Egyptian Lateral Raise Beginner’s Guide

Egyptian Lateral Raise Beginner’s Guide

Sometimes in fitness it’s not just about an exercise but how it’s performed. Most fitness enthusiasts are familiar with the lateral raise, however attempting a variation like the Egyptian lateral raise may be the key to elevating your training to the next level. If you’ve been in the gym for any length of time, you’ve likely seen this exercise done with decent form (more or less), however in this article we’ll dive into the Egyptian lateral raise, the proper form, the muscles worked, and some of the alternatives that will help you get the most out of every rep.

What is the Egyptian Lateral Raise?

While the exercise sounds exotic and unfrequented by most gym-goers, it’s actually more common than you think. The Egyptian lateral raise is simply a lateral shoulder raise performed with the body at a slight angle. This can be done a number of different ways; usually at a cable/ pulley, but also while holding the edge of a bench. The goal is to create a slant your body so that the side of the torso on which you’re performing the lateral raise is leaning closer to the floor. This creates a different angle for the exercise and in theory a greater range of motion.

How to perform the Egyptian Lateral Raise 

  • Attach a single handle attachment to a cable machine. The pulley itself should be adjusted to the lowest setting. Step your outside foot over the handle and in front of your back foot. Your feet should be directly in front of the machine
  • Grab the cable column at shoulder height, pick up the handle and  stand upright with it. While holding onto the cable column, lean away from the machine, tilting away until your arms are almost fully extended. This is your starting position.
  • With your elbows slightly bent, raise the pulley until the arm is parallel with the floor. Hold briefly at the top of the movement and begin slowly lowering back to the starting position.
  • Control the cable slowly and pause when your arm is vertical (or perpendicular to the floor). This will serve as the end of the movement, keeping constant tension on the side delt. Repeat this process for reps.

Mistakes to avoid during the Egyptian Lateral Raise

Lifting too much weight

Challenging yourself with heavy weights and progressive overload in order to build muscle is generally the right mindset, however there are times when this is counterproductive. And as you might’ve guessed- during the Egyptian lateral raise is one of those times. The ELR is the type of exercise that has to prioritize form and technique over weight. Because you’re extending your arm away from the body, a greater load can easily cause a breakdown in form. This not only looks ugly but can also lead to some ugly injuries in no your shoulder region. 

Do yourself a favor and use light weight when performing this exercise. If you find that you’re unable to raise your hand to the top of the movement, this likely means you should drop down in weight. This movement will still have a high level of intensity when kept in the 12- 20 rep range, but again start light and work your way up.

Keeping the cable in front of your feet

Often people will perform the Egyptian lateral raise with the cable in front of the feet, turning it into more of a front delt raise. Our main target for this exercise is the side delt- therefore keeping the cable aligned with the torso is very important. To do this cross one foot in front of the other while keeping the cable between them. This will ensure that when you raise your arm, the attachment and your hand will align with your torso and effectively work the side delts.

Raising your arms too high

One aspect of the Egyptian lateral raise to watch out for is over-extending your arm. While one of the advantages of leaning during this raise is the perceived greater range of motion. However this leads many to overextending the arm in an attempt to reach the same height as a standard lateral raise. There is little proof to suggest that over extending the arm past shoulder height produces more muscle activation. 

Muscles worked during the Egyptian Lateral Raise

Side deltoids

The lateral deltoids (or the side delt) is a collection of muscle fibers that make up the middle portion of the shoulder. The side delt originates in the upper portion of the shoulder blade and inserts On the humerus. The side delt works to raise the arm And rotated in several different planes of motion. During the Egyptian lateral race this muscle works to raise the humerus to shoulder level and beyond, shortening the muscle Until it reaches the desired height.

Upper trapezius 

The upper trapezius is a large rectangular muscle that originates at the base of the skull and inserts into the upper portion of the humerus. Virtually all movement of the arm is supported by the scapula which serves as a stable base for the arms’ multiple ranges of motion. The upper trapezius specifically rotates the scapula upward as you raise the arm to shoulder height. 

Middle trapezius

The middle trapezius is also a large rectangular muscle located on the mid back, Originate Ng from both the thoracic and lumbar spine and inserting into the scapula. While the upper trap works to rotate the scapula upwards, the middle trap works to abduct the shoulder blade. This motion acts as a counterbalance which in turn stabilizes the shoulder blade against the rib cage.

Alternatives to the Egyptian Lateral Raise

Lateral raise

The lateral raise is the conventional version of this same exercise however it is no less effective for building capped shoulders. With the lateral raise just like it’s a Gyptian counterpart you want to be mindful of the range of Motion. Be sure not to overextend the arms by raising them higher than shoulder height. Choose a weight that allows for good form.

  • Begin by holding both dumbbells on either side of your body with your arms straight. Keep your shoulders back, chest high, and your back rest.
  • With a slight bend in the elbows begin raising both arms laterally towards the ceiling. Feel the muscles in your shoulders shorten as your hands move further away from your body.
  • Continue raising your arms until they are at shoulder height. Once align with the shoulders pause momentarily, feeling the contraction in the shoulders.
  • Holding briefly, begin lowering the dumbbells back to the side of your body. Control the dumbbells until they are three to four inches away from your body. This will be the end point, it will also ensure that there remains constant tension on the shoulders throughout this step. Repeat this process for reps.

Landmine press

the landmine press is performed with a barbell fixed with some land mine attachment on the floor. This compound exercise in addition to working the shoulders is also an excellent exercise building core strength and developing multiple muscles of the back.

How to perform the landmine press

  • set up: the first step to the landmine press is setting up the equipment properly. Whether you’re doing it with or without the landmine press attachment, make sure you have enough room on the gym floor for the barbell to move and rest freely. 
  • Slide the the barbell into the attachment or prop the barbell into a corner. Once the barbell is secure, begin adding bumper plates to the end closest to you. Any size will work; even if it’s the large 45 lb plate, it will rest far enough on the bar that it won’t obstruct your movements. No matter the weight you settle on, just make sure there is enough room on the neck of the bar to comfortably place your hands.
  • Lay the barbell directly in front of you at the centerline of your body. This is where it should align through the entirety of the exercise. 
  • starting position: place your feet shoulder width apart with your toes pointed directly in front of your knees. Bring the barbell to chest height so that the end of the bar is level with the clavicle. Place your hands under the barbell on either side. The bar should rest comfortably on your palms with your hands open towards the ceiling. 
  • Take a slight step back away from the bar and lean your body forward. This adjustment will create an angle that favorably targets both the shoulders and upper chest. The new movement path will also allow for a greater range of motion, which leads to more substantial muscle contraction.

Tip: if you want more stability without making the exercise any easier, try doing the press kneeling. 

Keep your shoulders back, chest high, and your back in a neutral position. This will be your starting position.

  • the press: with the bar resting at the centerline of your body, begin to press the weight by extending your arms above you. Because of the slight lean forward, you should feel a nice contraction in your anterior delts and chest. 
  • As the weight travels higher, emphasize the squeeze on the centerline of the chest. Squeeze both pecs together towards the top of the movement to really feel the fibers of the chest working. 

tip: as the bar moves further away, emphasize the squeeze in your serratus anterior and lats. As you inhale, feel  your lats spread as your rib cage expands. Over time this process will add some great definition to the muscles around the base of your chest. 

  • You should keep pressing the bar until your arms are nearly fully extended. There should still be a slight bend in your elbows. 
  • Pause at the top of the movement briefly, then slowly begin lowering the bar to the starting position. Fight the force of gravity as you control the weight down to your collarbone. Once at chest height repeat the process for reps.

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