Lateral raises remain one of the best exercises for capping off the shoulders. They target the medial head directly to sculpt more roundness. Just a slight increase in muscle on that head can result in the illusion of wide shoulders, even if your clavicles are somewhat narrow.
That said, lateral raises performed with dumbbells are very inefficient. Why? There is zero resistance at the bottom, where the muscle is semistretched and is strongest. As you raise the dumbbells in an arc, leverage produces an increasing resistance curve, so your weak deltoids struggle to get even light dumbbells to the top position. That results in many trainees swinging up dumbbells and doing nothing for the medial heads.
The solution? I’m with Mr. America Doug Brignole, who says that one-arm cable laterals are the best lateral-raise exercise available. You get continuous tension and even some stretch against resistance at the bottom of the rep.
For particularly stubborn delts, try doing your one-arm cable laterals first—before moving on to presses and/or upright rows. You’re guaranteed new shoulder growth.
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