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You might have heard that there are about 100 ways to do a single exercise. To a larger extent, it is true because you can create some variations and changes to the exercise by changing the angles, equipments, range of motion, and body positions.
Adding some variations into your workout is very important to avoid a plateau. In my experience, I have seen so many people doing the same exercise for several months and they wonder why they don’t get results. This is because, after a certain period, your body stops producing results if you don’t add variations.
So talking about the front raise, it’s one of the most popular exercises to target the front delts. Many bodybuilders have done this in the past and got amazing results from it. But that doesn’t mean that doing the same front raises for months will give you results forever. You should make some changes in the way you perform front raises.
In this blog, I will share with you some unique and amazing front raise variations which you can implement in your workout program to get continuous results and avoid a plateau. So before talking about the variations let’s talk about front the basic front raise exercise.
Front Raise Exercise
Front raise is an exercise that specifically targets the anterior part of your shoulder i.e. front delts. With my experience working with many clients, front raises are one of the easiest exercises to perform especially if you are a beginner.
Also, it can be done very easily at home if you have dumbbells with you. Having a dumbbell with adjustable weights will allow you to increase the load as you increase your strength. If you want to buy dumbbells, you can click the given link below.
How to do Front Raises
1. Hold two dumbbells on both hands and stand at a shoulder-width stance. Keep your hands down to the side such that your thumb should face forward. This will be your starting position.
2. Raise the dumbbell up from one arm until it reaches eye level. You don’t have to go further up as it will involve more traps which we are not focusing on here.
3. Hold the top position for a second and keep the tension on your front delts.
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.
So as we discussed the front raise exercise, now let’s talk about different variations you can try.
Front Raise Variations
Best front raise variations are incline bench front raises, supinated front raise, single dumbbell front raise, and front raise with plates and barbell. I will discuss each of them along with some other variations here.
1. Incline Dumbbell Front Raises
Here, we can do incline front raises in three different ways. All the three exercises shown above can be done as a superset or a triset which will give a 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.
- 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.
2. Supinated Dumbbell Front Raise
This is another great variation for front raises. By keeping your arms at a supinated position, it becomes a little challenging as compared to a regular front raise. So try this variation if you are already doing regular front raises for a while.
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.
3. Wall Supported Dumbbell Front Raise
When you do a regular front raise, then there is a tendency to use more body momentum. This activates other muscles like traps and back to swing the weights up. To prevent that from happening, we can do front raises with the back supported on the wall to prevent any swinging.
How to do
1. Stand close to the wall with your back fully resting on the wall while holding both the dumbbells. Keep your hands straight on the side.
2. Keep your body straight and your head neutral. This will be your starting position.
3. Start by raising both the arms and pause when dumbbells are at eye level.
4. Slowly return to the starting position while keeping tension on the front delts.
Make sure that you focus on your front delts while moving the weights and don’t go too heavy if you are a beginner.
4. Single Dumbbell Front Raises
Another great exercise to do at home without any equipment. Your front delts will be fired up after this exercise. Do this after compound movements like the overhead press otherwise you won’t be able to go heavy on dumbbell presses.
Targeted Muscles- Front head of the shoulder
How to do
1. Hold one end of the dumbbell by placing your palm under the dumbbell and stand straight with your shoulders retracted.
2. Start the exercise by raising both your hands with a slight bend in the elbow.
3. Pause at the top when your hands are at an eye level. Breath out as you move the dumbbell up.
3. Focus on your front delts and then bring the dumbbell back to the starting position. Remember to breathe in on the way down.
If your front delts are underdeveloped or are weak, then doing this exercise will help you in building a better mind and muscle connection. Slowly your front shoulder will become more active and strong as a result.
Many of my clients had this problem and they developed better mind and muscle connection with this exercise.
5. Front Raises with Plates
This exercise will bring a nice pump in 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.
You can make this exercise more challenging by adding a twist at the top. You can do this by raising the plate and twisting it at the top position to get more gains!
6. Barbell Front Raise
This is a great way to isolate your front deltoid muscles. You can build a great mind and muscle with this exercise. Make sure that you are concentrating on your front shoulder muscles and not any other muscle.
