There are numerous reasons why we hit the gym. Some of us want to work hard to lose weight, get shredded, or tone specific body parts. However, a significant percentage of men hit the gym to specifically work on their front delts as they consider them a symbol of functional fitness and strength.
Although these delts are part of the shoulders, it does not mean you will give them a thorough workout by performing an overall shoulder workout. Remember that such a workout is generalized, as it also has to target your medial and posterior deltoids.
Note that you need a front delts workout that primarily targets this area and brings you closer to your fitness goals. This read will guide you on training this area using some of the most effective front delts exercises. But, first, take a look at this sample of a front delts workout plan.
What Are The Front Delts?
The front delts refer to the front part of your shoulder muscle, also known as the anterior deltoids. They run from your clavicle and insert at the upper arm bone, known as the humerus.
The Best Exercises To Include In A Front Delts Workout
Exercise is one of the best ways to attain your fitness goals. You are bound to see results if you perform the correct workout that aligns with your goals. If you are targeting your deltoid muscle, you must look for the best workout for front delts. Fitness experts have found the following exercises to be effective in toning and building up your front delts:
The Arnold Press
The Arnold Press is a comprehensive shoulder exercise that targets all your deltoid muscles. Do this if you need to work on your posterior, anterior, and lateral deltoids. The exercise is named after the actor and bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here is a detailed guide on how to perform this press (4):
- Start in a sitting position with a pair of comfortable dumbbells in each hand. Your arms should be bent and palms facing you.
- Open your arms such that your elbows move to the sides and palms facing forward, and then push your arms straight up into an overhead press.
- As the arms move into an overhead position, your elbows will bend slightly, which is okay. Hold this position for a few seconds before returning your arms to the starting position.
- Repeat to complete 20 reps.
Push-ups are practical full-body exercises, but they mainly target your front delts. If done correctly, they will tone your core, arm muscles, shoulders, and leg muscles. Here is the proper guideline on how to do them (4):
- Start in a standing position and in front of a wall or bench with your feet at hip-width distance.
- Place your hands on the wall or bench, tighten your core, and bring your feet together behind you. Do not arch your back or lock your knees.
- Start to slowly lower towards the bench or wall while keeping your head and spine aligned. Again, be sure not to lift or sag your hips. Instead, let your body form a straight line from head to toe and let it move in one line in this movement.
- Your elbows will go outward as you lower, and your chin and chest will move towards the ground. Do not let either touch the ground. Instead, it would be best if you rested a few inches above the ground.
- Pause at the bottom of the movement before stretching your arms and pressing to the starting position. Remember to breathe normally, engage your abdominal muscles, and keep your body in a straight line.
- Repeat to complete 15 reps.
NOTE: The incline push-up exercise is a variation of the basic push-up exercise. You can perform the regular push-up if you are a beginner or have problems nailing this exercise. With time you can add this exercise to your front delts workout plan.
Dumbbell Front Raises
These raises are among the best ways of building mass in your front delts. Similarly, fitness gurus also rank them among the best exercises to build shoulder strength and size (1). This means you will never fail to see them in dumbbell shoulder workouts.
Although they look straightforward, these raises can be deceptively tough to perform. Any slight movement that alters the correct form can cause an injury. This is one of the reasons why people’s front delts hurt after a chest workout. Take a look at this guide on how to nail these raises (1):
- Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart and with dumbbells in each hand. Make sure the palms are facing down, knees are slightly bent, and the weights are touching your quads.
- Slowly stretch your arms in front of your body without bending your elbows and to your shoulder level. Alternatively, you can raise one arm at a time.
- Hold that position for a few seconds before lowering the weights to the initial position.
- Repeat 15 times on each side if you are doing the one-arm dumbbell front raises or 20 times working on both arms simultaneously.
Standing Dumbbell Rows
The standing dumbbell rows are one of the best exercises to perform to juggle various muscle groups. It targets your back, shoulders, arms, and back, helping you gain strength, mass, and core stability. However, before you reap these benefits, you must perform the exercise correctly. Here are the steps to help you master how to perform this exercise (1):
- Start in a standing position with your feet at a hip-width distance and a dumbbell in each hand. Double-check that your palms are facing each other.
- Slowly push your hips back, bend your knees, and lean your torso forward. It should be parallel with the ground, and you should not experience any pain. If you do, stand back up and adjust to get the correct form.
- Let the dumbbells hang straight down in front of your knees, with the weight centered in your heels.
- Keep your back straight, engage your core and squeeze your shoulder blades together and then pull through your arms to lift the weights towards the chest.
- Hold the movement when the weights are close to your chest before stretching your arms out to let them hang by your knees.
- Repeat twenty times.
