Updated: Aug 3
The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the human body.
All upper-body workouts require some load-bearing from your shoulders. As we age, shoulder pain becomes much more common. From overworked shoulders and general wear and tear to simply sleeping in an uncomfortable position, the causes of shoulder pain come in numerous forms.
Training your deltoids pain-free and effectively requires you to be aware how the multitude of ways your shoulder can move and how to load those movements.
One of the common shoulder exercises is the lateral raise (moving your arms out to the side to a T-shape position). Many common injuries to the shoulder (your doctor, chiropractor or physiotherapist may have mentioned words like "bursitis", "impingement" and "rotator cuff syndrome) can cause pain and reduce mobility when doing lateral raises.
So today we will share three completely unique alternatives to the traditional lateral raise.
1. Just Change the Angle - You Might Be Surprised!
In a traditional lateral raise, the plane of motion is the same plane as your torso. Changing the plane of motion by using an angle somewhere between 30-45 degrees between a lateral and front raise can help achieve an effective shoulder workout. This simple variation keeps the simplicity and accessibility of dumbbells while increasing your chances of having an effective exercise experience with less pain!
2. Cuff-Deltoid Cable Pulls
In this variation, you will be changing the plane of motion as well as the resistance tool. Using this cuff attachment with a cable resistance, you start with your arm in front of your body and move it out to your side.
A huge bonus of this variation is that you also achieve some rear deltoid activation, an area excluded by the standard lateral raise.
3. Horizontal Deltoid Cable Pulls
In this variation, we’re changing things up completely to achieve lateral movement without actually “raising”.
By laying down on a bench and adjusting the cables to your height, you effectively achieve the same result as a lateral raise with dumbbells, only with more support for your back and a more even-feeling resistance for your shoulder muscles. Speak to an Exercise Professional if you need help setting this up in a way that suits your body best.
The number on the weight is far less important to strength and longevity than the consistency of form and attention to detail. Exercising pain-free and being active longer means being aware of your limitations and achieving optimal muscular effort throughout your exercise.
Bonus Pro Tip
While these variations are great alternatives for achieving a pain-free workout, simply getting better at lateral raises is the most effective way to reduce future injuries. To get better at lateral raises and achieve a better exercise experience, you must remember these key rules:
Pause at the top and bottom of each movement.
Avoid using momentum to swing your arms.
Avoid using your back to lift the weight.
Overall, prioritize the quality of your exercise effort over the amount of weight used, and the number of repetitions and sets performed.