You can perform plenty of shoulder exercises for muscle and strength gain. One of the most popular options is the dumbbell front raise.
Read on to learn about the dumbbell front raise: what makes it special, how to perform it, how to include it in a training plan, and what exercises you can pair it with.
What Is a Dumbbell Front Raise?
The dumbbell front raise is an isolation exercise that targets the shoulders (deltoids). More specifically, the movement emphasizes the front portion of the muscle (anterior head). The scientific name is the anterior deltoid, and it layman’s terms that means the front shoulder muscle.
Some degree of chest activation is also inevitable, but you should feel most of the tension in the front portion of your shoulders.
The primary way to perform front raises is by lifting a pair of dumbbells in front of your body, but you can also use a kettlebell, a weight plate, a straight bar, or a medicine ball. You can even perform the movement on a cable machine.
Dumbbell Front Raise Step-By-Step Instructions
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand tall.
- Straighten your arms and position the weights in front of your body with your palms facing your thighs.
- Assume a comfortable stance, take a deep breath, and retract your shoulder blades.
- Raise your arms in front of your body while maintaining a slight bend in your elbows. You can also raise one dumbbell at a time, alternating between left and right.
- Lift until your shoulders, elbows, and wrists align. Your palms should be facing the floor in the up position.
- Pause briefly for 1 second and slowly lower the weights to the starting position as you exhale.
- Take another breath and repeat.
How Often Should You Do Dumbbell Front Raises?
Front raises primarily target the anterior deltoids. Most ‘push’ exercises (push-ups, bench presses, overhead presses, etc.) target the same muscle, which means you’re often working this muscle with other exercises as well.
In any case, if you decide to add the dumbbell front raise to your training, perform 2 to 3 sets at a time, one to three times per week. This is plenty sufficient to harden and sculpt your front delts.
Exercises to Perform With Dumbbell Front Raises
As mentioned, dumbbell front raises primarily target the anterior deltoid head, which means you should pair the activity with other exercises for balanced shoulder development. (1)
Good movements to combine front raises with include:
- Lateral (side) raises – an isolation exercise where you raise the weights to your sides. The movement targets and develops the lateral deltoids.
- Bent-over reverse fly – another isolation exercise where you lean forward (similar to a bent-over row) and raise a pair of dumbbells to your sides (the motion resembles a chest fly, but in the opposite direction, hence the name). Bent over dumbbell flyes primarily target the rear deltoids.
- Dumbbell press – a compound exercise that primarily trains the front and lateral deltoid heads, along with the upper chest and triceps. One notable distinction is that dumbbell presses allow you to use much more weight, which provides a stronger overload and can lead to more growth in the long run. Learn how to dumbbell presses with no bench.
You can combine these and other exercises into a ‘push’ day, where you also do chest and tricep-specific movements: skull crushers, close-grip bench press, push-ups, overhead tricep extensions, etc.
Safety And Warming Up
The shoulders are mobile joints, allowing you to move your arms in various directions.
Unfortunately, excellent mobility also means the shoulders are more unstable and prone to injuries, which is why training with proper form and warming up well are crucial. (2)
Always use weights you can control, and pick lighter dumbbells for isolation exercises like front and lateral raises. In addition, take your time to warm up the shoulders through static and dynamic stretching: arm swings, arm circles, shoulder rolls, etc.
Additional Dumbbell Workouts
Here are some additional dumbbell workouts to include in your dumbbell routine:
- Chest and Tricep Dumbbell Workout
- Dumbbell Rows
- Tricep Workout With Dumbbells
- Biceps Dumbbell Workout at Home
- Dumbbell Flyes
- One Arm Dumbbell Rows
- Deltoid muscles: What are they, anatomy, Location & Function. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21875-deltoid-muscles#:~:text=Anterior%20deltoids%3A%20The%20front%20delts,well%20as%20up%20and%20down.
- Elizabeth Quinn, M. S. (2020, March 13). Prevent injuries. Verywell Fit.