Exercises for the front deltoid are very important for overall upper body muscle development, strength, and aesthetics.
It’s an important muscle that supports your shoulders and back.
It’s also involved in movements such as pushing or throwing an object with force.
Building your front delts will help improve your shoulders and give you the elusive V-shaped torso that we all are going for by making your chest look wider.
Broad shoulders help make you look strong and confident to feel your best.
If you want to build boulder shoulders, it’s important to do exercises for your front deltoids in addition to proper dieting and workout plan scheduling.
What Are the Front Delts Located?
The front deltoids are located in the shoulder and are distinguished by their location and function.
They attach to the top of the arm bone, or humerus, and move it up and away from your body.
The front deltoids function includes elevating your arms above your head (as when doing a push-up) as well as lifting heavy objects overhead.
The anterior deltoid is also responsible for rotating the arm outward at the elbow joint.
Benefits of Front Deltoid Exercises
The front deltoid muscles are the most superficial of all shoulder muscles, but they play a vital role in shoulder function.
The anterior deltoid muscle originates on the clavicle and inserts near the top of the humerus, acting to flex the arm at the elbow joint.
Reduced Risk of Injury
Because your shoulders can move freely in different directions, they can be more susceptible to injuries than other joints.
If you have a weak, underdeveloped anterior deltoid muscle, your shoulders will be less stable.
This can result in an increased risk of injury and chronic pain.
You may also suffer from impingement syndrome which occurs when the tendons or bursa become irritated due to being compressed between bones and soft tissues.
Reducing the risk of injury is one of the biggest benefits you will get from including exercises for your anterior deltoid.
If done correctly, shoulder exercises are beneficial for improving posture and making sure your shoulders are properly lined up with their sockets.
This can go a long way towards reducing injuries further down the road.
Building muscle is hard. Building muscle in the front deltoid, even more so.
You might be asking yourself: Why?
The anterior deltoid muscles are small and superficial to start with, but they also have a limited range of motion when compared to other muscles in your body.
Effective delt exercises are designed to tear these muscle fibers to increase anterior delt hypertrophy.
By focusing on this muscle, you will help improve larger compound push exercises such as bench press.
If the goal for your body type is an improved physical appearance, targeting your front delts should be a priority.
Most people tend to focus more on their chest and end up with proportionally smaller deltoids compared to pecs.
Many pushing exercises will engage the front delts, but you should include specific exercises to target them more.
How To Stretch Your Anterior Deltoid
Overusing the anterior deltoids can cause shoulder injuries if exercises are done wrong.
Stretch your front deltoids before front deltoid exercises and cool down after you lift is extremely important.
You can stretch by positioning your hand slightly lower than your shoulder on the surface of a wall.
Turn your body away from the arm on the wall and keep a slight bend in your elbow.
Keep turning your body until you feel a stretch in the front of your shoulder and hold.
Do this for both arms.
Should you train your front deltoids?
You do target your front deltoids when doing bench press variations.
The real question is should you do anterior deltoid exercises that isolate your front delt?
The answer depends on whether your front deltoids are overdeveloped or underdeveloped.
Of all of the different parts of the shoulder muscle, the front delts tend to be the most developed.
If they are underdeveloped, further increasing delt activation with isolation exercises will help with imbalances.
If your shoulders are overdeveloped, isolation exercises do not have enough weight to stimulate growth.
You should focus on big compound pushing exercises instead, such as the bench press and shoulder press variations.
Are your front deltoids weak?
You might think your front delts are underdeveloped because they tend to tire out faster than their pecs on press exercises.
Typically, the posterior and lateral deltoids are underdeveloped compared to the front deltoids.
As long as you’re doing all of the major compound pressing movements, you don’t have to do any front deltoid isolation exercises.
If you do feel like they are lagging, you can add an isolation exercise at the end of your routine such as front delt raises.
Are your front deltoids overactive?
Overdeveloped front deltoids are more common than weak delts.
You can help stave off this imbalance by choosing pressing movements that focus on your pecs more such as using wider grips.