How to do
1. Hold the barbell with both hands at about shoulder-width apart and stand straight.
2. Start raising the bar with a slight bend in the elbow and bring it towards the eye level.
3. Pause at the top and feel your front delts getting pumped up.
4. Then slowly bring the bar down and then repeat the movement.
You can also perform this exercise with your palm facing up (supinated grip) but it requires good wrist and shoulder mobility.
7. Incline Underhand Front Raises (Chest on the Bench)
This is the variation of the barbell front raise we discussed above. With the use of an incline bench, you can put constant tension on those anterior deltoids as you cannot use any momentum to raise the barbell.
How to do
1. Set an incline bench at about 45° angle and lay on a bench with your back facing up.
2. Hold the barbell with both hands at about shoulder-width apart. You can take the help of someone to hand the bar over to you.
3. With an underhand grip, start raising the barbell and stop until it reaches shoulder level.
4. Then slowly return to the starting position and repeat the movement
Remember to keep your neck neutral. You don’t have to unnecessarily look up when you are moving the bar.
8. Incline Barbell Front Raises (Back On The Bench)
This is another different way to perform front raises. Here, your back will be on the bench and you will be in a half-seated position. This is a great functional exercise that will involve your core in the movement, which makes it more athletic.
How to do
1. Set an incline bench at a 45° angle and hold the barbell in your hands.
2. Now stand at a semi-standing position with your back on the bench and hips in the air. This will be your starting position.
3. Raise the barbell with a slight bend in the elbow and take it up above the head level.
4. Return to the starting position and then repeat the movement.
Here, you will use various other muscles like glutes, hamstrings, and abs to stabilize your body. That’s why it is more functional than the regular front raise.
Note: Remember not to bend your lower back while performing this exercise as it may lead to injuries. Always engage your abs and squeeze your glutes during the movement so that your lower back is in a safer position.
9. Cable Front Raises
This exercise is one of the best cable exercises to target the front shoulder muscle. If you can’t focus on your front delts during front raises, then try this out. Here, you can create a better mind and muscle connection.
How to do
1. Hook the pulley at a lower part of a cable machine and attach a straight bar on it.
2. Stand at a shoulder-width stance with your back facing the cable machine. Then, grab each end of the bar and stand straight with your hands straight down at the front.
3. Start the exercise by moving your hands up while keeping your arms straight and pause when your hands are just above your shoulder height.
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.
10. Incline Cable Front Raises
Another great variation to the regular front raises. I have seen many of my clients feeling an amazing pump right after this exercise. Here, your front delts will completely fire up. So do try this and share your experience in the comment section below.
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.
You should discontinue the exercise if you feel pain at the joints. Also, warm up properly before doing any shoulder exercises.
11. Lying Cable Front Raise
You might think that all these exercises are similar to each other. But all these exercises hit your front delta at a different angle which makes it different. So in each of these exercises, your muscles will undergo different stress.
So here is another variation for you where your body is resting on the floor and you can only use your front delts to move the cables. You can combine this exercise with another cable exercise to make it a superset and do that at the end of the workout.
How to do
1. Lay down on the yoga mat and while holding both ends of the rope. Keep your hands on the thigh and this will be your starting position.
2. Start the exercise by moving your hands up with a slight bend in the elbow. Squeeze your front delts as you move.
3. Pause at the top and then slowly return to the starting position.
Make sure that you don’t go heavy here as this is an isolation exercise. There is no need to go heavy here.
So these were some amazing variations for the front raise. All these exercises which I shared with you can be added to your workout program to add some changes to your workout program. But don’t add all these exercises in one workout, rather choose 2 or 3 variations and try that for at least 6 weeks, then replace it with other variations.
I have seen many trainers making the mistake of changing the workout program too frequently. This could be effective for highly trained individuals but is not recommended for everyone.
You should stick with one workout for at least 4-6 weeks to let the body adapt to the stimulus and then make changes or add variations when it stops producing results.
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. Please do share it with your friends so that they can also get the information. If you have any questions or suggestions then share them in the comment section below.
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 has worked as a personal trainer in gyms and is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com. He is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.