A Few Questions About Lat Raises

I have a few questions concerning the execution of DB lat raises. I’m not hoping so much for a mechanical description, but rather people’s successes and failures with growth and/or injury prevention from the different ways of tweaking them. I’m looking for the optimal way to utilize them for me. I have very little experience with them and appreciate your feedback.

  1. Angle of ascent. Obviously the weight is being lifted in a vertical plane. You can move directly in the same plane as your shoulder, slightly in front (cheating towards a front raise), or slightly behind. From my limited experience, I find slightly behind the most difficult, but I’m not 100% sure as to why, or if it’s even a good thing. I’ve also read a few of you recommend doing them this way (behind the back) with a cable.

  2. Angle of wrists. What are the advantages of leading the raise slightly with your pinky v. your index finger? Or just completely level? Is it a matter of emphasis?

Perhaps I’m overthinking things, but my thoughts are that now is a good time in my training career to start asking these kind of questions. I apologize in advance if this is an overly basic question. I was brought into the world of iron via anti-isolation trainers and have only recently been shown the light regarding their advantages–both in growth and prevention–thanks to my well-informed T-brothers.

Thanks in advance!

spoken like a true physicist

Lateral raises create torque on your shoulder muscles, and you just “flex” the DB or cable up. So when you use pinkys out that’s adding more torque onto your front delts.

My favorite way to do them is on the cable machine. I keep my wrist semi limp and have my forearm bent forward(so i really get really good isolation on my delt), when i reach the top of the movement i flick my wrist up and rotate towards my back almost like a reverse flye (Keep your shoulder blades firm though, no contracting back).

Just my 2 cents.

[quote]TD54 wrote:
spoken like a true physicist [/quote]

Should I take this as an insult or a compliment? lol

I struggled with medial delt work for a long time, and i feel im just now hitting them properly over the last 3 months.

The best thing ive found is to do lateral raises one arm at a time, strict form, slight bend in the elbow, laying sideways on a 45 degree angle bench. This is MUCH more difficult than a standing lateral raise. It eliminates the tendency to use a little body english to get the weights up, and starts the movement at an angle that is already applying tension to the muscle, so you dont lose tension at the bottom of every rep. I also feel its very important to not set the weight down on your thighs at the bottom of every rep, but instead stop just a couple inches above. Constant tension is the key.

My favorite way to do these is usually with a 30 lb DB for 12 reps on each side, and then drop to a 15 or 20 lb and hit both sides again immediately for another 12-15 reps. Nothing else i have ever done burns my delts out like this.

I also like behind the back cable lateral raises but find they irritate my left shoulder, so ill do these with a very light weight as a warmup or a finisher if my shoulders are feeling good.

for the record, while my shoulders are still one of my weakest points, i have seen significant improvements since i started doing lateral raises this way.

[quote]jskrabac wrote:

[quote]TD54 wrote:
spoken like a true physicist [/quote]

Should I take this as an insult or a compliment? lol[/quote]

A compliment. Physics is fuckin crazy. I’m in the first course and doing well in it but it’s no joke

I’ve never heard of doing cable raises behind the back. Could someone explain the advantages of doing them behind the back? I do them in front of me and I feel it pretty good in my delts (and a little in my rear delts??)

Keep a slight bend in the elbow.

As you bring the dumbbell up, make sure your pinky knuckle is the highest point on your hands.

Make sure you are raising it out to the side, not to the front.

If you want to make your medial delts ‘pop’ try combining a heavy movement like power laterals with a strict form side raise. The power laterals are basically a side lateral but you can use a little body english to move more weight. Not so much momentum that you lose tension. Just enough momentum so you can lift more weight while still really feeling it in your medial delts.

I personally used heavy upright rows, but I wouldn’t recommend that. That’s how I aggravate my bicep tendon the first time. Power laterals is a much better and safer option.

Side lateral raises would have to be the ABSOLUTE WORST executed exercise that I see daily in the gym. Most people turn it into some kind of side raise cuban press motion while using a lot of hip drive (LOL?). Can’t imagine that is good on the RC!!!

[quote]howie424 wrote:
I’ve never heard of doing cable raises behind the back. Could someone explain the advantages of doing them behind the back? I do them in front of me and I feel it pretty good in my delts (and a little in my rear delts??)[/quote]
It’s hard to use a bit of momentum when the attachment is behind your back and you are standing fully upright.

The position forces your shoulders back, effectively not allowing your hips to get involved.

Whereas from the front, people have a slight tendency to lean forward (maybe rolling their shoulders forward), engaging their hips in the movement as they bring the attachment up and out to the side.

Net result you can use more weight lifting from the front as opposed to the back.

I get best results with cables. I use one of those freemotion machines:
I stand in front, use both handles at the same time. since the cable is a bit in front of me, the force vector is just at the right angle if I keep the pinky-up, or at least if I hold my hands leveled.

If the machine is a line of people waiting, I use dumbells… but to get any effect at the start position, where the weight creates no load on the muscle, you need to really accelerate the weight, then at 45 degrees, switch to squeeze motion.