Build Strong Rear Delts With the Bent-Over Lateral Raise



By Seth Blevins


Bodybuilders are in love with the Bent-Over Lateral Raise. They use the move to work their upper backs and rear delts to improve their backside poses on stage. However, these same benefits also apply to performance athletes.


The backside of the shoulder and upper back must be strong for athletic performance. These muscles help stabilize the shoulder, maintain posture and create balanced strength for those who like to perform a lot of pressing work. You won’t schedule this as a main lift. It’s an assistance exercise meant to complement your primary exercises.


The problem with this exercise is that it is often performed incorrectly. Nine times out of 10 we see people using too heavy a weight, causing rocking and swinging. This takes the dumbbells out of the ideal path to safely work your upper back and rear delts. One of my favorite ways to prevent swaying is to lay the forehead on a flat object (e.g., a bench). This allows the torso to remain parallel to the ground. If you happen to have that unwanted rocking of the torso, your forehead will lift off the bench, which makes it easy to catch.


The Bent-Over Lateral Raise can be performed on your feet, seated, with dumbbells, with a cable machine or even lying on an incline. These variations are probably more suitable for bodybuilders, so we stick with what is most effective, standing (bent over) with dumbells. Check out the video above to learn how to perform the exercise.


How To

  • Stand in a tall position holding two dumbbells.
  • Unlock your knees and push your hips back until your torso is parallel to the ground. You want minimal knee bend and maximal “hip bend” to reach this position.
  • Hold your palms facing each other with the dumbbells touching. You don’t have to be fully extended at the elbow—just like the knees, they should have a slight bend (about 10 degrees).
  • Raise your arms to the side until your elbows are in line with your shoulders. When you raise the dumbbells, your pinky side should be slightly up, as if you were “pouring liquid out of the dumbbell.” You are targeting your upper back and shoulders. Make sure the motion of your arms is perpendicular to your torso. This keeps the lats from playing a big role in the movement.


It’s best to perform this exercise for 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps. Start with a light weight and gradually increase the amount you can lift. You might see bodybuilders use heavy weights, but I encourage you to focus on quality, even if that means using only 10 pounds or less.






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