How to Do Dumbbell Lateral Raise Correctly

  1. How to Do Dumbbell Lateral Raise Correctly

    Hello, I need your help understanding how to execute the dumbbell lateral raise correctly.

    If it says the following: "Dumbbells are raised by shoulder abduction, not external rotation" - what does it mean exactly? Does it mean that the movement should start from the elbow up instead of from the end of the arm where the dumbbell is?

    Preparation: Grasp dumbbells in front of thighs with elbows slightly bent. Bend over with hips and knees bent slightly.

    Execution: Raise upper arms to sides until elbows are shoulder height. Maintain elbows' height above or equal to wrists. Lower and repeat.

    Maintain slight bend through elbows (10 to 30 angle) throughout movement. At top of movement, elbows (not necessarily dumbbells) should be directly lateral to shoulders since elbows are slightly bent forward. Dumbbells are raised by shoulder abduction, not external rotation. If elbows drop lower than wrists, front deltoids become primary mover instead of lateral deltoids.


  2. Looks like you got that description straight off of exrx. Lets look again at the site to see what they're referring to, this time through the aid of the images.

    The lateral raise:

    In both situations the user is lifting the dumbbells through shoulder abduction. To understand where the force being generated comes from in shoulder abduction movements, stand up straight and straighten out your arm to your side. Keeping your arm straight and to your side, in alignment with the rest of your body, bring it up until it is parallel to the floor, kind of like you're in the shape of half a cross. Feel that in your shoulder? That's shoulder abduction.

    Lets look at a movement that uses external rotation, cable external rotation and lying dumbbell external rotation:

    Here, the force generation is coming from your external rotators, which are basically in your upper back beneath your shoulder, somewhere around the shoulder cuff (this is off the top of my head).

    In summation, when you do lateral raises you want to target the lateral heads of your delts. You do this by just abducting with the shoulder, not rotating your arm with external rotators. The role of your arms at this point is to fix the weight in place and hold it there while you simply raise it with your shoulders. The best way to make sure that no external rotation occurs, with bent arms (I suggest bending elbows for this), is that if you're looking in a mirror (a real or imaginary mirror for our purposes), your elbows should always be above your wrists - lead with the elbows. If your wrists start going above your elbows in the mirror, external rotation is probably occurring.

    Images of people committing this error:

    EDIT: something I forgot to mention is that during the lateral raise, it's that your upper arms (from elbow to shoulder) dont drift in front of your body - that they're basically aligned with your torso. If your arms start coming forward you may be shifting the load to your front delts.

    Hope that helps.

  3. I think that lateral raises are very under rated, but they are also often done with horrible form. I see people swinging around 45lbs, and thrusting with their entire body, to the point where it looks almost like a dumbell-jerk/clean type thing. I find the best way to get results, is to use a lower weight, and really focus on squeezing at the top, I also try and pinch my traps almost together, and I feel it more on the medial delts. hopefully this helps.

  4. The way I like to visualise it is to imagine there is a big rubber band connected to my elbows, and my arms are being pulled up by that rubber band. This is a different feeling than if your arms are being raised 'from the wrists', as it were.

    Plus, keep your traps down and don't let them shrug the weight up.
  5. sizematters10
    sizematters10's Avatar

    good explanation toro, thanks



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