4 Effective Lateral Raise Exercises To Strengthen Your Shoulders

Image : © Mqdee

Lateral Raise, one of the most common and effective shoulder exercises, is surprisingly a beginner’s level exercise. So if you want strong, sexy, gorgeously toned and sculpted shoulders, this is one of the best moves for you. But people often tend to think that lateral raise is just a shoulder exercise. But no, there is a lot more to this simple move.

Muscles Worked:

The main target areas of the lateral raise exercise are the shoulders. Our shoulders consist of four different muscles – two individual muscles and two muscle groups. The two muscle groups are Deltoids and Rotator Cuffs. We have anterior deltoids, middle deltoids and posterior deltoids. Also, there are four Rotator Cuffs – Subscapularis, Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus and Teres Minor. The two individual shoulders muscles are upper trapezius and levator scapulae. And amazingly, lateral raises work on all of these muscles.

But, that is not all. With little variations this exercise also works on middle and lower Traps. Rhomboids and serratus muscles, givie you a ‘fabulicious’ back!

How To Do Lateral Raise:

1. The Starting Position:

Once your body is all warmed up, you can be ready for lateral raise.

  1. Stand with your spine straight, shoulders back and abs tight.
  2. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Grab a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing inside and your thumbs up.

2. The Movement:

Now that you are in the correct position, you can start with the actual exercise.

  1. Exhale and lift your arms and raise the dumbbells until they are parallel to the ground.
  2. Keep your elbows slightly bent if you find straight arms difficult.
  3. Now lower the dumbbells to the starting position slowly again.
  4. You can do lateral raise with the resistance bands also. Just hold the handle of the band and put your foot on the centre of the band. Do the same movement with the handles that you do with the dumbbells.

Lateral Raise exercises can be done with some variations too! Just select the one that works for you.

1. Bent-over Lateral Raise:

This variation works on your rear deltoids, which are ignored in the traditional lateral raises. Also, in the bent-over position, the exercise targets your entire upper back, the rhomboids and trapezius.

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Place your feet hip-width apart and keep your knees slightly bent.
  3. Bend over and keep your back straight and strong.
  4. Lift your arms with elbows slightly bent until they make a straight line through your shoulders.
  5. Lower down to the starting position.
  6. Do 2 sets of 12 reps

2. Front Lateral Raise:

In this variation your hands will form a ‘V’ in your front. This better seperates your trapezius and deltoids muscles.

  1. In this variation, place your hands slightly to your front.
  2. Now raise your arms until they become parallel to the ground.

3. Lateral Raise with Lunges:

Lateral Raises work on the upper body and lunges strengthen and tone the lower body. This move is a combination exercise, which works on many muscle groups at the same time, providing a better workout to the total body. There are two ways to pair the lateral raises with the lunges.

  1. The first way is to get into a static lunge and do the lateral raises while holding the lunge throughout. Alternate sides after the completion of one set.
  2. The second way would be to do the lateral raise with walking lunges. In this variation, raise your arms as your lunge down and lower them down as you stand up.

4. One-Arm Lateral Raise:

Beginners who find doing the Lateral Raises with both arms at the same time difficult can do single arm lateral raises.

  1. Grab a dumbbell in one hand and place the other hand at your hip.
  2. Raise the dumbbell at your side till the arm becomes parallel to the ground.
  3. Lower down and do 12-15 reps.
  4. Repeat with the other arm in the same way.


Let’s have a look at the tips while doing the lateral raise exercises:

  • Those who want to intensify the traditional lateral raise exercise can take their arms higher than the parallel position until they make a ‘V’ overhead. Your arms should be placed at 45 degree angle between the parallel position and the overhead position. This engages all the muscles surrounding the scapula and is also less stressful for the shoulder joints.
  • Those with rotator cuff injuries should not raise their arms higher that the parallel position.
  • The main target muscle, supraspinatus is a very small muscle. Therefore use light dumbbells for lateral raises to prevent injuries.

Benefits Of Lateral Raise Exercise:

Along with sexy, toned, sculpted shoulders and back, this move strengthens a lot of muscles in our upper body. Supraspinatus, one of the four rotator cuffs, is the main target muscle of this exercise. This muscle is responsible for stabilizing the shoulder joints and is also known to be the most injured of the rotator cuffs. By strengthening supraspinatus and also other rotator cuffs and deltoids, this move reduces the risk of injury to the shoulder joints and muscles.

A toned back not just looks great but also helps you stay pain free. It also helps you balance better. So, what are you waiting for? Start working those shoulder muscles today!

Which exercises do you prefer for your shoulders? Share your views with us in the comments section below.

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