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Health Articles

Learn how to apply current physiology and nutrition research to improve your health and performance.

How To Do A Front And Lateral Raise Correctly To Maximize Gains!

How High Are You Suppose To Raise Your Arms When Doing Front Or Lateral Raises? 

If you copy what most meat heads do at your local gym, then you probably stop your arms parallel to the ground. 
The reasons most people stop at parallel: That is their max range of motion, they are scared that if they go any further they are risking pinching a nerve in their shoulder, or there isn't any further benefit of going higher. Not to worry, pinching a nerve in your shoulder can only occur when there is already a malfunction of the muscles or some other problem in the shoulder joint.  The mere act of raising your arms directly up in front of or out to the side of the body to a completely overhead position does not by itself cause shoulder impingement.

Shoulder Impingement Prevention

There are 2 things to make sure your shoulder blades can do before taking a front or lateral raise to the overhead position and getting the most benefits.

1. Make sure the shoulder blades can move up and down when you perform a shrug

2. Make sure the shoulder blades can rotate upwards when you make a circle with arms

Shoulder Impingement Evaluation

If the shoulder blades can't do those movements then the chances of shoulder impingement are increased.

How To Get Max Gains From Shoulder Work

By taking the front and lateral raises to the overhead position you get full contraction of the front and lateral shoulder muscles, upper and lower trapezius muscles (located above and below your shoulder blades), serratus anterior (rotate your shoulder blades upward).  

Db Front Raise

Db SA Front Raise

Db Lateral Raise

Db SA Lateral Raise

Stopping at the level position eliminates most of the shoulder muscle involvement and only partially utilizes the trapezius and serratus muscles. However, if you are going to stop at parallel if you change your hands and path of movement you can strengthen 2 of your rotator cuff muscles (Infraspinatus and Supraspinatus). Training rotator cuffs are important because they maintain range of motion for the shoulder, prevent injury, and hold your arm bone in your shoulder joint.