The front delt isn’t only crucial for enhancing your upper body appearance but your upper body strength and building 3D shoulders.
In this article, I’ll share a list of best front delt exercises, including my top three picks to help you build strong and more defined shoulders. So, let’s dive in and start crushing some iron!
My Picks: Top 3 Best Front Delt Exercises
Here’re my top three choices for the best anterior deltoid exercises:
Muscle Anatomy of the Front Delts
The front deltoids, also known as the anterior deltoids, are one of three heads of the deltoid muscle group in the shoulder. As the name says, front deltoids are located at the front of the shoulder, covering the ball-and-socket joint where the humerus (upper arm bone) meets the scapula (shoulder blade). 
The anterior deltoid muscle originates from the collar bone and attaches to the humerus bone in the upper arms.
Its primary function is to raise the arm forward, assist in shoulder flexion and internal rotation, and assist in stabilizing the shoulder joint during pressing and pushing movements. 
Best Front Delt Exercises At-Home
Check out the best at-home front delt exercises.
1. Pike push-ups
- Position yourself on your toes and hands on the floor, and your hips up and knees extended (like a “V” shape).
- Keep your back flat, core tight, and neck neutral.
- Inhale and bend your elbows to lower your head toward the floor while keeping your arms and upper body in line.
- Pushing through your shoulders, extend your elbows and return to the initial position as you exhale. Repeat.
It’s one of the best shoulder exercises you can do at home. If the pike push-up is too advanced for you, do it on a high surface (e.g., placing the hands on a bench) before moving into the floor.
2. Shoulder Taps
- Position yourself on a plank position with your hands on the floor. Maintain a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Keep your back flat, core tight, and hip squeezed.
- Lift your right hand off the floor and tap it on the left shoulder while your bodyweight will be on the one hand.
- Then, return your right hand to the initial position and do the same with your left hand.
- Continue alternating as desired reps.
Place your feet on a bench or high surface to increase the tension on the anterior deltoids.
3. Kneeling Bodyweight Shoulder Press
- To do this exercise, start with a kneeling push-up position and place your hands on the ground shoulder-width apart.
- This is almost the same movement as we do with the barbell overhead press. But here, instead of pressing the barbell away from the body, you’ll press yourself away from the floor.
- By pressing the body away from the floor, you’ll be replicated the same force and tension in the delts as you get during a barbell/dumbbell overhead press.
Press your body as far as possible to increase the tension in the deltoid heads. It’s one of the best front-delt isolation exercises you can do without equipment.
4. High-Feet Plank Hold
- Place your feet on a bench and hands shoulder-width apart on the floor like a plank with hands.
- Keep your core tight and your body straight throughout the exercise.
- Hold this position for 30-45 seconds.
It can be the last exercise of your shoulder day, excellent to fire up your front and middle delts.
Best Front Delt Dumbbell Exercises
Here’re the best front delt exercises with dumbbells.
5. Arnold Press
- Sit on a bench with your elbows bent and pointing forward, and hold a pair of dumbbells at shoulder level with an underhand grip (thumbs pointing away from each other).
- Keeping your back straight, inhale and extend your arms toward the ceiling while rotating 180 degrees at the wrist, bringing them into an overhand grip (thumbs pointing toward each other) at the top of the movement.
- Slowly return back to the initial position and exhale. Repeat.
Keep the elbows pointing forward throughout the exercise to prevent excessive friction in the shoulder and get maximum front delt tension.
6. Alternate Dumbbell Front Raise
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the dumbbells overhand as they rest on your thighs or slightly to the side.
- Inhale and alternate raising your arms to the front to eye level.
- Exhale at the end of the movement.
Make sure to use lighter weights. Instead of alternating, you can also raise both arms at a time. Try to control the lowering phase of the movement.
7. Seated Shoulder Press
- Sit on a bench with your back straight and hold a pair of dumbbells resting at the side of your shoulder.
- Inhale and extend your arms straight up. Make sure your wrists are straight with your elbows and shoulder joint.
- Lower the bar to the starting position and exhale. Repeat.
Avoid excessive curvature on the lumbar spine (i.e., lower back). It’s one of the best exercises for building shoulder strength.
8. Crush Grip Dumbbell Press
- Stand with your feet slightly apart, hold a dumbbell with both hands and fingers crossing one another, and rest in front of your chest.
- Inhale, press the dumbbell in the front and upward.
- Lower the dumbbell as you exhale, and repeat.
This front delt isolation exercise also engages the upper pectoralis major muscle. Use a slightly heavy weight and feel an intense burn in your front deltoid.
9. Scoop Shoulder Press
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, core tight, and back straight. Hold a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip (palms facing toward you) and elbows softly bent.
- Move your elbows backward behind your body so the dumbbells can align with your body.
- Then, inhale and extend your arms all the way up toward the ceiling.
- Lower your arms to the starting position as you exhale.
Make sure to avoid unnecessary movement of the body. Contract the anterior deltoid at the top and get a nice when lowering the dumbbell.
Best Front Delt Exercises with Barbell
Here’re the best anterior deltoid exercises with a barbell.
10. Overhead Press
- Stand with your feet slightly apart and grasp a barbell with an overhand grip about shoulder-width apart, resting in front of the shoulder or upper chest.
- Keep your back straight and your core tight, and look straight ahead in the front.
- Inhale and press the bar all the way up toward the ceiling.
- Lower your arms to the starting position as you exhale.
It’s one of the best compound exercises you can do to target the front deltoid muscles. Avoid excessive curvature in the lower back and move the bar in a straight line.
