Monday, October 13, 2014

Precision Style Side Lateral Raises

OK these videos aren't all that great because I just decided to film them on the spur of the moment by leaning my phone against a nearby object and hoping for the best.

Disregard the 40kg dumbbell press, we're going to talk about the side lateral raises that come after.

In my program, side lateral raises are what I consider a PRECISION movement. Of course the program is based on compound exercises for example heavy ass deadlifts, squats, various heavy ass pushing and pulling movements for upper body. These I refer to as POWER movements as it's just about developing that brute strength and encouraging our body to promote and preserve muscle and bone mass at the expense of body fat.

Obvious, right?

With these PRECISION or isolation exercises though, the strategy is a little different. We're not just trying to recruit as much muscle as possible over multiple joints to produce the most powerful contraction and move as much weight as possible as per the POWER section of the program. As the category name would imply, this is more about a precise movement targeting a specific muscle or muscle group. In this example, the lateral deltoid.

So, you'll notice I am sitting down. This means I can't rob myself of the effectiveness of the exercise by bobbing up and down from the knees or however else you might see people generate some momentum to swing some heavier weights up into the air on this exercise. That's not the point. It isn't what we're trying to do. Go lighter if necessary, and perform the movement with precision.

You may notice that I'm trying to perform a strict shoulder abduction movement, without the rotation that a lot of people utilise when performing this exercise. Through experimentation I found that this was the best way to activate and isolate my lateral deltoid as per the aim of this exercise. I would be open to other opinions on this point, but this is how I like to perform and instruct the exercise.

Here's the main point of this post. Watching this back I'm surprised how fast I'm actually performing each rep. What I am trying to do here is raise the dumbbells to shoulder height via shoulder abduction, pause at the top, and then lower slowly.

Note that I do not lower all the way back to the starting position. I want to maintain that muscle activation at all times while performing the exercise. In theory, I pause at the top... and then, I used to say "gradually release the muscle contraction to slowly lower back to the starting position". Really it is more like maintaining that muscle contraction to a level that is just short of what would be required to hold that position at the top of the movement. Then BOOM snap that contraction back on at 100% to raise back up again.

Even with a relatively light weight, targeting a relatively small muscle, this is very demanding and you'll have earned your minute and a half rest after 12 to 18 reps.

Here's a better video from a couple of weeks ago demonstrating the same principle on front raises, targeting the anterior deltoid.