The 10 Best Front Delt Exercises

These are the 10 best front delt exercises, according to science. The post The 10 Best Front Delt Exercises appeared first on Legion Athletics.

The 10 Best Front Delt Exercises

Front delt exercises are a bone of contention among fitness folks.

Some say that to develop your front delts fully, you have to spend time training them directly with front delt isolation exercises.

Others believe this is wasted labor. According to them, pressing exercises train your front delts better than isolation exercises, so there’s no need to waste your time with front delt raises and the like, provided you’re already doing plenty of pressing.

Who’s right?

Learn the best front delt exercises, according to science, in this article.

What Are the Front Delts?

The deltoid muscles—or “delts”—are the muscles that cover your shoulder joints and help your upper arms move forward, upward, and backward.

Each deltoid is made up of three sections or “heads:” the anterior deltoid, the lateral deltoid, and the posterior deltoid

Here’s how they look on your body:

Shoulder-Muscles (1)

The anterior deltoids are commonly referred to as the “front delts” because they’re located on the front of your body. Their main function is to assist shoulder flexion (bringing your arms from by your sides in an arc until they’re above your head), though they also play a role in stabilizing the shoulder joint.

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How to Train the Front Delts, According to Science

Multiple studies show that the front delts are heavily involved in all pressing exercises, more so than during front delt isolation exercises like the front delt raise.

As such, there’s no reason to do front delt isolation exercises in your program, provided it already includes plenty of heavy pressing exercises, such as the overhead press, bench press, and Arnold press.

Research also shows that the more upright you are during a pressing exercise, the more the front delts contribute. For example, while the dumbbell bench press, incline dumbbell bench press, and shoulder press all train the front delts to a high degree, the incline variation trains them more than the flat variation, and the shoulder press (which involves sitting upright) trains them the most.

Lastly, there’s some evidence that pressing exercises involving dumbbells increase front delt activation more than barbell exercises. Some people take this to mean that dumbbell exercises are superior to barbell exercises for training your front delts.

There are three reasons this probably isn’t the case:

  1. More muscle activation doesn’t always lead to more muscle growth.
  2. You typically can’t lift as much weight on dumbbell exercises as you can on barbell exercises, which limits their muscle-building potential.
  3. Progress on dumbbell exercises is often slower than progress on barbell exercises, which means you can’t progressively overload them as effectively.

That said, there are benefits to using dumbbells for training your front delts.

For instance, dumbbells allow you to use a slightly longer range of motion, which is generally better for muscle and strength gain, and they train both sides of your body independently, which helps you identify and correct muscle and strength imbalances because one side can’t “take over” from the other.

Dumbbell exercises also allow your limbs to move more freely than many barbell exercises, so you can slightly alter your movements to avoid pain. This makes them helpful when “training around” an injury or if barbell exercises aggravate your shoulders, elbows, or wrists. 

Thus, the best way to train your shoulders is with a mixture of compound barbell and dumbbell pressing exercises at varying inclines that allow you to lift heavy weights safely and progress regularly.

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The Best Front Delt Exercises

1. Standing Overhead Press

7.PUSH-Standing Barbell Overhead Press

How to:

  1. Set a barbell in a rack at the same height as your upper chest
  2. Grip the bar with a shoulder-width grip and your palms facing away from you.
  3. Unrack the barbell and take a small step backward with each foot, keeping your wrists stacked over your elbows, and your elbows tucked close to your sides. 
  4. Plant your feet just outside of shoulder width, brace your core, squeeze your glutes, and push the bar toward the ceiling. 
  5. Once your arms are straight and your elbows are locked out, reverse the movement and return to the starting position.

2. Seated Overhead Press

8.PUSH-Seated Barbell Overhead Press

How to:

  1. Set up an upright bench in a squat rack or power rack, or use a seated barbell overhead press station.
  2. Sit in the seat and press your back against the bench, reach your arms overhead, and note the height of your wrists in relation to the rack—this is the height you should set the barbell on the hooks.
  3. Set the barbell on the hooks at the appropriate height, sit down, and grip the bar with a shoulder-width grip and your palms facing away from you.
  4. Unrack the barbell and lower it to your collarbone.
  5. Once the bar reaches your collarbone, press the bar toward the ceiling and return to the starting position.

