Pressing movements are a part of almost every workout routine and the shoulder muscles are always involved in any pressing exercise. A huge problem is that most people have overdeveloped front delts and are neglecting the side and the rear delt. This leads to posture problems and imbalances. We don’t want that to happen to us – that’s why we are talking about the lateral raises to target our side or medial delts. A great thing is that the resistance band version works perfectly and even better than the weight or cable alternative.
This article will cover a step-by-step how-to guide followed by important mistakes to avoid and ways of adjusting the resistance of a given band to get the most out of it. We will show you different variations of the basic lateral raise and have a look at what muscles are involved in this exercise. In the end we talk about workout incorporation and programs.
How To Do Lateral Raises With Resistance Bands?
Especially when it comes to shoulder training it is really important to get a good warm up and the muscles ready for the resistance. Shoulder injuries are huge pain in the a** and take quite long to heal properly. So do yourself a favor…prepare your shoulders by warming up and make greater progress in the long run!
You will be needing resistance bands and your body to do lateral raises. We highly recommend getting a set of band with different resistance levels (like these: Resistance Bands Set – 5 Bands) to have light bands and some heavier ones to progress.
Wearing shoes and workout gloves is also a good idea to protect your skin from the friction of the band. We recommend getting full finger gloves for resistance bands training. These are the ones I use: Workout Gloves.
The best way to perform lateral raises with loop bands is to simply bend your arms to a 90-degree angle or slightly larger. Now you won’t have the band pull your arms together then you lift your arms. Now imagine your forearm and your upper arm are fixed, and you can only lift them up and down. Key here is that you don’t have any rotation in your shoulder but just do the up and down movement.
Follow these 6 steps to nail the lateral raise:
- Step on the band with both feet
- Grab the band with both hands and bring your arms into a 90 degree bend
- Get into and keep an upright position with straight back and head, chest up and tight core
- Now raise your elbows until your reach shoulder height while keeping the bend in your arms
- Hold for about 1 second and then slowly return your elbows down
- Repeat for reps
It is very easy to start using the front delts in this exercise. The front delts are stronger, and the exercise becomes easier this way. But we want to target the side delts and don’t out body to sabotage that. The following form tips will make sure that you only have the side delts invited to the party.
Nail The Exercise Form!
⓵ Neutral Upper Body Position – the most import thing about lateral raises is doing actual lateral raises and not turning it into a front delt movement. How do we do that? Simply keep in mind two things. Don’t lean backwards with your upper body and don’t let that thumb rotate towards the ceiling or sky. Have your upper body and your hands in a neutral position, and you’re good to go.
⓶ No Slack! – Make sure that there is tension in the band in the starting position. If you have slack in the band at any point in the exercise your muscles are basically taking a break.
⓷ Clean Reps > Ego – after a few reps you will start to feel how your side delts will fatigue quite fast. If you feel that you can’t raise your arms fully anymore, step your feet a little closer together to lower the resistance a bit and get some more reps in. It’s about progress, not about your ego using a stronger band. Use the lightest band if you must and work your side delts.
⓸ Control each repetition! – This is actually the most important point there is when it comes to resistance training in general. Always control your movements throughout the full motion. This means: don’t simply let the band snap back when your arms are on the way back down. Really control the negative part of the movement!
More Mistakes To Avoid: To learn even more about common mistakes people do when using resistance bands and how to avoid them, check out our full article on this topic: The Worst Mistakes You Can Do When Training With Resistance Bands.
How To Adjust The Resistance
Often people tend to get a band which is actually too heavy for lateral raises. This almost always leads to form breakdown and can end in injury or simply not working your side delts properly. When it comes to using resistance bands it is better to get a lighter band and use its full potential by adjusting the resistance.
The best methods for the lateral raises are:
Adjust the length of the band – This the go to, most basic method to increase the resistance of a band. Simply wrap it around your hand to make it shorter. This way you will have a larger starting and end resistance in your lateral raises.
Change the foot position – This is my favorite way to adjust the resistance. And it is so simple. Just increase the distance of your feet to each other to get a higher resistance. Or step them together to lower it. The best thing is that you can do that in the middle of a set. Especially towards the end of a set I like to step my feet together and get a few additional reps.
Slow down the reps – Often it is simply not possible to get the next heavier band when it comes to shoulder training, because the jump in resistance is too big and the delts are very small muscles. To increase the intensity you can also keep the resistance level as is and simply slow down your reps. This way you will have more time under tension and better results.
Side Raise Variations With Resistance Bands
Variations are great to just change it up and get more variety into your workouts to keep it interesting and fun.
