The Dos & Don'ts of Standing Dumbbell Front Raises

Standing dumbbell front raises work your deltoid, or shoulder, muscles. If you do this basic, single-joint exercise with improper form, you increase your risk of shoulder impingement, which is a painful condition of the shoulder joint. Follow the dos and don'ts of the standing dumbbell front raise to increase the effectiveness of the exercise and reduce your risk of injury.

Here's the proper form for a standing dumbbell front raise. Credit: LIVESTRONG.COM


The front raise exercise involves lifting weight to the front of your body with your elbows straight or slightly bent. This exercise targets your anterior deltoid, or front shoulder muscle and your medial deltoid, or side shoulder muscle. Other muscles, including your rotator cuff muscles, rear deltoid muscle and trapezius muscle, assist in the movement.


Hold the dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing you. Stand upright with your back straight and your feet about hip-width apart. Look straight ahead. Stabilize your torso by tightening your stomach muscles and pulling your shoulder blades down and together. Maintain this posture throughout the movement. Raise your elbows and shoulders at the same rate. Lead with your elbows. When your arms approach shoulder-level, turn your thumbs slightly upward. Stop when your arms are about parallel to the floor. Slowly lower the dumbbells, rotating your thumbs back to the start position.


Do not rock your torso to lift the weights. Keep your back straight; do not allow it to arch. As you lift the dumbbells, do not allow your wrists to bend. Maintain a neutral wrist position. Do not hold your breath; inhale as you lower the dumbbells and exhale as you lift the dumbbells. Do not use heavy weights. The front raise targets small muscles in your shoulder. Select a weight that allows you to complete eight to 12 repetitions with good form. Do not sacrifice form for more repetitions.


During the dumbbell front raise, your shoulder internally rotates. This rotation can cause shoulder impingement. As you lift the dumbbell, the space between the acromion, which is a protrusion on the end of your clavicle bone, and the humerus, or upper arm bone, narrows. The acromion can rub against, or impinge, the tendons or bursa within this space. This impingement can result in shoulder weakness, numbness and pain. The American Council on Exercise recommends turning your thumbs upward at the top of the front raise movement to reduce the risk of impingement.

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