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Front raises are some of the best exercises for targeting the anterior deltoids of the shoulders and upper chest muscles. Strengthening these muscles can improve shoulder stability and upper body strength.
Front raises are the go-to strength training exercises for those looking to build strength and definition in their shoulders.
The exercise can also help improve posture and reduce the risk of shoulder injuries.
Muscles targeted by front raises
Front raises target the anterior deltoid muscles in the front of the shoulders.
But you can engage and work other muscles depending on the variation. Such muscles include
- Upper chest or clavicular head of the pectoralis major
When performed with a slight incline or when using a barbell, front raises can target and work the upper chest muscles.
Using heavier weights for front raises can help engage the biceps muscles in the front of the upper arms.
The exercise involves using the forearms to grasp and stabilize the weight, helping to strengthen them.
The core muscles are activated to help maintain proper posture and stability throughout the movement.
Benefits of front raises
Incorporating front raises into your upper body workout regimen can give several benefits.
- Front raises can help strengthen the anterior deltoids
The most notable benefit of the front raises exercise is their capability to target and work the anterior deltoid muscles in the front of the shoulders. Strengthening these muscles can help improve shoulder stability, making it possible for you to do many daily activities that involve lifting, pushing, or pulling objects.
- Can help improve posture
Weak anterior deltoids can lead to rounded shoulders, which can cause poor posture and lead to shoulder and neck pain. By strengthening these muscles, front raises can help to improve posture and reduce the risk of injury.
Poor posture, leading to shoulder and neck pain and rounded shoulders, can result from weak anterior deltoids. Front raises can help strengthen these muscles, helping to improve posture and reduce the risk of injury.
- Front raises can help target and build the upper chest muscles
The exercise can work the clavicular head of the pectoralis major. Stronger upper chest muscles can help improve upper body strength and help create a more defined chest.
- Versatile exercise
You can perform front raises with dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, or even your body weight.
The type of weights can help target muscles from different angles, helping to speed up results.
You can also do the exercises from various positions, such as standing, seated, or lying at different angles.
Thus front raises are versatile, with few or no restrictions on where and when to do them.
- Easy to master
Front raises are simple exercises and are not challenging to master. Both newbies and seasoned exercisers can learn the movement quickly and easily, making them a great addition to any workout regimen.
Steps to follow for the Front Raises
- Start the front raises by grasping a dumbbell of appropriate weight in each hand.
- Stand upright with feet at shoulder-width and palms facing your thighs.
- Engage your core muscles and maintain a neutral spine.
- Lift the dumbbells in front of your body, ensuring you keep your arms straight. Do not swing or jerk.
- Keep lifting the dumbbells until they are at shoulder height or slightly below. Ensure you use a controlled and deliberate movement.
- Pause briefly at the top of the movement to engage the target muscles.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells to your starting position. Do this under control and without letting gravity take over.
- Repeat 8-12 reps for a set and 3-4 sets per session.
- Avoid using excessive weight. Start with lighter dumbbells and gradually increase the weight as you gain more experience.
- Focus on the mind-muscle connection. Concentrate on feeling the tension in your anterior deltoids.
- Relax your shoulders and avoid shrugging or tensing them during the exercise.
- Maintain a steady breathing pattern throughout, exhaling as you lift the dumbbells and inhaling as you lower them.
Common mistakes when doing front raises
Like all exercises, you will get the most out of front raises when you approach the movement with the correct form.
Below are some common mistakes to look out for when doing front raises.
- Using momentum
One of the most common mistakes is to use momentum to lift the weight instead of relying on the strength of the shoulder muscles.
Use weights that challenge you but allow you to maintain proper form and ensure the movement is slow and controlled.
- Lifting the weight too high
Another common mistake is lifting the weight too high. That can put excessive strain on the shoulder joint.
Instead, aim to lift the weight to shoulder height or slightly below and avoid overextending the arms.
- Rounded shoulders
Maintain good posture, and avoid rounding the shoulders or arching the back.
It is better to keep your chest lifted and shoulder blades squeezed together.
- Grasping the weight too tightly
Holding the weight too tightly can cause tension in the forearms and wrists. That can affect your form and limit the range of motion.
Instead, hold the weight with a firm but relaxed grip.
- Neglecting the eccentric or lowering phase
Many people focus solely on the lifting phase of the exercise and neglect the eccentric or lowering part, forgetting both stages are vital for muscle growth and strength development.
Ensure you lower the weight slowly and under control.
Best equipment for front raises
Dumbbells are the most common and popular choice for front raises, and there are many reasons for that.
Dumbbells are highly versatile and widely available in most gyms and fitness settings. They are not expensive to acquire, so those with home and garage gyms can afford to stock them. They are available in several weight options, allowing you to select and work with a weight that suits your strength and fitness level.
- Independent movement
Using dumbbells allows each arm to work independently. That can help address any strength and muscle imbalances, allowing you to build a more symmetrical physique.
It is also possible to engage more stabilizer muscles as you work to control the movement of each dumbbell individually.
- Range of motion
Dumbbells allow for a more natural and unrestricted range of motion during front raises. You can freely move your arms in a way that makes you comfortable and follow your body’s biomechanics.
- Grip strength and stability
Holding dumbbells requires grip strength and stability. That can add challenging elements and engage the hand, wrist, and forearm muscles.