Overdeveloped front delts can be problematic as it can lead to further muscle imbalances.
You can fix this issue by doing the following:
- do more back exercises to target your posterior deltoids
- focus on good form and try different bench press variations
- avoid front deltoid isolation exercises
Best Rep Ranges and Weight
Fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers make up the front delts.
These different fibers react differently to weight and rep ranges.
You should focus on using heavier reps for the compound presses of 3-10 reps.
If you do any anterior deltoid exercises to isolate the front delts, you should do lighter weights for 10-12 reps.
The rep range should challenge you and bring you to or near failure based on the weight.
How often should you train your front deltoids?
You need to consider the total volume and frequency per week along with your fitness goals to figure out how often to target your front deltoids.
Volume and Frequency
Ideally, you should be hitting your front deltoids with about 10-12 sets per week split into about two workouts.
Don’t schedule your anterior delts workout within 48 hours of your chest day or that could compromise your chest training.
Increase the number of rest days if you have sore deltoids before your next push workout.
I prefer to combine them into one push day with triceps to target them all as the muscles work together during the compound exercises.
Best Exercises for Front Deltoids
Standing Arnold Press
This is the best shoulder exercise with dumbbells for full range of motion and time under tension for your front delts.
The increased range of motion and time under tension creates huge strength and size gains.
Moving the weight on multiple planes of motion also targets the same muscle fiber areas at different angles.
The larger range of motion will require you to use a lighter weight than other exercises in your deltoids workout with dumbbells.
You can also increase the time under tension by alternating arms rather than moving both arms at the same time.
Seated Arnold Press
Seated Arnold Press has all of the same benefits as standing Arnold Press, but by sitting, you can focus more on pressing rather than balance.
Use this exercise to target your delts with dumbbells in your workout if you want to target a larger range of motion while still being able to focus on strength and aesthetics at the same time.
This will allow you to use heavier weights than standing Arnold Press.
Make sure you control the whole range of motion.
Standing Cable Arnold Press
Standing Cable Arnold Press is a great exercise for front deltoids because using cables increases the time under tension throughout the entire range of motion of the rep.
Time under tension is a factor in muscle growth.
Seated Cable Arnold Press
Seated Cable Arnold Press is the same as the standing variation, but you can lift heavier weight by sitting.
You won’t have to focus as much on balancing.
This will allow for greater strength gains.
Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press
This is the best shoulder exercise with dumbbells for your front deltoids.
Dumbbells allow for a higher range of motion compared to barbells, but you won’t be able to lift as heavy.
The best shoulders workout with dumbbells focuses on time under tension and not using momentum to get the weight up.
Dumbbell shoulder presses are unilateral movements requiring each shoulder to lift the same weight to help with muscle imbalances.
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
If you are trying to figure out how to work out your shoulders with dumbbells for maximum strength benefits, this exercise is for you!
This version is similar to the standing version, but you can lift a slightly heavier weight because of less balance required.
You won’t be able to focus on strength like barbell variations, but the range of motion will be higher.
This is the best deltoid exercise with dumbbells to focus on strength by lifting heavier weights while still being able to have a large range of motion.
Standing Barbell Shoulder Press
Standing Barbell Shoulder Press is a great compound movement that allows you to greatly increase the strength in your anterior deltoids.
You can lift heavier weight compared to dumbbell and cable variations.
By doing this exercise standing, you also increase core activation and improve functionality.
Standing improves your posture because you’re forced to counterbalance against the weight of the barbell.
Seated Barbell Shoulder Press
Seated Barbell Military Press is a very common exercise that targets the anterior deltoid.
It’s one of many exercises to add to your routine if you want to increase strength in the gym or build up more muscle on your shoulders.
It is the shoulder press variation that you can lift the heaviest on and focus on pressing strength the most.
Dumbbell Push Press
This exercise is great for explosive movement while focusing on stability.
It won’t isolate the front deltoid like other shoulder press variations since momentum is used.
However, it’s a great front delt exercise to help increase strength and bust through plateaus.
