The lateral raise has been a staple for building delts for decades, but that doesn’t mean we can’t modify it to increase its effectiveness. To hit those delts even harder, take your lateral raises to the next level with this hands-free band variation.
I first saw Dr. John Rusin performing hands-free shoulder work and it made a lot of sense. Why? Because many people have a tough time feeling traditional dumbbell lateral raises in the delts; they feel them more along the arms.
Removing the requirement of gripping a dumbbell solves this problem and helps prevent the arms from taking over, placing the stress where we really want it.
Why Use a Band?
The supraspinatus (one of the rotator cuff muscles) is the dominant mover in the first 30 degrees of the lateral raise. It’s a much smaller, weaker muscle than the delts. Because of this, some people experience shoulder discomfort when trying to go heavier with their lateral raises, or they use so much momentum that it looks like they’re trying to fly away.
The great thing about the band is its variable linear resistance. Basically, the resistance increases the more you stretch the band. This will emphasize the top two-thirds of the movement, while remaining relatively easily in the bottom third. As a result, you’re going to be able to hit your actual delts hard with little added stress on that supraspinatus.
Set Up and Execution
First, you need a pair of ankle straps, the kind that you’d hook up to cable machines for glute kickbacks or leg abductions, but you’re going to fasten them around your wrists. You’re also going to need some tube bands with carabiners on the ends.
Anchor one end of the band down low on any solid, fixed object, and attach the other end to the strap on your wrist. From here, you’re ready to perform your hands-free lateral raises. To adjust the load, you can simply walk further away from your anchor point or add another band.
Like any good lateral raise, make sure your shoulder, elbow, and wrist are aligned in the top, roughly parallel to the floor. Hold for a second before descending back to the bottom. Do 4 sets of 8-12 reps to get them burning!
You’re not just going to build bigger shoulders with this variation, but also keep them healthier so that you can keep making gains in the long run.