• Published: 01 July 2015
  • Build your body while saving your rotator cuff muscles here

    Not all shoulder exercises are created equal, at least not if you value the health of your rotator cuff muscles. In this video, I show you a classic shoulder exercise and staple of most shoulder workouts, and how to perform it correctly if you want to avoid the hazards to your rotator cuff when doing it. The side lateral raise or dumbbell side raises are a great medial delt developer. The problem isn’t with the exercise, but how you perform this shoulder exercise.

    The most common tip you hear when performing this in your shoulder workout is to tilt your pinkies up at the top of the movement as if you are “pouring a pitcher” of water. This is bad advice. No way around it. Especially considering the fact that you can still get the benefits of the exercise without doing this by making one simple tweak to your posture when performing this exercise.

    To begin with, the combination of elevation and internal rotation at the shoulder is a biomechanically unsound position for your glenohumeral joint. Can your body do it? Of course, with the almost limitless range of motion provided by the ball and socket joint of your shoulder you can get in almost any position. This doesn’t mean that it is a good position however.

    When you elevate your arm with an internally rotated shoulder you place the head of the humerus in a position where it can quickly impinge on the soft tissue structures in your glenohumeral joint. Most often, the supraspinatus tendon is one of the first structures to feel the brunt of this mistake. Now, the individual anatomy from shoulder to shoulder is going to vary, and the speed at which you start to experience troubles from this position may vary widely.

    That said, over the course of time, even those who find the position to be non problematic (even for many years) start to experience breakdown after years of doing this. On the other hand, issues can arise much faster if you have a shoulder with a lower hanging acromion which tends to get pinched faster by the upward rising humerus.

    The point is, the pouring the pitcher posture is quickly going to accentuate this improper biomechanics position at the shoulder and lead to accelerated degeneration in your shoulder. Not needed since the fix is to simply do the opposite at the shoulder joint when you perform the shoulder exercise - externally rotate your shoulder. By doing this, you provide all the room your shoulder needs to avoid the impingement while not compromising the work done by the medial deltoid. How you ask?

    By simply leaning forward just a bit at the waist when doing this exercise to place the medial deltoid in a more direct line of force opposing gravity. This now allows you to make the exercise safe for your shoulders and allow you to use it to get the bigger shoulders you are doing it for in the first place. Watch as I demonstrate how to perform the side lateral raise the right way to build big shoulders and delts without suffering a shoulder injury in your workout.

    For a complete workout program on how to build bigger delts while maintaining joint health, be sure to head to and get any one of our athlean-x training systems. Each was created by physical therapist Jeff Cavaliere and used by today’s top professional athletes to stay on the field and dominate. For a joint formula designed to help you overcome existing shoulder joint injuries, be sure to check out ATHLEAN-Rx MECHAN-X in the supplements section of our site.

    For more shoulder exercises for your rotator cuffs and workouts to build big shoulders at home or at the gym, be sure to subscribe to our channel here on RUclip at
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Comments • 2 667

  • V Ling
    V Ling  2 days back

    This is why I love Jeff.

    • Nirvana One
      Nirvana One  2 days back

      Clear info as always thanks
      I will use this knowledge
      Watching some ProBBders on YouTube
      they don’t use this form 🤦‍♂️

      • dfullerton93
        dfullerton93  2 days back

        I am continuously astounded by how much I learn from Jeff to ensure I do better at the gym and still keep healthy and injury free.

        • Jaxon Berry
          Jaxon Berry  3 days back

          I’ve always done them the wrong way. I got up and did the motion the right way with no weights and it felt good

          • super kid
            super kid  4 days back

            Im 15 when i was 12 i started playing base ball in the summers and my right shoulder hurts sometimes even when im not doing anything it also cracks a lot but my left feels good can i cure this

            • michael robbins
              michael robbins  4 days back

              👎 DEATH 👍 LIFE

              • onezerotwofour
                onezerotwofour  5 days back

                Did 5 reps with 30lbs and fricked my left arm :(

                Gonna give it a couple days ....

