- Grab a dumbbell in each hand with the arms at the sides (dumbbells will be near or below the hips depending on your anatomy).
- Be sure you have proper clearance on the right and left sides of the body as this is the path the dumbbells will be traveling.
- Keeping a slight bend in the elbow, bring the dumbbells up and away from the sides of the body, exhaling on the upward motion.
- Lift the weights until the shoulders are high enough to become parallel with the ground. The dumbbells may go a bit higher but they should not go above the head.
- Inhale as the dumbbells are lowered down towards the body.
- Repeat steps 3-5.
While performing lateral raises, it should be kept in mind that the negative motion is just as important as when the weights are being lifting upward. Lowering the weights down in a controlled manner forces the deltoids to stay contracted for longer periods of time, leading to a more effective exercise.
An acceptable use of momentum and body weight is during the last 1-2 repetitions when it is most difficult to raise the weight into position. Using momentum on the upward motion then fully controlling the negative is completely acceptable, just be sure to not raise the shoulders too high with the added momentum.
The main difference between the standing vs. seated position is the strictness in which the exercise is done. Standing allows a bit more bodily movement which can lead to loose form while the seated position constrains the individual, forcing them focus on the deltoids.
For an intense shoulder workout, try alternating repetitions with front arm raises. Perform one rep to the front followed immediately by one rep to the side. Try to get 10 repetitions going in each direction.
Due to the intensity of lateral raises, they should not be performed with heavy weights. The lifting motion involves part of the rotator cuff muscles (supraspinatus and teres minor). A concentrated amount of weight with the shoulder in that position may lead to injury and this is why the shoulders should not go beyond the point of being parallel with the ground.