Lateral Raise With Thumbs Up Exercise

Use only light dumbbells when performing lateral raise with thumbs up.
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Athletes who have a lot of action at the shoulders, such as baseball and volleyball players, are very familiar with the lateral raise with thumbs up exercise. The exercise, which is also commonly referred to as the full can exercise, is used as a preventive and rehabilitative exercise to strengthen the rotator cuff. While lateral raise with thumbs up can help stabilize the shoulder and reduce the risk of injury, it can also be dangerous if done incorrectly.


To perform the lateral raise with thumbs up, grip a pair of dumbbells and hold them down by your sides. Set your feet so that they’re shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms straight as you lift your arms up at a 45-degree angle up and out to your sides. Continue until your arms are parallel to the floor and then slowly return your arms down to your side. Your thumbs should be positioned on top of your fingers throughout the entire movement.


The lateral raise with thumbs up primarily isolates the supraspinatus muscle in the shoulder. The supraspinatus is one of the four rotator cuff muscles that are responsible for stabilizing the shoulder joint. It originates at the bottom of your scapula and then runs through your shoulder joint where it inserts at the top of your upper arm bone. According to, it’s the most frequently injured rotator cuff muscle. Strengthening the supraspinatus prepares it to better handle its responsibility at the shoulder and thus decreases the risk of injury.


The supraspinatus is a small muscle, so you don’t want to use heavy weights when you’re performing the lateral raise with thumbs up exercise. In fact, if you use too heavy of a weight, you can cause it to become inflamed. The muscle runs in a tight spot in your shoulder capsule and if inflamed, can lead to it rubbing against other structures in the shoulder, thus increasing inflammation and possibly leading to impingement. Use dumbbells that are 1 to 3 pounds and perform the exercise slowly and under control. Avoid jerking in an attempt to complete more repetitions.


Do the lateral raise with thumbs up exercise two to three days per week and on nonconsecutive days. Complete the exercise at a volume of two sets of 10 repetitions, resting one to two minutes in between each set. If you’re going to incorporate the lateral raise with thumbs up into your regular weight training workout, schedule it at the end of your training session so that your supraspinatus isn’t fatigued when you’re performing larger, compound exercises.

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