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February 10, 2022 12 min read

The dumbbell front raise is a fundamental strength-training exercise every gym enthusiast encounters. 

When done in proper form, the dumbbell front raise targets the major muscle groups in the upper body. This guarantees a well-defined physique and strength to carry on with challenging gym exercises.

Don't know where to start?

We have compiled everything you need to know about the dumbbell front raise.

Personal Trainer doing front dumbell raises for training his deltoids

What Are Dumbbell Front Raises?

Also known as front raise or shoulder front raise, the dumbbell front raise is a weight exercise that primarily targets the muscles of the shoulders and upper chest.

As its name implies, it is mainly performed using dumbbells, but this can be substituted for kettlebells if necessary. The dumbbell front raise is a simple exercise that involves raising dumbbells while standing.

The rising motion of the dumbbells and the rotation of your arms stimulate the deltoids and trapezius muscles of the shoulders and chest.

This stimulation leads to the contraction of the muscle fibers, which causes the breakdown of the muscle fibers. This, in turn, induces the strengthening and growth of the muscles in your arms, shoulders, and chest. The dumbbell front gives your upper body a massive workout, increasing your strength and stamina as you go.

Muscles Worked In Dumbbell Front Raises

The dumbbell front raise, like any other dumbbell raise variation, primarily targets the shoulder muscles. It, however, extends its stimulation to other parts of the body like the back, chest, and arms. 

The dumbbell front raise is an isolation exercise.

It is a shoulder exercise at heart, meaning the bulk of the contractions in the shoulder region. The shoulder is not one big meaty muscle that covers your shoulder joint. Your shoulder comprises different muscles that work in sync to aid shoulder and arm movement. The deltoid muscle is the primary muscle of the shoulder.

Deltoid

This is the muscle that receives more activation during any shoulder exercise. 

The deltoid is also divided into three distinct parts or heads. The three parts are the anterior or front deltoid, lateral or side deltoid, and posterior or rear deltoid.

All three parts have specific functions, but each function sums up to achieve shoulder-arm mobility. Altogether, the deltoid muscles are involved in arm movements, shoulder joint stability, making up for lost arm strength due to injury to other muscles, and arm flexion.

The anterior deltoid is the front part of the deltoid muscle

This part of the deltoid connects to your clavicle or collarbone and makes it possible to move your arm forward. You make use of your anterior delt in movements as simple as pointing and in exercises like the Arnold press and upright rows.

The dumbbell front raise primarily focuses on and strengthens this delt. This causes an improvement in shoulder flexion. The lateral deltoid lies next to the anterior deltoid. It helps to move your arms sideways and away from the body. It also assists you in moving your arm up and down.

Although to a lesser degree, the dumbbell front raises also activates the lateral deltoid.

The posterior deltoid, like the lateral deltoid, is engaged to a lesser extent. Both delts act as secondary muscles, and so receive less engagement.

The posterior delt helps with the extension, external rotation, and horizontal abduction of the arms. This rear delt works with the lateral delt to aid the stability of the shoulders. The dumbbell front raise strengthens them both, not only increasing the strengthening and mobility of the shoulders but also the stability of the shoulder joints. 

Upper and lower traps

The primary function of the trapezius muscles is to stabilize and move the shoulder blades. These muscles help maintain good posture and are partly responsible for the movements. Because they are closely affiliated to your spine and neck, trap muscles help to tilt your neck up, down, and sideways.

They allow you to stand straight, twist your trunk to both sides, and even shrug your shoulders.

The traps also stabilize your shoulder blades and help in movements that involve lifting the arm.

Pectoralis Major

Dumbbell front raises not only help to tone the apparent parts of the upper and lower traps that make up the neck and middle back but also strengthen them. The dumbbell front raise activates the pectoralis major. The pectoralis major is one-half of the pec muscles of the chest. This thick slab of muscle spans the length of the upper chest. It makes up the bulk of the chest muscle, and it is mainly engaged during chest exercises.

Its primary functions include the adduction, flexion, and rotation of the arm.

It is a significant part of arm movements. The dumbbell front raise strengthens and grows this muscle to provide a more buffer-up torso look and also increase the mobility of the arm.

