Side lateral raises are exercises that involve raising a set of dumbbells from the athlete's side to a position level with the shoulders while keeping the arms straight. Side lateral raises primarily benefit the shoulder muscles but also work out the biceps and triceps. They do not require much equipment and, compared to a lot of free weight exercises, an athlete can perform them with correct form rather easily as long as he or she does not try to lift too much weight.
To perform side lateral raises, an athlete should start in an upright, standing position with the feet shoulder width apart. The athlete's arms should be straight at his or her side, and he or she should be holding dumbbells of equal weight in each hand. The amount of weight will vary depending on the strength of the athlete, but the amount of weight usually will be less than an athlete would use for an arm curl, because the specific shoulder muscles used in side lateral raises are not as strong as the biceps.
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From this starting position, the athlete should begin to raise both arms away from the body while slowly exhaling. At this point, there should be a slight bend in the elbow. The wrists should have a slight bend forward, with the thumb angling away from the body just slightly. The athlete then continues to raise the weights until the arm is parallel with the floor.
When the arms have reached their highest point, they should combine with the body to create the shape of the letter "T". The athlete should hold this position for a slight pause before slowly lowering the weights back to the starting position while gently inhaling. The athlete can then repeat the process for as many repetitions as he or she desires.
While performing side lateral raises there are a few key aspects of proper form that the athlete should keep in mind. First, it is important to keep the back straight and the head up. Also, though the elbow should have a slight bend, the athlete should be sure not to bend it too much, because this will reduce the effectiveness of the exercise. Finally, the athlete should make sure not to use momentum to perform the lift; all of the lift should come from the action of the shoulder muscles. Some athletes find that it is easier to maintain proper form when performing side lateral raises while seated in a chair.