Strong Grip, Healthy Shoulders
Grip strength and shoulder mechanics are directly related. In fact, aggressively activating your hands and forearms during upper body exercises almost always impacts shoulder mechanics.
That's because it helps promote better shoulder packing and centration of the glenohumeral joint. Fortunately, this theory can be directly applied to a number of movements to improve form and muscle growth.
Lateral Raise: The Most Butchered Exercise
Although it looks simple, the lateral raise is one of the most butchered isolation exercises. Rather than lifting the weights straight out to the sides, focus on using an angle roughly 30 degrees from the side of the torso – almost a slight diagonal angle.
This helps to maximize recruitment of the lateral delts. In addition, you should raise the weights to shoulder height or a bit lower. Going any higher will take tension off the deltoids and place undue tension on the traps and glenohumeral joint.
Grip-pinching variations of lateral raises promotes these optimal mechanics, as well as reducing momentum and swinging because any undue velocity makes you feel as though the weights are going to slip out of your hands.
Bumper Plate Pinch Lateral Raise
Bumper plate pinching is the most advanced variation of lateral raises as they put you at a biomechanical disadvantage in terms of leverage – the load is dispersed across a larger surface area.
Hex Dumbbell Pinch Lateral Raise
Hex dumbbells are also very effective. If you want to dial your form up to another level, try the single-leg variation. The combination of grip activation along with foot and ankle innervation helps create irradiation and concurrent activation potentiation (increased neural drive) throughout the kinetic chain.
Although you'll have to reduce the weight, you'll also be forced to eliminate all forms of cheating and momentum, making the reduced balance a worthy sacrifice.
Besides working the grip and ankles, these variations produce a tremendous amount of metabolic stress and mechanical tension on the delts. They're highly effective for inducing functional strength and hypertrophy in the shoulders.