Barbell Push Press
Barbell push press is a great explosive movement that helps you get the bar from your shoulders to above your head which increases overall power and explosiveness in terms of muscle growth.
You can use this exercise as an alternative to shoulder press if standing or seated variations aren’t helping with strength development, but it’s important not to rely on momentum because that defeats the purpose of increasing muscle size.
Standing Cable Shoulder Press
Standing Cable Shoulder Press is similar to standing dumbbell shoulder presses, but you can lift more weight and maintain better form because of less balance required.
This allows you to focus on strength rather than stability which is why it’s a favorite among many people who want increased muscular development in their shoulders.
As mentioned before, cable variations have increased time under tension which helps overall muscle development.
Seated Cable Shoulder Press
Seated Cable Shoulder Press allows you to lift the heavier than the standing variation.
It’s also closer to the seated dumbbell shoulder press because of the increased range of motion.
This variation is great for people who want to focus on strength and aesthetics, but it will still help you increase muscle size in your shoulders.
Make sure you keep good form and control the weight throughout the whole movement like with all cable exercises.
One-Arm Landmine Press
One-Arm Landmine Press is a great unilateral movement that will help you increase muscle size and strength in your anterior deltoids.
Handstand Press is a great bodyweight front deltoid exercise that will help increase your strength and stability.
It’s important to note that you should not use momentum when pressing off the wall because this reduces effectiveness in terms of muscle development.
Keep a tight core, engage your legs for increased stabilization, control each rep throughout the movement, and aim to do as many reps as possible without resting too long between sets.
Cable Front Arm Raise
Cable Front Arm Raises isolate the front deltoids very well.
This exercise is great for deltoid hypertrophy because you can keep tension on the muscle at all times, even better than dumbbell variations.
You also get a lot of time under tension and a better stretch with this isolation movement compared to presses and flyes.
Proper technique is more important than the weight on this exercise.
Don’t swing when doing this movement.
Dumbbell Front Arm Raise
Dumbbell Front Arm Raises are a great alternative for front deltoid isolation because you can use a neutral grip and target your front delts even more.
Hold the dumbbells at shoulder height with palms facing each other.
Keeping the tension on the muscle throughout this whole range of motion will help you grow it much faster than pressing or flyes alone.
The only downside compared to cable exercises is that you don’t get as much time under tension.
Front Deltoid Exercise Variations
They are great for overloading muscles. You focus on using heavier weight and focusing on the eccentric portion of the lift. This hits the muscle fibers differently than traditional reps.
Pause reps are great for increasing strength. By pausing at the bottom of the rep, you take out the elastic energy build-up and force the front deltoids to work harder pushing the weight up from a dead-stop.
You can switch out barbells, dumbbells, and cables for kettlebells. The center of gravity of the weight is about 6-8 inches away from your grip which requires further stabilization demands.
Front Deltoid Exercise FAQs
How do you work your front deltoids?
You can target your front deltoids with different shoulder press variations using a barbell, dumbbells, cables, or kettlebells to increase strength. Improve development with anterior deltoid exercises that isolate the front delt such as front raises.
How do you isolate the front deltoid?
If you’re looking to isolate the front deltoid, your main focus should be on front delt raise variations using kettlebells, cables, or barbells. Shoulder press variations where you focus on keeping your elbows in front of your body will help increase anterior delt muscle activation to a higher degree.
How do you strengthen your anterior deltoid?
Overhead presses and incline presses are best to strength gains in the anterior deltoids. You can use a heavier weight of 3-6 reps if you’re focusing on strength and higher reps of 8-12 with a lighter weight if you’re focusing on aesthetics.
The front deltoid is a large muscle that has many functions, including flexing the arm and rotating it.
You can maximize your workout by targeting this muscle with specific exercises from various angles and with different equipment.
We’ve provided you with 15 of our favorites to help build your shoulders for any activity you want to pursue!
Remember: these are just some of the best exercises out there – not all-inclusive or exhaustive.
Which ones appeal to you most?
Let us know!