Today the ever-gorgeous Stickie is demonstrating the lateral raise. As you might expect from the name, it involves raising dumbbells to the side. It is a simple exercise, which means it is a great opportunity to pay attention to some form details that are often ignored.
Of course, Stickie begins with good posture. It is hard to see in the picture, but her abdominals are drawn in and up. Her ears are lined up over her shoulders, which are lined up over her hips, which are lined up over her ankles. Her knees are straight but not locked.
When Stickie raises the weights, her arms float up, her wrists stay neutral, and most importantly, her shoulders stay out of her ears. Shoulders make lousy earrings. Also, the resulting tension in your traps can cause headaches, among other things. One way to help keep those shoulders down is to imagine that each arm is a railroad crossing barrier and the shoulder blade on that side is the counterweight. As the arm rises, the shoulder blade drops down toward the hips, keeping the shoulders where they are supposed to be.
The primary muscles working on this exercise are the deltoids—the ones that make your shoulders look good when you go sleeveless. They are not big muscles, so you may find that you want to use an unexpectedly light weight. This is perfectly wonderful because form is always better than big numbers.