Why Is My Lateral Raise So Weak? Answers Here

Why is my lateral raise so weak?

Why Is My Lateral Raise So Weak? Answers Here

Doing lateral raises should be easy, right? It certainly looks easy enough – lift the weights out to your side, hold for a second and then lower them back down.

But for many of us trying to bulk up our shoulders, getting that lateral raise just right is harder than it seems. Whether you’re having trouble bringing the weight all the way up or feel like you’re straining your arms more than necessary with what should be a simple exercise, don’t worry because there are plenty of tips available to bring that weak lateral raise back into shape!

In this blog post, I will explain why your lateral raise might have become so weak along with practical solutions that can help get those shoulder muscles better developed and ready for any challenge!

Why is my lateral raise so weak?

The main reason why your lateral raise might be so weak is due to poor form and technique or the weight you are using is too heavy. Poor form can range from swinging the dumbbells instead of lifting them with authority, bending in your elbows too much, shrugging and engaging your trapezius more when you should be focusing on your deltoids, or flexing your wrists while performing the exercise. When doing lateral raises, it is essential to focus on form and control of each rep over the amount of weight you are lifting, as proper execution will help ensure a successful workout and reduce the risk of injury. Another factor that could be causing your lateral raise to be weak is related to your range of motion (ROM), as it may be restricted due to a recent injury or lack of movement in and around the shoulder joint area in general. Grip strength is also important for a strong lateral raise because using an appropriate grip can help you maintain control of the weight. However, you don’t want to grip the handle too hard as you may end up fatiguing your arms and shoulders before you are finished with the exercise. Finally, if the exercise is new to you, you might not be able to perform the exercise correctly. If you feel like you’re not in the correct position or that your arms are pushing from an incorrect angle, take some time to practice and learn the proper technique before continuing with heavier weights. 

Let’s now look at some solutions to help improve your lateral raise.

New to you?

If the lateral raise is new to you, then it is important to take the time to learn the proper form and technique. You can start by using lighter weights or even a lighter resistance band and perform the exercise slowly, focusing on your shoulder muscles as you raise and lower them.

This will help you become comfortable with the movement pattern so that when you do eventually increase the weight, you know how to use the correct form.

People normally tend to find that when they first start lifting, they see gains quite quickly in certain areas, which feels great.

However, you may find that gains are harder to come by in other areas, especially when it comes to the deltoids as they are smaller muscles, so it’s important to stay patient and keep practising the lifts.

Don’t forget that it takes time for your body to get used to the new stimulus, so don’t expect results immediately! As long as you keep practising good form and technique, the gains will come.

Another great way to improve your lateral raise is to focus on muscle memory. This helps you hone your technique, which will become more consistent over time as your body gets accustomed to the exercise.

Practising this way also helps you learn how to control the weight more efficiently so that when you increase the weight or do more reps, it won’t feel as strenuous on your muscles. 

Too heavy

One of the most common issues people have when performing the lateral raise is using too much weight. While it’s important to challenge yourself, lifting weights that are too heavy can lead to injury and won’t help you achieve your goals.

The key is to start with a lighter weight and as you become more comfortable with the form and technique, gradually increase the weight. This way, you will be able to perform the exercise without compromising on form.

We have all seen those people at the gym who look like they are about to seriously hurt themselves because they are trying to lift too much weight. Pay attention to your form and make sure you are comfortable with the weight before adding more plates.

Doing sets of lateral raises is about controlling the weight and focusing on your form rather than trying to lift as heavy as possible. This will help you get stronger in the long term and prevent injuries.

Make sure you can do the desired number of reps before increasing the weight so that you can get the most out of the exercise and see better gains.

Questionable form

If you find that your lateral raise seems weak even though you are using an appropriate weight, it could be because of your form. It is important to have good posture and control over the movement when performing a lateral raise.

Make sure you keep your core tight, shoulders back and down, and chest up, and do not lift too high. You should also focus on engaging your shoulder muscles while doing the exercise and avoid locking out your elbows or shrugging your shoulders.

If you find yourself struggling to keep a tight core, use a resistance band instead of weights as this will help you maintain proper form with less risk of injury. This can also be useful for those who are new to the exercise and want to start with a lighter weight.

