Lateral shoulder elevations are a workout that develops strength and muscle in the medial or lateral deltoid. It is crucial to execute lateral delt exercises if you desire to shape and tone your deltoids since these muscles are not easily targeted with compound shoulder movements like shoulder presses. Additionally, the lateral delts are not engaged during pushing or pulling exercises as the front and rear delts are.
For example, when performing pressing movements such as bench presses, your anterior (front) delts are activated, and when executing pulling movements like rows, your rear delts are involved. Lateral elevations assist in developing a more well-rounded and complete shoulder muscle.
How to Perform a Lateral Shoulder Elevation
Select a weight that allows you to complete a minimum of 10 repetitions without nearing failure. The side delts are smaller muscles that respond better to lighter weights and higher repetitions, particularly during the lateral shoulder elevation since the weight is held at the furthest distal point from the muscle. This can strain the elbow joint if heavy weights are used for fewer reps. You can keep your elbow extended or maintain a slight bend, depending on what feels optimal for your joints.
- Commence in a standing position, holding dumbbells by your sides with an overhand grip. Activate your core, squeeze your glutes, and maintain a straight back.
- Raise the dumbbells directly out to the sides until they are at least parallel to your shoulders. Keep your wrists straight without tilting forward or backward. Avoid using momentum by swinging or shifting your hips.
Easier Lateral Elevation: Single Arm Lateral Shoulder Elevation
Lateral elevations can pose a challenge for beginners as raising both arms out to the sides can test your stability and core strength. If you find it difficult to raise both arms simultaneously while maintaining a straight and stable back and pelvis, make it easier by performing single-arm lateral elevations instead. You can do this exercise while standing or from a seated position.
Harder Lateral Elevation: Slow Tempo Lateral Shoulder Elevation
To increase the difficulty of a lateral shoulder elevation, you can take advantage of a slower concentric (raising) and eccentric (lowering) motion during the lift. Slowing down the movement increases the time under tension, and slower eccentrics provide an additional stimulus for muscle growth in your lateral delts.
- Avoid swaying or shifting hips for momentum.
- Gradually lower the weight for a tally of 3 to 4 seconds.
- Right away execute another repetition.
Lateral Shoulder Elevate for Tight or Aching Joints
If you possess constricted or painful shoulders or elbows, you can adapt how you execute a lateral elevate to alleviate pressure from the joints and is simpler on the elbow, rotator cuff, and tendons. Instead of commencing and culminating with the weights directly at your sides, keep them slightly in front of your physique and make slight alterations in wrist angle and range of motion to allow more liberty of movement for your shoulder joint and alleviate pressure from the elbows.
- Commence in an upright position clutching dumbbells in front of thighs. Lean forward slightly.
- Elevate dumbbells straightforwardly outwards, sustaining slight elbow bend if desired. Elevate until just before or parallel with shoulders, angling thumbs slightly toward the ceiling to alleviate strain on the shoulders.
- Regulate the weights to descend back to the starting position.
Full ROM Lateral Elevate
The full ROM (range of motion) lateral elevate is a modification that delivers some supplementary motivation and targets more muscle fibers. For this modification, you’ll probably need to diminish your usual weight slightly. You’ll be persisting in elevating the weights beyond the 90-degree parallel to your shoulders, continuing until 45 degrees above parallel or completely above your head. This modification capitalizes on gravity, sustaining tension on the lateral deltoids for a greater range of motion and longer duration. You will also engage your trapezius muscles with this modification.
- Commence in an upright position, dumbbells at sides with an overhand grip.
- Elevate weights vertically, continuing beyond 90 degrees to 45 degrees or more.
- Lower weights in a gradual and controlled manner using deltoids to prevent the weights from descending abruptly.
- Lower to 45 degrees below parallel and repeat.
Leaning Lateral Elevate
The leaning lateral elevate is a modification that can help some individuals sense their lateral deltoids more effectively and assists in sustaining tension on the lateral deltoids for a longer duration due to the influence of gravity providing more resistance while leaning. For this modification, you will require an anchoring point that you can seize onto and lean from, such as a rack or the top of an exercise bench.
- Commence in an upright position beside the anchoring point. Hold the dumbbell in the arm farthest from the anchoring point and grasp the anchor with the free hand.
- Extend the arm to lean towards the weighted side. Raise the working arm up to execute a lateral elevate, stopping when the arm reaches parallel to the shoulder.
- Lower slowly with control, stopping when the arm points directly downward, and repeat.
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