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Working out your shoulders is an integral part of an effective fitness routine. Not only do well-developed shoulders look aesthetically pleasing, but they are also essential for overall strength and stability.
The deltoids are a small muscle group which is triangular in shape. They comprise of 3 muscle heads; the rear delts, medial delts and the anterior delts. They take their name from the Greek word ‘Delta’ meaning triangle and attach from the clavicle, scapula and humerus with their primary function being to raise or extend the arms.
- Recommended Reading – 10 Anterior Shoulder Exercises To Supercharge Deltoid Growth
When working out, it’s important to focus on activating all three heads of deltoids to provide stability to the shoulder joint and for full mobility and range of motion. Typically, pressing exercises and raising movements will work the front and middle delts with rowing movements better for activation of the rear delts.
In this article, we’re going to look at the anterior deltoid in more detail including it’s function, benefits of training this muscle head and suggested front delt dumbbell exercises for improved muscle isolation.
Anterior Deltoid Structure and Function
The anterior deltoid is the most prominent part of the deltoid and is responsible for shoulder abduction, flexion, and internal rotation.
It comes out of the clavicle and fuses with the humeral bone’s deltoid tuberosity. Pushing, pulling, and reaching overhead are just a few of the actions where the anterior deltoid is employed.
- Recommended Reading – Discover The Ultimate Pull Arm Exercises To Supersize Your Back
Maintaining good muscle health is crucial for the anterior deltoid because it can lessen the risk of shoulder injuries and enhance posture. Strengthening the anterior deltoid can also help improve performance in activities such as swimming, weightlifting, and golf.
Benefits of Front Delt Dumbbell Exercises
Below are several benefits from working the front delt muscles.
Getting stronger in your shoulders can positively affect your posture, especially if you are experiencing joint pain. Collectively, with the lower back and abdominals, the shoulders can help to maintain an upright spine and prevent slouching.
When you increase muscle mass and strength to the front deltoid along with the lateral deltoid and posterior deltoid, this helps to provide better support and stabilisation to the shoulder joint.
Improved Sports Performance
If you are active in an athletic or competitive sport, having strong shoulders can ensure that you are at or above your best. This can help you perform better and gain confidence in your abilities.
Improved Overall Strength
Having solid and healthy shoulders can help you perform better in all areas of your life. Whether lifting weights, performing daily activities, or engaging in sports, a more robust set of shoulders can help you lift more, push harder, and perform better.
Best Front Delt Dumbbell Exercises
Below we’ve listed out some of the best front delt exercises using just dumbbells. We recommend dumbbells over a barbell in this workout as you’ll need more stability making the movements a little more challenging and they’ll be better for building equal muscle strength and symmetry.
As with any exercise, good form is essential to activate the intended muscle groups whilst preventing injury. If you find your form is a little off, consider switching to a lighter weight.
Close Grip Dumbbell Overhead Press
The close grip dumbbell overhead press is a great exercise for improving overall shoulder strength and stability but places particular emphasis on the front delts.
How Perform The Close Grip Dumbbell Overhead Press:
- Start in a standing position with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold the dumbbells at chest height and keep them together, your palms should be facing each other. This is your starting position.
- From here, exhale and simply press them up and overhead whilst keeping the dumbbells together.
- Inhale and lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
- Complete 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Arnold Press with Dumbbells
The dumbbell Arnold Press is a variation on the standard dumbbell shoulder press that, whilst working all the deltoid heads, involves a simple modification allowing for better activation of the front delts. This exercise can be performed either in a seated position or standing. If doing this seated, you’ll find it a little more challenging as you won’t be able to use your lower body muscles for momentum.
How To Perform The Arnold Press When Standing:
- Take hold of your dumbbells and stand upright with feet shoulder width apart.
- With your palms facing towards you, hold the dumbbells at upper chest height.
- Bracing your core, begin to press the dumbbells up and overhead.
- As you go, you should rotate your hands so that at the top of the movement your palms now face away from you.
- Reverse this movement as you lower the dumbbells back down to your chest.
- Aim to perform 3 sets of 10 reps.
Supinated Dumbbell Front Raise
As with the Arnold Press, this exercise can be done either seated or standing and you can increase the range of motion by bringing your hands all the way to the top and overhead. Aside from working the front deltoid muscles, this will also activate the pectoralis major and the biceps brachii.
How To Do The Dumbbell Front Raise With Supinated Grip:
- Begin either seated on a weight bench or by standing upright.
