The bent arm lateral raise is a strength-training exercise that mainly targets your deltoid muscles which are located around your shoulder joint.
The deltoid muscle is made up of three main heads–the anterior, medial and posterior deltoids- which work together to stabilize the shoulder joint.
The bent arm lateral raise, however, primarily works the posterior deltoids.
This exercise is one of the surest ways to build upper body strength while maintaining spinal stability.
Equipment required: Dumbbells
How to do it:
- Stand tall on the ground and widen your feet at hip-width.
- In each hand, hold a 5-8-pound dumbbell.
- Bend your arms as if you are performing a biceps curl.
- Both your thumbs should point upward and be at a 90-degree angle with your elbows.
- Raise your elbows and the dumbbells upwards and outwards.
- When you get to shoulder height, pause for a few seconds.
- Rotate your forearms as you bring the dumbbells up.
- Complete the rep by bringing the dumbbells up at ear level. Your palms should be facing forward.
- Reverse the movements till you get to the starting point.
WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE BENT ARM LATERAL RAISE WORK?
Your rear deltoids are one of the three deltoid muscles in your shoulder which are responsible for stabilizing your shoulder.
As you initiate the upward movement in this exercise, you squeeze your rear deltoids and activate them to generate enough power for the exercise.
The outward rotation of shoulders in this exercise enables you to engage your arm muscles which provide strength to your back and shoulders.
Other muscles worked by the bent arm lateral raise are the back muscles.
BENT ARM LATERAL RAISE BENEFITS
STABILIZES YOUR SPINE
Since it engages your lats, this exercise helps stabilize your spine and protect it from injury.
IMPROVES DELTOID STRENGTH
For you to be able to push, pull and lift objects with ease, you need strong shoulders.
The bent arm lateral raise makes it easier for you to improve shoulder strength by strengthening all three of your deltoids, especially the posterior ones.
Having a good posture helps you develop flexibility and strength in your body. It also reduces stress on your ligaments and muscles, hence reducing risk of injury.
By stabilizing your spine and strengthening your back muscles, this exercise helps you develop proper posture which in turn helps you develop better flexibility.
IMPROVES BALANCE AND STABILITY
Stronger posterior deltoids make it easier for you to perform weightlifting exercises such as the deadlift, bench press and snatch.
They also help you develop better form for handstands, pushups and dips.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE BENT ARM LATERAL RAISE
STANDING BENT OVER LATERAL RAISES
This exercise also uses dumbbells to work the deltoids and shoulder muscles.
How to do it:
- Stand with your feet apart at shoulder width.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand and make your palms face each other.
- Soften both knees and bend slightly forward at your waist.
- Raise your arms upwards and outwards, making sure they are parallel to the floor.
- When you get to the top of the move, squeeze your shoulder blades.
- Slowly lower your back till you get to the starting position.
- Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps each.
When doing this exercise, make sure you are using weights that are light enough to take you through all the reps you want to do.
SINGLE ARM BENT OVER ROWS
This exercise is perfect for those days you only want to work your back and shoulder muscles. Finishing your back/shoulder day with this compound movement will strengthen your shoulders and help you develop posterior deltoid strength.
How to do it:
- Put your left hand and left knee on a bench.
- Extend the other leg on the floor behind you for stability.
- Hold a dumbbell with your right hand and extend your arm toward the floor.
- Pull the dumbbell back up toward your chest.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades at the top of your rep.
- Slowly and with control, lower the dumbbell.
- Switch to the other arm then do up to 3 sets of 10-12 reps each.
This movement also works your transverse abdominis and biceps.
BENT ARM LATERAL RAISE MISTAKES TO AVOID
USING WEIGHTS YOU CAN’T CONTROL
Whenever you are doing the bent arm lateral raise, you should select weights that you can comfortably control so that you will be able to maintain proper technique throughout the exercise.
Proper technique ensures the exercise will be safe and effective for maximum results.
NOT PAUSING AT THE TOP POSITION
If you fail to pause at the top of the movement, you may end up focusing on the trapezius muscles on your upper back and ignoring your shoulders, which are the target muscles.
As you are pausing at the top, remember to squeeze your deltoids to get the most out of this exercise.
Like every other strength-training exercise, you should perform the bent arm lateral raise in slow and controlled motions.
Using slow and controlled motions will ensure you adequately maximize the time the target muscles are spending under tension.
It also enables you to recruit additional muscle fibers to help you lift and lower the dumbbells in a more effective manner.
KEEPING YOUR ARMS STRAIGHT
Your arms should not be straight during this exercise.
Make sure your elbows are flexed to about 20 degrees and that you are raising the dumbbells in a controlled manner.
The bent arm lateral raise primary targets your posterior deltoids and helps stabilize, strengthen and tone the muscles on your upper body.
Stronger deltoids also make it easier for you perform movements that involve pulling, overhead and pressing.
With such deltoids, you will be able to complete your daily and athletic injuries comfortably and with a reduced risk of injury.
This exercise is generally safe for most people who are in good physical condition.
However, if you have a history of upper body pain or injury, you should probably consult your doctor before doing it.