July 26, 2022 11 min read
A perfect V-shaped torso is the holy grail of fitness. But while a slimmer waist and broader shoulders might be the epitome of fitness, but it doesn’t come easy. Getting boulder-like shoulders, a massive chest, and equally bulky arms requires much work to pack muscle onto your frame.
If you want to achieve this look, shoulder exercises are a must.
Exercises that isolate your shoulders can help maximize their muscle growth, so bodybuilders typically choose single-joint movements to get those boulder shoulders. Side lateral raises are one of those exercises that primarily target the shoulders and is a popular one in the gym.
You likely won’t be using a heavy amount of weight, but pairing the lateral raise with light weights and high volume can help you achieve that desired beach bod.
There are two main types of exercises: isolation and compound. Isolation means only one joint is used and one muscle group is targeted. You can probably guess that compound refers to targeting two muscle groups while using multiple joints. Each has the ability to help you build strength and muscle, but they also each serve their own purpose.
Developing sculpted shoulders means putting the time and effort into the gym. It’s not just about how many hours you spend in the weight room but choosing the right exercises for what you’re trying to achieve.
Exercises like the overhead press can be beneficial for developing strength, but to really get that muscle growth, isolating a specific area of the body is important.
The foundation ofa v-shaped torso starts with how broad and built your shoulders are. Side lateral raises help to achieve bigger and stronger shoulders by directly targeting one muscle group.
With compound exercises, multiple muscle groups are working at a time, so smaller muscles like the shoulders, could be overlooked by the bigger ones. This could lead to imbalances in the body and limited strength gains.
The side lateral raise may not be as fun as a heavy bench press, but it can be equally important and can even help improve other pushing exercises.
The side lateral raise primarily targets your shoulder muscles, but there are other supporting muscles that assist in the movement.
The deltoid muscle in the shoulder is made up of three parts or heads:
These parts, which are all activated during the lateral raise, are for various functions of arm movement. Altogether, the deltoid muscles help to move the arms in different directions.Without these muscles, movement of the arm would be restricted and next to impossible.
These muscles also protect and stabilize the shoulder joint, an essential factor in fitness.
The anterior deltoid is the front delt that attaches to the collarbone. It is the most important muscle for shoulder flexion and moving the arm upward and forward. You make use of the anterior deltoid when you point the remote at the TV or try to move a book off a table. You also use the anterior delt in exercises like the overhead and incline dumbbell bench press.
The lateral raise targets and strengthens the anterior delt during the raising phase.
The medial deltoid is the part of the delt where the majority of the contraction takes place during the side lateral raise. The medial deltoid connects to the shoulder blade, and its primary function is shoulder abduction. In simple terms, the medial or middle deltoid, which is sandwiched between the anterior and posterior delts, helps with moving the arms outward. Because of this, it is also known as the lateral deltoid.
Although to a lesser degree, the side lateral raise also engages the posterior deltoid. The rear deltoid functions as an agent for horizontal shoulder adduction. It helps move the hands backward and is also a strong shoulder stabilizing muscle.
The side lateral raise targets all three heads of the delts and improves strength and mobility, reducing the risks of deltoid injuries.
It may be no surprise that the rotator cuff is activated during the side lateral raise. The rotator cuff comprises muscles and tendons whose function is to keep the head of your arm in its socket and connect the upper arm to the scapula. It also helps to stabilize, raise, and rotate your arm.
The side lateral raise also activates and engages other supporting muscles like the serratus anterior, upper traps, and lower trap muscles during the upward phase of the exercise.
The serratus anterior, also known as the boxer’s muscle for a good reason, contributes to the more considerable girth of the chest. Located on either side of the ribs, it helps to lift the ribs during movement and essentially during respiration.
The upper and lower traps of the back, on the other hand, help to move and stabilize the scapula or shoulder blades. It is a significant factor that affects the movement of the shoulders, and it is utilized during most arm and chest exercises. Most importantly, the traps connect the spine, affecting your posture and protecting your backbone.
Chip in the activation of the core as stabilizer muscles, and you find that the side lateral raise gives you a bang for your buck. To keep your posture upright and help you back from arching, your core must be engaged. Your core muscles help to stabilize your body during this exercise to help ensure proper form and safety.
The side lateral raise can be an easy routine, but it's also easier to get it all wrong. To activate all the necessary muscles while also avoiding the possibility of injuries, you need to do it right.
Lateral raises can be done standing or seating; however, standing increases the intensity and activates more muscles than sitting.
To do the side lateral raise:
Before you add lateral raises to your workout routine, you might ask yourself, “Are lateral raises worth the try?”. While this is a pertinent question to your fitness, the benefits of the lateral raise may blow every bit of doubt out of your mind.
If you have your eyes set on a bodybuilder’s type of physique, particularly the massive and equally strong shoulders, side lateral raises are the best bet for you.
It targets and breaks down fibers of your shoulder and connective muscles, triggering the rebuilding by hypertrophy like a Phoenix rising from the ashes of muscle soreness.
Below, we have highlighted some things you can gain from perfect execution and consistency when performing the side lateral raise:
Performing the side lateral raise depends on your ability to maintain a good form throughout your reps. This helps to stimulate the right muscle groups and ensures your safety from injuries. Like any other high-intensity exercise, the side lateral raise requires a strict adherence to cues that ensures good form.
Here are some tips to tweak your form and improve your lateral raise game:
The cable lateral raise is a variation of the side lateral raise that uses a cable machine. This is somewhat of a simpler version of the dumbbell lateral raise, but it activates the middle head of the delts and helps to stimulate growth and strengthening of the shoulders and chest.
To do the cable lateral raise:
The cable lateral raise withholds movement throughout the range of motion. This is especially beneficial because while doing the dumbbell lateral raise, you only get maximum tension at the peak of the movement, which is when the arm is spread out laterally.
The landmine lateral raise makes use of the landmine machine setup. In the absence of one, set up a makeshift landmine by fixing a barbell end into a corner and putting weighted plates and the other one.
The landmine lateral raise works similar muscle groups that the side lateral raise works. It also pitches in on the lower trap, resulting in a more capped and shredded look.
To do the landmine lateral raise:
Don’t overextend your arms. Keep the movement within your arm’s normal range of motion.
The leaning away lateral raise puts more tension on the lateral deltoid muscle. This is because the additional lean creates leverage that increases the isolation of the deltoid muscle and the tension it receives throughout the movement.
To do the leaning away lateral raise:
The leaning lateral raise is a great exercise that people can perform across all levels. It can be done with a kettlebell and a cable machine.
The kneeling lateral raise is a beginner-friendly exercise. If you find yourself using momentum during the standing lateral raise, the kneeling lateral raise will help you keep your body still.
To do the kneeling lateral raise:
The side lateral raise is your one-way ticket for capped shoulders. With this killer exercise, you can achieve the boulder-like shoulders, impressively chest span, and equally bulky arms that you admire at the gym. It is also an excellent complementary exercise to other shoulder lifts for bigger shoulders.