How To Machine Lateral Raises

Machine Lateral Raises (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

The Lateral Raise Machine is a mainstay in most big box commercial gyms and I gotta be honest – it’s one of my favorite machines to use when I have access to one.

In this article, I’ll teach how to properly use this machine for Lateral Raises. I’ll also explain the benefits of the exercise and even give you a couple of alternatives in case you don’t have access to this extremely specialized piece of equipment.

How To Do Machine Lateral Raises

Equipment Needed

  • Lateral Raise Machine

How To

Coach’s Note: These instructions may change slightly depending on the manufacturer of the machine.

  1. Adjust the seat height so that the machine’s arms are aligned with your shoulders.
  2. Sit down on the seat with your back firmly pressed against the pad.
  3. Grip the machine’s handles with your palms facing down. Ensure that your arms are extended but not locked out.
  4. Keep your chest up and shoulders relaxed.
  5. Take a deep breath and, while exhaling, lift the machine arms out to the side by raising your arms laterally.
  6. Raise the machine arms until they’re level with your shoulders or slightly above, ensuring you maintain a slight bend in the elbows.
  7. Pause briefly at the top of the movement.
  8. Slowly lower the machine arms back to the starting position, controlling the movement.
  9. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Coaching Tips

Beginners often make the mistake of using momentum or moving too quickly, which can decrease the effectiveness of the exercise and increase the risk of injury.

A steady and controlled tempo ensures that the targeted muscles, primarily the deltoids, are fully engaged throughout the movement.

It’s not necessary to raise the arms way above shoulder height. Going too high can put undue stress on the shoulder joints. Coach beginners to lift until their arms are level with their shoulders, or slightly above, before lowering them back down.

Benefits of Machine Lateral Raises

Doing Lateral Raises on a machine can provide many benefits including:

  1. Targeted Deltoid Development: This exercise primarily targets the lateral or “side” deltoids. Developing this muscle contributes to broader, more defined shoulders.
  2. Stability: The machine provides a more controlled environment than free weights, making it easier for beginners or those rehabilitating from injuries to maintain proper form.
  3. Isolation: The machine’s design ensures that the focus remains on the deltoids. This isolation can be particularly beneficial for those looking to specifically strengthen or build this muscle group without engaging other muscles as secondary movers.

Machine Lateral Raise Alternatives

Don’t have a Lateral Raise Machine? No worries! Here are a couple of exercises that you may be able to use as a substitute.

(Need more options? Here are some of my favorite Machine Lateral Raise alternatives)

Dumbbell Lateral Raises

Seated Lateral Raises

Dumbbell Lateral Raises are a free-weight version of the machine exercise.

Using dumbbells allows for a greater range of motion and can help improve stabilization muscles since there’s no fixed path of movement. This exercise also enables individuals to identify and address muscle imbalances, as each arm works independently.

Cable Lateral Raises

Cable Lateral Raises

The continuous tension provided by the cable machine ensures that the deltoids are engaged throughout the entire range of motion, from the start to the finish of the movement. This constant tension can lead to increased muscle activation and growth.

Additionally, the cable machine allows for variations in the angle of pull, which can target the deltoids in slightly different ways.

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More Links and Info

Want more exercise guides for chest, back and shoulder exercises? Make sure to check out the Upper Body Lifts section of the Exercise Library.

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