Lateral raises are a popular exercise for targeting the shoulder muscles and are commonly used by those looking to build upper body strength and improve shoulder mobility. However, many individuals report feeling lateral raises in their traps, or trapezius muscles, rather than in the intended muscle group. This can be frustrating and confusing, as it may feel like the exercise is not targeting the intended muscles.
In this blog post, we will explore the potential reasons for feeling lateral raises in the traps, including poor form and overcompensation. We will also provide tips and techniques for properly performing lateral raises to avoid overworking the traps, and a list of exercises that can be used to target the lateral deltoids specifically. By the end of this post, readers will have a better understanding of how to perform lateral raises effectively and target the intended muscle group.
What Are Lateral Raises?
Lateral raises, also known as side raises or lateral deltoid raises, are a popular exercise that primarily targets the lateral deltoid muscle, located on the outer edge of the shoulder. This muscle plays a significant role in shoulder abduction, which is the movement of the arm away from the body in a horizontal plane.
To perform a lateral raise, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing inward. Raise your arms out to the sides, keeping your elbows slightly bent, until your arms are parallel to the ground. Hold for a moment, then slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position.
Lateral raises can be performed with a variety of equipment, including dumbbells, resistance bands, and cable machines. They are commonly used in strength training and bodybuilding to develop the shoulders and improve overall upper body strength and mobility.
In addition to the lateral deltoid muscle, lateral raises can also engage the trapezius muscle, which runs along the back of the neck and shoulders. While the trapezius is not the primary target of the exercise, it can assist in the movement and may be inadvertently engaged if proper form is not maintained.
Benefits Of Doing Lateral Raises
Lateral raises are an exercise that primarily targets the lateral deltoid muscles in the shoulders. Here are some benefits of incorporating lateral raises into your workout routine:
- Lateral raises help to tone and strengthen the lateral deltoid muscles, which can help improve the overall appearance of your shoulders.
- By strengthening the deltoid muscles, lateral raises can also help to improve shoulder stability, which can reduce the risk of injury during other exercises or daily activities.
- Strong shoulder muscles can help improve posture by pulling the shoulders back and down, which can reduce the likelihood of developing rounded shoulders or a hunched posture.
- Strong shoulder muscles are important for many athletic activities, such as throwing a ball or swinging a racket. Lateral raises can help improve shoulder strength and endurance, which can translate to better performance in these activities.
- Strengthening the shoulder muscles can help prevent injuries such as rotator cuff strains and shoulder impingement syndrome.
Overall, lateral raises are a simple yet effective exercise that can provide a wide range of benefits for your shoulders and overall fitness.
Why Do I Feel Lateral Raises In My Traps?
Although lateral raises are primarily intended to target the lateral deltoid muscles, many people may feel the exercise in their trapezius muscles as well. This can happen due to a variety of reasons, including poor form, overcompensation, and imbalances in the muscles being worked.
One common reason why people feel lateral raises in their traps is due to poor form. This can happen if the elbows are allowed to drift too far forward during the exercise, causing the traps to take over the movement. Additionally, if the weights used are too heavy, it can be difficult to maintain proper form, leading to the trapezius muscles being overworked.
Another reason why the traps may become overworked during lateral raises is due to imbalances in the shoulder muscles. If the lateral deltoid muscles are weak or underdeveloped, the traps may compensate and take over during exercises such as lateral raises. This can lead to an overuse injury in the traps and potentially cause pain or discomfort.
Furthermore, the traps are involved in shoulder abduction, which is the same movement as lateral raises. This means that during lateral raises, the traps can become activated and engaged, especially if the movement is done with excessive momentum or if the weights are lifted too high.
Common form mistakes that can cause the traps to take over during lateral raises include shrugging the shoulders up toward the ears, allowing the elbows to drift too far forward, and using too much momentum to lift the weights. To prevent the traps from taking over during lateral raises, it’s important to focus on proper form, engage the core muscles, and lift with control. Using lighter weights can also help prevent overcompensation and allow for proper muscle activation in the lateral deltoids.
How To Properly Perform Lateral Raises
Proper form is essential to avoid overworking the traps during lateral raises. Here are some tips and techniques to help you perform lateral raises correctly:
- Start with light weights: If you’re new to lateral raises, start with light weights to avoid overworking the traps. Begin with 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps, focusing on proper form.
- Keep the shoulders down: During lateral raises, it’s important to keep the shoulders down to avoid shrugging. This will help target the lateral deltoids and prevent the traps from taking over. Focus on pulling your shoulder blades down and back while lifting the weights.
- Avoid swinging: Another common mistake that can lead to overworking the traps is swinging the weights. This not only reduces the effectiveness of the exercise, but also puts unnecessary strain on the shoulders and neck. Focus on lifting the weights in a controlled manner, using a slow and steady motion.
- Engage the core: To maintain proper form during lateral raises, it’s important to engage the core muscles. This will help stabilize the torso and prevent excessive movement in the upper body.
- Gradually increase weight and reps: As you become stronger, gradually increase the weight and reps of your lateral raises. However, it’s important to continue focusing on proper form and avoiding overworking the traps.
By following these tips and techniques, you can perform lateral raises correctly and effectively target the lateral deltoids without overworking the traps.
