Are Machine Lateral Raises Effective?

lateral raise machine
November 21, 2022 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “are machine lateral raises effective?”. Lateral raises divide opinion in general – many bodybuilders believe they are an essential component to build 3D deltoids.

Others believe that they are not an essential exercise for building big and powerful shoulders. This article will concern itself with the machine lateral raise. 

Are Machine Lateral Raises Effective?

Overall, machine lateral raises are highly effective at building the medial deltoids. This is what gives you the 3D look to your delts and makes you appear wider. 

Machine lateral raises are more effective than dumbbell lateral raises as the lever arm is shorter. You can concentrate a lot more on the muscle contraction and work your delts harder. 

Another benefit of machine lateral raises is it doesn’t involve any gripping component. Therefore, there is no stress on the wrists and forearms. This could be a big advantage for people who are dealing with wrist and forearm pain. 

As you can handle fairly heavy loads on the machine lateral raise, you have to pay special attention to not letting your traps do too much of the work. You have to really get a good mind muscle connection and work the muscle properly.

Convenient For Drop Sets

The lateral raise machine is also very convenient for drop sets. Unlike using dumbbells or bands, you don’t have to waste too much time changing resistances.

With the machine you can drop set very fast and therefore be more efficient with your training of side delts. You also have a wide array of options in the cable stack to choose from if you want to keep going down in weight.

Great For Hypertrophy

Machine laterals are fantastic for hypertrophy work and making your side deltoids much bigger in size. As the lever arm is short, you can fully concentrate on the muscle contraction without wasting energy through the range of motion.

This allows for a great pump. It is recommended to go for higher reps on lateral raises and use lighter weights. If you go too heavy you can increase the risk of a shoulder injury, you will also bring the traps into the movement more than necessary.

It should be noted that not everyone can perform lateral raises pain free. This could be due to existing shoulder and rotator cuff issues. If this is the case there are other things you can do. Later in this article I will explore whether lateral raises are really a necessity.
lateral raise machine

Are Lateral Raises Truly Essential?

Many bodybuilders will swear to you that lateral raises are one of the most important shoulder exercises you can do besides shoulder presses. Is this really true?

In my experience, when I first started training I did lots of dumbbell lateral raises and one arm cheat laterals with very heavy weight. My side delts grew a lot and I became very wide. 

There is a case for using lateral raises to build a base in terms of shoulder width. For many years now I haven’t done a single lateral raise in my training. This is mainly because I didn’t want to get even wider.

I also find that lateral raises take some attention away from your traps. If you build your side delts too much, your traps lose some impressiveness visually.

There is a good video from Alphadestiny which can be seen below. He makes many good points about the necessity of lateral raises which I agree with. The band face pull is an exercise which has been shown to elicit a lot of activity in the medial delts.

Band face pulls are an exercise that I do regularly for shoulder health. They are also great at building your shoulders up further. I do agree with Alex in the video, in that getting better at presses and rows will do more for your side deltoids than simply focusing on the lateral raise.

If you get a lot stronger on your shoulder press and improve your seated row, you will certainly see gains in your shoulder development. If you combine this work with regular band pulls, you will not be lacking muscle in your medial deltoids!  

Are You Happy With Your Side Delts?

Whether you choose to incorporate machine lateral raises into your routine is up to you, it is a personal choice. If you are unhappy with your shoulder development then I would certainly recommend including this exercise.

Just be sure that you are able to perform machine laterals pain free. If you can do the movement safely then work at putting the muscle under tension with light weight and higher reps. 

You can do a slow negative and pause the peak contraction at the top of each rep. This would really work your side delts very well and encourage good hypertrophy in the muscle.

If you are already happy with your shoulder development and don’t want to do lateral raises, you don’t have to. You could just stick to doing presses and rows and get better at these.

Also consider implementing the band face pull into your routine. You can try out lots of different angles and get good muscle stimulation in your medial and rear delts. This exercise will serve to keep your shoulders healthy in the long run.

Final Thoughts

Are machine lateral raises effective? The truth is that machine laterals are more effective than other variations of lateral raise. As with every exercise, you must ensure that you can perform the movement without pain.

If you can, then progress the movement slowly and focus on doing higher reps. Putting the muscle under tension will help to induce good hypertrophy in your side delts.

If you already have very good shoulder development then you don’t need to do this exercise. You can just focus on getting stronger on presses and rows. Incorporate the band face pull regularly to keep your shoulders healthy and encourage more growth.

If you have any comments on this topic please leave them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

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