Dear M&F,

For some reason, my front delts simply aren’t very developed. My middle and rear delts are doing okay, but when I look in the mirror, my shoulders don’t appear as thick and full as I think they should be, and they don’t tie in to my pecs very well. What can I do to bring up the front delts?

Dear Delt a Bad Hand,

The first thing you need to do is make sure your shoulder workout centers around your front deltoids. You can do this in ways other than simply adding more front raises.

First, replace your overhead dumbbell presses with either overhead barbell or Smith machine presses to the front at least every other workout. Reason being, any overhead press in which you lower the bar in front of your face will target the front delts in addition to the middle delts. With dumbbell presses, the tendency is to keep the weights out to your sides, which doesn’t place any extra stress on the front delts. Also, we see that upright rows are absent from your routine — add them in, as they’ll help.

The next thing you should do is change the angle on your front raises — specifically, add incline barbell front raises to your routine on a regular basis. This exercise is great for keeping constant, isolated tension on the front delts. The form is simple: Lie faceup on an incline bench and use a palms-down grip on a relatively light barbell. Begin with the bar at arm’s length just above your thighs. Contract your front delts to lift the bar (keeping your arms straight) until it’s just shy of perpendicular to the floor. Lower it back down without letting the bar rest on your quads between reps. This is just one example of a front-delt isolator you should add to your routine; get creative with other front raises as well, using cables, one-arm variations and other options to shock your muscles.

The routine below incorporates all the exercises we’ve just mentioned to bring up your front delts. Yet overall balance, especially in the oft-injured shoulder joint, is key, which is why you’ll finish your routine with rear-delt raises or flyes. The last thing we want is for you to come back to us in a few months complaining about your lagging rear delts.

Front Delt Routine

  Exercise				Sets	Reps  Overhead Barbell or			4	6—8    Smith Machine Press (to front)  Barbell or Dumbbell Upright Row	        3	8—10  Incline Barbell Front Raise		3—4	10—12  Bent-Over Lateral Raise or		3	10—12    Reverse Pec-Deck Flye