Exercises To Target The Lateral Deltoids
Here are some exercises that can help to target the lateral deltoids specifically, without overworking the traps:
- Cable Lateral Raises: Stand facing a cable machine with a D-handle attachment at waist height. Hold the handle with one hand, keeping your palm facing down. Lift your arm out to the side and up to shoulder level, keeping your elbow slightly bent. Slowly lower your arm back down to your side, and repeat for the desired number of repetitions. Switch sides and repeat.
- Dumbbell Lateral Raises: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides with your palms facing in. Lift your arms straight out to the sides until they are parallel with the ground. Hold for a second at the top, then slowly lower the weights back down to your sides. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
- Bent-over Lateral Raises: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other. Bend over at the waist, keeping your back straight and your knees slightly bent. Let the weights hang down toward the ground, then lift your arms straight out to the sides until they are parallel with the ground. Hold for a second at the top, then slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
- Seated Lateral Raises: Sit on a bench with your feet flat on the ground and a dumbbell in each hand. Hold the weights at your sides with your palms facing in. Lift your arms straight out to the sides until they are parallel with the ground. Hold for a second at the top, then slowly lower the weights back down to your sides. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
- Standing Cable Crossover: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, facing a cable machine with two handles attached at the top. Hold one handle in each hand with your palms facing down. Pull the handles down and across your body until your hands meet in front of your opposite hip. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
These exercises can help to target the lateral deltoids while minimizing the involvement of the traps. They can be performed as part of a full-body workout or as a standalone shoulder workout. Regularly incorporating these exercises into your routine can help to improve shoulder strength, mobility, and overall upper body development.
Tips For Doing Lateral Raise Workout
- Start with light weights: If you’re new to lateral raises, start with light weights to get the form right before increasing the weight. You don’t want to risk injury by trying to lift too much weight too soon.
- Maintain proper form: Keep your back straight, your core engaged, and your elbows slightly bent throughout the exercise. This will help prevent strain on your lower back and ensure that you’re targeting the right muscles.
- Lift in a controlled manner: Don’t swing the weights or use momentum to lift them. Instead, lift the weights in a controlled manner, focusing on using your shoulder muscles to lift the weights.
- Keep your hands and wrists relaxed: Don’t grip the weights too tightly or tense up your hands and wrists. This can cause unnecessary tension and fatigue in your forearms and hands.
- Don’t lift too high: When performing lateral raises, you don’t need to lift the weights above shoulder height. Lifting too high can strain your shoulder joints and potentially cause injury.
- Incorporate variations: You can vary your lateral raise workout by using different equipment, such as cables or resistance bands, or by performing the exercise in different positions, such as standing, sitting, or lying down.
Remember to always listen to your body, and if you experience any pain or discomfort during the exercise, stop immediately and seek professional advice.
Tools For Lateral Raise Workouts
There are a variety of tools that you can use for lateral raise workouts. Here are some of the most common:
- Dumbbells: Dumbbells are the most popular tool for lateral raises. They come in different weights, making it easy to customize the resistance to your fitness level.
- Resistance bands: Resistance bands are a portable and affordable option for lateral raises. They come in different strengths and can be used for a variety of exercises, including lateral raises.
- Cable machine: Cable machines are often found in gyms and provide a constant resistance throughout the movement, which can be beneficial for building strength.
- Kettlebells: Kettlebells are a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of exercises, including lateral raises. They provide an unstable resistance, which can engage your core muscles as well.
- Barbell: While not as common as dumbbells for lateral raises, barbells can be used to perform the exercise. However, they require more stability and control than dumbbells, so they may not be suitable for beginners.
Ultimately, the tool you choose will depend on your personal preference and access to equipment. Dumbbells and resistance bands are widely available and can be used at home or in the gym, while cable machines and kettlebells are often found in fitness centers. It’s important to choose a weight or resistance that challenges you but still allows you to maintain proper form throughout the movement.
Feeling lateral raises in the traps can be a common issue for those performing this exercise. It is important to understand the potential reasons for this, such as poor form and overcompensation, and to take steps to properly target the lateral deltoids without overworking the traps.
By following proper form and technique and incorporating exercises that specifically target the lateral deltoids, individuals can improve shoulder strength and mobility while avoiding discomfort or injury.
It is always recommended to seek guidance from a qualified trainer or physical therapist and to listen to the body, avoiding any exercises or techniques that cause pain or discomfort. With the right approach, lateral raises can be a highly effective exercise for building shoulder strength and enhancing overall fitness.
When the shoulders rise up in addition to just rotating, this engages the trapezius muscles. Because the bands keep the shoulders in place, you are better able to concentrate on working the deltoids. Stepping on the inside of the band and hooking the other end around the shoulder is how you set up the apparatus. After that, repeat those steps on the opposite side with a second band.
In addition to working the trapezius muscle in your upper back, lateral raises target the deltoids in your shoulders, namely the anterior and lateral deltoids.
Subtle symptoms will start to appear, such as stiffness in the neck after working at a computer for an extended period of time, headaches when driving, or discomfort that shoots down the arm when clutching anything. Even waking up with tingling or numbness in the hands is a sign of overuse of the upper trap.