best-front-delt-exercises

5 Best Front Delt Exercises: Science-Proven Workouts for a Stronger and Wider Shoulder 

best-front-delt-exercises

Are you looking to enhance the definition of your front deltoids and build a strong and wider shoulder? The shoulder width plays a significant role in the overall shoulder mass and ultimately how you look. To achieve that superhero frame, you must give the front delts the necessary attention it deserves. In this article, we will have a look at the best front delt exercises.

Key Takeaways 

  • The benefits of front delt are forward movement of your arms and shoulder stability.
  • Neglecting them can lead to muscle imbalances and increase the risk of shoulder injuries.
  • To achieve maximum activation of the front deltoids, we have carefully chosen 5 exercises.
  • The exercises that emphasize the front delts are Standing Overhead Barbell Press, Standing Overhead Dumbbell Press, Seated Dumbbell Press, Kneeling Landmine, and Bodyweight Pike Pushups.
  • Pick one exercise from this and incorporate it into your Shoulder workout routine. 

Anatomy of the Anterior Delts

The shoulder muscles are composed of three muscle fibres: the front, side, and rear delt. The front delts, also known as the anterior deltoids, are located at the front of your shoulder joint and are responsible for shoulder flexion, or raising your arm forward.

The front delts run almost 45 degrees to the side relative to your torso. This anatomical fact plays a huge role in how you build your front delts.

To activate the muscle effectively, it’s important to avoid flaring your elbows out to the sides when performing overhead presses. Not only is this position risky for your shoulders, but it also fails to correctly align with the front delt muscle fibers, which may result in a shoulder injury.

Instead, move your elbows into what is called the scapular plane, which is slightly in front of the body. This will help you better target the front delts during exercises like the overhead press.

What Are the Best Front Delt Exercises?

We have selected the top 5 front delt exercises that provide maximum activation of the front shoulder muscles.

1. Standing Overhead Barbell Press

The standing overhead press has been shown to activate the front delts very well (Boeckh-Behrens and Buskies, 2000).

This compound exercise involves lifting a barbell overhead while standing, which requires significant shoulder strength and stability.

How to Perform the Exercise

Step 1: Set up Your Equipment

Find a barbell and the appropriate weight plates for your fitness level.

Place the barbell on a squat rack or a suitable surface at about chest height.

Ensure the weight plates are securely fastened on both sides of the bar.

Step 2: Hand Placement

Stand in front of the barbell with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Reach for the bar with both hands, keeping your grip slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart. Your palms should face forward.

Step 3: Bar Positioning

Position the barbell so that it rests on your upper chest or collarbone.

The barbell should be in line with your shoulders.

Step 4: Setup for the Press

Squeeze your glutes to stabilize your lower body.

Brace your core by taking a deep breath and tightening your abs.

Make sure your elbows are slightly in front of your torso but directly under the barbell.

Step 5: The Press

While maintaining a neutral lower back, push the barbell directly overhead by extending your arms.

Exhale as you press the barbell upward.

Focus on keeping your wrists and elbows in line with the bar as you lift it.

The bar should move in a straight line as you press it up.

Step 6: Full Extension

Continue pressing the barbell until your arms are fully extended overhead.

At the top of the movement, your arms should be straight, and the barbell should be directly above your head.

Step 7: Lower the Barbell

Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position, allowing it to touch your upper chest or collarbone.

Step 8: Repetitions and Sets

Repeat the overhead press for your desired number of repetitions. Typically, aim for 6 to 12 reps per set.

Perform the desired number of sets, resting between each set as needed.

2. Standing Overhead Dumbbell Press

The standing overhead dumbbell press is similar to the barbell press, but it uses dumbbells instead of a barbell. 

This is one of the best front delt dumbbell exercises and is great for targeting each arm individually, which can help to improve muscle imbalances.

