The Anatomy and Execution of Lateral Raises

Lateral raises, also known as lateral openings, are a popular exercise in strength training, specifically targeting the shoulders. This single-joint exercise focuses on the central bundles of the deltoids and can be performed using one or both arms simultaneously.

Understanding the Muscle Groups Involved

In the initial 30° of movement, the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and subscapularis muscles also play a significant role. The primary movement involved in lateral raises is the abduction of the humerus up to 90° of shoulder opening, essentially moving the arms from a relaxed position at the sides to a fully open position.

When the movement extends beyond a right angle, the trapezius muscle becomes significantly engaged. Lateral raises can be executed using free weights such as dumbbells or kettlebells, cables, or specific isotonic machines designed to simulate the same movement.

The Execution of Lateral Raises with Dumbbells

Performing lateral raises with dumbbells is relatively straightforward. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Select the Weights: Choose two dumbbells of an appropriate weight. Hold them in your hands and let your arms fall naturally at your sides. Your legs should be shoulder-width apart.
  2. Posture: Your shoulder blades should be slightly adducted, with your chest projected forward. Maintain a comfortable and natural posture throughout the exercise.
  3. Arm Position: Your arms should be extended with a slight bend at the elbows.
  4. Execution: Perform the abduction of the humeri, ending the movement at a 90° angle to the chest. Avoid common mistakes such as flopping on your legs or arching your torso backwards, especially when you are close to failure.
  5. Humerus Rotation: It's not necessary or advisable to rotate the humeri internally or externally. Only those with impingement-type rotator cuff impairment may benefit from a slight external rotation.
  6. Return to Start: Finally, return to the starting position, controlling the movement. The repetition ends before the shoulders lose tension, meaning the dumbbells never touch the thighs, and the arms are never perpendicular to the floor.
The correct execution of the Lateral Raises

Benefits of Lateral Raises with Dumbbells

Lateral raises with dumbbells specifically target the central deltoids. The use of dumbbells emphasizes muscular work at the moment of maximum shortening, allowing for a more strength-focused workout. This exercise is an excellent isolation and qualitative exercise for strengthening the lateral shoulder, which is only marginally involved in heavy multi-joint exercises.

Drawbacks of Lateral Raises with Dumbbells

While lateral raises with dumbbells offer many benefits, they also have some drawbacks. For instance, dumbbells do not facilitate isotonic contraction, which can be achieved with cables, i.e., equal intensity throughout the range of motion.

This exercise can be uncomfortable for those with functional shoulder alterations, like widespread impingement. Furthermore, lateral raises should not be considered a priority or prevalent exercise in a workout routine.

Common Mistakes in Dumbbell Lateral Raises

Avoid these common mistakes when performing dumbbell lateral raises:

  1. Excessive internal or external rotation of the shoulder.
  2. Over-flexing or fully extending your elbows.
  3. Using your legs to lessen the effort required.
  4. Arching your back backwards to assist in the last phase of the range of motion.
  5. Not reaching maximum range of motion.
  6. Losing muscle tension when coming down.

In conclusion, lateral raises are a beneficial exercise for isolating and strengthening the shoulder muscles, particularly the central deltoids. However, they should be performed correctly to maximize benefits and minimize the risk of injury.

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The Wellyme Team

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