Hunter Labrada takes time out of his busy schedule to share bodybuilding wisdom. This time, he shared what he considers to be the ‘best exercise’ for medial deltoids. American professional bodybuilder Labrada is one of the foremost contenders in the Men’s Open division of the IFBB Pro league. He is a three-time Mr. Olympia participant and has achieved a podium finish in one of those three instances. Hunter is the son of legendary bodybuilder Lee Labrada. So the passion for bodybuilding runs in his blood.
The 30-year-old made his pro debut at the 2020 Tampa Pro and earned direct qualification to Olympia with a dominant win. He surged into the top ten with an eighth-place finish at the 2020 Olympia and proved that he would elevate himself to the level of top competitors. Following a win at the 2021 Chicago Pro, Labrada qualified for the 2021 Olympia and finished fourth at the show. Although he made some crucial changes to his training and addressed issues like sleep apnea the following year, Labrada could not improve his standing at the 2022 Olympia and slipped to seventh place.
The performance disappointed Hunter more than anyone else. He has decided to win the 2023 Texas Pro and Tampa Pro rather than obsess over the next Olympia. Amid all the ups and downs, Labrada has kept sharing valuable bodybuilding knowledge through the Tuesday Tip series on his YouTube channel. In recent months, he has spoken at length about the best ways to improve weak legs as well as vacuum. On March 28, Hunter Labrada shared what he considers to be the best exercise for building lateral deltoid muscles. So without further delay, let’s see which exercise Hunter considers to be top-notch and why.
Hunter Labrada shares his all-time favorite shoulder exercise
Dumbbell and cable lateral raises are two of the most common variations of this movement although an increasing number of machines are available to stimulate the delts. Hunter Labrada stated that the cable lateral raise is his preferred exercise for training this muscle over the dumbbell variation. He explained:
“The simplest answer is gravity, right? Why gravity? So whenever you’re doing the lateral (raises), the shoulder is the pivot point, right? Hands holding (sideways) and the gravity (pulling downwards). If we’re holding the dumbbell, how much resistance is on your medial delt?”
The medial deltoid muscles are responsible for abduction (pulling the arm away from the body. Labrada then clarified why dumbbell is not the correct choice for providing the right type of resistance:
“So if you’re (pulling the arms sideways) and all of the resistance is pulling straight down, it requires absolutely zero effort for your body to maintain your shoulder… with the dumbbell… when the load is going down.”
Labrada then explained that when you are in a neutral position while doing the cable lateral raises, the load on the machine pulls the arm into adduction (keeping it tucked against the side) as opposed to pulling straight down. Therefore the cable machine provides resistance in the right direction and keeps the muscle active even when your arm is in the bottom position.
The 2020 Tampa Pro winner explained that the angle between the cable and arm visibly decreases as you lift the arm higher. At the top of the movement, the resistance perceivably drops off.
“Another reason why I prefer using cables is you’re able to really get a much better resistance profile out of them, you know. It is hardest when the muscle is longest (arm in the neutral position while standing) and easier has a perceivable drop off when the muscle is shortest (arm raised high laterally),” Labrada added.
Labrada demonstrates the correct way to do the cable lateral raise
Labrada then demonstrated the exercise. He first performed the exercise with both hands using cuff attachment. He shared some important tips on the correct technique to do the exercise. These include:
- Don’t stand too far away or too close to the plane of the machine. This is important to maintain shoulder stability.
- Keep your shoulders down and pull back before initiating the movement.
- Focus on full contraction of the lateral deltoid muscles as you raise your arms sideways. Raising the arms beyond shoulder level will have little to no impact on deltoid contraction.
You can do this exercise unilaterally to avoid engaging in two cable stations, especially in busier gyms.
Hunter Labrada’s physique and career trajectory is the living testimony to the efficacy of the training methods he recommends. The cable lateral raise is a popular exercise for strengthening the upper body that is favored by both experienced gym-goers and beginners. To maximize your gains, get up from the couch, head to the gym, and try adding this exercise to your workout routine.
You can watch the full video here, courtesy of Hunter Labrada’s personal YouTube channel:
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