Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise is an isolated (single-joint) exercise intended to work out medial deltoids. When performing the exercise, only shoulder joints work, the elbow joints, unlike barbell shoulder press, do not involve in the work. Therefore, this exercise purposefully works out only lateral deltoids.
In addition, part of the load is received by serratus anterior muscles of the chest, and if the technique is incorrect, part of the load is stolen by the trapezius muscles of the back. Since the exercise is isolated, it should be performed after barbell or dumbbell shoulder press.
Varieties and technique of dumbbell lateral raise
There are only two options for raising dumbbells to the sides. The exercise can be performed either standing or sitting.
Let’s take a closer look at each of types and analyze the technique.
Standing dumbbell side lateral raise
The most common version of the exercise and, in my opinion, it works out lateral deltoids better. In the starting position, the athlete stands with his feet on the floor, slightly tilting the body forward. The back is straight, slightly arched at the lower back.
Straight arms with dumbbells are slightly bent at the elbows and place a little in front of the body. The hands are a bit with pronation (i.e. turned inward). After the athlete takes the starting position, he begins to perform the exercise, moving his arms to the sides to a shoulder level. And then his hands with dumbbell return to their original position.
When performing the exercise, you need to move your arms with dumbbells so that the dumbbells are in the same plane with the shoulders (at the same height). In this case, the arms at the elbows should not bend, and the shoulders should not rise up.
With this technique, lateral deltoids will be purposefully worked out. If you raise your shoulders, then part of the load will be transferred to the trapezius muscles of the back. You should not do this, because you are working on purposefully medial deltas.
You can see in the above picture the common mistakes that are, as I’ve said, turning and bending arms in the elbows and raising shoulders.
Seated dumbbell side lateral raise
In this variation, the technique is similar, only the starting position is slightly different. You are sitting on a bench resting your shoulder blades against the back of the bench, your arms hang down along your torso. From this position, the movement of the hands begins. In this variation, the range of motion will be less, because in a sitting position, your legs will interfere with the placement of your hands in front of the body. And this will be a significant disadvantage. And the plus is that in a sitting position you will cheat less. I mean to help with your back and legs to throw the dumbbells up.
There are also several more variations of this exercise. For example, you can make alternate dumbbell lateral raises. That is, placing one arm on the bench, and raising another with a dumbbell to a side. Then the hands should be changed. In addition, this exercise can be performed in a cable crossover. This will allow lateral deltoids to receive a continuous load due to the tension of cables.
Tips on performing dumbbell side lateral raise
1) Perform the exercise smoothly, without jerking, following the correct technique and concentrating on the work of the lateral deltoids.
2) Do not hold your breath while doing the exercise. Move your arms to the sides as you exhale, and bring them together as you inhale.
3) Do not swing or tilt the torso during the exercise.
4) Do not twist your hands while doing the exercise. Throughout the entire trajectory of movement, they should be slightly with pronation (i.e. turned inward), as in the starting position. Often, with an incorrectly selected working weight, athletes begin to turn their hands towards the thumb, which shifts the load to the front deltas.
5) Do not press dumbbells together at the lowest point of the amplitude, keep a small distance between them. This will keep the muscles tense throughout the set.