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How To Do The Dumbbell Front Raises – Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Although the dumbbell front raise might be beneficial to your shoulders’ growth, are you sure you’re executing it correctly?

When it comes to specific goals, there’s a lot of room for error when attempting to target them during your exercises. The three heads of the shoulder are the front (anterior), middle (medial), and rear (posterior) deltoids, and all of them must be addressed to build robust, well-rounded shoulders.

When it comes to working on your front delts, there is no better exercise than the front raise. It may be performed with a variety of free weights or resistance bands, but for the traditional front raise, grab a pair of dumbbells. Take it slowly but steadily; this will help you avoid pulling a muscle or straining yourself. Don’t lift too heavy; what feels fine on your first front raise may become impossible to lift by the fourth or fifth.

For this movement, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than flawless form—particularly because it’s such a powerful muscle builder for a key muscle. In this post, we’ll walk you through the finer points of the move so you don’t fall prey to the same poor practices that are stifling your fitness potential.

Take notice that before you pick up a pair of dumbbells and start swinging them over your head, there are several factors to consider. To get the most out of your workout, you must use the proper posture and form—especially as it is too easy to cheat and how common it is for guys to lift excessive weights, putting their shoulder health at risk. Let’s break down everything you need to know.

There are two ways to do the dumbbell version – the double-arm front raise and the alternating, one-arm front raise. Here’s how to perform both exercises.

How To Do Double-Arm Dumbbell Front Raise

Man doing front raises exercise with two dumbbells

Start by holding the two dumbbells in front of your thighs with a pronated grip (palms facing toward you).

  1. Inhale and raise the dumbbells in front of you in a controlled manner until your hands are in line with your shoulders, keeping your back straight and feet shoulder-width apart. Keep a slight bend in the elbows to reduce stress on the joints
  2. Pause for a brief moment, then slowly lower back to the starting position under control while exhaling.

How To Do Single-Arm Dumbbell Front Raise

Man doing single arm dumbbell front raise exercise

Follow the form guide for the double-arm version, but instead of lifting both dumbbells at the same time, raise one to shoulder height, lower it and then repeat with the other arm.

Unilateral training—training that focuses on only one side of the body at a time—has been proven to help with significant strength gains

Other Variations of Dumbbell Front Raises

Depending on your fitness level and objectives, this exercise may be done in a variety of ways.

Seated Dumbbell Front Raise

Man Doing seated dumbbell front raise

If you’re having trouble standing, you can do this exercise while seated on a chair or bench. When going for this variation, try to maintain a straight back and brace your core. Gradually increase the weight, if you can lift the weights with no difficulty or stress.

Dumbbell Front Raise With Hammer Grip

Man doing dumbbell Front Raise With Hammer Grip

You can employ a hammer grip, much like how you would do a hammer curl. In this variation, the dumbbells are held with palms facing toward one another rather than flat on the thighs. The American Council on Exercise claims that this can help to prevent shoulder impingement.

Barbell Front Raises

Man doing barbell front raise exercise for shoulders

This exercise may also be performed with a barbell. The procedure is the same as when using dumbbells. Always start with no weight or a lighter weight to become accustomed to the motion with the barbell.

Unstable Dumbbell Front Raise

This movement is performed while standing on a stability disc to add balance and core strength. Keep in mind, this is a more difficult variant of the front raise, and should only be attempted once you’ve mastered your technique during a regular dumbbell front raise.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

Lifting above the shoulders

It’s not necessary to go any higher. The front delt will get no additional stimulation, however, the likelihood of surprisingly delicate shoulder joint being harmed will be increased.

Using a heavy weight

Do not ego lift in this exercise and everything else, for ex, lateral raise for shoulders. The front section of the shoulder is a small muscle that can be adequately activated with light weights, decreasing the likelihood of strain.

Reduce the weight of the dumbbells if you feel any strain on the shoulder joint or find it difficult to lift them up to your shoulder level.


Do not rock or sway when performing this exercise; maintain a solid and stationary torso at all times. If you are swaying or discover that you must rock back on your heels to complete the lift, use a lighter weight.

Using Momentum

Do not use momentum to assist you lift the weights, as this will make the activity less efficient. When you accelerate the weights too quickly, momentum causes the tension in your muscles to reduce.

Poor Form

Keep the back straight and brace the abdominals (no rounded back or slack abs). This not only protects you from harm, but it also improves your ability to target the desired muscles..

Take Away

The dumbbell front raise is a basic weight training exercise that can help you build strength or give your shoulders more definition. The dumbbell front raise may be used in any upper-body exercise; just make sure you’re using a weight that you can lift correctly.

This exercise is not suggested for individuals who have a previous or current shoulder problem. If you have an existing or past shoulder injury, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about whether you should do this exercise.

The rotation in this movement has the potential to cause shoulder impingement and discomfort if you have a propensity for tendonitis or bursitis in this joint. Stop lifting immediately if you experience any pain.

Start with a light weight and aim for 10 to 12 reps for one to three sets or repeat the workout for the number of sets and repetitions listed in your routine.


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.

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