                • Brian MacLeod
                  Brian MacLeod  6 days back

                  Ok now that I have the pain and reduced motion and strength in my right shoulder how do I fix it?

                  • Christina Reynolds
                    Christina Reynolds  6 days back

                    Basically do them with your palm facing forward. There, just saved you 7+ mins

                    • William M Bray
                      William M Bray  1 weeks back

                      Lateral delt not medial delt Jeff

                      • Matt Watson
                        Matt Watson  2 weeks back

                        Just want chime in and say this video is pure gold. As someone getting back into lifting after a decades long pause this has helped me return to one of my favorite exercises. Thank you.

                        • fried rice
                          fried rice  2 weeks back

                          Jeff should have the outline of all his muscles tattooed.

                          • Sagar Deshpande
                            Sagar Deshpande  2 weeks back

                            Even Jeff's dumbbells avoid internally rotate themselves.

                            • Robert Bogan
                              Robert Bogan  2 weeks back

                              5:52 "i dont care what you do..." Jeff i think you do care and thank you for that. Alot of people use there platform lets say "poorly" but you educate and lift up people give them the knowledge and courage to build themselves up. I got to say thank you.

                              • Abhishek shah
                                Abhishek shah  2 weeks back

                                Jeff, you're saving countless shoulders. Keep at it. I recently studied shoulder anatomy because I had already injured my lower back from poor form and didn't want it to reoccur on my vital shoulders. I'm starting today with rotator cuff exercises before I hit shoulders. Again, thank you for your wonderful analysis.

                                • glaxon kalarikkal
                                  glaxon kalarikkal  2 weeks back

                                  I'm 38 and I have pain on my neck, shoulder joints and elbow. What can I do to get rid of the pain and strengthen my muscles?

                                  • Robert Bogan
                                    Robert Bogan  2 weeks back

                                    He has one called "the perfect back workout" i think i also have neck and back pain its under my left ear and in my left shoulder and lower back all day. And the cracking noises yeesh.

                                • Raphael Perales
                                  Raphael Perales  2 weeks back

                                  Thank you Jeff, your a treasure.

                                  • rtv798506
                                    rtv798506  2 weeks back

                                    I love how he’s so technical about exercises and gets down to the nitty gritty on everything. Such a plethora of information. Thanks Jeff!!

                                    • Glyn Hardy
                                      Glyn Hardy  2 weeks back

                                      Excellent advice!!!

                                      • Fitnurd
                                        Fitnurd  2 weeks back

                                        It's not just "guys" that lift. Other than that, thanks for the education.

                                        • Ttv chosen one Gachuki
                                          Ttv chosen one Gachuki  3 weeks back

                                          Love how he uses science to explain

                                          • Jason Cookman
                                            Jason Cookman  3 weeks back

                                            Took me two lateral raise workouts at 10 lbs to make my shoulder feel like Yokozuna was binge watching every WrestleMania on it.

                                            • Mr. JACOBSON
                                              Mr. JACOBSON  3 weeks back

                                              Thank you.

                                              • Ryan
                                                Ryan  3 weeks back

                                                No one:

                                                Absolutely no one:

                                                Athleanx: *draws on deltoid*

                                                • John Michael Rafanan
                                                  John Michael Rafanan  4 weeks back

                                                  Huh.. now i'm mindful of how i pour water on my cup 😂

                                                  • Colin Coakes
                                                    Colin Coakes  4 weeks back

                                                    Thankyou. Learn a lot from your videos. Even at 58, been lifting for 40+ years.

                                                    • west.c.ridez
                                                      west.c.ridez  4 weeks back

                                                      Great video. Is it dangerous to perform lateral raises on the shoulder lateral machine?

                                                      • B Y
                                                        B Y  4 weeks back

                                                        Wish I knew this before I completely f'd my right rotator cuff 😂😭

                                                        • TLR Sexuality
                                                          TLR Sexuality  4 weeks back

                                                          Wow thats so ironic because thats exactly how I always used to do my lateral raises and they caused my medial delt to really bulge out it was crazy! Its a really painful lift though so now I just use the shoulder fly machine.

