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Underhand Front Raise: A Guide to Building Stronger Shoulders

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If you’re looking to build shoulder strength and contribute to sculpted shoulders, the underhand front raise is an exercise you should definitely consider. This exercise targets the anterior deltoid muscle, which is responsible for lifting the arm in front of the body. It’s a popular exercise for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts alike, and it’s easy to see why.

In this article, we’ll go beyond the basic execution of the underhand front raise and offer detailed information on muscle activation, variations, programming, and safety considerations. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced lifter, we’ve got you covered. Our goal is to provide you with everything you need to know to perform this exercise safely and effectively, so you can get the most out of your workouts.

So, if you’re ready to take your shoulder training to the next level, read on to learn more about the underhand front raise and how you can incorporate it into your routine. With our expert guidance, you’ll be on your way to stronger, more sculpted shoulders in no time.

Demystifying the Underhand Grip

If you are looking to spice up your shoulder workout, the underhand front raise is an excellent exercise to try. The underhand grip is the key differentiator in this exercise, and it can have a significant impact on the muscles worked and the overall effectiveness of the exercise.

Muscle Activation and Benefits

The underhand grip used in the underhand front raise targets the anterior deltoid, which is responsible for shoulder flexion and stability. By using the underhand grip, you can engage the anterior delts more effectively than with other variations of the front raise exercise. Additionally, the underhand grip can activate secondary muscles in the core, upper back, and biceps.

When comparing the underhand grip to the overhand grip, it is clear that the underhand grip provides a deeper range of motion and increased anterior deltoid activation. The overhand grip, on the other hand, tends to activate the lateral deltoids more effectively.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The underhand grip offers several advantages over other grips when performing front raises. The deeper range of motion and increased anterior deltoid activation make it an excellent choice for those looking to build shoulder strength and mobility. Additionally, the underhand grip allows for the potential to lift heavier weights, which can lead to greater gains in strength and muscle mass.

However, there are also potential disadvantages to using the underhand grip. Some individuals may experience discomfort in their wrists or elbows when using this grip, which can limit the amount of weight they can lift. Additionally, the underhand grip may not be suitable for those with pre-existing wrist or elbow injuries.

Mastering the Technique

Step-by-Step Guide:

To properly execute the underhand front raise exercise, follow these simple steps:

  1. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, core engaged, and back straight. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with an underhand grip, palms facing back.
  2. Lift the dumbbells simultaneously in front of your body, keeping your elbows slightly bent and your core engaged. Aim for shoulder level or slightly higher.
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position, maintaining control throughout the movement.
  4. Emphasize proper form by keeping a neutral spine, engaging your core, and avoiding swinging or jerking.

Common Mistakes and Corrections:

There are a few common mistakes that people make when performing the underhand front raise exercise. Here are some tips to help you correct these mistakes and ensure optimal technique:

  1. Arching the back: This is a common mistake that can cause lower back pain. To avoid this, engage your core muscles and keep your back straight throughout the movement.
  2. Shrugging the shoulders: When you lift the dumbbells, try to avoid shrugging your shoulders. Instead, focus on using your shoulder muscles to lift the weights.
  3. Swinging the dumbbells: This is a common mistake that can reduce the effectiveness of the exercise. To avoid swinging, focus on using a controlled movement and keeping your elbows slightly bent.
  4. Using momentum: Using momentum to lift the weights can reduce the effectiveness of the exercise. Instead, focus on using your shoulder muscles to lift the weights and maintaining control throughout the movement.

By following these simple steps and avoiding common mistakes, you can master the underhand front raise exercise and avoid shoulder pain or rotator cuff injuries.

Exploring Variations and Progressions

Variations for Different Levels:

Underhand front raises can be performed by people at different levels of fitness. Here are some variations for beginners, intermediate, and advanced levels.


If you are new to underhand front raises, it is best to start with lighter weights and focus on your form. You can also try seated variations to reduce the pressure on your lower back.


Once you have mastered the basic form, you can increase the weight and try single-arm variations to challenge your stability. Incorporating pauses in the middle of the movement can also help you build strength and control.


For advanced lifters, the Arnold press is a great variation that combines underhand and overhand grip. You can also try barbell variations or weighted lunges with front raises to challenge your balance and coordination.

To progress, start with the beginner variations and gradually incorporate more challenging variations as you get stronger.

Adding Intensity and Focus:

To increase the intensity of your underhand front raises, you can try the following:

  • Increase the number of reps and sets
  • Shorten your rest periods
  • Gradually increase the weight you are using
  • Perform supersets with other exercises

You can also include isometric holds at the top of the movement for increased time under tension. However, it is important to listen to your body and avoid overuse injuries.

Programming and Safety Considerations

Incorporating into a Routine

If you’re looking to incorporate underhand front raises into your routine, it is recommended to perform the exercise 2-3 times per week. Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps, depending on your fitness level and goals.

To maximize the benefits of the underhand front raise, it’s a good idea to pair it with other shoulder exercises and upper body workouts. For example, you could perform the underhand front raise alongside exercises like the shoulder press or dumbbell shoulder press.

Before starting your workout, make sure to warm up properly. This can include light cardio, dynamic stretching, or mobility exercises to prepare your body for the workout ahead. Similarly, after your workout, take time to cool down and stretch to help prevent injury and reduce muscle soreness.

Safety Tips and Injury Prevention

To avoid joint strain, it’s important to maintain proper wrist and elbow posture during the underhand front raise. Keep your wrists straight and your elbows slightly bent throughout the movement.

It’s also important to start with lighter weights and gradually increase the weight as you become more comfortable with the exercise. This will help prevent overuse injuries and ensure that you’re performing the exercise safely and effectively.

If you experience any pain or discomfort during the exercise, it’s important to listen to your body and stop immediately. This could be a sign of an underlying issue, such as a rotator cuff injury or shoulder mobility problem.


Congratulations! You have learned how to perform underhand front raises correctly and safely. Remember that this exercise can be a valuable tool for shoulder strength, but proper technique, variations, programming, and safety are crucial.

It is essential to listen to your body, progress safely, and incorporate underhand front raises into a balanced workout routine for optimal results. Make sure to explore different variations, challenge yourself, and enjoy the journey towards stronger and more defined shoulders.

If you are looking for similar technologies to underhand front raises, you may want to consider dumbbell front raises, cable front raises, or resistance band front raises. These exercises can also help you target your front deltoids and upper chest muscles.

As for meta products, you may want to invest in a good pair of dumbbells or resistance bands if you haven’t already. These tools can help you perform a variety of exercises and progress safely over time.

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Lauren Price

Lauren Price is the co-owner of Lava Barre, a specialized fitness boutique that focuses on achieving balance for the body, mind, and soul. With a passion for fitness and wellness, Lauren and her business partner Vanessa set out to create a unique barre class that not only challenges the body but also inspires the mind.

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