What are Front Raises?

D. Messmer

Front raises, sometimes called arm raises, are arm exercises that involve lifting a dumbbell straight in front of the body from a standing position. Front raises provide an excellent workout for the deltoids, although they also provide some benefit for the biceps and triceps. They are an important upper body exercise, especially for those athletes who are trying to build up shoulder strength.

An anatomical illustration showing the deltoids and other muscles strengthened by front raises.
An anatomical illustration showing the deltoids and other muscles strengthened by front raises.

To perform front raises, an athlete begins by standing erect while holding a set of dumbbells. The athlete's arms should be straight at his or her sides but might need to be just slightly in front of the body to make room for the dumbbells. The athlete should rotate the arms so that the palms are parallel with the front of the body.

Then, using the deltoid muscles, the athlete executes the front raises by lifting one dumbbell toward the ceiling while maintaining straightness in the arm. The athlete should continue to lift the dumbbell until the arm is parallel to the floor. At this point, the palm should be facing the floor. The athlete then carefully lowers the weight back toward the floor. He or she then repeats the motion with the other arm.

During front raises, it is important to maintain proper form. The athlete should be careful to maintain proper breathing by exhaling while raising the weight and inhaling while lowering it. Also, the athlete must be careful to keep the back straight throughout the lift and should ensure that the lift is the result of exertion from the shoulder muscles rather than momentum from other parts of the body. It also is crucial that the arms remain in line with the shoulder. If the arms start to flare out, the exercise will begin to resemble lateral raises and thus will put a different strain on the muscles.

There are a few variations of front raises. Instead of lifting each weight individually, an athlete can lift both weights into the air at the same time. It can be more difficult to maintain proper form when performing this variation, because there is more weight extended in front of the body. This means that the body must work harder to maintain proper balance, making it harder to keep the back straight.

Another variation is to perform front raises from a seated position. This variation forces the athlete to maintain better form, because there is less possibility of the athlete using momentum to perform the lift. It can be a bit more difficult to keep the arms in proper alignment with the body, though, because the dumbbells will have to pass by the thighs during the lift. Depending on the size of the dumbbells, this can be a slight problem.

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