Select the desired weight from the rack, then take a few steps back into an open area. Take a deep breath and raise the kettle bells to shoulder height using a neutral grip (palms facing in) while keeping the elbows slightly bent.
Slowly lower the kettle bells back to the starting position under control. Allow the shoulders to move freely but don’t completely lock out the elbows.
By using a kettle bell for this exercise you increase the lever length of your arm and greatly change the dynamics of the exercise and make it A LOT easier. ShapeFit.com is dedicated to providing health and fitness information to people, so they can live a healthy lifestyle.
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Lateral raises can be performed both standing or seated, but the former recruits more muscles, Neilson explains, making it the preferable option. Firstly, grab a couple of dumbbells and stand with them by your sides, with your palms facing your body.
Using your forearms to lift the dumbbells can place a strain on your neck muscles, says Darren Seal, personal trainer and founder of Mindset in London. “A common error we tend to see is arms locked out at extension, which causes extra stress after consistent heavy or repetitive load,” adds Neilson.
“Pause with the weight at the top of your range of motion for 2-3 seconds, isolating the muscle in the hardest part of the lift,” he suggests. Performing lateral raises with a resistance band stresses the muscle more “in the mid-range, where it’s most active,” Neilson says.
Bringing both to your shoulders, press one dumbbell overhead, extending the elbow until your arm is straight but not locked. Hold a weight plate with both hands and let it hang between your legs, positioned shoulder width apart.
With your back straight and elbows slightly bent, raise the plate out in front of you until your arms are parallel to the floor. Grab the handles and pull them towards your face, drawing your hands apart and taking care to keep your upper arms flat.
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That may sound a bit confusing, but looking at it visually can help clear up what it means to a lifter. That particular proportion can be found in nature, in things like leaves and trees, and has been used to structure everything from sculptures to architecture to analyzing financial markets.
It's also a standard the golden-age bodybuilders considered as the ideal physique: the shoulders measuring around 1.6 times the waist. Diehard aesthetic-seekers can also find ways of making it apply to your biceps and quads, but honestly, it works better on the shoulders.
The humble lateral raise has been the width-builder of choice for lifters chasing the golden ratio (whether they knew it or not) for many years. And for good reason: When the movement is done with strict technique, it very effectively targets the lateral or middle deltoid and not much else.
The natural tendency of a lifter is to cheat their way through a heavy set of lateral raises, which may overload the shoulder muscles, but isn't very safe. Keeping your elbow straight, bring the dumbbells up to the side until your arms are 90 degrees to your torso.
At the top of the movement, purposely squeeze the deltoid to accentuate the contraction. Grab two dumbbells and start by holding your left arm out at 90 degrees to your torso.
Continue this sequence, dropping a single rep at a time until you reach 1 rep. At JC conditioning, we normally only perform one descending ladder set to cap off our shoulder workout, pun intended. For those new to Arnold presses, start with a dumbbell held in each hand in front of your chest, as if you just finished a ruminated (underhand grip) biceps curl.
Now, hang from the pole with your hand so your body sits at about 45 degrees from the post. With the other hand, using a dumbbell, perform a lateral raise, being sure to control both the up (concentric) and down (eccentric) phases of the movement.
This technique is great to keep constant tension on your Delta throughout the set. For a great felt finisher, try alternating left to right with no rest for 3 sets of 16-20 repetitions.
Perform a lateral raise while moving through the full range of motion slowly. At this angle, the side lying lateral raise also keeps your Delta under constant tension throughout the movement.
Similarly to the leaning lateral raise, try alternating between sides with no rest for 3 sets of 16-20 repetitions. For uniform resistance, try using a cable or band, or if you want to look hardcore, a chain in each hand.
The best part about these implements is they provide a smooth resistance throughout the range of motion and force you to remove any jerking that you may have a tendency to introduce into the lateral raise. To increase the lever and to challenge your grip strength, try holding light kettle bells while performing the lateral raise.
We suggest holding very light bells, like between 5-15 pounds, since the goal of this variation is to keep the kettle bells parallel to your arm as you raise them up to the side. Your Delta will also feel a bigger challenge as the center of the weight you're holding will be farther from the shoulder joint.
Many of our students will participate in activities that require good lateral motion, strength and stability. Students will note increased eccentric load and powerful single-leg hip extension in a rhythmic fashion.
Repeat for the desired number of reps alternating sides before stepping apart into the set-up position and safely “parking” the kettle bell as you would to finish any set of swings. Hike the kettle bell back and as you begin to initiate hip extension you will lower your center of mass as you step back into a lunge while “pulling/shifting” the kettle bell up into the goblet rack position.
The rear knee may gently touch the deck or hover but it cannot bang or slam down. These drills are spices as I define them in my previous article, so the programming is simple.