Benefits of Dumbbell Front Raises

The dumbbell front raise, like any shoulder exercise, shows tremendous beneficial results in total upper body strength. It is an excellent addition to an already splendid arm day workout.

Some benefits of the dumbbell front raise are:

Bigger shoulders

While the dumbbell front raise limits your ability to lift heavier weights, it remains effective when it comes to shoulder muscle growth.

This isolation exercise targets explicitly the muscle groups in your shoulders, primarily the anterior or front deltoid.

It focuses on engaging and stimulating this muscle, causing its muscle fibers to break down. This breakdown of tearing of the muscle fibers leads to the onset of healing and hypertrophy of the muscle. The beginning of the healing process causes the muscle to become bigger and more toned. With dumbbell front raises, you can achieve bigger, stronger, and toned shoulders.

Target the anterior deltoid

No exercise engages the anterior like the dumbbell front raise. The dumbbell front raise focuses on training the anterior delts, growing and strengthening them.

Anterior deltoid strength is essential in other arm exercises.

Hence,  it makes sense that the stronger your anterior deltoid, the better you get at other weighted exercises that involve pressing or pushing actions.

Bigger chest

Front raises activate both the anterior deltoid and pectoralis major.

This indicates that you simultaneously work on your chest while working on your shoulders. The dumbbell front raise is a great exercise that helps achieve more upper body growth faster than other shoulder exercises.

More mobility

To get the most of your dumbbell front raise, you need to complete the full range of motion by rotating your shoulder joint. This continuous rotation causes your shoulder joints to be strengthened and easily achieve movements within that range.

More importantly, dumbbell front raises activate and strengthen the shoulder flexors.

This is great for gym-goers who suffer from limited mobility in the shoulder due to shoulder injuries. It also helps to safeguard athletes against shoulder injuries.

Great foundation exercise

The dumbbell front raise is a great way to prepare to cross the more treacherous waters of weighted exercises.

This dumbbell raise variation, amongst others, is a great way to train to take on heavier weights like barbells.

Starting small will help you learn the trick of the trades. If you plan to go deeper into weighted exercises, it is a great idea to start with the basic dumbbell front raise.

Improved performance

Full-body strength is a necessity in the gym. However, upper body strength is the basis of any other exercise.

Without upper body strength, you would be unable to perform other calisthenics adequately, plyometric, and even weighted exercises.

The dumbbell front raises targets and strengthens the major muscle groups of the upper body. It engages the shoulders, upper back, upper chest, arms, and secondary chest muscles that assist during the movements.

Altogether, these muscles are the most important muscles to be honed during upper body exercises. Strengthening these muscles is guaranteed to accelerate your fitness goals by increasing your ability to perform other more challenging exercises.

Posture

The dumbbell front raise works the traps and other supporting muscles connected to the back. This helps strengthen and tighten the muscles, ensuring that your posture is excellent.

Given that the average adult spends time doing desk jobs hunched over a table and potentially harming their back and muscles, the effects of the dumbbell front raise on the back are highly welcome.

It also helps that  exercises help to improve non-specific chronic low back pain

Great physique

Dumbbell front raises help build the muscles of the shoulders, arms, upper back, and upper chest areas. Bigger guns, Boulder-like shoulders, and a massive chest are the accepted stereotype of what an ideal fit in physique should look like.

The dumbbell front raise helps you achieve these features with consistency and diligence.

How To Do Dumbell Front Raises

The dumbbell front raise is an essential addition to any arms day workout, but the big question is, are you doing it correctly?

Although it might look too simple to involve any complex technicalities, the dumbbell front raise goes past simply raising and lowering a pair of dumbbells clutched in your fingers.

If you wish to get the results that you seek, there are specific rules of the game that you need to play.

To do the dumbbell front raise, you need to pay attention to your form and movement.Proper form is not only essential for targeting the right muscles but also ensuring that you do not suffer from injuries.

Before you grab the nearest dumbbells and start swinging them, we have provided a breakdown of the best way to perform front raises.

