What do lateral raises do?
The lateral raise or side lateral raises are effective shoulder-strengthening exercises that help tone your shoulder muscles and a part of the upper back muscles.
This exercise can help you develop stronger, broader shoulders and is especially beneficial if you get frequent knots between the shoulder blades from working at a desk job. It also makes your waist look smaller.
The exercise can be performed by beginners as well. You would need dumbbells to perform the exercise. The exercise mainly involves lifting weights out and away from your body, forming a "T" shape at your shoulders. The exercise should be incorporated into upper-body strength training exercises that include push-ups, pull-ups and shoulder presses.
What are the benefits of lateral raises?
Lateral raise exercise targets the deltoid muscles and some trapezius fibers as well. The deltoid muscle has three heads. They merge before they attach to the upper arm bone, called the humerus. The exercise can help your shoulders look more defined and broader. It also helps strengthen your shoulders and stabilizes the shoulder joint since the shoulder joint is the least stable joint.
How do you do lateral raises?
Lateral raises are simple to perform. It requires little space and can be done at home. You need dumbbells to perform the exercise. You can start with light weights (2.2 lbs) and gradually increase the weight as you get stronger and more comfortable. Make sure your dumbbells are not too heavy because this can cause injury or affect your posture during the exercise, reducing the benefits. Steps to perform a lateral raise are
- You need to stand tall, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Pull your stomach in, arch your back and pinch your shoulder blades together. This means you do not slouch but stand straight with the two shoulder blades in a straight line. Stand with your feet hip distance apart, roll your shoulders back, engage/tighten your core and look straight ahead.
- Hold the dumbbells by your sides. Now, raise both of your arms simultaneously, with the dumbbells in your hand a few inches out to each side until your arms and your back form the shape of the letter “T” (be careful not to lock your elbows).
- Hold this pose for a few seconds (start with 5 seconds and work up to 10 seconds as you get better) to make sure your muscles are engaged. Lower the weights slowly back down to your sides. Inhale as you lift the weights and exhale as you lower them. Repeat this in a set of 10 to 20 and 20 to 30 moves as you get better.
Tips for a perfect lateral raise
- People usually do lateral raises until they reach shoulder height. However, here is a secret. You can continue upwards about 45 degrees above parallel. You can get a bit more contraction out of your middle deltoid (shoulder) muscle and engage a little of the trapezius this way.
- Never put a big bend in your elbows (approaching 90 degrees) while doing the sets. You can add more weight this way and your upper arm will go through the same range of motion. However, this position is not as effective as the method where you just bend elbows a little (maybe 30 degrees) as you lift.
- Never lock the elbow joint while doing this exercise. You have to do an almost “T” and hold.
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