- Progressive overload
Dumbbells provide an easy way to overload your muscles progressively. You can gradually increase the weight of the dumbbells to continue as you get stronger, helping to challenge your muscles and promoting further strength and muscle growth.
While dumbbells are a popular choice for front raises, you can also perform the exercises with other equipment.
Below are other equipment options for those with no access to dumbbells.
Each type of equipment their benefits and variations. Thus so you can choose the option that best suits your preferences
You can use a barbell to perform the exercise by holding the bar with an overhand grip and lifting it in front of the body.
- Cable machines
Cable machines allow for constant tension throughout the movement. Attaching a straight bar or rope handle to the cable can make it a good option for the front raises.
- Resistance bands
Resistance bands provide a different type of resistance. You can use them for the front raise exercise by anchoring the band under your feet or lifting a stationary object in front of your body.
Kettlebells are another option. Hold the kettlebell by the handle and go through the motions like exercising with a dumbbell.
Variations to Front raises
Front raises are competent exercises and one of the best for targeting the shoulder muscles.
But incorporating front raise variations into your workout regimen can give you several benefits. These include
- Muscle development
Front raise variations can help target the front shoulder muscles from different angles and with varied resistance patterns. Performing different variations can stimulate the muscles in unique ways, leading to more comprehensive muscle development and improved overall shoulder strength.
- Muscle balance and symmetry
Front raise variations can help address any muscle imbalances between the sides of your body.
Performing single-arm variations or alternating raises can ensure you work each shoulder independently and equally, promoting balanced muscle development.
- Functional strength
Different front raise variations can target the shoulder muscles by mimicking real-life movements.
That can help improve your functional strength, making daily activities like lifting objects or pushing movements more manageable and helping to reduce the risk of injury.
- Overcoming plateaus
When your body adapts to a specific exercise, incorporating variations can provide a fresh stimulus to keep your muscles growing and adapting.
Front raise variations can help challenge your muscles in different ways, helping to break through plateaus and prevent stagnation in your progress.
- Preventing boredom
Performing the same exercise over and over can lead to workout monotony. Incorporating variations to the front raises into your regimen can help spice your workouts, keeping you engaged, motivated, and excited about your training.
Below are some front raise variations to incorporate into your training routine to add variety and help target your muscles more effectively.
Alternating Front Raises
It involves performing the front raises with one arm at a time while keeping the other at your side instead of lifting both dumbbells simultaneously,
The variation challenges your stability and engages your core muscles.
Seated Front Raises
Seated front raises isolate the shoulder muscles and eliminate any assistance from the lower body, making them more challenging.
To perform the exercise, sit on a weight bench or chair with your feet flat on the floor.
Hold the dumbbells at your thighs and perform the front raises by lifting the dumbbells in front of your body.
Incline Front Raises
The incline front raise changes the angle of the exercise and places more emphasis on the front delts.
You will lie face down on an incline bench with the dumbbells hanging towards the floor.
You then lift the weights under control and bring them to shoulder height.
Cable Front Raises
Cable front raises provide constant tension throughout the movement.
Attach a handle or rope to a cable machine and set it to a low position.
Stand with your back toward the machine, grab the handle, and perform the front raises by lifting the cable in front of your body.
Plate Front Raises
Plate front raises engage your grip strength and challenge your stability differently from dumbbells.
Hold a weight plate with both hands, gripping it on the sides.
Raise the plate in front of your body to shoulder height for the movement.
By incorporating these variations, you can target your shoulder muscles from different angles, challenge your muscles in new ways, and prevent workout boredom. Remember to adjust the weight and repetitions according to your fitness level and goals.
Alternatives to front raises
While front raises are not challenging to master, some exercisers may still struggle.
Below are some alternatives to consider if you find the front raises challenging
The shoulder press is a compound exercise that targets the entire shoulder complex, including the anterior deltoids.
You can perform the exercise with dumbbells, barbells, or a shoulder press machine.
Lateral raises target the middle or lateral deltoids. You can perform the exercises with dumbbells, cables, or resistance bands.
Upright rows target the anterior and lateral deltoids of the shoulders and the trapezius and rhomboids upper back muscles.
You will need dumbbells, a straight barbell, an EZ curl bar, or a cable machine for the exercise.
The Arnold press is a variation of the shoulder press that involves rotating the palms during the movement to help target the anterior and lateral deltoids.
Push-ups are bodyweight exercises for building the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
You can emphasize the anterior deltoids by varying the hand position.
Incorporating several exercises that target the shoulder muscles into your fitness regimen can ensure balanced muscle development and prevent injury.
Final words from LiveLIfe
Front raises are some of the best exercises for building shoulder and upper body strength.
Incorporating the exercises into your training schedules can help give you many benefits, including improving your posture, enhancing shoulder mobility and stability, and reducing the risk of injury.
You can do front raises with different equipment and do the exercises from a lying, seated, or standing position. That can help you to target your muscles from diverse angles for better results. Thus front raises are versatile and suitable for exercisers at different fitness levels.
The numerous options allow you to start with a variation and equipment that align with your fitness level and goals.
Incorporating front raises into your training regimen could be one of the best decisions you will make to help build the body of your dreams.
- Louw S, Makwela S, et al. Effectiveness of exercise in office workers with neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. South African J Physiother. 2017;73(1):392. doi:10.4102/sajp.v73i1.392