Dumbbell Front Raise Exercise


Dumbbell Front Raise Exercise Guide

Dumbbell front raise develops and defines the smaller muscles of your shoulders, which help you perform other exercises with good form. You can lift both arms at once (simultaneously) or alternate left and right (alternating dumbbell front raise). Lifting one at a time reduces the strain on the lower back. You can rest your back against a wall to prevent rocking or other forms of cheating. You can also do this shoulder exercise in seated position.

Dumbbell Front Raise Exercise Instructions – Correct Form

Follow these instructions in order to perform this front deltoid exercise with correct technique.

  1. Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart and your knees soft. Hold the weights in an overhand grip. Position dumbbells in front of upper legs (thighs).
  2. Keeping your elbows slightly bent and your back straight, raise one dumbbell slowly to the front up to eye level while breathing in.
  3. When your arm is at least parallel to the floor (or as high as your eyes), pause for a count, then lower the dumbbell slowly and under control to the start position. Repeat the movement with your other arm.

You can raise your hands forwards to a horizontal position with your palm inward (neutral grip) or with your palm down (pronated grip).

Dumbbell Front Raise

Dumbbell Front Raise

Dumbbell Front Raise – Tips & Tricks

  • Look for a sharp 90 degree angle between your arms and your torso in the finish position.
  • Avoid extending your shoulders forwards from your shoulder blade; keep them back and down.
  • Avoid shrugging or allowing your back to round.
  • Try not to lean back and swing the dumbbell upwards; this not only reduces the effectiveness of the exercise, but increases the chances of an injury for your lower back muscles. Instead, switch to a lower weight or try performing the movement with your back against a wall to improve your form.

Dumbbell Front Raise Variations

  • Perform front raises two arms at a time (simultaneously) instead of in alternating fashion.
  • Variable-grip dumbbell front raise – begin with a neutral grip (thumb forward), then rotate the dumbbell through 90 degrees during the lift so that your grip is pronated (palm down) at the top of the movement. We personally prefer this variation istead of starting with an overhand grip in front of upper legs.
Variable-grip Dumbbell Front Raise

Variable-grip Dumbbell Front Raise

  • To increase the range of motion, continue lifting your arm past parallel until the dumbbell is directly overhead.
  • Seated dumbbell front raise. Perform front raises while seated on a low-back seat or adjustable bench set upright.
  • Neutral grip dumbbell front raise.

Dumbbell Front Raise Substitutes – Replacement Exercises

You can do front raises using different types of equipment (plates, barbell, cables) and different body positions.

Muscles Involved in Front Dumbbell Raise


  • Deltoid, Anterior


  • Pectoralis Major, Clavicular
  • Deltoid, Lateral
  • Trapezius, Middle
  • Trapezius, Lower
  • Serratus Anterior, Inferior Digitations


  • Trapezius, Upper
  • Levator Scapulae
  • Wrist Extensors

Closing Thoughts

Dumbbell front raise is an isolation exercise that targets the front of the deltoid and the upper-chest muscles.

When you use dumbbells, you can either lift both arms simultaneously or alternate right and left arm for each repetiotion. This later version will permit you to lift heavier weights. You can also use only one dumbbell that you grasp with both hands using a neutral grip (thumbs facing up). This version is preferable for beginners because it is easier to master at first.

If you feel comfortable, you can lift your arms much higher – slightly above your head or all the way above your head). The higher you raise your arms, the less weight you will be able to lift.

You should let the sensation of muscle contraction guide you in determining how high to lift your arms, knowing that there is no single rule that will work for every person.

As a side note, the dumbbell front raise is a good exercise, but don’t do this in place of a barbell or dumbbell press as it simply doesn’t build mass like they do.

Finally, if you do chest presses and shoulder presses, the addition of front raises to your program is probably overkill. In other words, if you do the bench press (or push-ups) for the chest plus shoulder presses, then you do not need to add front raises to your program. But if you cannot do shoulder presses because of elbow pain, the dumbbell front raise can be a good substitute for compound deltoid exercises.

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