How to do dumbbell front raises: 

  1. Hold one dumbbell in each hand with a private grip.
  2. Stand with your hands by your sides and your feet hip-width apart.
  3. Keep your toes slightly turned out.
  4. Push your chest out and pull your shoulders backward. Pinch your shoulder blades together to help you hold form.
  5. Keep your back straight and neck neutral.
  6. Tuck your chin as if you are holding an egg under your chin.
  7. Unlock your elbows and flex it, so it bends slightly. 
  8. Evenly distribute your weight among your feet.
  9. Plant your feet firmly on the floor for stability.
  10. Pre-tension your shoulders and hips.
  11. Engage your core.
  12. Slowly lift the dumbbells away from your body with your palms facing your legs.
  13. At the peak of the movement, your elbow should align with your shoulders or fall slightly below shoulder level.
  14. Your palms should be parallel to the floor at the peak of your movement.
  15. Initiate the lowering phase by lowering the dumbbells naturally using your shoulders.
  16. This is one repetition. Complete as many reps as you can fit in a set.

The dumbbell front raise is commonly performed as a bilateral exercise, meaning you use both arms at once. However, if you prefer to work on each arm one after the other to build strength, all you need to do is correctly perform an equal number of reps on each arm.

The unilateral or one-armed dumbbell front raise is an excellent exercise for correcting muscle imbalance on each side.

To get the best results, take PUMPED-AF  for increased muscle pump, strength, endurance, and fast-absorbing essential nutrients.

Tips To Help You Perfect The Dumbbell Front Raise

The dumbbell front raise is a splendid addition to any shoulder routine. When it is done correctly, it helps you attain a Boulder-like shoulder. Holding correct dumbbell front raise form throughout your set can prove to be a difficult feat.

To ease this stress, we have combined tips to help you perfect the dumbbell front raise in no time.

Pull in your navel

One big mistake gym enthusiasts make leaving their core unengaged throughout their set. It is almost a reflexive mistake, or it simply skips your mind altogether.

This begs the question: how can you engage your core? A simple trick to do this is to retract your navel towards your spine. This simple cue will help you keep your abdominal and core muscles engaged throughout your routine. Contrary to popular opinion, this does not hinder your breathing.

Stick to the range of motion

Another costly mistake you can make when doing dumbbell front raises is raising higher than necessary. This in no way provides extra contractions in your frontal or anterior delt. Instead, it puts unnecessary strain on your shoulders, leading to soreness or injuries.

The shoulder joint is a delicate muscle, and excessive strain or load will cause damage.

To get the best results and strengthen your joints, lift the dumbbells with the usual range to shoulder height or slightly above.

Use light weights

Form is more important than weight when lifting. You can raise as heavily as you want, but the moment your form suffers a nuance, the contraction to the correct muscle groups depletes. Additionally, the dumbbell front raise does not allow the use of too-heavy dumbbells.This can increase the risks of injuries to your shoulder joints.

To do the dumbbell front raise properly, start with a dumbbell weight that you can lift adequately throughout your routine.

Lightweights provide all the necessary contractions. You can scale up when you get too comfortable with that weight. However, keep in mind that the dumbbell front raise does not allow the use of extremely heavy dumbbells. Don’t know what dumbbell weight to use? Here is  how to choose your dumbbell weight

Don’t use momentum

Momentum is the killer of dumbbell front raise contractions.

It takes away the engagement of the proper muscle groups. Raising the dumbbells quickly reduces the tension on your arms, chest, and back. Since this tension leads to muscle contractions, muscle fiber breakdown, and, essentially, hypertrophy, it is not suitable to swing the dumbbells during your routines. Instead, make use of slow and controlled movements to milk the tension in your muscles.

Remain still

When performing the dumbbell front raise, only your arms should move. The rest of your body should remain still, meaning swaying, rocking, or any form of cheat reps is not suitable.

Hold proper form

Proper form is vital to get the most out of your dumbbell front raise. This would help you activate the correct muscle groups and reduce your chances of injuries. Keep your spine erect, shoulders back, and chest proud. Leaning is not acceptable as this would load stress on your back muscles.

Listen to your body

While you would’ve undoubtedly felt sore after your workout session, you should not feel sharp pains while performing the dumbbell front raise.

