Three primary muscles are responsible for the movements of your shoulder joint: the anterior, or front, deltoid; the posterior, or rear, deltoid; and the lateral, or side, deltoid. The anterior deltoid is responsible for lifting a weight to the front of your body, but it also assists in other movements.
The anterior deltoid originates at your clavicle, runs down your shoulder and ends at your humerous, or upper arm bone. The main function of the anterior deltoid is shoulder flexion -- lifting your arm up and to the front of your body. Secondary functions of the anterior deltoid include shoulder abduction -- lifting your arm up and to the side -- and transverse flexion, or moving your upper arm toward and across your chest.
The front raise involves shoulder flexion. The anterior deltoid is the primary mover with the side, or lateral, deltoid muscle assisting in the movement. Stand upright and hold a barbell or dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing you. Keep your elbows locked in a slightly bent position; the only movement occurs at the shoulder joint. Lift your arms up until they are about parallel to the floor. Pause for a count before slowly lowering the weight.
As with the front raise exercise, the anterior deltoid is the primary mover during an overhead press. Several other muscles assist during the movement, including the side deltoids, trapezius and the triceps muscles. Hold a weight in front of your upper chest with your palms facing forward. Your elbows should point toward the floor. Press the weight directly overhead until your arms are fully extended. You can use a barbell, weight machine, cable machine or dumbbells for this shoulder exercise.
Although most lifters consider bench presses and pushups to be chest exercises, the anterior deltoid assists during these movements. Use a barbell, weight machine or dumbbells for the bench press exercise. The incline and flat bench press work the anterior deltoid muscle. Pushups are a bench press using your body weight for the resistance. Perform bent-knee pushups or full pushups to work your anterior deltoid muscles along with your chest and triceps. Place your hands outside of your shoulders to target the anterior deltoid muscles more.