Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Bent-over dumbbell lateral raise (rear lateral raise) is a great raw strength exercise that develops your shoulders (principally posterior deltoid) and the muscles in the middle section of your back – principally your rhomboids. You can perform bent-over dumbbell lateral raise standing, seated, or lying, but in all cases ensure that you maintain good body position to avoid engaging the larger muscles of your back.
Proper Technique for Bent-Over Laterals
STARTING (INITIAL POSITION): Stand with your knees slightly bent and, holding a pair of dumbbells in front of you with your palms facing each other, bend forward from the hips like a jackknife, keeping your back flat and your head up. Allow your arms to hang straight down from your shoulders and bend your elbows slightly.
MOVEMENT (ACTION): With palms facing together, slowly lift the dumbbells up (to ear level) and out to the sides of your body, pulling through the rear delts and rhomboids. Pause a moment at the top of the motion before slowly lowering the weights back down to the start. Avoid the use of momentum by lifting the dumbbells slowly and deliberately, and imagining the distance between your shoulder blades getting smaller as you raise the weights.
Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise Tips & Tricks
Follow these additional tips to ensure that you perform this great rear deltoid exercise safely and effectively.
- Bent over at the waist at a 45-90 degree angle with your back flat.
- Remain spine in one position.
- Look for your hands to move not only back but away (or out) from your torso in a slow and controlled fashion.
- Make a small pause at the top of the movement.
- Avoid any spinal, hip, knee, or head movement.
- Evade elevating your shoulders towards your ears or extending your arms forwards, towards the ground, in the bottom position.
- Avoid moving your shoulder blades from their down and flat position as your arms descend towards the floor.
- Rounding your back during this exercise may cause injury to your back or spine.
Accepted Variations for Bent-Over Laterals
- Head-supported dumbbell lateral raise. You can do this exercise with your forehead supported on the uppermost end of an incline exercise bench.
- Seated bent-over dumbbell lateral raise. Do this exercise while seated on a flat bench or seat by leaning forward so your chest is nearly touching your thighs.
- Carrying out this exercise lying on a bench puts more emphasis on the medial deltoids and rhomboids. This variant is best performed with your legs fixed, making it more advanced isolation exercise.
- As you raise the dumbbells, rotate your wrists so that by the top of the movement your palms face back. In other words, you will start the exercise with a neutral grip (palms facing together) and end up with your palms facing the body (supinated grip). You can also start and finish the exercise with your palms facing your body.
Nevertheless, analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each version to choose the one that suits you best.
Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise Substitutes
There are lots of exercise that can be used to substitute bent-over dumbbell lateral raises.
- Bent-over cable lateral raise
- One-arm bent-over cable lateral raise
- Head-supported dumbbell lateral raise
- Reverse cable crossover
- Machine rear deltoid fly
- Incline rear deltoid raise
- Seated bent-arm bent-over dumbbell row
Muscles Engaged in Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise
- Main muscles: deltoid (rear), trapezius
- Secondary muscles: deltoid (middle), latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, teres major and minor, triceps, infraspinatus, muscles of the lower back and along the spine
- Antagonists: deltoid (front), pectoralis major, biceps
This rear deltoid exercise is difficult to do with good technique, and it can pose a risk to your back. By keeping your arms away from your body and your torso horizontal, you will be able to isolate the rear deltoid more effectively than if you bring your arms back (which puts considerable demands on the latissimus dorsi and adjacent muscles).
Moste people think of the rear lateral raise as strictly a shoulder exercise, since it targets your posterior (rear) deltoid. But consider: it’s actually the same movement as a row, only you’re not bending your elbows as you lift the weight. So it’s also highly effective at working the muscles of your middle and upper back, which is why it’s often included under back exercises. Anyway, for best results, focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together as you do the exercise.