How To Do Front Raises
What are front raises?
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.
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
How to do a front raise
Level: Beginners to Advanced
Equipment: Set of dumbbells
- Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing your body.
- Brace your core, then slowly raise one or both dumbbells, stopping when your arms are shoulder height.
- Pause at the top before slowly lowering back to starting position.
- Repeat on the other side if doing one arm at a time.
How to do a front plate raise
Level: Beginner to Advanced
Equipment: Weighted plate
- Stand with your feet around shoulder-width apart, arms extended down, holding a weighted plate between both hands.
- Brace your core and raise the plate, stopping when your arms are parallel with the floor. Your torso should remain still throughout the exercise.
- Pause before slowly lowering the plate back to the starting position.
How to do a barbell front raise
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
- Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell with overhand grip with your hands around shoulder-width apart.
- Brace your core and, keeping your torso still, slowly raise the barbell until it's in line with your shoulders.
- Hold the barbell for a second before slowly lowering back to the start.
How to do a cable front raise
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Equipment: Cable pulley machine, single handle
- Set the pulley to the lowest setting and attach the single hand cable attachment. Select the weight.
- Grip the handle with your left hand and turn so you're standing with your back to the pulley machine.
- Bracing your core, slowly raise the handle until your hands, elbow, and shoulder are in a straight line.
- Pause before slowly returning to the start.
- Repeat for reps then switch hands.
- You can also use a bar attachment and perform this with both hands.
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.