Building the side or lateral head of your shoulders will give WIDTH to your body, so pay attention!
99% of trainers and internet sites will recommend you perform your dumbbell lateral raises in a certain way. The form I am going to illustrate for you today is TOTALLY different.
The only other person I know recommending a similar form is Jeff Willet – see here for my interview with the man.
Your choice: You can do it their way and make very little difference to your physique and eventually stall. Or do it my way and build width to your shoulders and make progressive strength gains indefinitely.
Dumbbell Laterals are another exercise that benefit from what is technically called Biomechanially Optimized Form (sometimes called controlled loose form). See my last article on Front Raises for a similar tutorial.
How To Do Dumbbell Lateral Raises
Before we go on, let me repeat…
Optimized form is NOT swinging. Anyone that tells you it is hasn’t a clue what they’re talking about. You INITIATE the movement with the intended muscle only. Once it’s already moving, that’s when you allow some complimentary movement in another part of the body.
Some joints in the human body just don’t operate very well at a certain range in the motion when totally isolated. It’s simple biomechanics and it is the way it is whether you like it or not. Repeat: It is NOT swinging the weight.
The 2 big differences in form I recommend are that you do NOT keep a straight back, and you have a more pronounced bend at the elbows than is normally recommended.
Grab the dumbbells in both hands. Position the weights in front of your upper legs with your elbows bent. I’m talking about a 60° bend or so.
Before you start the movement, allow your torso to fall forward a little. Keep your back straight and strong. Have a slight bend in the knees.
Initiate the movement with the shoulders. Once you approach MID-RANGE straighten your back into a straight-up position.
Raise the dumbbells up until the upper arms are just above horizontal – this is the top of the movement. Lower slowly under full muscular control and allow your body to come forward again in preparation for the next rep.
NOTE: Make sure that at the top of the movement the dumbbells are parallel to the floor and the wrists are full pronated (palms facing floor). This will involve a little movement in the wrists during the positive/upward part of the rep.
Try it ASAP and let me know how many extra reps you knocked out!
Mark (on Facebook? Click ‘like‘ below or I’ll call in the heavies)
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nice tips! Would this replace the method you described in the past, using cables and a strap attached to the forearm, very close to the elbow? I’ve had some good success with that, but if this change is for the right reasons, I’m up for that!!
Richard. No. I still like that exercise. But I would do these first and perhaps just 1 set of the cable movement.
The movement presented by Mark is like a hybrid between a lateral raise and an upright row. I tried many different versions of the lateral raise, I will definitely try this one out. Cool stuff!
Great to see that you are still offering quality advice to all wanting to learn more about their training. I am recovering from a full shoulder reconstruction and the bigget issue for me is being able to get a full ROM-which is something I still cannot achieve.
I think that it is fantastic that you attempt to educate people in the principles of form over weight, as I tore my main ligament off of the bone and had the operation on 7-5-12 and only now can I press an olympic bar behind my head nearly 5 months down the track.
For anyone that may read this I hope they would listen to Mark as prevention in the case of a shoulders is certainly easier than the cure. Now when I go to the gym for my rehab I watch so many people use inertia to leverage weights that are far to heavy in an attempt to impress others….and that will only lead to problems like mine
Thank you for your efforts Mark and keep it up
Would you recommend this on a Lateral Raise Naultilis machine? The machine already puts you in a similar position and I’ve been using that. I’m going to try these, just wondering how effective naultilis would be as well. Thanks
@Teemo @Sean Thanks
@Mark. I like that machine. I would recommend you use it yes. However, you can’t use optimized form as the path is fixed. But a great machine, which I recommend.
Having watched both of the videos, this looks just like the front raise except that both dumbells are raised at the same time rather than one at a time. One exercise was called front raise and this one is called lateral raise. I don’t follow where the lateral movement is?
Keep up the good work!
@Pete. In front raises the dumbbells are raised out in front of the body, these aren’t. The arms are also much more straight in front raises.
I really like the look of this new form. Something in my shoulder, I could never put my finger on it, always felt very vulnerable in an unsafe way whenever I did the classic side-raise. This looks like it will be much safer, and like you said, it also looks like a movement that will allow you to move some real weight and get some real gains. Thanks for sharing, Mark.
@Brad. My pleasure, bud.
I tried this!! Man, what a difference!! It just feels more comfortable & WOW, you know your shoulders got a Good Workout!! Thanks A Bunch Mark!!
P.S. Finish off with Marks front dumbbell raises and every muscle in your shoulders feel FRIED!!!!!
I’ve really been looking for something like this just started your system yesterday. Did arms and shoulders today. Really loving the lateral raises. Love the burn. Thanks Mark. You rock
Will be blasting my shoulders in the next 90mins, so look forward to this. Between you, Jeff Willet and Kai Greene I think I’ve got ALL angles covered 🙂
You follow Kai and his body building vs weight lifting philosophy? I think you’re all singing from the same hymn book….?
Just came from gym … all what I can say is … until now Macmanus style french curl was the best exercise ever I did ( of course except AB 😉 ) …. But from today Dumbbell Lateral Raises has replaced it …. I tell you how I did … As Mark said, I started with a moderate weight & after one set I immediately dropped weight by 50% and continued with another set. This way I did 3 drop sets (3+3) (all super intense and till muscular failure) and trust me when I saw in mirror I couldn’t believe how my shoulders were looking, just massive…. Thank you so much Mark !