According to a 2013 paper comparing four different types of overhead presses, the standing dumbbell overhead press provided the highest activation with not only the front delts but across all three heads of the shoulder.

The downside with this exercise, however, is that it can get increasingly difficult to overload once you get to heavier weights.

This exercise requires a lighter weight and higher reps, unlike the barbell overhead press. Therefore, choose a lighter weight and aim for about 20 to 30 reps per set.

This way, you can take your shoulder muscles close to failure without your setup being the limiting factor.

How to Perform the Standing Overhead Dumbell Press

Step 1: Set Up

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand, one in each hand, with your palms facing forward.

Keep your core engaged and maintain a neutral lower back position.

Step 2: Hand Position

Raise the dumbbells to shoulder height, with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.

Ensure your wrists are aligned with your elbows.

Step 3: The Press

Squeeze your glutes to stabilize your lower body.

Take a deep breath and brace your core.

Push the dumbbells directly overhead by extending your arms.

Exhale as you press the dumbbells upward.

Keep the motion controlled and steady.

Step 4: Full Extension

Continue pressing the dumbbells until your arms are fully extended overhead.

At the top of the movement, your arms should be straight, and the dumbbells should be directly above your head.

Step 5: Lower the Dumbbells

Slowly lower the dumbbells back to shoulder height, maintaining control.

Your elbows should remain at a 90-degree angle.

Step 6: Repetitions and Sets

To accommodate the lighter weight and higher reps, aim for about 20 to 30 repetitions per set.

Perform the desired number of sets, resting between each set as needed.

3. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

If you want to continuously overload, then the seated dumbbell shoulder press is the perfect option for hitting your front delts. 

This exercise is performed while seated, which can help to isolate the shoulders and help you maintain good form.

How to Perform the Exercise

Step 1: Adjust the Bench Angle

Begin by adjusting the bench angle to make your seated dumbbell shoulder press more comfortable and effective.

Set the bench at an angle closer to 60-75 degrees.

With the traditional 90-degree bench, I often find myself externally rotating at the joint hence straining my shoulders.

Step 2: Arm Positioning and Technique

Sit on the bench with your selected bench angle, keeping your feet flat on the ground.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand, with your palms facing forward.

Maintain an upright and neutral spine position.

Step 3: Arm Positioning

Position your arms slightly forward, with your elbows in front of your shoulders. This slight forward lean of the arms helps maintain proper form and ensures that the shoulder muscles are engaged throughout the exercise.

Step 4: The Press

Squeeze your glutes and engage your core for stability.

Take a deep breath and brace your core.

Raise the dumbbells in front and push them directly overhead by extending your arms.

Exhale as you press the dumbbells upward.

Keep the motion controlled and steady.

Continue pressing the dumbbells until your arms are fully extended overhead.

At the top of the movement, your arms should be straight, and the dumbbells should be directly above your head.

Slowly lower the dumbbells back to shoulder height, maintaining control.

Your elbows should remain at a 90-degree angle.

Repetitions and Sets

You can choose the weight based on your strength level, but it’s typically best to start with a weight that allows you to complete 8-12 repetitions with good form.

Perform 3-4 sets of the exercise, resting between sets as needed.

4. Kneeling Landmine Press

The kneeling landmine press is a unique exercise that targets the front deltoids from a different angle.

This is one of the best exercises especially if you want to build the entire core strength, the back muscles along with shoulder health.

When you perform this exercise, your core muscles play a vital role in stabilizing your torso and preventing it from rotating excessively towards the loaded side.

Engaging your core muscles this way can have a positive impact on your overall strength, which can benefit compound movements like deadlifts and squats.

To maximize the benefits of this workout for a well-rounded and robust fitness regimen, focus on controlled movements while reaching forward, rather than merely pressing the weight upward.

How to Perform the Kneeling Landmine Press

Step 1: Set Up Your Equipment Begin by setting up your equipment. You’ll need a landmine attachment or landmine base, a barbell, and a barbell sleeve or a landmine handle. Secure the landmine attachment to the floor or a sturdy surface. Load the appropriate weight plates onto one end of the barbell.