It is also important to maintain a steady pace when performing lateral raises. Make sure you keep your arms straight, lift slowly and lower them back down in a controlled manner. 

Why is my lateral raise so weak?

Lack control

Rushing through your sets of lateral raises or swinging the dumbbells can lead to poor form and decreased gains. Swinging the weights around will not only cause you to use more momentum than muscles, but it also increases the risk of injury.

It is important to remember that strength comes from control, so focus on using lighter weights with proper form and technique. You should also take your time to complete the reps and make sure that you are focusing on engaging the right muscles while doing so.

By perfecting your form, you’ll be able to lift heavier weights with better control over time. Make sure to focus on squeezing and releasing each rep in a controlled manner, and do not rush through the reps.

Counting can also be helpful. Counting to yourself while performing the exercise can help you keep a steady pace and focus on your form, this works well for me if I feel like i’m rushing any given exercise.


It is important to focus on the muscles you are targeting when doing lateral raises. Too often people end up shrugging their traps and using their neck muscles instead of focusing on the shoulders. This not only reduces your gains but can also lead to an injury.

The best way to make sure you are engaging the right muscles and doing the exercise correctly is to have someone watch you and give you feedback. If that isn’t possible, make sure to focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of each rep.

To prevent yourself from ‘shrugging’ instead of lifting, envision the dumbbells being pulled away from your body as you do the exercise. This technique is much more efficient than trying to lift them like normal.

Doing this will completely take your traps out of the game. So give it a try as it will isolate those deltoids nicely.

It can also be helpful to do lateral raises in front of a mirror so that you can get an idea of what it should look like when done correctly.

Wrist flexion/extension

Another common mistake when doing lateral raises is to flex and extend your wrists too much. This can lead to you using more of the wrong muscles as well as creating tension in your forearms which will make it harder for you to complete the exercise.

When the load is too hefty for you to lift on your own, your body instinctively finds a way by enlisting other muscle groups in order to successfully finish the lift.

You may also experience wrist flexion when you are gripping the handle of the dumbbell too hard for too long.

To prevent this, try to relax your grip while doing the exercise. This will help you focus on engaging the right muscles and reduce tension in your wrists and forearms.

It can also be helpful to keep your hands in a neutral position throughout the entire exercise. Make sure that you are not flexing or extending them too much and keep them in a straight line with your arms.

Related: Sore glutes after doing overhead press?


If you are pushing yourself too hard and not taking the necessary rest periods, then fatigue is likely to be why your lateral raise might be so weak. 

It’s important to give your muscles enough time to recover between sets or else they won’t be able to perform correctly which will lead to poor form, reduced gains, and a greater risk of injury.

Make sure to take breaks when needed and don’t be afraid to reduce the weight if necessary in order to maintain proper form. 

You might also want to think about when you are doing lateral raises in your routine. If you are doing them after other exercises that involve the shoulder muscles then you are likely to be fatigued before you even start.

Try doing them at the beginning of your session so that your shoulders have plenty of energy and can perform optimally. 

How hard you grip the handle might also not be helping, because gripping it too hard will cause your forearms to fatigue prematurely.

It can also be helpful to keep track of your sets and reps with a journal or notebook so that you can keep track of how much rest you need between sets. 


Having a full range of motion (ROM) is important when doing any kind of exercise, especially lateral raises. An issue with ROM can cause your muscles to be weaker and unable to handle higher weights. 

If you have a limited range of motion due to a recent or distant shoulder injury, then this could be why your lateral raise might be so weak. 

A good way to increase the range of motion is to spend some time stretching and doing mobility exercises before you start lifting. This will help prepare your body for the exercise, reduce the risk of injury, and improve gains. 

It’s also important to pay attention to your posture when doing lateral raises. Make sure that you are keeping a straight spine and not leaning too far forward or back. This will help maintain the full ROM for optimal performance. 

Make sure that you are bringing the dumbbells up until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle, and then lower them back down to the starting position. Doing this will give you the most benefit from the exercise, and help to increase your strength over time. 

Why is my lateral raise so weak?

