Exactly How To Do A Lateral Raise, Without Hurting Yourself


Women's Health |

Oh, hello, strapless dress! Give sleeves the cold shoulder with this one move.

Sculpted delts (as in deltoids, muscles in your shoulders) are not just for the boys – or string bikinis. “Your shoulder is one of the least stable joints in your body and can be injured easily,” says Kristin Swart, a biokineticist at the Panorama Intercare Medical Centre in Cape Town. That’s because your shrugger is a ball- and-socket joint – a precarious machine that could get hurt with just one too many grocery bags. The lateral raise strengthens those delt muscles to reduce your injury risk. Plus, it’s the simplest, most beginner move and is even safe for pregnant women, says Kelly Saunders, director of training at Switch Playground.

Mapule Ndhlovu, personal trainer and winner of WH Next Fitness Star, agrees. “People don’t like to do isolation exercises because they get bored,” she adds. Her fix? Make the move harder by testing your balance. Lift your left leg, then lift the weight on your right arm up and down. You’ll be activating stabiliser muscles (hello, abs!) you didn’t know you had.

Are You Lifting Enough?

Here’s your rule of thumb, according to Swart: you should be able to complete all your reps without compromising form. If you’re struggling with the last set, go for
a lighter weight. Too easy? You should feel your muscles working. If you feel like you could flap all day, scale
up the weight.

Signs You’re Doing It Wrong

• Your back is arched.
You’re putting your lower back in danger. Support yourself by bracing your core and maintaining a neutral spine.
• You swing the weights.
Stop! It needs to be a controlled movement, without momentum. If you’re struggling, go for a lighter weight.
• You shrug your shoulders.
This will affect your neck and those muscles on your collarbone. Keep ’em neutral and exhale when you lift – it’s like a deflating trick for your shoulders.

Avoid If…

You have a shoulder injury. Obvs.

Looking for more basic moves to master? Here’s how you can ace the stability-ball pike, the bicep curltricep dip, and the sit-up like a pro.

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