Want More Burn From Your Front and Lateral Raises? Try These 4 Variations

Give your shoulders more burn with these front and lateral raise variations.
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Anyone looking to build stronger, more defined shoulders is probably familiar with the front and lateral raise. And if you're not, you're about to discover your new favorite deltoid exercise.

Whether you're new to or familiar with these shoulder exercises, your upper-body workouts will probably hit a plateau sooner or later — when you can't go up in weight but your current dumbbells feel too easy. The solution? Adding some challenging front and lateral raise variations.

To avoid a muscle-building standstill, Carolina Araujo, certified personal trainer, suggests you incorporate these fiery variations into your shoulder routine.

First, Perfect Your Front and Lateral Raise Form

Before you add some of these scorching front and lateral raise variations to your exercise repertoire, brush up on your form for the traditional exercises. Getting the right form is crucial if you want the most from these two exercises, Araujo says.

When you use momentum to lift and lower your dumbbells, your shoulders don't get to do as much work, making the moves less effective. So if you find yourself bending your knees to pop the dumbbells up to shoulder height, you may need to choose lower weights.

How to Do a Dumbbell Front Raise

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Skill Level All Levels
Activity Dumbbell Workout
Body Part Shoulders
  1. Begin either seated or standing, holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
  2. Brace your core and raise the weights in front of your body until they reach shoulder height, palms facing down.
  3. Lower the weights back to the starting position with control.

Tip

If raising both dumbbells at the same time is too difficult, alternate lifting one arm at a time.

How to Do a Dumbbell Lateral Raise

JW Player placeholder image
Skill Level All Levels
Activity Dumbbell Workout
Body Part Shoulders
  1. Start standing with a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your sides. Keep your back flat and knees slightly bent.
  2. Keeping your core braced, raise the weights out to your sides until they reach shoulder height.
  3. Lower the weights slowly back down to the starting position.

Now Try These Front and Lateral Raise Variations

Once you've mastered the traditional front and lateral raise, you can start to incorporate more challenging variations in your upper-body workouts. Give these four variations a try to give your shoulders a little more burn.

1. Incline Bench Dumbbell Front Raise

  1. Begin seated on a bench reclined at a 45-degree angle, holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
  2. Brace your core and raise the weights in front of your body until they reach shoulder height, palms facing down.
  3. Lower the weights back to the starting position with control.

Tip

These are similar to standard front raises, but sitting on an incline bench increases your range of motion from bottom to top, which asks more of your rear delt, Araujo says.

2. Alternating Dumbbell Front Raises With Hold

  1. Begin seated on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
  2. Brace your core and raise the weights in front of your body until they reach shoulder height, palm facing down.
  3. Hold the left dumbbell in this position.
  4. Lower the right dumbbell and perform your front raises.
  5. Once you complete all your reps, switch sides and repeat, holding the right dumbbell in place while you perform the exercise with the left.
  6. Lower the weights back to the starting position with control.

Tip

For the next two exercises, you'll want to perform them as a drop set (one after the other) to really burn out your shoulders, Araujo says. As you move through your reps, keep your core braced and prioritize good form.

Hint: You may want to go with a lower set of dumbbells for these two.

3. Dumbbell Lateral Raise With Hold

  1. Start standing with a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your sides. Keep your back flat and knees slightly bent.
  2. Keeping your core braced, raise the weights out to your sides until they reach shoulder height.
  3. Keeping the left weight in place, perform lateral raises with the right weight.
  4. Once you finish all the reps here, switch sides, holding the right weight in place and performing the exercise with the left.
  5. Lower the weights slowly to the starting position.

4. Dumbbell Eccentric Lateral Raise

  1. Start standing with a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your sides. Keep your back flat and knees slightly bent.
  2. Keeping your core braced, raise the weights out to your sides until they reach shoulder height.
  3. Slowly lower the weights for 3 to 4 seconds, keeping the motion controlled.
  4. Repeat with the exercise, keeping the same pace.

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