There’s no debate whether the front shoulder raise and the shoulder press are effective for developing strength and tone in your shoulders. Both exercises will do the job. However, one exercise may be best to incorporate into your workout over the other depending on several factors.
Front Shoulder Raise Technique
Usually, you use a pair of dumbbells for the front shoulder raise, but it is possible to do the exercise with a barbell. Stand and hold the weights down in front of your thighs with your palms facing your legs. Keep your elbows straight as you lift your arms up and in front of you until they’re level with your shoulders. Control the weights down to your thighs and go right into the next repetition. Use a weight that you can comfortably control. You don’t want to jerk back and swing the weights up with momentum.
Shoulder Press Technique
The shoulder press can be done while standing or sitting. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and raise the weights up to your shoulders with your palms facing forwards and your elbows bent so they are directly underneath the weights. Push the weights over your head until your arms are fully extended. Lower the weights back to your shoulders and then repeat.
The front of your deltoid, which is the major muscle in each shoulder, is the primary muscle recruited during both the front shoulder raise and the shoulder press. The front area of your deltoid is responsible for flexing your shoulder joint, which means it lifts your arms up in front of you. During both exercises, the middle area of your deltoid and the clavicular head of your pectoralis major assist in lifting your arms up while your serratus anterior and trapezius control the movement at your scapula. During the shoulder press, there’s movement at your elbows. They extend as you push the weights over your head. Therefore, unlike the front shoulder raise, the shoulder press also recruits the triceps brachii at the back of your upper arms.
If you’re lifting weights by yourself, you may want to use the front shoulder raise to develop your shoulders. When doing the shoulder press, you’re lifting the weights over your head. For safety purposes, it’s a good idea to recruit a spotter to stand by in case you lose control of the weights. The front shoulder raise is a better option if you have shoulder joint issues as well. The shoulder press places stress on your supraspinatus muscle within your shoulder capsule and can lead to shoulder impingement.
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.