What Do Front Raises Work Out?

Front raises develop strength and size in your shoulders.

Front raises develop strength and size in your shoulders.

The front raise is an isolation strength-training exercise, which means it requires movement around just one joint. It’s typically performed with a pair of dumbbells, but a barbell or a pair of kettlebells can also be used. The exercise involves standing with weights held down at the front of your thighs, and then lifting them up in front of you until your arms are parallel to the floor.

Anterior Deltoid

The anterior portion of the deltoid muscle is the primary mover involved in front raises. The deltoid is the major muscle in the shoulder, with the anterior portion located at the front that muscle. The anterior deltoid’s primary responsibility is shoulder flexion, which is the movement at your shoulders as you lift the weights upwards in front of you during front raises. Although additional smaller muscles contribute to the front raise, the anterior deltoid produces the most force that overcomes the weighted implements.

Pectoralis Major

The pectoralis major is the major muscle at the chest. It features two heads, including the clavicular head, which is located at the upper section of your chest near your clavicle. It inserts at the middle of your clavicle and then runs out and inserts at your humerus, or upper arm, bone. During front raises, the clavicular head of the pectoralis major assists in shoulder flexion.

Scapular Muscles

Both the trapezius and serratus anterior muscles control movement at the scapula when you perform front raises. The trapezius muscle is located near the center of your back between your scapulas. The serratus anterior originates at the back of your upper rips and then inserts at your scapula. During front raises, the serratus anterior and the middle and lower sections of the trapezius is responsible for elevating your scapula joint, which means it slides your scapula upward as you lift your arms up.

Body Stabilizing Muscles

Front raises are most commonly done from a standing position. The pull of the weights you lift can throw you off balance without the action of the muscles in your core. According to the American Council on Exercise, your rectus abdominus and transverse abdominals in your stomach contract to prevent your torso from collapsing backwards. Your obliques keep you from teetering from side to side, and your erector spinae muscle that runs along your spine prevents your torso from falling forward.

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About the Author

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.

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