Seriously Strengthen Your Shoulders With This Single Dumbbell Move

Photo credit: JGI/Tom Grill - Getty Images
Photo credit: JGI/Tom Grill - Getty Images

From Bicycling

Looking to strengthen your shoulders with just a set of weights? The perfect move to help you do this is the front dumbbell raise.

It’s an essential shoulder exercise that will build strength and stability in the tops of your arms. Similar to a lateral dumbbell raise, this move targets your deltoids (the triangular muscles on top of your shoulders) and will create major definition in your upper body.

But here’s where we’re going to state the obvious: Doing a front raise incorrectly won’t lead to any benefits at all. That’s why we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about dumbbell front raises—including technique, variations, and more.

How to Do a Front Raise

  1. To start, stand with feet under hips, knees slightly bent, a dumbbell in each hand with arms by sides, palms facing body, and weights touching quads.

  2. Without bending elbows, raise arms straight up in front of body until they’re shoulder-level.

  3. Lower the dumbbells back down to start. That’s one rep.

Form tips: Draw navel toward spine and keep abs engages while completing each raise, don't let shoulders shrug up toward ears, and finally, do not swing the dumbbells. Your raise should be a steady and controlled movement.

Reps/sets for best results: I recommend using 5- to 8-pound weights for three sets of 8 to 12 reps. Take a 30- to 45-second rest in between sets.

Benefits of a Front Raise

It’s all about the shoulders because the dumbbell front raise is an exercise that isolates this joint and your deltoid muscles. Strengthening these two areas can even protect you from future injuries when you’re lifting by improving your mobility and range of motion, too.

[Looking to start cross training but don’t know where to start? The Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training will teach you all the fundamentals to get the most out of your weight session, priming you for stronger miles in the saddle.]

Variations for a Front Raise

  • Do them with your thumbs up: Standard form for a front raise is with your palms facing down (as demonstrated above). But if you’re struggling with this form, try doing the move with your palms facing each other. With this modification, you’ll find it’s easier to keep your shoulders down and focus on stability.

  • Play with tempo: Add a three-second hold to your front raise before bringing your arms back down. This will amp up your resistance and strength.

  • Alternate arms: Instead of raising both arms up at the same time, lift one and then the other. This way, you can focus on the individual form for each arm.

How to Add a Front Raise to Your Workout

Add it to your shoulder circuit: Dumbbell front raises should be done after you’ve worked out the other parts of your upper body. This will ensure that your shoulder mobility is in tact and ready to be challenged while helping you avoid injury.

We recommend putting front raises about three quarters of the way into my shoulder circuit, and doing a front raise to lateral raise—which is incredibly similar except you’ll be bringing your arms out to your sides, rather than in front of you. Transitioning between these two moves means even more strengthening of your shoulders and tops of your arms.

You Might Also Like