Point of leverage

The point of leverage with this exercise means it can be a difficult exercise to execute with good form. You will know that holding your arms out to the side for a little while will start to feel uncomfortable in the shoulder area, as your arms are effectively used as a lever. 

This can be why it might be so hard to lift heavier weights or see progress when doing lateral raises. When you hold the weight away from your body like this, it changes the point of leverage and puts more tension on the shoulders. 

The way our bodies have evolved over time means that we are much better at lifting weights close to our bodies, as this gives us a better point of leverage.

It can also feel unnatural to lift the weight out to the side like this, so it’s important to practice good form and technique in order to increase the strength of your lateral raise. 

Make sure you keep your shoulders and core engaged throughout the exercise. This will help protect your joints from being over-stressed and reduce fatigue in the muscle fibres. 

Isolation exercise

When doing lateral raises, it’s important to remember that it is an isolation exercise. This means that you should be focusing on the targeted muscle group and not using any other muscles to help move the weight. 

If you find yourself using your back, neck or hips to lift the weight then this could be why your lateral raise is weak. You should be using the shoulder muscles to lift the weight and only those muscles.

It’s also important to remember that when doing lateral raises, you should be controlling the movement of the dumbbells instead of swinging them. This will help ensure that all of your energy is focused on the muscle group being worked and that you are not wasting energy on other movements. 

The fact it is an isolation exercise makes it more difficult to increase the weight as there are fewer muscle groups to help lift it. You should focus on perfecting your form and technique before trying to move up in weights. 

Smaller muscle group

The lateral raise is an exercise that works a smaller muscle group. This means it can be more difficult to increase the weight when performing this exercise compared to other exercises such as squats and deadlifts which are compound movements and use multiple muscles simultaneously. 

It’s important to remember this when trying to improve your strength during the lateral raise, as greater weights require more energy and effort. 

You can still increase the weight of your lateral raise over time by consistently focusing on good form, and technique and pushing yourself a little bit further with each rep. 

With dedication and practice, you should soon find that your lateral raise strength increases significantly.

However, if you find you are doing all the things mentioned here and still arent seeing results, then you may want to consider changing the way you do the exercise…

Related: Wrist pain from overhead press?

Change up application

If you are finding that your lateral raise is weak, then have you considered changing the way you do them…by doing holds, negatives or pauses at the top of each rep?

These are all great ways to test and build your strength, as they force you to hold the weight for longer periods of time and you are increasing the time under tension. This can help to challenge your muscles in a way that traditional lateral raises don’t. 

You could also try doing cable lateral raises or other variations such as band lateral raises. These can be more effective at targeting specific muscles, as the resistance is always changing rather than staying constant like with a dumbbell or kettlebell. 

Lastly, you could also try doing drop sets or pyramid sets to push yourself and increase your strength. This involves starting with a heavier weight and then gradually reducing it each set. This can test your strength and help you to progress further with the lateral raise. 

By changing up your application of the exercise, you can challenge yourself in new ways and start seeing results with your lateral raises. With time and dedication to perfecting your form and technique, you should soon find that your lateral raise becomes stronger than ever! 

Final thoughts…

The main reason why your lateral raise might be so weak is due to poor form and technique. If you make sure you are controlling the weight and using only the targeted muscle group, then you should soon start seeing improvements.

Additionally, changing up how you do the exercise can be effective at pushing yourself further and challenging your muscles in new ways. Try doing drop sets, cable lateral raises, bands or holds to really test your strength and build muscle mass.

Don’t feel discouraged if you find this exercise difficult – many people do! Just keep pushing and you will soon start reaping the rewards.

Do you think your lateral raise is weak and have these tips helped? Let me know in the comments section below.

If you enjoy sport and use CBD to help with your recovery in between gruelling workouts, then you are in the right place. Here at Sport CBDs, we train hard and recover the best way possible…

We have regular workouts (check out the YouTube channel), CBD news and CBD products to help you gain that edge! 

If you wanted to check out the reputable CBD we have on offer here at the site, then please head to the Sport CBDs Store (CLICK HERE). We also do fitness clothing and yoga accessories too. 

Until next time, all the best…

Beginners Upper Body Kettlebell Workout


Founder – Sport CBDs

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