- Hold a pair of dumbbells down and in front of you with a supinated grip so your palms should be facing away from you.
- Engage your abs and raise the dumbbells up without bending the elbows.
- Your arms should be parallel to the floor without locking out at the elbow.
- With control, lower the dumbbells back down before repeating.
- Perform 2 sets of 10 reps.
Seated Dumbbell Circles
The dumbbell circle exercise provides a great workout for the shoulder muscles and can be executed either seated or standing. Make sure you don’t lock out at the elbows as this could put unnecessary stress on the joints resulting in injury.
How To Do Seated Dumbbell Circles:
- Start by sitting on the end of a weights bench, your back should be unsupported to allow for full range of motion.
- Take your dumbbells at hold them at arm’s length down by your side. Your palms should be facing forwards.
- Begin to raise the dumbbells out and up overhead in a circular motion. Do not lock out at the elbows.
- At the top of the movement, the dumbbells should be touching with your palms still facing forwards.
- Perform 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Prone Incline Dumbbell Front Raise
You’ll need access to an adjustable bench for this exercise and you can do it by either holding a dumbbell in each hand or just one dumbbell with both hands.
How To Perform A Prone Incline Dumbbell Front Raise:
- Position the back rest of your bench so it’s around 30 to 45 degrees.
- Holding your dumbbells, position yourself chest down on the back rest.
- Keep your legs stretched out behind you with feet planted for stability.
- Your grip on the dumbbells should be pronated so that your palms face towards you.
- Without locking out at the elbow, raise the dumbbells straight up until your arms are parallel to the floor.
- Lower your arms back down with control and repeat.
- Aim to perform 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps.
Supinated Incline Dumbbell Front Raise
Performing an incline dumbbell raise with a supinated grip will allow for greater activation of the anterior deltoids. As well as a pair of dumbbells, you’ll also need an adjustable bench with the back rest set to around 30 degrees.
How To Perform A Supinated Incline Dumbbell Front Raise:
- Take a seat on the bench and lie back so your back is fully supported.
- Hold your dumbbells down by your sides with a supinated grip so that your palms face away from you.
- Keeping your arms straight and without locking out at the elbow, raise the dumbbells straight up.
- Go as high as possible without stressing the joints.
- Perform 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
Dumbbell Upright Row
As well as working the trapezius muscles, upright rows are great for working the shoulder muscles. It’s common to allow the shoulders to round forwards during this movement so be sure to keep your chest up and retract the scapula for proper form and avoid heavier weights.
How To Perform The Dumbbell Upright Row:
- Start standing upright with feet shoulder width apart. Plant your heels into the ground for stability.
- Hold your dumbbells just out in front of you with your palms facing you.
- Start to bring the dumbbells up towards your chin whilst keeping them close to your body.
- At the top of the movement your elbows should be higher than your highs.
- Repeat for around 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps.
Incline Dumbbell Press
Whilst the incline dumbbell press typically falls under the category of chest exercises, it will also effectively activate the front delts so should be included in your shoulder workout. By setting the incline of the back rest at a higher position will allow for better shoulder recruitment.
How To Do An Incline Dumbbell Press:
- Take a seat on your bench and position your feet directly under your knees.
- Take hold of your dumbbells.
- Lie back so that your back and head are fully supported.
- Position your hands so that you hold the dumbbells at your shoulders.
- Your elbows should be directly under your wrists with elbows bent to around 90 degrees.
- Press the dumbbells straight up towards the ceiling. Don’t lock out at the elbows.
- With control, lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
What to Avoid When Performing Front Delt Dumbbell Exercises
When undertaking your front delt workout it’s essential to avoid common mistakes to limit the risk of injury and reduce the effectiveness of the routine.
It is essential to maintain good posture to protect the upper body and prevent injury. Any exercise can be bad for you if performed incorrectly. Always engage your core to help with stability and if you feel any stress to your joints stop your workout.
Moving too quickly
Take your time with each exercise to reach the next one. Move slowly and deliberately through each movement to maximize results and for better time under tension.
Holding your breath
Remember to breathe regularly throughout each exercise. Holding your breath during a workout can reduce blood flow and reduce the ability to perform with full strength.
Using heavy weights
When training smaller muscle groups, it’s not necessary to lift heavier loads and it can often be detrimental to your workout. Start with lighter weights to ensure you are performing the movement correctly and working the correct muscles.
All of the suggested exercises are a great way for activating the anterior deltoids. However, be sure to work all heads of the shoulder muscles for best results and remember, correct form is vital so you can get the most of your training.