Looking to build strong and defined front deltoid muscles? The barbell front raise is an excellent exercise to add to your workout routine. Not only does it target the front delts, but it also engages smaller stabilizer and accessory muscles, as well as the traps, forearms, and core. Whether you’re an intermediate or advanced lifter with upper body strength, this exercise can be performed using an Olympic barbell or a standard fixed-weight barbell.
While some may argue that the front deltoids are already heavily activated during chest exercises and variations of the overhead press, most people still have room to develop these muscles further. That’s where the barbell front raise comes in as a great addition to your workout routine.
Though dumbbells are a common choice for this exercise, barbells allow for maximum muscle overload while minimizing the temptation to use momentum. So, let’s dive into how to properly execute the barbell front raise, the muscles it works, and its benefits.
What Is A Barbell Front Raise?
The barbell front raise is a favorite amongst intermediate and advanced lifters, and for good reason. Not only does it specifically target the front delts, but it also engages multiple muscle groups throughout the body, making it an excellent exercise for building overall strength and stability.
To perform the barbell front raise, simply hold a barbell in front of your body with your palms facing down and lift the weight up to eye or shoulder level. While this exercise is typically performed with a light to moderate weight, it can be adjusted to meet the needs of your individual strength training routine.
Incorporating the barbell front raise into your workout can lead to improved upper body function, increased muscle mass and strength in the shoulders, and a more stable and powerful physique overall. Whether you’re looking to strengthen your shoulders for sports or simply want to enhance your physique, the barbell front raise is an excellent exercise to add to your strength training regimen.
How To Do The Barbell Front Raise
The barbell front raise is a great exercise for building shoulder strength and muscle mass. Here’s how to perform it with proper form:
- Set up your barbell: Start by loading the barbell with an appropriate weight and positioning it on a rack at chest height. Alternatively, you can lift the barbell off the floor with proper form.
- Get in position: Stand in front of the barbell with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the bar with a pronated grip, with your palms facing down, and your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Inhale and brace your core: Before lifting the bar, inhale and brace your core, glutes, and shoulders.
- Lift the barbell: With straight arms, lift the barbell upwards until it is at shoulder height. Keep your elbows slightly bent and your wrists straight throughout the movement.
- Pause at the top: Once you reach the top of the movement, pause for a second and squeeze your shoulder muscles.
- Lower the barbell: Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position, exhaling as you go.
- Repeat: Repeat the movement for your desired number of reps, focusing on maintaining proper form and control throughout the exercise.
To perform this exercise correctly, avoid leaning back as you raise your arms. Instead, use a controlled motion without relying on momentum. When you reach the top, don’t bounce the weight; allow your shoulders to flex and then lower the weight slowly. If you’re new to lifting weights or using a barbell, begin with a lighter weight and increase gradually as you become stronger. It’s also a good idea to have a spotter nearby who can help you if needed.
Barbell Front Raise Muscles Worked
Barbell Front Raise is an amazing exercise that focuses on the front or anterior head of the shoulder. If you’re not familiar with the anatomy of the shoulders, don’t worry! Let’s break it down together. The shoulder is made up of three heads: the anterior, lateral (side), and posterior (rear) heads, along with three bones – the shoulder blade, collarbone, and upper arm bone. The shoulder joint is stabilized by the rotator cuff, and it attaches to the tendon of the biceps and triceps brachii muscles, which play a significant role in various shoulder movements.
So, what muscles are targeted during the Barbell Front Raise? Let’s take a closer look:
This exercise replicates the same motion as the anterior head of the deltoids, which is to raise the arm up in front of the body.
While you won’t activate the deltoid lateral in the same way as you would in side raises, you’ll still be working the outer or middle deltoid fibers.
Pectoralis Major Clavicular Head
As you raise the barbell, you’ll be stimulating the upper chest fibers, which contract the fibers in the clavicular head.
The serratus anterior is responsible for protracting the arms forward, just like when you throw a punch. Its fibers can also help the trapezius muscles to upwardly rotate the lower and upper fibers.
Benefits Of The Barbell Front Raise
The barbell front raise is an exercise you don’t want to skip! This simple movement can help you achieve the shoulder strength and power you need to take your fitness routine to the next level. Here are some of the benefits you can expect from incorporating the barbell front raise into your workout:
Builds Shoulder Strength and Aesthetics
The barbell front raise primarily targets the front deltoids, which are responsible for moving the arm forward and up, as well as the upper chest muscles. As you continue to challenge yourself with this exercise and increase the weight, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your shoulder strength and muscle mass.
Improves Upper Body Function and Shoulder Stability
The barbell front raise is a compound exercise that involves multiple joint movements, making it a great exercise to improve your overall upper body function. Whether you’re lifting objects or playing sports, having stronger and more stable shoulders can benefit your performance and overall health.
Increases Muscle Endurance
In addition to building strength, the barbell front raise can also help you improve your muscle endurance. By using lighter weights and performing more repetitions, you’ll be able to perform the exercise for longer periods without feeling fatigued.
Strong shoulder muscles can provide support for your upper body and help maintain proper alignment, leading to improved posture and reduced risk of musculoskeletal injuries.
Overall, the barbell front raise is a valuable addition to any strength training routine. It targets multiple muscle groups, improves function and stability, increases endurance, and helps you achieve a better-looking posture. So, grab a barbell and give this exercise a try!
Barbell Front Raise Variations
Why limit yourself to just one exercise when there are so many fun variations to try out?
If you’re looking for a more dynamic variation of the front raise, then the kettlebell swing is an excellent option. This exercise not only targets your shoulders but also engages your core and lower body, making it a full-body movement.
To perform the kettlebell swing, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell in front of your hips with both hands. Hinge forward at your hips, keeping your back straight, and swing the kettlebell back between your legs. Then, explosively drive your hips forward, using the momentum to swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height. Lower the kettlebell back down and repeat for the desired number of reps.
The kettlebell swing is a great exercise for improving power and explosiveness, as well as building strength and muscle in your shoulders, back, and legs. Plus, it’s a fun and challenging way to switch up your training routine.
Unleash your inner gym guru with the dumbbell front raise. This exercise not only allows for a broader range of motion, but it also helps you identify any muscle imbalances between your left and right side. Training unilaterally can correct imbalances while also engaging your stabilizer muscles.
Feel free to use any grip that feels comfortable to you – overhand, underhand, neutral – the choice is yours!
Cable Front Raise
Are you looking for a change in your training routine? The cable front raise offers a multitude of options when it comes to training. With a variety of handles to choose from, you can target different areas of your muscles.
One big benefit of using cables is the constant tension placed on your muscles, especially when using single-grip handles. This allows for a deeper stretch during the eccentric portion of the exercise. Whether you prefer to sit or stand, the cable front raise is a great addition to any workout.
Incline Front Raise
Are dumbbells your go-to for shoulder training? Take it to the next level by using an incline bench. This not only helps to stretch your muscles, but it can also increase the challenge of the exercise. Of course, cables are also an option if you prefer. Try it out and see how it feels!
the barbell front raise is a great exercise for targeting the shoulders, and there are several variations you can try to add some variety and challenge to your workouts. Whether you choose to use dumbbells, cables, incline benches, or even kettlebells, you can adjust the exercise to suit your individual preferences and fitness goals.
Don’t be afraid to mix things up and experiment with different variations to keep your workouts fresh and engaging. Remember to always prioritize proper form and technique, and gradually increase the weight or resistance as you become stronger and more comfortable with the exercise. With dedication and consistency, you can achieve stronger and more defined shoulders with the barbell front raise and its variations.
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.