The Dumbbell Front Raise Exercise | Form & Technique


By Myprotein Writer

Jamie Wykes Hobday

When training the shoulders, it is important to target all three heads of the deltoid (shoulder); the anterior, the lateral and the posterior. Within the following passage, we are going to look at the anterior head of the shoulder with a detailed analysis of why and how it should be effectively implemented into a training program.

Despite the fact that your anterior deltoid is applied in almost any chest press movement, it is equally important to isolate them and develop them as you would the other two remaining heads of the shoulder. Various studies have actually reported that athletes are at a high risk of rotator cuff injuries due to imbalances in overall shoulder development.

The most common exercise to target and isolate the anterior deltoid is the front raise. This exercise is a resistance isolation exercise which will isolate deltoid flexion. Essentially, it targets the anterior deltoid but the movement will be assisted from the pectorals, serrates anterior and the biceps. However, constant tension should always be on the shoulder and not shifted to another muscle.

The Front Raise Benefits


? Anterior Deltoid Isolation

The front raise is the only exercise that can be applied when looking to develop the front head of the shoulder or the ‘anterior deltoid’. Whilst regular shoulder press, military press and Arnold press will all activate the anterior deltoid at one stage, the front raise is the only exercise to take the muscle on its own and activate it in isolation.

? Bi-lateral and Uni Lateral Application

The dumbbell front raise is one of the few exercises that can be used in both a uni-lateral and bi-lateral sense. Bi-lateral exercises are commonly suggested to  to be extremely effective methods of developing overall strength, whereas uni-lateral exercises are just as effective but for single muscles. Using two hands simultaneously, we can perform the exercise using a weight plate, a cable rope, barbell, EZ bar, dumbbells as well as many more. Evidently, this exercise also bares a vast array of variations to apply to your training program.

? Pre-Exhaust Method

A pre-exhaust exercise is where we pre fatigue a body part using an isolation exercise first before starting with our first compound movement of the session. The dumbbell front raise can be an extremely effective isolation exercise in pre exhausting the deltoids before starting a shoulder session with any presses (Arnold Press, Machine Press etc)

? Rotator Cuff Strengthening

 The rotator cuff is comprised of the supraspinatus, trees minor, subscapularis and infraspinatus. Whilst these tendons are typically strong, injury to the rotator cuff muscle are extremely common and very effective at keeping you in the physio room for a prolonged period of time. Whilst this section does really need an article on itself, any scapula elevation movement such as the lateral raise or front raise can be extremely effective in treating the injured rotator cuff. For further information sake, other useful exercises include the face-pull, internal rotations and external rotations.

How to Perform The Dumbbell Front Raise


Whilst standing straight upright, grab two dumbbells and hold them on the front of the thighs with your palms facing towards your body.


Without swinging, lift the dumbbells forwards and to the front whilst keeping your hands facing downwards. As this exertion part of the movement is being performed, exhale your breath in a controlled manner.

Unless looking to target the triceps, there is no need to keep the elbows straight and locked out, a slight bend of the elbow is permitted.

Once the weight is being lifted to circa eye level, squeeze the deltoid and pause briefly.


When the muscle has been effectively isolated and squeezed at the point of contraction, slowly release the dumbbell back to the starting position.

As one of the dumbbells is lowered to the starting position, continue to repeat the previous exercise performed with the other arm. for the designated amount of reps.

Training Implications


Dynamic Upper Body Stretches and rotator cuff mobility movements

Pre-Exhaust Set

Cable Front Raises: 3 Dropset Sets aiming for 15 Reps on Each ‘drop’.

The Workout

Exercise Sets & Reps
Standing Military Push Press 3×8-12
Cable Upright Row 3×15
Uni Lateral Dumbbell Lateral Raises 3×15
Seated weight plate front raises 3×10
Cable Rope Front Raises 3×15


Static Upper Body Stretches Focusing on the shoulder joint/rotator cuff.

Apply some injury rehabilitation movements such as single arm shoulder press on swiss-ball and resistance band/cable pull aparts.

Common Mistakes

? Not warming up correctly

Not warming up via dynamic stretching and pre-exhaust methods could be detrimental to exercise; therefore it is essential that it is completed before every training session. Warming up can improve the range of motion at a joint, increase body temperature, increase muscle elasticity as well as many more.

? Swinging and Not Staying Upright

Don’t lose proper form just for the desire to lift heavier weight. Swinging will only reduce the range of efficient motion and will also put your lower back at risk of injury or strain. To prevent this, either maintain a firm base (feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent) or perform the exercises seated on a bench, with the pad supporting your back.

? Locking out the elbow

It is important to add a slight bend to the elbow joint when performing this exercise as not only will it eliminate any triceps involvement, but locking out will also add extra stress to the elbow joint and this could lead to potential injury.

How To Recap |

Dumbbell Front Raise

1) Hold two dumbbells and place them on the front of the thighs with palms facing towards the body.

2) Lift the dumbbells forwards and to the front whilst keeping your hands facing downwards. Exhale breath on the exertion of the movement.

3) Slight bend of the elbow is permitted.

4) Once the weight is lifted to the top of the movement, squeeze the deltoid.

5) When the muscle has been effectively isolated, slowly release the dumbbell back to the starting position.

6) As one dumbbell is lowered to starting position, repeat the previous exercise with the other arm.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.



Writer and expert

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