strength and engages your core more than traditional lateral raises. This variation is often more difficult and strenuous and should be done by intermediate or experienced individuals. 
  5. Kneeling Lateral Raise: Kneeling lateral raises or sitting lateral raises are excellent for people that struggle to keep their neutral spine position while lifting the weights. Sitting or kneeling will clue you into how you’re trying to use your hips and help correct the behavior. 
  6. Leaning Away Lateral Raise: A leaning away lateral raise is a variation that increases the difficulty of the exercise. Grab onto a weight rack or something stable and lean your torso to the side toward the arm you are exercising. Laying back requires your arms to lift the weights for a further distance. 
  7. Lateral Raise Hold: The lateral raise hold is a simple variation that requires you to hold the dumbbells up by your shoulders for longer on every rep. This makes the workout more intense and often means you should use less weight. 
  8. 1.5 Rep Lateral Raise: A 1.5 rep lateral raise is when you do a full rep followed by a half rep followed by a full rep. A rep and a half are more strenuous than only full lateral raises, as you use different muscles to stop at different heights. 
  9. Dead Stop Lateral Raise: Dead stop lateral raises are when you firmly hold the weights steady at the bottom of your rep, so down by your side. The variation increases the focus on your outer delts. 
  10. Y Raise: A Y raise is performed from a lying down position to increase the leverage you need to lift the weight. When you lift the weights, your body forms a ‘Y’. 

What Is the Necessary Equipment for Lateral Raise?

The following is the equipment needed to do lateral raises or lateral raise variations:

  1. 1-2 dumbbells
  2. 1 barbell
  3. Cable machine
  4. A Stable object to lean on
  5. A wall

Here are some useful facts about lateral raises.

  1. They are also called ​​deltoid lateral raise, dumbbell side raise, lat raises, side lateral raise, standing db lateral raise, or dumbbell lateral raises. 
  2. Lateral raises are often part of physical therapy practices focused on healing shoulder injuries. 
  3. Lateral raises are an excellent exercise to also engage your core.

Does a Lateral Raise Affect the Hormones?

Yes, all forms of exercise increase hormones like serotonin and dopamine. 

Does Lateral Raise Increase Testosterone? 

Yes, exercises that aim to build muscle do so by releasing testosterone into the body. 

Is Lateral Raise Practiced Within Crossfit? 

No, Crossfit replaces the lateral raise with the push press, as they feel it is more of a compound exercise with more benefits. 

Is Lateral Raise a Military Movement?

Yes, military training camps incorporate lateral raises into their routine workouts. 

Is Lateral Raise Dangerous? 

Yes, if you do not follow the proper lateral raise form and take your time, you can suffer an injury due to an incorrect lateral raise. 

Is Lateral Raise Push or Pull?

Lateral raise is a push exercise because it mainly targets the front and lateral deltoids, which are pushing muscles. 

Is Lateral Raise Essential?

Yes, lateral raises are an essential part of an arm and shoulder workout. A master lateral raise can do wonders to the arm and shoulder muscles. 

Is Lateral Raise an Olympic Lift?

No, lateral raises are not a weight lifting category in the Olympics.

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