In a new video on the Athlean-X channel, strength coach Jeff Cavaliere C.S.C.S. demonstrates four different variations of the lateral raise and assesses their utility in helping you build your shoulders.
He starts out with the classic straight-armed version using a dumbbell. "The first thing that's going to happen is, you're going to have to use a lighter weight," he says. "As the length of the arm increases, the weight in your hand is going to have to decrease in order to handle it." This isn't necessarily a bad thing: remember, the point here is to be ensuring the muscle is under sufficient tension, and a heavier weight isn't required for that.
However, it's also worth noting that the move is at its most difficult in the upper portion of the lift, and that a weight which makes you work hard at the top is probably going to be too easy on the lower half. Cavaliere remedies this by limiting the range of motion to the upper 45 degrees of the exercise. "This is going to remain challenging no matter what type of weight you put in your hand," he says, adding that you can alternatively introduce one-and-a-half style reps.
Next up, he demonstrates the benefits of performing this raise with a bent arm. You're able to increase the weight here, and he suggests adding on an extra half of the weight you were using for the straight arm version.
"You're going to want to have that weight staying relatively in line with your torso, and not out in front of you," he says. "Let your elbow drift back behind you, and keep that dumbbell in line with the body. Tension-wise, it should feel pretty similar, because the adaptation was made by increasing the dumbbell weight to keep the tension high."
He then puts down the dumbbells and turns his attention to the cable lateral raise. When performing the straight arm version of this, make sure the cable is at a right angle to your forearm: this will ensure you've got a good amount of tension from the very start.
However, Cavaliere believes that the way to get "the best of all worlds" is to perform the bent-arm variation of the cable lateral raise, as it enables you to maintain that right angle tension throughout the range of motion. "Not only can I bring it across my body to get more of a stretch at the beginning, but now when I come up to the top, I've got more perpendicularity still remaining because the lever arm is now existing in this plane that was not there when we were straight," he explains. This variation also allows you to load up the lift more heavily, and slow down the negatives on each rep to maximize time under tension and eccentric contraction.
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