Step 2: Kneel and Position Yourself Kneel down in front of the landmine attachment with your back straight, and your knees hip-width apart. Position the loaded end of the barbell into the landmine attachment so that it’s securely in place.

Step 3: Grip the Barbell Stand close to the end of the barbell, reach forward, and grip the barbell with one hand. Your hand should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and your palm should be facing up.

Step 4: Press the Weight Start with the barbell close to your chest. Engage your core to maintain stability. Press the barbell upward and forward in a controlled manner, extending your arm fully. As you press the weight, think about reaching forward, rather than just pushing it straight up.

Step 5: Lower the Weight Slowly lower the barbell back to your chest, maintaining control throughout the movement. This controlled lowering phase is as important as the pressing phase.

Step 6: Perform Repetitions Repeat the press for the desired number of repetitions on one side before switching to the other side. It’s important to focus on your form and keep your core engaged throughout the exercise.

5. Bodyweight Pike Pushups

Bodyweight pike pushups are a great exercise for targeting the front deltoids without any equipment.

How to Perform the Bodyweight Pike Pushups

Step 1: Set Up Your Body Position Begin by setting up your body position. Start in a high plank position with your hands placed shoulder-width apart on the floor and your fingers pointing forward. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels.

Step 2: Create an Upside-Down V-Shape To create the upside-down V-shape recommended for pike push-ups, walk your feet closer to your hands. Keep your legs straight as you do this, lifting your hips and buttocks upward. You’ll end up in a position where your body forms an inverted “V” shape. This position helps align the elbows in a way that targets the front deltoid muscles.

Step 3: Perform the Push-Up With your body in the pike position, bend your elbows and lower your head down toward the floor. Keep your core engaged to maintain stability. Your upper body should move forward as you lower yourself, emulating the way the front delt fibers run. Go as low as your flexibility and strength allow.

Step 4: Push Back Up After lowering yourself as far as you can with control, press through your hands to push your body back up to the starting pike position. This movement targets your shoulder muscles, especially the front deltoids.

Step 5: Adjust for Difficulty If pike push-ups are too challenging initially, you can modify the exercise by performing them on your knees instead. This reduces the intensity while still working your shoulders.

Step 6: Elevate Your Feet (Advanced) On the other hand, if pike push-ups become too easy over time, make the exercise more challenging by elevating your feet onto a higher platform, such as a sturdy chair or step. This increases the resistance and provides a more advanced variation of the exercise.

Step 7: Perform Repetitions Complete the desired number of repetitions based on your fitness level. Ensure that your form remains correct throughout the set. Focus on engaging your shoulder muscles and maintaining a straight body line.

How Often Should You Train Your Front Delts?

It’s essential to find the right balance between frequency and volume when training your front delts.

Studies indicate that the shoulder muscles recover quicker than other muscles, such as the chest, back, and legs.

This means that you can train them more frequently. However, it’s important to remember that there’s a limit to how much you should train them.

To allow for proper recovery, it is recommended that you train your front delts up to 3 to 4 times a week. This will give your muscles enough time to recover and grow between training sessions.

Regarding volume, you should aim for about 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps for your front delt exercises. This will provide enough stimulus to promote muscle growth without overtraining your muscles.

Always start with a lower frequency and volume and gradually increase as your body adapts to the training.

Summarizing the Best Front Deltoid Exercises?

If you want to target your front delts, include one of these five exercises in your shoulder workout routine.

  • Standing Overhead Barbell Press
  • Standing Overhead Dumbbell Press
  • Seated Dumbbell Press
  • Kneeling Landmine
  • Bodyweight Pike Pushups

To optimize muscle growth, it’s recommended to train your shoulders twice weekly. Target the three heads of the deltoid for a complete shoulder definition.

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