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Laterals on Machines or Dumbbells?

With a machine, especially a machine that uses a pulley system, you feel the resistance more throughout the entire rep.

Q: Do you prefer side lateral raise machines as opposed to dumbbells?

A: As opposed to front lateral raise machines? Kidding aside, it’s redundant to say “side lateral.” When performing lateral raises with dumbbells, you feel significant resistance only at the end range (due to gravity); therefore, you have to perform many variations with your body in several different positions to work all areas of the strength curve.

One variation is the lean-away lateral raise, in which you position your upper body at an angle by holding on to a sturdy object. That provides more resistance at the start of the movement. So, to more completely work all areas of the strength curve, you might perform three sets of regular lateral raises and three sets of lean-away laterals.

With a machine, especially a machine that uses a pulley system, you feel the resistance more throughout the entire rep. One caution: Because the handles on these units usually don’t allow your hands to rotate, you need to stop the rep when the handles are parallel to the ground. Not doing so can potentially cause an impingement of your shoulder.

When using dumbbells, you can do a safer form of lateral raise this way: After you reach a position in which your arms are parallel to the floor, begin to externally rotate your hands, palms facing front. That will enable you to bring your hands together at the top of the movement without damaging your shoulder.

Editor’s note: Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the world’s most suc-cessful strength coaches, having coached Olympic med-alists in 12 different sports, including the U.S. women’s track-and-field team for the 2000 Olympics. He’s spent years researching European journals (he’s fluent in English, French and German) and speaking with other coaches and scientists in his quest to optimize training methods. For more on his books, seminars and methods, visit IM


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