Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise Exercise Guide
Standing dumbbell lateral raise is an isolation exercise to work on your lateral deltoid, even though the anterior and posterior deltoids are worked too. If you do it properly, you should feel a slight burning sensation in the side delt. This is also a good exercise to develop the width of your upper back and is a valuable aid in most racket and field sports where power – the combination of strength and speed – can give a competitive edge.
INITIAL (STARTING) POSITION. Stand straight and hold a dumbbell on each side of your body with your palms facing each other. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Lean forward at the waist slightly, and bend your elbows a little.
MOVEMENT (ACTION). Exhale and slowly raise your arms laterally, keeping them in line with your shoulders. Stop when the dumbbells are slightly higher than your shoulders. At the top of the movement, the palms of your hands should face the floor. Don’t let your body rock—this reduces the benefit to your shoulders. Hold the dumbbells at the topmost point for a second, then inhale and slowly lower them to your side. Repeat.
Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise Tips & Tricks
- Move the dumbbells up slowly and under control.
- Lift the dumbbells up and out to the sides while keeping your arms relatively straight (a slight elbow bend is okay) until your arms are parallel to the floor.
- Lift your arms straight out to the side, raising your elbows to the level of your hands and shoulders. The trapezius takes over if the dumbbells are raised higher, so terminating the upward phase at shoulder level keeps tension on the deltoid.
- Maintain a slight bend in your elbows throughout.
- Look for your wrists to remain in the same position as your arms are elevated.
- Look for the action to come from your shoulder joints, not your neck.
- Avoid shrugging.
- Avoid flexing and extending your elbow as your arm is raised.
- Don’t move your upper body and don’t swing during the execution.
- Avoid rotating your hands in either direction.
- Dumbbell lateral raise is an isolation exercise, so you should be focusing on stretch and muscle contraction, not using heavy weights.
- Avoid extending your head or chin forwards.
- Avoid leaning backwards with your upper body.
- Stabilise by keeping your spine in a neutral position and your hips and knees slightly bent.
These mistakes you have to avoid when you perform lateral raises of any type.
- Extending or flexing the elbows during the movement.
- Shrugging the shoulders, flexing the torso backward, extending the knees, or rising up on
the toes to help raise the dumbbells upward.
- Flexing the torso forward or allowing the body’s weight to shift toward the toes during the downward movement phase.
Dumbbell Lateral Raise Variations
- Perform lateral raises while seated (using the same technique as standing) as well as one arm at a time.
- Standing L- raise. In this variation you will start with your elbows bent 90-degrees and your palms facing each other. Lift your elbows up and out to the sides until your upper arms are parallel to the floor, keeping the same 90-degree bend.
- For a stronger contraction, extend the range of motion by lifting your arms past parallel with the floor at the top; at the bottom, stop the dumbbells 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) short of your legs to keep constant tension on the deltoid and make the exercise more difficult.
- Incline/decline one arm dumbbell lateral raise. Image below is self explanatory.
Standing Dumbbell Lateral Substitutes – Replacement Exercises
Here is a detailed list of muscles engaged when you perform this great side deltoid exercise.
- Main muscles: deltoid (middle), supraspinatus;
- Secondary muscles: deltoid (front and rear), trapezius and serratus anterior (especially from 90
to 150º), biceps (long head), subscapularis;
- Antagonists: latissimus dorsi, pectoralis major (lower), teres major and minor, triceps (long head), biceps (short head):
The biceps (especially the long head) does its fair share of the work in this exercise, accounting for up to 20-25% of the overall effort. You should take this into account when planning your training routine.
Standing dumbbell lateral raise is a good exercise for the deltoid, especially for the middle (side) section of the muscle.
It will help you broaden your shoulders. In other words, this lateral deltoid exercise will add slabs of muscle to the medial head, providing you with extra inches of width.
If you do the exercise sitting down, you will effectively eliminate any momentum provided by the legs and torso.
The key here is to leave the ego outside the gym: use a lower weight that allows you to concentrate on perfect form.