13 Most Effective Front Delt Exercises For Bigger Shoulders

Published by Roshan S Pillai on

Front delt exercises

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Many people do the same exercise for their front delts / anterior delts over and over again. To get consistent results, you should train the muscles with different angles and positions.

So here in this article, you will find some different exercises to target your front shoulders which will add more size and thickness to your delts.

Before jumping right to the exercise, let’s know about the functions of front delts!

Front Delts and Its Functions

Front delts are the anterior part of your delts that are present at the front of your shoulder. Its main function is the flexion of the glenohumeral joint.

Whenever you move your hands up in a sagittal plane, your front delts are activated the most.

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Front Delt Exercises

1. Reverse-Grip Smith Machine Shoulder Press

If you have been doing regular grip shoulder presses for a while, then you must try this version. With the reverse grip, you will use your front delts more.

How to do

1. Place a bench at the centre of the smith machine and close to the bar. Bench should be fixed at a 90° angle.

2. Sit on it with your back resting on the bench. Now grab the bar with an underhand grip, with both hands placed slightly wider than the shoulder width.

3. Start pushing the bar up and stop at the top. Your elbow should be slightly bend at the top.

4. Return back to the starting position and then repeat the movement.

If you lack wrist mobility, then don’t perform this exercise. You can stick with regular shoulder press exercises which we will talk about in this article as we proceed.

2. Cable Front Raises (with ropes)

This exercise will completely isolate your front delts. You can do this with your palm facing down up or together. Try all the three and choose what works best for you.

How to do

1. Hook the pulley at a lower part of a cable machine and attach a rope at it.

2. Steps away from the cables and stand at a shoulder width stance. Then, grab each end of the rope and stand straight with your hands down at the front.

3. Start the exercise by moving your hands up while keeping your arms straight and pause when your hands reach the eye level.

4. Return back to the starting position and repeat the movement.

Cable exercises are meant to isolate the muscle so don’t go too heavy on these exercises. Also, remember to concentrate on each movement you perform during the exercise.

3. Dumbbell Shoulder Press

The study conducted by ACE showed that the dumbbell shoulder press was one of the best exercise to target the anterior/ front part of the deltoid. So you must include this compound exercise in your workout to build and strengthen your front delts.

How to do

1. Pick two dumbbells and sit on a bench with your head and back supported on a bench. Your dumbbells should be on your thighs.

2. Lift each dumbbell up using your thighs to bounce it up. Your palm should face forward and dumbbells should be at the shoulders height.

3. From this position, lift both the dumbbells up and focus on squeezing your delts at the top.

4. Return back to the starting psoition and then repeat the movement.

Before lifting, make sure that your wrist is in line with the elbows and not forward. Your arms should go back like an arch as you go up rather than going in front.

Always keep the dumbbells on the lap after completing your set to avoid any injuries. Don’t just throw the weights away!

You can also do this exercise while standing with both feet at about shoulder-width apart.

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4. Supinated Dumbbell Front Raise

This is another great variation of the front raises. Here, keeping your arms at a supine position will engage your front delta more. So you must try it.

Having a pair of adjustable dumbbells at home is always helpful as you can do many exercises with them.

How to do

1. Hold two dumbbells on both hands and stand at a shoulder-width stance. Your palm should face forward while holding the dumbbells. This will be your starting position.

2. Raise the dumbbell up with both the arms until it reaches the eye level. There should be a slight bend in the elbow as you move up.

3. Hold the top position for a second and feel your front delts getting fired!

4. Bring your hands back to the starting position and then repeat for the prescribed amount of reps.

Your back should be straight while performing the exercise. Also, remember that there should be a slight bend in the elbow and not too much.

It should not look like you are punching someone. You should raise the dumbbells rather than pushing it up.

5. Arnold Press

This is another great exercise to train not only your front delts, but the entire shoulder. You can do this as a prime compound exercise to add size to your front delts.

How to do

1. Grab two dumbbells and sit down on a bench, or a flat chair if you are at home.

2. Raise the dumbbells and hold it in front of the shoulder with your palm facing towards you. This will be your starting position.

3. Now start moving the dumbbells up by rotating your wrist and then squeeze your shoulders at the top.

4. Slowly return back to the starting position the same way you went up.

Arnold presses are very effective to build big and strong shoulders. You can go heavy on this. But do not overarch your lower back as you go heavy.

6. Alternating Dumbbell Front Raises

This is a traditional exercise done for the front shoulders. You can see many people in the gym doing this exercise as it directly targets your front delts. Also, it is an easy exercise to do even for beginners.

how to do

1. Hold two dumbbells on both hands and stand at a shoulder-width stance. Your thumb should face forward. This will be your starting position.

2. Raise the dumbbell up from one arm until it reaches the eye level. You don’t have to go further as it will involve more traps which we are not focusing on here.

3. Hold the top position for a second and squeeze your shoulders hard.

4. Then bring your hands back to the starting position. Do the same movement with the other hand and that will be your 1 complete rep.

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7. Pseudo Planche Pushups

If you haven’t done this before, then you will love it. This is a great bodyweight exercise for your front delts. Make sure to properly warm up your shoulder joints before jumping right into the workout.

