Monday, February 25, 2013

The proper Bent-over lateral raise technique. By Vic Goyaram

Proper Exercise Technique

Bent over lateral raises
Researched and Composed by Vic Goyaram
Pic 1: Doug Brignole shows how it's done. He supinates his wrists instead 
of palms down in order to get a better contraction
Photo Courtesy: Doug Brignole (Click to visit website)
It is not difficult to spot people improperly performing the bent-over lateral raise. A lot of wasted effort can be seen and this is indeed a pity because the bent over dumbbell lateral raise is one of the best exercises to “toast” the posterior (rear) deltoid muscles. It goes without saying that developed rear deltoid is a very important for balanced shoulder development and is a great contributor to your rear and side view musculature.

Secondly, the bent over lateral is also a getting increasingly rare as people prefer to work rear deltoids on the cable crossover low pulley or on the reverse of the pec-deck machine (Pic 2)This may be fine for advanced lifters but beginners are advised to perform the bent over dumbbell laterals. Furthermore, I have many times seen beginners perform cable movements very incorrectly and in the process engage other muscles rather than rear deltoids, for example, the triceps. When it comes to bent over dumbbell laterals very often the form goes through the window. I have seen all sorts of improper versions of this exercise which sometimes resemble two arm bent over dumbbell rows and even partial deadlifts. This is ridiculous.
Pic 2: Too many beginners make cable movements a staple their rear delt routine.
In this article I will elaborate on the common mistakes that trainees often commit on this exercise and recommendations to improve your form in order to derive the maximum benefits.

Common mistakes in bent-over laterals:
  •  Not bending the torso enough to isolate the rear deltoids: It is recommended to keep your torso nearly parallel to the floor (Pic 1) or at a slight incline as you would do on bent-over barbell rows. I know that this may not be practical for some people with lower-back problems. This may be addressed by lying on a flat or low incline bench (Pic 3). In this case, keeping the chest constantly on the pad of the bench also helps eliminate the tendency of moving up the torso as the dumbbells move up. You probably already know that a slight upward swing of your torso as you raise the dumbbells up makes the movement a lot easier. You must not do this. Only the arms must move.
Pic 3: Keep chest against bench at all times

I have also tried keeping my forehead against a stationary object like the edge of a bench throughout the set as an indicator that I am not swinging my body up (Pic 4). Sometimes I sit at the end of a bench, bend my torso and keep it firmly against my legs (Pic 5). This variation, however, impedes my breathing so I don’t use it. If you are a girl and have big boobs this position may not be comfortable as well. 

Pic 4: This variation minimises cheating

Pic 5: Also a nice position
  • Using too much weight: I blame the use of excessive weight for the reason why people get this exercise wrong. When doing an exercise it definitely helps to always remember its purpose. In the case of the bent over dumbbell laterals the aim is to isolate and work the rear deltoid head which is indeed a small muscle. It does not need excessive weight to grow. You don’t need to take massive dumbbells and perform bent over laterals. 
  •  Bringing up the dumbbells in an incorrect plane: As illustrated in the Pic 6 below, the dumbbells and the deltoids should be in a straight line. Lifting the dumbbells too far to the rear is the most common mistake. Use a weight that will allow you to raise the dumbbells in the correct plane. Imagine you are a bird flapping your wings.
Pic 6: CORRECT FORM. This is the proper angle for working the rear deltoids. Remember torso is to be kept more of less parallel to the floor. Palms face the ground and can also be pronated for a better contraction.
A note on grip
The grip you use on this exercise can also produce a difference in the how you feel it in your deltoids. A neutral grip is used on rear laterals by convention but a pronated grip may help you feel a better contraction in your rear deltoids. A pronated grip bent-over lateral is demonstrated in Pic 1 by Doug Brignole.

My Bio: I am a Mauritian originally from Roche Bois, Port Louis and currently based in Cape Town, South Africa where I am busy with my postgraduate studies in molecular biology of exercise. My research, supervised by Prof. Edward Ojuka, looks at the influence of nutrition and exercise in gene expression in muscle, research which is relevant and applicable to exercising individuals, sports persons and diabetic individuals. The knowledge that I share with you stems from my 18 years of experience in bodybuilding and 8 years (and counting) of university education in the field. I have also published work in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism (2013), International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (2013) and co-authored two book chapters on exercise and diabetes. I also presented my research work at the 2012 International Sports and Exercise Nutrition Conference (UK). I also work as a consultant in exercise/ sports nutrition for a leading manufacturing firm. "Knowledge without sharing is worth nothing"
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