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Front Raises

What are front raises?

How to do front raises

See all front raise variations

The front raise is an isolation exercise that works the anterior deltoids (front of your shoulders), although other muscles such as the lateral deltoids (side of shoulders), pectorals (chest), and trapeziuz (upper back) are worked to a lesser degree as they help to stabilise the movement. 

This shoulder exercise can help to build both the size and strength of the shoulders, and can lead to strong pushing exercises like the chest press. By working the stabilising muscles, front raises help to improve shoulder stability and mobility. 

It is better to use a lighter weight and focus on delivering perfect form, as using weights which are too heavy increases the risk of injury, and typically uses the core more to produce momentum rather than working the shoulders.

Check out our other arm and shoulder exercises: Bicep curls, Forearm and grip exercisesLateral raises, Rear delt exercises, Shoulder presses, Tricep extensions, Upright rows

Commonly asked questions on front raises

  • Front raises primarily target the anterior deltoids, but also work several supporting muscles including the lateral deltoid, biceps, trapezius, and pectoralis major. 

  • Front raises are not inherently bad for shoulders, and in fact can help to build shoulder strength which can protect against injuries. However, it is important to stick to a weight that is challenging but allows for correct form to be adhered to, as performing front raises with bad form can lead to injury.  

  • Front raises do work the side delts, however these are not the main muscle targeted in this exercise. Lateral raises (where the weight is raised to the side) do a greater job of working the side delts.

Front raise tips

  • Focus on delivering a smooth, controlled movement rather than relying on momentum (swinging the weights) in order to recruit the right muscles. 
  • Stand with your feet at shoulder-width apart and brace your core to create a strong, stable base to perform front raises. 
  • The weight only needs to be raised to shoulder height, so your hands, arm, and shoulder make a straight line (although you can go higher if your mobility allows). While your arms should be straight, keep a soft bend in your elbows to protect the joint.

Front Raise Variations

Barbell front raises

The barbell front raise is an effective isolation exercise that works the anterior delts.

 Barbell Front Raise
Dumbbell front raises

The dumbbell front raise providers a greater challenge to shoulder stability and helps with muscular imbalances.

 Dumbbell Front Raise
Cable front raises

Cable front raises provide constant tension to the muscles and can aid in hypertrophy. 

 Cable Front Raise
Plate front raise

Plate front raises use a neutral grip which can feel more comfortable on the shoulder joint. 

 Plate Front Raise


If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.