How to do

1. Get down on the knees and place both hands on the ground with your fingers facing out. Now take your legs back and keep it straight with both feet together.

2. Now start rearranging your set up by moving your body forward so that your hands are under the mid stomach or navel.

3. Keep your hips tight and start moving your body down. Stop when your chest is almost touching the floor.

4. Push your body up with the help of your shoulders and extend your elbow at the top. You should lean forward throughout the movement.

But yes, it’s harder than the regular pushups, so beginners or people with shoulder pain or injury should avoid it.

Also progress gradually by first starting it with your head in contact with the wall for some support and slowly build from there. You should not feel any joint pain during the exercise. Stop it whenever you feel any kind of pain.

8. Incline Dumbbell Front Raise

You have a variety of options to train your front delts with dumbbells. All the three exercises shown above can be done as a superset or a triset which will give hypertrophic effect.

How to do

1. Grab two dumbbells and lay down on an incline bench with your chest on the bench. You can do it in three different ways as shown in the video.

2. Raise your hands straight up till the arms have reached up to your ear level. Try to raise it with your thumbs up.

3. Hold the top position for 1 second and then return back slowly.

Key tips

  • Don’t use too heavy dumbbells for this exercise. Use moderate to heavy dumbbells and do it with a proper form.
  • If you are at home then do it while sitting. Don’t round your back and do the same movement properly.
  • You can also perform the same exercise in a reverse position with your back on a bench but it’s not recommended for beginners.
  • Your back should not be rounded while performing any three types of exercise shown above.

9. Standing Military Press

This is one of the best compound exercises for your shoulders. It will give you that big and broad shoulders.

This will engage your core more and will be a great exercise to begin with. Do this as a compound exercise for your front delts and then isolate with the other exercises like front raises for maximizing growth.

How to do

1. Grab the bar and bring it up towards your shoulders. Your hands should be slightly wider than the shoulders. Your elbow should be under the wrist and this will be your starting position.

2. Start pushing the bar up while contracting your shoulders and fully extend your elbows at the top.

3. The bar should be in line with your ears when you reach the top. Don’t stop when the bar is in front of the head.

4. Return back to the starting position and the repeat the movement.

Your core should be engaged throughout the exercise to keep the lower back in a stable position. If you had any shoulder injury or impingement then consult the physical therapist before doing this exercise.

10. Landmine Shoulder Press

Another great pressing movement for your front delts. It’s a functional movement that engages your core more into the movement. It also requires balance, stability, and coordination.

How to do

1. Place one end of the bar at the corner of the wall and sit down at the half-kneeling position.

2. Hold the bar and pull it up towards the shoulder height and this will be your strtinv position.

3. With your back straight and abs tight, start pushing the bar up and extend your elbows at the top. Your hips should be engaged during the movement.

4. Bring the bar down towards the starting position and repeat the movement.

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11. Front Raises with Plates

This is a great isolation exercise for your front delts. You can include this at the end of the workout to get an amazing pump. You can also replace the dumbbell front raises with this exercise.

How to do

1. Hold one plate and stand at the shoulder-width stance. Narrower the stance, less the balance.

2. Now start moving the plates up with the slight bend in the elbow. Bring it towards the head level and squeeze you shoulders at the top.

3. You should hold the top position for 1 second to get the maximum contraction at the top. Remember not to swing with the plates.

4. Bring the plates back to the starting position and repeat the movement.

Your back should stay neutral during the exercise. Also, don’t shrug as you move your hands up. You should feel the front delts throughout the movement Do at least 8 reps on each set.

12. Incline Cable Front Raises

This is another great isolation exercise for your front delts. You can very easily set up an incline bench in between the cable machine which is very easily available in the gym.

How to do

1. Attach both the handles at the lower end of a cable machine and place an incline bench in between. Fix the bench at about a 90° angle.

2. Grab both the handles from each hand and lay down onto the bench. Your neck and lower back should not bend too much.

3. Start raising both of your hands forward and pause at shoulder height. You should feel the tension on the front delts.

4. Slowly bring your hands down and stretch your shoulders at the bottom.

13. Pike Push-Ups

This would be a great bodyweight exercise to train your front delts. The movement pattern is similar to that of a military press you do with a barbell.

How to do

1. Place your hands on the floor with both hands slightly wider than the shoulder. Place your legs at the back and move your hips up.

2. Your hands should be in line with your head and your hips should be raised such that your body looks like an inverted V from the sides.

3. Now start bringing your head down without moving your hips and pause when it’s almost touching the floor or mat. Your elbow should be at about a 60° angle.

4. Push on the ground and bring your head back to the starting position. Always look at your feet during the movement.

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So these were some great front delt exercises which will help you to build a massive front shoulders. Always start with a warm up set before any main set.

Also do compound exercises like miltary presses in the beginning and end with cable exercises or other isolation exercise to pump up your front delts.

If you know some other exercises, then please share it in the comment section below. Also, share this article with your friends and family and challenge them with some new exercises!

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Categories: Shoulder

Roshan S Pillai

Roshan Pillai is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with more than 6 years of experience in lifting weights and guiding people to get fit. He is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com, and has worked as a fitness coach in gyms and is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.


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