Lateral Raise Incline Bench

Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. Lie facedown on an incline bench (angled 30-45 degrees). Straddle the bench, placing one leg on each side, and place both feet flat on the floor.
  2. Grasp two dumbbells with a closed grip.
  3. Extend arms straight downward so that your hands and elbows are in line with your shoulders. The palms of your hands should be facing inward. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows.

Upward movement/concentric phase:

  1. In a semi-circular motion, lift the dumbbells by raising arms out to your sides.
  2. Lift until your elbows reach the level of your shoulders (dumbbells will be at a slightly lower level).
  3. Maintain a slight bend in the elbows throughout the entire movement.
  4. Keep the torso and legs motionless throughout the movement.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

    1. In a controlled fashion, slowly lower the dumbbells by reversing the movement to starting position.
Do not hold your breath. Exhale during the concentric phase and inhale during the eccentric phase.


Exercise Data

  • Primary Muscles: Posterior deltoid
  • Synergists: Middle deltoid, infraspinatus, teres minor
  • Stabilizers: Latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius, wrist extensors and other rotator cuff muscles (subscapularis and supraspinatus)
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance
  • Mechanics: Horizontal shoulder abduction
  • Equipment: Two dumbbells and an incline bench
  • Lever: 3rd class lever
  • Level: Beginner to advanced
  • FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Lateral Raise Incline Bench

    What Is A Dumbbell Incline Bench Lateral Raise?

    A dumbbell lateral raise is a resistance exercise, which targets the posterior deltoid (also referred to as “rear deltoids”). This exercise is performed with two dumbbells and an incline bench. It is performed lying face down while raising both arms against resistance to the sides of the body.

    The concentric portion of the lift is horizontal shoulder abduction. The eccentric portion is horizontal shoulder adduction as the dumbbells are lowered.

    The purpose of the incline bench lateral raise is to strengthen the posterior deltoid while also promoting the hypertrophy (increases in size) of this muscle.

    Why Do A Dumbbell Incline Bench Lateral Raise?

    The incline bench lateral raise activates the posterior deltoid, as it is the primary horizontal shoulder abductor. Activating the posterior deltoid contributes to the overall hypertrophy of the shoulder muscles, providing roundness and a fuller appearance.

    Although it is primarily an exercise for aesthetics, incline bench lateral raises also serve as an auxiliary exercise that can increase strength involved in other multi-joint exercises.

    Performing this exercise with dumbbells allows the lifter to isolate the contraction of each arm. This may also help determine any weaknesses, if any, as each arm contracts individually. Performing this exercise in a lying position allows the lifter to further isolate the movement to their upper body.

    Anatomy Of A Dumbbell Incline Bench Lateral Raise

    The deltoid is a thick, multipennate muscle that forms a curtain around the shoulder. It is the primary muscle involved with arm abduction and the posterior fibres are a primary horizontal shoulder abductor. When developed, the deltoids give the shoulder their round shape. The origin of the deltoid is located at the insertion of the trapezius, lateral third of the clavicle and the acromion spine of the scapula. Its insertion is located at the deltoid tuberosity of the humerus.

    The infraspinatus is one of the four rotator cuff muscles. Partially covered by the deltoid and trapezius, it assists with horizontal shoulder abduction. Its origin is located at the infraspinous fossa of the scapula. Its insertion is located at the greater tubercle of the humerus, near the insertion sites of the supraspinatus and teres minor.

    The teres minor is also a rotator cuff muscle that can be regarded as the “sidekick” to the infraspinatus. It is located just below the infraspinatus and may be inseparable from the infraspinatus. It comes as no surprise that the teres minor performs the same actions as the infraspinatus. Its origin is located at the lateral border of the dorsal subscapular surface. Its insertion is located just below that of the infraspinatus on the greater tubercle of the humerus.

    The latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, wrist extensors and other two rotator cuff muscles (i.e. supraspinatus and subscapularis) play an essential role in stabilising the wrists, forearms and shoulders during this exercise.

    Variations Of A Dumbbell Incline Bench Lateral Raise

    Bent over lateral raise, bent over cable lateral raise, high cable reverse fly.

    How To Improve Your Dumbbell Incline Bench Lateral Raises

    Strategically varying your incline bench angle within the 30-45 degree range can optimise the stress placed on your deltoid from differing angles. Periodically rotating your wrists (so dumbbells are lifted sideways with palms of your hands facing your feet at starting position) can also stress your deltoid from an additional angle.

    Perform lateral raises for posterior deltoids from different positions such as bent over lateral raise.

    Focus on the concentric portion of the contraction, concentrating on “squeezing” as the arms approach shoulder level.

    Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the eccentric portion of the contraction, may also be incorporated in a training program focused on increasing strength. This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue.

    It’s important to note that your repetition and set volume will depend on your goals (e.g. strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance). It is also important to allow adequate recovery days in between shoulder training days to allow muscles to repair.

    Common Mistakes When Doing Dumbbell Incline Bench Lateral Raises

    Raising the hands above the level of the elbow and shoulder can minimise the activation of the deltoid and place negative stress on the shoulder joint.

    Swinging the torso and/or moving the legs throughout the movement minimise the activation of the working muscles and increase the risk for injury. Do not use body momentum to lift the weight during concentric phases. Do not drop the weight on its way down. The concentric and eccentric phases should be controlled.

    Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding Dumbbell Incline Bench Lateral Raises

    If the lifter has a compromised range of motion with the shoulder joint and/or performs this exercise incorrectly, this exercise can increase the risk of injury and/or exacerbate a previous injury. Performing this exercise with a weight too heavy for the lifter can also increase the risk for injury.

    If proper technique and recovery are not adhered to, impingement syndrome, rotator cuff injuries, and glenoid labrum tears may result.

    Lifters with a history of shoulder injury or present state of injury should consult with a physical therapist or orthopedic physician before performing this exercise.