                                                          • Sagittarius Alpha
                                                            Sagittarius Alpha  4 weeks back

                                                            Actually I was about to ruin my shoulders exactly like this. Some light subtle pain came quickly ( after 5 months)
                                                            So I insinctively tried to alter this exercise and ended up doing it exactly like you recommend it.

                                                            • Hassan Ali
                                                              Hassan Ali  4 weeks back

                                                              Long live jeff

                                                              • Nilab Nangarhari
                                                                Nilab Nangarhari  4 weeks back

                                                                I wish I knew that before. Thanks Jeff :-)

                                                                • thomas abel
                                                                  thomas abel  4 weeks back

                                                                  SMH is there an exercises that he says isn't bad. SMH LOL over time any movement will wear joints out LOL.

                                                                  • thomas abel
                                                                    thomas abel  3 weeks back

                                                                    @Kaila Michalke LOL Oh so that's what they need to go to the graveyard means. LOL OK LOL

                                                                  • Kaila Michalke
                                                                    Kaila Michalke  3 weeks back

                                                                    thomas abel he doesn't say the exercises are bad he says the forms can be improved to make it easier on the joints and increase their longevity

                                                                • Victor Keegan
                                                                  Victor Keegan  4 weeks back

                                                                  Yes make more of these video's. They are very helpful.

                                                                  • Saraswati8882
                                                                    Saraswati8882  1 months back

                                                                    Love Ur work Jeff. Plz never leave YouTube.

                                                                    • Stefania Popaluca
                                                                      Stefania Popaluca  1 months back

                                                                      This guy would always pop up in my recommendations and thought it was clickbaity & bull. But after watching this video, it doesn't appear to me like that anymore.

                                                                      • Russell
                                                                        Russell  1 months back

                                                                        Well that’s weird, my physical therapist told me to do the pinky up when I hurt my shoulders. I’ll try it this way instead now.

                                                                        • GTR_OY
                                                                          GTR_OY  1 months back

                                                                          Do you have or could you do a video for knee pain?

                                                                          • Tamer Said
                                                                            Tamer Said  1 months back

                                                                            Finally i understand this

                                                                            • Tamer Said
                                                                              Tamer Said  1 months back


                                                                              • Sophie 000
                                                                                Sophie 000  1 months back

                                                                                Awesome, I've just got into light body building, glad I came across this, there is so much misinformation/people showing you how to do lateral raises with bad posture, looking forward to being more toned without the risk

                                                                                Glad to have such a great teacher around 👍

                                                                                • John Wilkinson
                                                                                  John Wilkinson  1 months back

                                                                                  A little off -point, but is this still an effective shoulder exercise if you've had a shoulder separation?

                                                                                  • Andy Harrison
                                                                                    Andy Harrison  1 months back

                                                                                    Hi, thanks ever so much for your advice. I have an impinged rotate cuff in my left shoulder from driving trucks. The advice I received from a physiotherapist was to rotate my should and lift my pinky while lifting light dumbbells. I found this sooooo painful. I did it several times a day for the past three weeks, and i've not benefited from this at all. I found your video and now I'm following your advice. I hope my should responds to the exercise. Best wishes, Andy in Nottinghamshire UK.

                                                                                    • WithTheBears
                                                                                      WithTheBears  1 months back

                                                                                      What about us fellas with minor infraspinatus tears? External rotation doesn't feel terrible but there is kind of that burn ya know

                                                                                      • trichome333
                                                                                        trichome333  1 months back

                                                                                        Dude youve been a godsend. Dealing c cervical osteoarthritis thats tweaking my brachial plexus bilaterally.

                                                                                        • Chris Schneider
                                                                                          Chris Schneider  1 months back

                                                                                          Always appreciate the attention to detail, sir!

                                                                                          • Soosnata Chowdhury
                                                                                            Soosnata Chowdhury  1 months back

                                                                                            Is there another remedy available for my left shoulder impingement pain and soreness to subside

                                                                                            • Soosnata Chowdhury
                                                                                              Soosnata Chowdhury  1 months back

                                                                                              I just practiced a few dummy moves and already feel a relaxation on my left shoulder impingement.