Unilateral Lateral Raises – Uni lateral work is awesome to focus on only one side at a time and really feel the muscles working. Also, if you have any imbalances between your right and left side, you can correct them by working one side at a time. Loop bands are especially great for this variation.
You will step inside the loop with one foot and grab the other end with your hand. From here you will perform the raise as described above. You can actually adjust the resistance by using the foot of the side you are working or the opposite as the anchor point. Same side foot will have less resistance. The further you move this foot outside the less resistance you will have. The opposite foot will have more resistance. The further you move this foot outside the more resistance you will add. Simply awesome. You can also try straightening your arm. This will increase the lever arm and therefor the resistance your side delt has to work against.
Seated Lateral Raises – The seated version is great to get used to the movement and really focus on the shoulder movement. The lower body is out of the picture, and you can really concentrate on the contraction of the shoulders.
Loop Band Alternative – We already mentioned a little disadvantage loop bands have in this exercise. The fact that it’s a loop, and therefore you have also a string of band between your hands. If you raise your arms straight to the side, the band in between your hands will also stretch, and you have to work against that tension as well. But we can actually embrace it and add this extra resistance to the exercise.
If you want to turn it into a front and side delt exercise you can simply put the two movements together and you really challenge your shoulder muscles.
Can You Train Your Shoulders Effectively With Resistance Bands?
Not only can you train your shoulders effectively 100% by using resistance bands I would even argue that bands are superior to free weights and machines. I actually feel my side delts much more when I use bands and the resistance bands can generate is more than enough to get the shoulders working. People who still say that resistance bands are only good for warming up or injury recovery are living under a rock or just never tried using them seriously. Building muscles and strength, lose body fat or simply increase your general fitness. Whatever your goal is – Resistance bands can get you as good or even better that conventional workout tools.
Why Does Training With Resistance Bands Work
For your and my body there is only one trigger it reacts to, and it is resistance. It doesn’t matter if this resistance is generated through gravity and weights or by resistance bands and the elastic tension within them. It is simple if your muscles have to work against a resistance over a certain time they will adjust by becoming bigger, stronger and more efficient. To learn more about the answer to this quest, have a look right here: Why Does Training With Resistance Bands Work
Benefits Of Training With Resistance Bands
As a sneak peek and because people still doubt resistance band training, here are some benefits bands bring along:
- Perfect Resistance! Your side delts are not strong muscles, and you can work them to fatigue pretty fast. Especially with weights you will often get to a point where you won’t be able to get into full contraction. With bands, you can easily adjust the resistance while you do the lateral raise and get some extra reps in.
- No Cheating! Resistance bands prevent you from using momentum and cheat your reps. You will be forced to use proper form and therefore have a lower chance of injury.
- Fewer Injuries & Home Workout! Recovering from an injury? Use bands! Want to build bigger and better triceps? Use bands! Since bands force you to perform the exercise with a good form simply by using them, this will provide an automatic injury prevention. Nice!
- Mobile! A home gym or even dumbbells need space, bands on the other hand can be stored in any drawer or in a small bag. Especially if you have little space for working out, bands are perfect.
Want to learn about more benefits resistance bands have? We got you: Benefits Of Resistance Band Training
What Muscles Are Used In A Resistance Band Lateral Raise?
The shoulders consist out of 3 distinct portions. The Anterior (front), the Medial (side) and the Posterior (rear) Deltoid. It quite straight forward what each of those delts does. Each of the delts is responsible to lift your arm in the corresponding direction. That means if we want to target the medial delts we need to lift the arm straight to the side.
Independent of the direction you lift your arm – all delts will be involved in the movement, but one is always the main mover.
Main Working Muscles:
- Medial Deltoid
- Anterior Deltoid
- Posterior Deltoid
Knowing how to do side raises is great, but you probably have greater goals for your body than just training your side delts. The most effective way for that is having a workout program designed to reach exactly those goals – be it burn fat, build muscles or simply be more fit in general. Finding a good workout plan can be a hustle, and you never know if it is actually any good.
We know that struggle, and we also know that most people are simply not interested in exercise science. They just want to have something that works and which is easy to understand. That is why we have done all the work for you, well almost. The workout itself and the sweating is still your job. But you don’t have to worry about when to do what and not knowing how an exercise is done correctly.
We put all our knowledge into an easy-to-use app where you can find a collection of all exercises including a how-to video and steps. As well as workout programs depending on your goal and challenges to really get your heart pumping.
If you want to find out more – check it out here: BIQ Training App