11. One-Arm Landmine Press
- Start by grabbing one end of the barbell with one hand, resting in front of your shoulder and the other hand on your shoulder.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, back straight, and core tight.
- Inhale and press the bar upward and forward until you reach full extension.
- Lower your arm to the initial position. Repeat and switch arms.
Keep your elbow closer to your body. When lowering the bar, don’t let your elbow go backward your body, which can create discomfort in the shoulder joint.
12. Push Press
- Stand with your feet slightly apart and hold the dumbbells in a neutral grip, resting in front of your shoulder. Keep your body straight and your core tight.
- Inhale, drive through your heels (create momentum), and extend the dumbbells all the way up toward the ceiling.
- Lower your arms to the starting position as you exhale.
Avoid excessive arching of your lower back or protruding your head forward.
Best Front Delt Cable Exercises
Here’re the best anterior deltoid exercises with bands and a cable machine.
13. Overhand Grip Cable Front Raise
- Stand with the feet slightly apart, arms next to the body. Grasp the cable (or resistance band) handle with an overhand grip with one hand and take a step forward away from the machine.
- Inhale and raise the arm to eye level, contracting your anterior deltoid.
- Then slowly lower your arm and exhale. Repeat and switch arms.
Cable front raise is one of the best front delt isolation exercises for maximum muscle activation. Pause for 3 seconds a the top of the movement to target your front shoulder more intensely.
14. Resistance Band Front Raise with Pull Apart
- Stand on a resistance band with your feet slightly apart and hold the band against your front thighs. Keep your spine neutral and core tight.
- Inhale, raise your arms to shoulder level, and then separate your arm to the sides at shoulder height.
- Then return your arms to the shoulder-width and slowly lower your arms to the starting position. Repeat.
Keep your body still and spine neutral throughout the exercise. Stand with a wider stance to increase your band’s resistance.
15. Cable Front Raise with Stretch
- To begin, grab the handle of a low pulley and take a step forward away from the machine so the machine is the backside of you.
- Keeping the torso locked and elbow slightly bent, inhale and raise your arm in the front and upward to eye level.
- Then, slowly lower your arm to the starting position and let it go slightly back to get a nice stretch in your anterior deltoid. Repeat and switch arms.
It’s one of my favorite front delt exercises with cable. Avoid swinging your body throughout the exercise and move the arm in a controlled fashion.
Sample Front Delt Workout Routine
Here’s a sample front deltoid workout routine:
- Warm-up: 3-5 minutes of shoulder circles, arm swings, and band pull-apart
- Barbell overhead presses: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Seated Dumbbell overhead presses: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Cable front raises: 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps
- High-feet plank hold: 2 sets of 30-45 seconds
- Cool-down: 3-5 minutes of stretching
Rest for 60-120 seconds between sets.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Training Anterior Deltoids
People make several common mistakes when performing front delt exercises, leading to less effective workouts, poor form, and even injury. Here are a few examples you should avoid.
Overuse of Momentum
When performing delt exercises, people rely too much on momentum rather than proper form or using the targeted muscle. Swinging or jerking the weight can make the exercise easier but less effective, putting unnecessary stress on other muscles and joints.
So instead, you should use lighter weights (especially when training shoulder muscles) and focus on maximizing muscle activation.
Unstable and Poor Posture
Whether you’re training your anterior deltoid or any other muscles, it’s crucial to maintain proper posture and form when performing the anterior delt exercises. This will help you make your shoulder workout more effective and prevent injury.
So, avoid arching the lower back during pressing exercises like overhead presses or upright rows, which can place undue stress on the lumbar spine, leading to discomfort and injury.
Using too Heavy Weights
Shoulder joints are one of the complex areas of the body, and putting too much pressure can lead to inflammation and joint pain.
Remember the quote, “Leave your ego at the door when training your shoulder.“
In the gym, we all want to lift heavier weights to show off our strength, but lifting too heavy during shoulder exercises can actually be counterproductive. It can compromise your form and lead to injury, as well as reduce the range of motion and limit the effectiveness of the exercise.
Shrugging the shoulders
During exercises like the overhead press or front raise, it’s common to unconsciously shrug the shoulders (i.e., the elevation of the shoulder blades), which can shift the tension away from the front delts onto other muscles.
To avoid this, focus on depressing the shoulder blades down and back throughout the movement.
It’s also common in people with the weak lower and middle trapezius and rhomboid muscles. So, make sure you also train your traps and back muscles properly.
Not Doing Full Range of Motion
Some people may only perform a partial range of motion during exercises (like the front raise, failing to fully extend or lower the weight). This can limit the activation of the front delts and lead to muscle imbalances.
Aim to perform each exercise in a full range of motion while avoiding excessive momentum and swinging the body.
Building strong and defined front deltoids is important to achieving a well-rounded and impressive physique.
Incorporating these exercises can help you target the muscle from different angles and ranges of motion.
Your number one priority should be to perform the exercises in a proper form and optimal range of motion instead of lifting heavy. Gradually progress as your strength improves.
Don’t forget to train the other two heads — posterior and lateral deltoid.
FAQs About Best Anterior Deltoid Exercises
What exercise works the front deltoids?
According to American Council on Exercise (ACE) research, the dumbbell shoulder press has significantly higher front deltoid activation than any other exercise.
How to stretch the front delt?
To stretch the front deltoids:
– Stand tall with your arms shoulder-width apart and extended behind your back with one hand grasping the other.
– Push the arms as far back as possible, then slowly raise them while pushing out the chest and pulling the chin in.
– Hold this position for 20-30 seconds.
This exercise mainly stretches the anterior deltoid as well as the pectoralis major and biceps brachii.