December 11, 2017 | John Paul Catanzaro
If you’ve been doing lateral raises for years but your shoulders haven’t budged, then science may be able to help. You see, muscle growth requires a sufficient amount of tension and time under tension. During a lateral raise, the maximum amount of tension occurs when the arm is straight out to the side, parallel to the ground, where the perpendicular distance from the joint axis of rotation is the greatest.
Unfortunately, if the weight is heavy enough, you won’t be able to hold it long enough to experience any true growth, but again, science to the rescue… We all know that you can hold isometrically more than you can lift concentrically, and you can lower eccentrically more than you can hold isometrically.
Put it all together and the lateral raise should go like this:
1. Sit at the edge of a bench.
2. Raise a dumbbell out to the side until your arm is parallel to the ground.
3. Keep your arm parallel to the ground and lower your upper body away from the dumbbell toward the bench.
At the end, sit up to the original position and repeat the process. Here’s what it looks like:
This variation of the lateral raise was proposed by the late exercise scientist Jerry Telle in his manual Beyond 2001. The body moves from an upright position to a side-lying position during the eccentric action to maintain optimum tension on the delts (what Telle termed “eccentric increase enhancement”). Essentially, you’re raising a dumbbell up during the concentric action while keeping your body still, and then lowering your body during the eccentric action while keeping the dumbbell still. At first, it may be difficult to execute smoothly, but after a few reps, you’ll get the hang of it. Give it a shot!