To maximize delt width and thickness, we must develop all 3 shoulder heads with particular attention to the lateral delt and rear delt. We discussed rear delt tips in a previous blog, so this blog will address the lateral head which can be difficult to effectively target and develop. Lateral raises effectively target this part of the shoulder if performed correctly. Below are some tips on how to get more effective lateral delt training out of your lateral raises.
The traps often muscle in on this move taking tension of the lateral delts. How do the traps get involved? Using too much weight and/or using momentum leads to swinging and shrugging the weight. Also, going beyond the effective ROM (range of motion) can involve the traps. We'll address these form issues further below in the following tips.
To maximize the effectiveness of your lateral raises, PUSH the weight OUT away from your hips before you think of lifting up...push out, then raise up and keep pushing out as you raise the dumbbells. I imagine that I'm trying to touch imaginary walls on either side of me. This one tip has been a game changer for me.
Don't bring the weight up too high: bring the weights up so that the hands are slightly beneath the height of the shoulder. Bringing the weights above this point leads to more activation of the upper trapezius. Also, going above this point increases risk of impingement because it can lead to grinding the supraspinatus tendon between the humerus and acromion process.
Mix in cable work:
Dumbbell lateral raises are a staple for me, but I also mix in cable work.
The reason for this is simple: tension. Considering the path of the weights and the force of gravity (which pulls the weights straight down), dumbbell side laterals only produce a high degree of tension on the delts at the top half of the range of motion. At the bottom of the movement, there’s almost no stress on the shoulders at all.
Cable side laterals solve this by providing consistent tension on the side delts from the very bottom of the range of motion all the way to the top.
Check your ego at the door. It's not about the weight you can lift, it's about the weight you can control with proper form.
Remember, lifting excessively heavy weights with improper form is doing nothing to improve your bottom line muscle gains. Using more moderate resistance while focusing on producing maximum tension in the targeted muscle is a much smarter way to go.
Lifting 15 pound dumbbells with textbook technique is far better than lifting 40 pound dumbbells with sloppy form. Using proper technique will add physique enhancing muscle to your side delts more effectively, and it will also greatly minimize the stress on your joints as well.
If you're swinging your body to move the weights or shrugging the weight, then it's too heavy. Are the weights moving you, or are you moving the weights? The poundage is not impressive...what's impressive are well developed deltoids.
I hope these tips will be helpful to you! Give them a try and let me know. Go sculpt those pumpkin delts because pumpkin delts are always in season.
Train smart, fuel smart!
Team Nubreed Nutrition Athlete