As a practical matter, the DBs carried by most gyms do not lend themselves to using a weight-based approach to measuring progression on lateral raises, because the weight-intervals available are simply too great. Consider: Going from work-sets with the 15s to the 20s on lateral raises represents an increase of 33%. That would be akin to, say, increasing one’s work-set weight on bench-press from 300 to 400 pounds–not something most would attempt. For purposes of doing laterals, it would be nice if gyms carried DB weights of 10s, 10.5s, 11s, 11.5s, etc; but this is impractical. (Although IIRC, magnetized doohickeys can be purchased that allow one to increase the weight of a DB in <1# increments.)
Be that as it may, ‘progression’ need not be thought of only in terms of how much weight is lifted. With respect to getting bigger/stronger, it’s better to think in terms of power than weight. With regards to weightlifting, power can be defined as
Power = Work/time,
where ‘work’ is defined:
Work = Weight x reps.
Putting them together, we see that
Power = (Weight x reps)/time.
As the equation makes clear, power output can be increased by either a) doing more work, or b) doing the same amount of work in less time. And ‘doing more work’ can be accomplished by lifting more weight for the same number of reps or doing more reps with a given weight.
As discussed above, so far as lateral raises are concerned, increasing power output via increasing weight is often impractical. Thus, one should focus on increasing output via manipulation of the other components of the Power formula; ie, with a given weight, try to get more reps in the same amount of time, OR get the same number of reps, but in less time (ie, with shorter rest intervals).
tl;dr Use a weight you can handle with good form, and progress by getting more reps and/or shortening your rest intervals.
(As an aside, and IIRC, Charles Staley refers to ‘density’ rather than power in the formulation above.)[/quote]
Another way to progress is to adjust the amount of elbow bend, body position, and start position of the DBs.
From easiest to hardest (YMMV, but this is what I’ve found):
- Standing, DBs start in front, elbows at 90Â°
- Standing, DBs start at sides/straight down*, elbows at 90Â°
- Standing, DBs start at sides/constant tension**, elbows at 90Â°
- Seated, DBs start at sides/straight down, elbows at 90Â°
- Seated, DBs start at sides/constant tension, elbows at 90Â°
6,7,8,9,10. Same as above w/elbows at 120Â°
11,12,13,14,15. Same as above w/elbows at 150Â° (IE “slight bend”)
16,17,18,19,20. Same as above w/tris contracted (IE “straight arms”) - this can be rough on the elbows so use with caution; crushes the delts though
*straight down = at the bottom of each rep the upper arms are perpendicular to the floor, removing tension from the delt
**constant tension = the upper arms do not lower enough to release tension from the delts; this is somewhere around 15Â° from perpendicular to the floor