Basically, you can “sprinkle” them in as they fit within the program and do not challenge any of your “main dishes.” 1-2 days a week can be sufficient to get the carryover. The stepping and movement of both drills provides increased eccentric loading, trains deceleration, and has aspects of movement variability built in since “no two steps are the same.” You will also notice an increased cardiovascular effect.
“Only by contending with challenges that seem to be beyond your strength to handle at the moment you can grow more sure... He is also a Certified Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Specialist based in Pittsburgh, PA. Mr. Jones holds a Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine from High Point University, a Master of Science in Rehabilitative Sciences from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSS) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSA). With over twenty years of experience, Brett has been sought out to consult with professional teams and athletes, as well as present throughout the United States and internationally.
As an athletic trainer who has transitioned into the fitness industry, Brett has taught kettle bell techniques and principles since 2003. He has taught for Functional Movement Systems (FMS) since 2006, and has created multiple DVDs and manuals with world-renowned physical therapist Gray Cook, including the widely-praised “Secrets of…” series.
Brett continues to evolve his approach to training and teaching, and is passionate about improving the quality of education for the fitness industry. I've made a lot of mistakes with my training, far more than I could ever cover in a single article.
I'd fallen victim to the popular idea that the Delta receive enough stimulation from horizontal pressing and pulling, and any additional work would not only be superfluous, but also potentially injurious to the shoulders. So I focused my energy instead almost entirely on bench press variations, push-ups, rows, and chin-ups, making sure to choose pulling over pushing for optimal shoulder health.
However, when I added more direct shoulder work back into the mix (both vertical pressing and lateral raises), my shoulders started growing again and my overhead strength improved quickly. And by continuing to prioritize plenty of pulling into my program, my shoulders still feel great.
If size is your only goal, you're probably fine just including some lateral raises in your program to accompany your horizontal pressing and pulling work, but if you want really strong shoulders too, vertical pressing is key. I absolutely wouldn't recommend the overhead press for people with serious shoulder pathologies or those with poor shoulder and/or thoracic mobility that prohibits them from getting into a good overhead position.
Unfortunately, quite a few people fall into this category, which may explain why the overhead press is so widely demonized. For example, I've written extensively about how I've nixed heavy squats in favor of more single-leg work, but I've also gone through a serious back surgery.
That doesn't necessarily make squats a dangerous exercise; it just means heavy squats aren't the best for me given my injury history and limitations, and I wouldn't recommend them for people with similar issues as mine. Once I added the overhead press back into the mix, I immediately started to see good things happening, so I naturally started pressing more, up to 3-4 times a week.
You know where you make like Fat Joe and lean back so much it becomes a “Limbo Press.” But that's not a condemnation of the overhead press so much as it's an issue of poor programming and execution.
I like higher frequency training for lower load exercises but find it crushes me if I try to employ it with heavy barbell work. With the overhead press specifically, twice a week is my limit, and even that's pushing it if I'm also including a lot of other horizontal pressing and lower back intensive work in my routine.
I'm now training shoulders twice a week, once with the overhead press and once with a more shoulder and lower back friendly exercise like overhead pressing variations using dumbbells, kettle bells, or the landmine. I'll also sprinkle in some lateral raises from time to time, which, if you're looking to do higher frequency shoulder training, is a much smarter choice than high frequency overhead pressing in my mind.
Don't get too caught up on the dumbbell snatch technique because that's not really the point of the exercise. Three to four sets of 5 will have your shoulders screaming, and it also doubles as one heck of a core exercise.
Chains are often used with the bench press to provide accommodating resistance and overload the lockout. You won't get accommodating resistance, but it'll make for one hell of a wild ride.
As you can see from me shaking like a leaf on the last few reps, these really challenge core stability, which is a major and often overlooked weak link for many when it comes to the overhead press. It's one thing to try to cue yourself to stay tight, brace your core, squeeze your glutes, etc., but the chains teach you (or more like force you) to do it naturally and reflexively.
When you go back to straight weight, it'll feel like a walk in the park from a stability standpoint. You won't be able to handle as much weight as you normally can, so bear that in mind.
I got the idea for this exercise from one of my online clients, Matt Roberts, who's a personal trainer himself. The bands add accommodating resistance in a way that mimics the strength curve of the press, meaning you have greater loading at all points throughout the rep, and they also provide greater resistance for the eccentric portion of the rep, making them a great choice for hypertrophy.
The arc of the barbell turns it into more of a front raise / lateral raise hybrid and provides a unique stimulus from what you get with dumbbells or cables. The key is to keep the bell in line with the arm, which is much easier said than done and will really challenge your shoulders, forearms, and grip, making it a good way to kill several birds with one stone.