While the standard lateral raise (performed either stand-raise becomes a diferent movement altogether: one in which the stress is felt primarily through the first half of each rep, as opposed to regular laterals, where the delts really kick in halfway up. During standard laterals, the start of the movement is the easiest because it requires little efort to move dumbbells a few inches away from your sides. Only when you’re about a quarter of the way through the movement do you start to feel the burn. Not so with incline laterals. In fact, when you’re leaning at an angle opposite the arc of the movement, you’ll find yourself resisting gravity from the outset.

Because your delts are now under stress from the start, you’re going to find that it’s a tougher exercise, and you’ll need to lighten the load. Although you can put incline laterals at the end of your shoulder workout, our advice is to stick them up front, as a pre-exhaustion exercise. Aim for 10–15 reps per set and then move on to your compound exercises. And don’t be surprised if, a few months down the road, doorways start seeming narrower.

DO IT BETTER: Don’t raise the weight directly over your head or your joints will be supporting it rather than your muscles. This photo illustrates where you should stop.

Shoulder Routine with Incline Lateral Raises – Try this workout once per week for 4-6 weeks.

The Workout:

Exercise Sets Reps
Incline Lateral Raise 3/arm 15,12,10
Alt. Front DB Raise 3 10
Reverse Pec-Deck Machine 3 12
Seated DB Press 4 12,10,8,6