Don’t get me wrong, I love me some good barbell movements! They are both practical and effective when performed correctly. I highly recommend centering a proper strength training around these core movements, be it a barbell hip hinge movement, barbell chest press variation, or simply hanging from a bar (bell) and doing some form of pull-up. As you know the fitness industry doesn’t do well with the middle ground, and while the barbell centric movement has really taken off amongst natural bodybuilders (this is good!), it has left some wonderful pieces of equipment collecting dust. I want to take the time to acknowledge some of these wonderful pieces of equipment that are common in most gyms. If you guys like this blog post I might even consider making this a more regular thing, and even consider hitting up the YouTubes for a full tutorial later.
The first piece of equipment that I want to highlight is your standard lateral raise machine. The truth is that I fear even people who saw my medial delt tutorials are still doing this movement incorrectly. Believe it or not, the problem is that a proper lateral raise is often among the last movements a bodybuilder learns to master. Enter your commonly found lateral raise machine that is found in most gyms. Any machine that gets the weight out of your hands and places the load on the humerus will do. The lever arm is shorter and allows you to handle bigger loads without sacrificing form, and now that you are using more weight you will find reaching out to that next increment more practical. With a free weight lateral raise, going from 15lbs to 20lbs is a 33% increase in load, which can make for a hard time for any lifter with a progressive mindset. However, going from 55lbs to 60lbs is much more reasonable, and not to mention the movement is locked in, and there is only one predetermined way to get the weight from point A to point B. Unlike many other machines out there, this machine truly is a one size fits most. Even lifters I have personally instructed tend to slide back into old habits when doing free weight lateral raises. Form taught over 2-3 impromptu sessions can revert to a strange dance-like movement very quickly. In contrast, when I place someone in a lateral raise machine, from the first rep we are good to go, and often it stays that way. So next time you walk by one of these, pay your respects to this “3D-Delt” factory. Then as you walk by the bros and sisters gazing at their reflections in the mirror doing their thing…you’ll wonder much like I do, “Is that a lateral raise or an interpretive dance based on the life and times of Arnold Schwarzenegger?”
Here are some examples of some good models.
If you don’t have access to any of these machines or something similar here is my tutorial video on how to best perform free weight lateral raises.