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Dumbbell Shoulder Press
This press is particularly effective in strengthening your front delts (anterior deltoid). However, it also targets other shoulder muscles, your upper back, pecs, triceps, and trapezius. To perform this press (1):
- Stand upright with your back kept straight, feet at hip-width distance, and dumbbells in hand. Move your hands to your shoulder level and keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle.
- Slowly move the weights above your head but do not fully straighten your arms. Pause at the top of the movement and then slowly return to the starting position.
- Repeat to perform 20 reps.
The pike push-up is one of the best shoulder strengthener exercises. However, it is not recommended for beginners or individuals with shoulder or elbow injuries despite its effectiveness. Fitness experts emphasize the correct form because it is very easy to get hurt when performing this move. That said, pay attention to quality instead of quantity. Here is the guide on how to accomplish this move:
- Start in a high plank position with your hands firmly pressed on the floor and beneath your shoulders.
- Keep your back flat and tighten your core. Likewise, keep your body in a straight line and engage your glutes and hamstrings.
- Slowly lift your hips up and back until your body forms an inverted V shape. Try to keep your legs and arms as straight as possible.
- Bend your elbows and start to lower your torso towards the floor.
- Do not touch the floor but rest your upper body a few inches above the ground.
- Pause at the bottom of the movement before slowly pushing back up by stretching your arms straight. You will return to the inverted V shape position.
- Repeat to complete the instructed reps.
Barbell Overhead Press
The barbell overhead press is one of the best muscle-strengthening and bodybuilding exercises. Although it mainly activates your front delts, the press also works your glutes and lower body muscles.
The technique effectively increases upper body strength, especially in the anterior deltoids, triceps, trapezius muscles, and pecs (3). You can also perform this exercise for improved core strength and stabilization, among other compound exercises. Here is the guide on how to do an overhead barbell press in the correct form (3):
- Unlock the barbell with your hands at a distance slightly wider than the shoulder-width distance. Hold the barbell on your upper chest and anterior deltoids, with your palms facing forward.
- Stand upright, back straight, and feet at a hip-width distance and evenly distribute your weight to gain stability.
- Tighten your core, clench your glutes and quads, and lift the barbell towards the ceiling. Make sure your spine is kept neutral and that your head is pushed slightly behind to create enough room for lifting the barbell. Similarly, make sure your elbows are slightly bent, your arms are stretched, and your feet are firmly pressed on the floor.
- Make sure that the barbell rests on the heels of your palms and that the palms are aligned with your elbows.
- Support the barbell using your shoulders and upper back in the overhead position and hold for a few seconds.
- Slowly bring the barbell down by bending your elbows to the starting position.
- Repeat until you finish the instructed reps.
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Key Pointers When Designing A Front Delts Workout
Determining the best front delts workout is only half the battle. It would help if you still considered other factors that come into play when designing this workout plan. Some of these aspects include:
- The Weights. Most of the exercises we have compiled only require a pair of dumbbells. We advise you to use relatively lighter weights if you are a beginner. Similarly, we suggest using the same weights if you are performing more reps. It is crucial to use comfortable loads for the barbell exercise due to the high risk of injury (3).
- The Reps. Again, we suggest reducing the number of reps for each exercise if you are a beginner. The worst-case scenario with high reps for most beginners is poor form in a bid to complete the instructed reps. We suggest you pay more attention to quality instead of quantity.
- Sets. Your fitness level will highly influence the number of sets you perform. One set is enough for beginners. However, those in the advanced level may be instructed by their trainer to perform two to three sets. It would be best to talk to your trainer about this instead of guessing.
- Hand Placement. Hand placement is crucial if you want to target your front delts. If you’re going to give them a thorough workout, be sure to let your upper arms pull the weights forward like with the dumbbell front raises (2).
- Fatigue Threshold. The front delts have a limited fatigue threshold, but it takes longer to recover. To avoid damaging these deltoids, try to exercise at least twice a week, using comfortable weights. Similarly, perform at least 10-20 reps for a moderately intense workout.
- Consistency. Your delts will not pop or tone as you want overnight. Instead, it will take time as results are highly influenced by your training consistency. Similarly, other factors such as age, genes, and body type also come into play.
The Bottom Line
The front delts refer to the anterior deltoids or the muscles at the front part of your shoulders. They require training to improve their functional strength. However, training these delts can also lead to core stabilization and upper body toning.
When designing a front delts workout plan, make sure you include practical exercises, particularly those that target the delts. They include the overhead barbell press, incline push-up, Arnold press, and the standing dumbbell rows. Again, it would be best to consult a trainer before changing or starting an exercise program.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Best Exercises for Shoulders (2021, webmd.com)
- Slide show: Weight training exercises (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Weightlifting Overhead Pressing Derivatives: A Review of the Literature (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What are the best lower chest exercises? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)