An overhand, palms-down grip is the typical hand position for the standard lateral raise: As you lift the weights to the side, your palms face the floor. A reverse-grip lateral raise is done with an underhand, palms-up grip. This simple switch in grip changes the purpose of the exercise and targets different muscles.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms relaxed at your sides and your palms facing forward. Lock your elbows into a slight bend. Lift your arms out to the sides, and rotate your forearms so your palms face the ceiling. Continue to raise your arms until they are parallel to the floor, pause for a count, then slowly lower the weights to the starting position.
Three muscle heads, or deltoids, regulate the movement of the shoulder joint. All three heads attach to the humerus, or upper arm bone, but they originate from different areas. The lateral deltoid sits on the outside of the shoulder and originates on the side of the scapula, or shoulder blade. The anterior deltoid sits on the front of the shoulder and originates on the clavicle bone. The posterior deltoid is located on the back of the shoulder and originates on the rear of the scapula near the spine.
The standard lateral raise exercise targets the lateral deltoid head, which is mainly responsible for shoulder abduction -- lifting the upper arm to the side of the body. A reverse-grip lateral raise changes the emphasis of the exercise and targets the anterior deltoid, which is also involved in shoulder abduction, but is mainly responsible for shoulder flexion -- lifting the upper arm to the front of the body.
The deltoids are relatively small muscles. Do not use heavy weight for the lateral raise exercise. Choose a light weight that allows you to complete 10 to 12 repetitions. Do not arch your back or jerk your body to get the weights up. Stop the movement when the upper arms are in line with the shoulder. Lifting the weight past shoulder level increases the risk of shoulder injury and impingement.
Based in Austin, Texas, Jolie Johnson has been in the fitness industry for over 12 years and has been writing fitness-related articles since 2008 for various websites. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and philosophy from the University of Illinois.