Lateral raises are exercises specifically targeted to building shoulder muscles. The exercises can protect your deltoids (or shoulder muscles) against injury, and it’s generally a very good beginner dumbbell exercise to start with.
They’re usually done with a dumbbell in each hand, arms to your side. You lift the dumbbells to no higher than shoulder height and then bring them down again. There are a lot of ways you can mess it up, so make sure you’re doing it right. Building that shoulder muscle is necessary for those heavy handbags women to have to tote around!
Here are some things you need to know about lateral raises:
1) Don’t move your head and spine around
Maintain a neutral stance when it comes to your head and spine. You might strain your neck if your head starts to fall forward, which might happen if you’re getting tired or are towards the fag end of the exercise set. Keep an eye on yourself in the mirror if possible so your posture can remain as correct as it’s supposed to be.
2) Select the right weight
Don’t go for something too heavy. If you find yourself having major difficulties, switch out your dumbbells for a lighter pair. Select dumbbells between five to fifteen pounds to start with, if you’re an amateur at this. If you try the exercise with weights beyond your capacity, you won’t get the required benefits and you’ll end up with a poor form. You might injure yourself unnecessarily, so be sure you’re using the right weights that work for you.
3) Try using kettlebells
If you want to switch things up (since a lateral raise is a very basic gym exercise), try using kettlebells instead of dumbbells. This will make things a bit harder for you because you’ll have to keep a firm grip on them so they don’t turn in your hands. This will increase your grip strength as well.
4) Be mindful of your hands
As you reach the shoulder level of the raise, turn your wrists so that the little fingers are on top. This will help the muscles in your side deltoids. You can reverse this as you bring the weights slowly downwards.
5) Lift till shoulder weight only
Don’t lift past your shoulders, because then you will no longer be stressing your shoulders but your trapezius. This will defeat the purpose of the lateral raise exercise which is primarily to build shoulder muscle. If you’re a beginner, especially, the exercise will be a lot easier if you stick to the rules.
6) Don’t follow the momentum
Once you start swinging the weights, your shoulders will lose out on the benefits provided by the exercise. You’ll find it difficult to control the weights, and you’ll be using your legs and back to push the weight upward instead of using your shoulders. Also, you might injure yourself by relying on the momentum built up. If you’re finding the exercise too heavily reliant on momentum to lift, switch out your dumbbells for lighter ones.
7) Elbow in
If you do the exercise without raising your elbows and stretching them out to your sides, it’ll prevent them from getting a good workout and using the muscles properly. Make sure you move your elbows properly and use them to push the weights up and down, rather than keeping them in the same place.
Know the benefits of lateral raises
Lateral raises actually have quite a few benefits. If you’re looking to get an athletic build or achieve that bodybuilder shape, they’re great for building shoulder size and growth (or hypertrophy). This will increase your overall strength and fitness.
You also have a wider range of movement and therefore your body reduces its risk of injury. Finally, if there are any muscle imbalances in your body, these exercises can help to sort that out.
Basically, lateral raises are great if you’re a clueless newcomer at the gym but you’re looking to become serious. It’s an easy exercise that many people still do at advanced levels, and can easily be changed and made increasingly more difficult as you keep at it. If you do it right and follow the instructions, you’re not likely to injure yourself. It’s a good first step to building shoulder muscle.