Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise


Weight-Training Exercises: Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Seated dumbbell lateral raise is a good weight-training 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 you a competitive edge. Furthermore, it is an excellent isolation movement for developing and sculpting your shoulders (lateral raises primarily focus on the side of your deltoid muscles, but they also involve your trapezius muscles and your front deltoids). Lateral raises will definitely help you broaden your shoulders.

Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise Exercise Guide

STARTING (INITIAL) POSITION: Sit comfortably on the bench with your chest and head up. Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them at your sides with your arms almost fully extended. Keep a slight bend in your elbow, which you’ll maintain throughout the movement. Hold the dumbbells in a neutral grip (palms facing the body). In other words, turn your palms toward you.

Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise

MOVEMENT (EXECUTION): Raise your arms laterally (straight up to the sides) until they are parallel with the ground, forming 90-degree angles at your armpits. Keep your elbows slightly bent. Your hands can be slightly tilted forward. Lower the weights to the starting position in a controlled movement and along the same path.

Exercise Key Points & Common Mistakes

In order to perform this lateral deltoid exercise safely and effectively, you should keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Lift your arms straight out to the side, raising your elbows to the level of your hands and shoulders.
  • You can lift the dumbbells to your side with a slight bend on the elbow and the hands slightly tilted forward as if pouring water in a glass.
  • If you raise the dumbbells a few degrees higher than horizontal (never with heavy weights), you will call upon the trapezius and adjacent muscles (the deltoid only lifts the arms to around 90º). Terminating the upward phase at shoulder level keeps tension on the deltoid.
  • Always perform this exercise slowly and try not to move your upper body and don’t swing during the execution.
  • Dumbbell lateral raise is an isolation exercise, so you should be focusing on stretch and muscle contraction, not using heavy weights.
  • Main mistakes: shrugging the shoulders excessively, hunching forward, and leaning back.

Exercise Variations

  • Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise. Standing requires a little more discipline and technique to maintain good posture and eliminate the tendency to cheat by throwing the weight up using the legs rather than forcing the shoulders to do their job.
  • Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down
  • One Arm at a Time Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Muscles Engaged in Seated Side Raises

  • 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);

Replacement Exercise

You can easily perform lateral raises using dumbbells, a pulley, or a machine. Each side deltoid exercise works the target muscles and supporting muscles slightly differently. Remember, specificity requires that you choose exercises that reflect your needs and goals.

Furthermore, you can replace lateral raises with upright rows. Anyway, there are plenty of exercises from which you can choose your favorites.

Closing Thoughts

Seated dumbbell lateral raise targets the side of your shoulder (lateral head). This is an isolation (single-joint) exercise for increasing your shoulder size.

This side deltoid exercise can also be performed standing, but seated version with your back flat against the back of a chair will help eliminate any cheating on this shoulder exercise. Hence, It may mean using less weight, but more emphasis will be placed on your shoulders. Remember that using your body’s momentum to swing the dumbbells up will not work your shoulders properly.

Seated dumbbell lateral raise should be used in conjunction with compound movements like the shoulder press to help you develop powerful looking shoulders. It would be very rare to find any successful bodybuilder who has not trained with lateral raises at one time or another.

Dumbbells are classic exercise equipment, but unfortunately they are not the best choice for lateral raises. We recommend using a pulley or a machine. Because resistance from dumbbells rapidly disappears when the arms come back to the body, the deltoid is not stretched very much. This is especially true given that is already very difficult to stretch the lateral part of the deltoid. Of the three alternatives for performing lateral raises, dumbbells are the least productive because they decrease the mobilization of involuntary strength to lift the weight.

Gif animation: Seated dumbbell lateral raise

About Author

Hey! My name is Kruno, and I'm the owner and author of Bodybuilding Wizard. I started this website back in late 2014, and it has been my pet project ever since. My goal is to help you learn proper weight training and nutrition principles so that you can get strong and build the physique of your dreams!

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