Time is the most precious commodity there is. Wasting it should be a crime, and you should feel bad doing it!
Speaking of total wastes of time, you’ve probably seen one exercise and its close variations in almost every shoulder routine: the front delt raise.
Do you even need to do it, and what benefits does it offer?
What’s The Purpose Of a Front Delt Raise?
The shoulder muscle (deltoid) consists of three heads: the anterior (front), lateral (middle), and posterior (back).
Each head serves unique functions, and developing all three is necessary for building strong and healthy shoulders.
The front delt raise is a movement pattern where you raise a weight in front of your body. It is designed to target and develop the front portion of the muscle.
Is The Front Delt Raise Necessary In a Shoulder Routine?
Many people are under the impression that it is necessary to train all three heads directly for optimal growth. The idea makes sense because that is true for almost every muscle group you can think of: the biceps, triceps, quadriceps, etc.
But, the front deltoid is different for one reason: the area receives a lot of stimulation from many other exercises you do at the gym.
All pressing activities (e.g., overhead press, bench press, dumbbell press, push-up variations, etc.), chest flies, upright rows, kettlebell swings, and even lateral raises will involve the front deltoid.
Doing front delt raises on top of all that training volume is redundant and largely unnecessary.
A Good Reason to Avoid Front Delt Raises
After reading the two previous points, you might think, “Okay, sure. My front delts work on other exercises, but what’s the harm in doing some isolation work?”
The problem is one most people don’t consider: muscle imbalances. Doing all of that indirect work for the front deltoids and adding isolation work on top can easily result in the overdevelopment of the area.
Unfortunately, good frontal development isn’t always met with the growth of the upper back and rear deltoids. One reason is that people don’t care about growing the rear deltoids as much. Face pulls and reverse flies? Who cares about those?
Another reason is that many trainees, especially newbies, struggle to activate their posterior muscles effectively. When doing ‘pulling’ exercises, the biceps often take over and receive most of the stimulation.
As a result, an imbalance develops, leading to:
- Poor Posture
The most common issue related to overdeveloped front delts is poor posture. Training the area too much can cause the shoulders to roll forward, causing upper back roundness.
The effect is further magnified in people who spend most of their days seated in front of a computer.
- Impaired Mobility
Aside from looking bad, poor posture can contribute to impaired shoulder mobility and an inability to perform various exercises with proper form. Some activities that heavily rely on good shoulder mobility include the overhead press and upright row.
First, a rounded posture causes a shift in shoulder blade position, making it more challenging to achieve optimal scapular retraction and depression. These movement patterns are necessary for putting your shoulders in a safe and strong position during activities like the bench and overhead press.
Second, a change in shoulder blade position impacts how our shoulders move, which can cause long-lasting issues. Speaking of that:
- Higher Injury Risk
Higher injury risk is the third and perhaps biggest issue resulting from muscle imbalances.
Poor posture and impaired mobility impact movement mechanics, making everyday gym exercises riskier.
A shift in shoulder blade position affects how the joint and surrounding muscles move, putting trainees at risk of chronic pain and injuries.
For instance, impaired movement can cause shoulder impingement, which is when a tendon rubs or catches against surrounding tissues when moving your arms. The result is an inability to move your arms freely and experiencing debilitating pain when attempting to do so.
The front delt raise is by no means a bad exercise because it serves a purpose. But, as you can see, context matters.
For most people, in most situations, the exercise is largely unnecessary and redundant.
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