If you do, this is a sign that the dumbbell is too heavy or your form is off. Switch your dumbbell to something lighter and discontinue the exercise if pain persists. It is equally important to give your body time to recover. Ensure that you rest between exercises and get enough sleep after your workout routine. This would give your body time to heal.

Eat right

What you take into your body is as essential as your exercises. Eat the right amount of carbs, essential vitamins, minerals, and most especially, proteins. Proteins are necessary to synthesize your muscle fibers for stronger and bigger muscles.

Variations Of Dumbbell Front Raise 

There are several variations of the dumbbell front raise. From the seated dumbbell front raise to the alternating dumbbell front raises withhold, each variation is designed to spice up the basic dumbbell front raise. Do you want to breathe new life into your routine?

Check out these dumbbell front raise variations:

1. Seated Dumbbell Front Raise


The seated dumbbell front raise is a beginner-friendly variation. It is a dumbbell front raise done while sitting and is a superb option for gym-goers who suffer from leg or hip injuries. It is low intensity but targets the same muscle groups as the conventional dumbbell front raise.

To do the seated dumbbell front raise:

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Use a pronated or neutral grip and let the dumbbells hang at your sides.
  • Sit tall in a chair. If a chair is not available, sit on the edge of a bench.
  • Keep your back straight against the back support if one is available.
  • Pull back your shoulders and push your chest out.
  • Keep your knees at a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Twist your hand, so your palm now faces behind you.
  • Flex your elbow slightly. Exhale.
  • Raise your arms straight in front of you to shoulder height or slightly above.
  • Pause and lower your arms to starting position.
  • This is one rep. 

2. Front Incline Dumbbell Raise


    The front incline dumbbell raise is a derivative of the seated dumbbell raise. This upper body exercise is done by sitting at an incline angle and lifting the dumbbells in that position.

    The front incline dumbbell raise works the shoulders from a different angle by using rotation and the change in angle.

    Gym-goers can perform it across any fitness level, and it is a welcome change from the conventional dumbbell front raise.

    To do the front incline dumbbell raise:

    • Adjust your bench to about a 30, 45, or 60-degree incline.
    • Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Use a pronated grip for both.
    • Sit comfortably in the chair with your back against the seat.
    • Relax your arms at your sides.
    • Exhale and slowly raise your arms with the dumbbell held in a pronated grip.
    • Your arms should be at shoulder level or slightly higher.
    • Pause at the peak of the movement.
    • Inhale and slowly lower your arms to your sides.
    • Complete the number of desired reps.

    The front incline dumbbell raise is excellent for bulking on your shoulders, getting rid of the possible use of momentum, and is a great finisher exercise for your shoulder day workout.

    For increased impact on your shoulders, begin the front raise from a starting position with your hands hanging at your sides. Rotate your wrist as you commence the lift so that your palm faces downward at shoulder level. As you return your hand to the starting position, twist your wrist, so your palm once again faces your sides.

    3. Barbell Front Raise


      The barbell front raise is an alternative exercise to the dumbbell front raise. Instead of dumbbells, barbell front raises are done using barbells.

      This shortens your range of motion and effectively distributes the weights between your arms.

      The barbell front raise helps build a buffer-up look by letting you lift more heavily than you can with a pair of dumbbells.

      To do the barbell front raise:

      • Grip the barbell with a shoulder-width pronated grip.
      • Stand erect with your chest proud and spine straight.
      • Keep your feet hip-width apart with your foot planted firmly.
      • Bend your elbows slightly and pre-tension your shoulders.
      • Slowly raise the barbell to shoulder level or slightly higher.
      • Pause for a second.
      • Bring your arms back to the starting position.

      There are other modifications of the dumbbell front raise that are guaranteed to provide you with equally great muscle results. As long as you stick to doing them the right way, you are well on your way to getting jacked.

      Let’s Go Lifting

      Dumbbell front raises are a great upper body strength exercise regardless of your current fitness level. This exercise is guaranteed to provide you with strength, increased mobility, and better stamina, all of which are features that are guaranteed to help you scale up at the gym.

      Combine the dumbbell front raise with any of the  19 best dumbbell exercises for an insane upper body strength workout routine that is guaranteed to get you shredded in no time.