3. Shoulder Press

Before-After-blogpost-seateddumbbel

How to:

  1. While sitting on an upright bench, hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest them on your thighs. 
  2. Hoist the dumbbells up so you’re holding them just above your shoulders with your palms facing away from you, nudging them with your thighs to get them into position.
  3. Press the dumbbells straight up toward the ceiling until your arms are straight and your elbows are almost locked. 
  4. Lower the dumbbells and return to the starting position.

4. Arnold Press

Before-After-blogpost-Arnold

How to:

  1. While sitting on an upright bench, hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest them on your thighs.
  2. Hoist the dumbbells up so you’re holding them just in front of your shoulders with your palms facing toward you, nudging them with your thighs to get them into position.
  3. Press the dumbbells straight up over your head while rotating your wrists until your arms are straight, your elbows are locked, and your palms are facing away from you.
  4. Reverse the movement and return to the starting position.

5. Incline Bench Press

inclinebarbellpress

  1. Lie on a bench that’s angled at 30-to-45 degrees and place your feet flat on the floor. 
  2. Pull your shoulder blades together and down, and without lifting your butt or shoulders off the bench, slightly arch your back. 
  3. Grab the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, take a deep breath, brace your core, and unrack the barbell.
  4. Bring the barbell to your upper chest, making sure to keep your elbows tucked at about a 45-degree angle relative to your body. 
  5. When the bar touches your chest, explosively press the bar back to the starting position.

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6. Incline Dumbbell Press

4.PUSH-Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

How to:

  1. While lying on a bench that’s angled at 30-to-45 degrees, hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest them on your thighs. 
  2. Lie back, hoisting the dumbbells up so you’re holding them on either side of your chest by giving them a nudge with your thighs.
  3. Press the dumbbells straight up over your upper chest until your arms are straight and your elbows are locked.
  4. Lower the dumbbells to the starting position.

7. Bench Press

1.PUSH-Barbell Bench Press

How to:

  1. Lie on a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor, directly under your knees. 
  2. Pull your shoulder blades together and down, and without lifting your butt or shoulders off the bench, slightly arch your back. 
  3. Grab the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, take a deep breath, brace your core, and unrack the barbell.
  4. Bring the barbell to the middle of your chest, making sure to keep your elbows tucked at about a 45-degree angle relative to your body. 
  5. When the bar touches your chest, explosively press the bar back to the starting position.

8. Close-Grip Bench Press

6.Close-Grip Bench Press

How to:

  1. Lie on a flat bench, pull your shoulder blades together and down, and without lifting your butt or shoulders off the bench, slightly arch your back.
  2. Grip the barbell with a shoulder-width grip or slightly narrower and unrack the barbell so it’s directly above your chest.
  3. Lower the barbell to your lower chest while keeping your elbows tucked at about a 30-degree angle relative to your torso.
  4. When the bar touches your chest, explosively press the bar back to the starting position

9. Dumbbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Bench Press

How to:

  1. While sitting on a flat bench, hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest them on your thighs. 
  2. Lie back and bring the dumbbells up so you’re holding them on either side of your chest by giving them a nudge with your thighs.
  3. Press the dumbbells straight up over your chest until your arms are straight and your elbows are locked. 
  4. Lower the dumbbells to the starting position.

10. Dip

5.PUSH-Dip

How to:

  1. If you’re using a dip belt, wrap the chain around your waist, add the desired amount of weight to the chain, and fasten the carabiner.
  2. Grab hold of both handles of a dip bar or dip station, then press yourself up by straightening your arms and gently jumping off the ground so that your arms are straight and supporting your entire body weight. 
  3. Keep your torso upright to emphasize your triceps, bend your knees to keep your feet from touching the ground, and lower your body by bending your elbows until your upper arms are roughly parallel to the floor.
  4. Press hard into the handles to drive your body back up to the starting position.

The Best Front Delt Workout

As I explain in my fitness books for men and women, Bigger Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger, the best way to develop any muscle, including the front delts, is to train it in different ways, from different directions, and at different angles.

Here’s a front delt workout that does just that:

  • Standing Overhead Press: 3 sets of 4-to-6 reps with 2-to-3 min rest
  • Incline Bench Press: 3 sets of 4-to-6 reps with 2-to-3 min rest
  • Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 6-to-8 reps with 2-to-3 min rest
  • Dip: 3 sets of 6-to-8 reps with 2-to-3 min rest

(And if you’d like even more specific advice about what exercises to include in your training program to reach your health and fitness goals, take the Legion Strength Training Quiz, and in less than a minute, you’ll know the perfect strength training program for you. Click here to check it out.)

The post The 10 Best Front Delt Exercises appeared first on Legion Athletics.