Training Tip Tuesday: The Lateral Raise.

If there is one body part I see trained incorrectly the most, it’s shoulders. Men and women alike. Why? What’s happening? Where is it breaking down in the movements?

Easy. Proper execution of movement goes by the wayside for the sake of gains. Not muscle gains, weight gain in the lift.

What do I mean?

You’re lifting 15-pounds for ten reps in four sets on lateral raises, you’ve been doing this for weeks. You want bigger, more badass shoulders, so you jump up to the 20s hoping to push those caps to grow.

Because, you know, if you chase weight, the gains will come.

Yes, and no.

Why no? When you chase weight, your form goes all to hell. I see it all the time with lateral raises and front raises to be most specific. Today, I’m covering the lateral raise though.

A proper lateral raise, in order to get those muscles the most tension, and time under tension, you need to keep that form on point. When it comes to the lateral raise: LESS is actually MORE (definitely not the other way around). Not only is it going to prevent a shoulder injury, make you not look ridiculous with those crazy W-shaped arms, or rocking your body like a parent trying to rock a tired baby to sleep — but you’ll grow those caps.

Train smart, folks.


The top two are what your lateral raise should look like (hence the check marks). Soft knees, gaze forward, arms parallel and straight. There are two ways you can train your shoulders in a lateral raise. 1. Straight arms, hands/elbows/shoulders parallel, and palms down. This is your standard raise. 2. Straight arms, hands/elbows/shoulders parallel, and pinky up, thumb down (think pouring a glass of water). Why the adjustment? This hand placement causes your humerus to rotate forward, keeping the lateral head of your deltoid prominent over your anterior head (which, let’s be realistic: this is why you’re doing the lateral raise).

Key things NOT to do: bend your elbows, and use just your upper arm for the lift, with your hands just following the motion for the sake of going heavier. If you can’t keep your arms straight, and in an outward motion (out not up), the weight is too heavy. Not to mention, if you bend those elbows and lift, you’re removing how much full tension your shoulder is under — which makes going up in weight pointless. You’re better sticking with a lower weight so you can go “full arm.”

Another one is to lead with your hands. This keeps your shoulders dropped, elbows low, and hands too high. Don’t do it. Sure, over the course of, say, 20 years you’ll have gains. They’ll be small gains, and you won’t develop that muscle properly.

Takeaway? Stick with the weight that will allow you to keep those arms straight and parallel, allow you to move outward, and use those shoulders to fire the movement — not your elbows or hands.

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