Lateral raises come with some of the best shoulder workouts you can do to build your deltoids and improve your shoulder mobility. They are quite simple and mainly involve lifting weights to shoulder height on the side of your body before lowering them and starting over. But they will only work if you do them with good form.
Even though they are simple in setup, lateral raises can be incredibly heavy. We spoke to Peter Williams, PT and Gym Manager at PureGym Cardiff, to find out everything you need to know about how to do the lateral raises with perfect form. Peter has shared with us his best tips on performing lateral raises, the benefits and variations associated with the exercise, and some common form mistakes to avoid.
However, if building your shoulders is your goal, it’s important to note that you won’t be doing it with side raises alone. The lats delts are one of three deltoids, and this is just one group of muscles that make up the shoulder and upper back. Make sure you train all the muscles to build a strong and balanced upper body – by combining compound exercises such as bench press, overhead press and lat pulldowns with isolation exercises such as lateral raises, rear hang gliding and chest flies, you will ensure that you a total builds upper body strength and size.
How to do lateral raises?
Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, palms facing your body, with a gentle bend at your elbows. Contracting your abs and keeping your torso still, lift the dumbbells out to the sides until they are level with your shoulders and slightly in front of your chest. Hold for a second before slowly lowering the dumbbells back to the start.
What are the benefits of lateral raises?
The Lateral Raise is an isolation exercise that works the lateral delts (side of the shoulders) and traps (upper back). The main benefits of lateral raises are building bigger, stronger shoulders and improving shoulder mobility and stability. This can mean a stronger upper body lift, wider shoulders and less chance of injury.
What are the different variations to try?
Lateral raises are often done with dumbbells (check out the best adjustable dumbbells for home weight lifting here), but to make this exercise more challenging, switch to kettlebells or a cable machine.
With kettlebells, the center of mass falls below the handle and your muscles have to work harder to adapt to how this changes during the movement, and cables provide a constant source of tension throughout the raise, which is great for fatigue and challenging of the muscles. If you’re working out at home, you can also use resistance bands for this exercise – check out the best resistance bands on the market here.
You should only make progress once you’ve nailed the shape and are sure you’re recruiting the right muscles to power this exercise.
What are the most common form errors?
The biggest mistake people make with side raises is using momentum to lift the weight, rather than recruiting the muscles in the shoulders and upper back. To really get the most out of lateral raises, it’s important to focus on form – don’t shake your hips forward and use speed or momentum to swing the weights up. Choose a weight that is challenging but allows you to move in a smooth, controlled motion and focus on building that mind-muscle connection.
Looking for more training inspiration? Here are six resistance band exercises to build your arms without weights, the best abs you can do for free, an exercise better than squats to build your glutes