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Dumbbell Front Raise – Benefits, Muscles Worked and Full Technique Tips

The Dumbbell Front Raise is a versatile and effective strength and muscle building exercise for all athletes.

Benefits of the Dumbbell Front Raise

The Dumbbell Front Raise strengthens primarily the shoulder (deltoids) but also works the upper chest muscles (pectorals). It is an isolation exercise for shoulder flexion.

This exercise will help you build strength and definition in the front and sides of your shoulder.

Muscles Worked by the Dumbbell Front Raise

Front Dumbbell Raises primarily target the front of the shoulders, known as the anterior deltoid. This muscle is used in shoulder flexion.

Front dumbbell raises also work the lateral (side) deltoid and the serratus anterior, along with the upper and lower trapezius, clavicular part of the pectoralis major, and biceps.

How to do the Dumbbell Front Raise

  • Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep the back straight and feet planted flat on the floor. Your arms holding weights should hang down.
  • Hold the dumbbells across the thighs horizontally, palms facing back toward the thighs. Ensure that you have a firm grip.
  • Brace the abdominal muscles.
  • Lift the weights upward, inhaling, with arms out in front and palms facing down. Keep a slight bend in the elbows to reduce the stress on the joints.
  • Pause when the arms are approximately horizontal to the floor and feel the contraction in the shoulders.
  • Return the dumbbells to the starting position at the thighs with a slow and controlled motion while exhaling.
  • Repeat the exercise for the number of sets and repetitions in your program.

Dumbbell Front Raise Training Tips

This is an exercise where it is easy to pick a weight that is too heavy. Rather err on the lighter side, and strive for a strict form where you focus on getting good contact with your delts.

  • Exhale as you raise your arms and inhale as you lower them.
  • To target your muscles more deeply, reach for the wall in front of you as you lift your arms.
  • Keep your knees and elbows slightly bent.
  • Keep your wrists neutral throughout the exercise, and avoid wrist flexion or extension.
  • Use resistance as you lower your arms.
  • You can use a standing split-stance position, alternating the front leg between sets.
  • Experiment with the position of your hands by turning your palms in toward the centre.

Dumbbell Front Raise Variations

 You can do these variations in place of or in addition to standard dumbbell raises.

Seated Dumbbell Raise

As the name suggests, perform seated instead of standing.  

Lateral Dumbbell Raise

Don’t allow your arms to move forward during this variation, which targets the sides of your shoulders. You can use a resistance band in place of dumbbells.

Front Incline Dumbbell Raise

Change the angle of the incline bench to slightly vary the targeted muscles. You can use a barbell in place of dumbbells.

Alternating Dumbbell Front Raise

This variation switches up the rhythm of the loading.

Dumbbell Front Raises Common Mistakes

Make sure you don’t make any of these common mistakes.


When performing this lift, do not rock or sway—always keep a strong and stationary torso.

If you sway or find that you are rocking back on your heels in order to complete the lift, for example, then the weights are probably too heavy. Try performing this exercise alternating lifting with each arm if you find yourself rocking. Once you are stable doing it that way, you might try again doing both arms together.

Using Momentum

Don’t use momentum to lift the weights as this reduces the effectiveness of the exercise. Hoisting the weights quickly allows momentum to reduce the tension within the muscles, especially at the top of the lift.

Are Dumbbell Front Raises Good for You?

The Dumbbell Front Raise is a great exercise to build shoulder stability and strength, if performed correctly.

The Front Raise is typically performed with two light- to medium-weight dumbbells. Still, if you execute the movements wrong, you could risk taking up a spot on the injured list.

Is Dumbbell Front Raise a Push or Pull Exercise?

Dumbbell Front Raises are a shoulder pull exercise.

Do Dumbbell Front Raises Work Side Delts?

The main muscles targeted with front raises are the anterior and medial delts, which sit on the front and sides of the shoulder.

Are Front or Lateral Dumbbell Raises Better?

Lateral raises mainly target your middle delt, while lateral raises are generally easier to perform than forward raises, keeping good form is essential to reaping the most benefit.

Lateral raises should be an important part of your shoulder routine.

Muscles Worked (in Greater Detail)

Anterior Deltoid

The anterior deltoid (L. anterior, before, in front of ; deltoides, triangular) refers to the front head of the deltoid muscle.

This part of the delt is responsible for shoulder flexion.

Classified as part of the scapulohumeral (intrinsic shoulder) muscle group, the anterior deltoid is situated medial to the lateral deltoid and lateral to the clavicular head of the pectoralis major.

It’s in the outermost layer of muscle, lying superficial to the proximal end of the biceps brachii short head, pectoralis minor and coracobrachialis.

Lateral Deltoids

Your lateral delts, or lateral deltoids, is the middle part of your shoulder muscle. It originates on the acromion of your shoulder blade and inserts on your humerus (upper arm bone). Its main functions are to abduct your shoulder, as well as keep your arm in place when you are lifting or carrying heavy loads.

Lower Trapezius

The lower trapezius is one muscle that plays an important role in scapula movement and positioning, and also dynamic scapula stability.

The functional scapula motions of upward rotation, posterior tilt, and external rotation increase the width of the subacromial space during humeral elevation.

Pectoralis Major

The pectoralis major (from Latin pectus ‘breast’) is a thick, fan-shaped muscle, situated at the chest of the human body.

It makes up the bulk of the chest muscles and lies under the breast. Beneath the pectoralis major is the pectoralis minor, a thin, triangular muscle.

Dumbbell Front Raise

If you want more exercise tips check out these articles on the Seated Dumbbell Press and Dumbbell Flys.

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