7 Best Front Raise Alternatives (Without Dumbbells)

Working on your deltoids is a great way to tone your shoulders and bulk up. However, you may find that the standard front raise move is not for you. We have found a variety of dumbbell front raise alternatives to switch up your workout routine. 

1. Resistance Band Front Raise 

This move is similar to a full-frontal raise but uses resistance bands instead. This can be incredibly handy for those with little space, no home gym, or who are traveling. Resistance bands provide greater resistance at the top of the motion, which can help you feel satisfied once done. 

How to perform resistance band front raises: 

  • Hold the band in each hand at arm’s length and ensure that your feet are shoulder-width apart. Place the body of the band under the soles of your feet and keep your hands shoulder-width apart. 
  • Slowly bring your arms up until they are even with your shoulders. 
  • Slowly lower your hands to hip level. 
  • Repeat, ensuring that you keep your arms straight throughout each rep. 
Resistance Band Front Raise

2. Barbell Front Raise 

Barbell front raises can be performed with your palms facing down or up; up requires much more wrist strength, so bear that in mind. This move is an excellent way to isolate your front deltoids and feel the burn. 

How to perform barbell front raises: 

  • Stand up straight with your hands and feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • Slowly raise the bar until it is shoulder level, keeping your elbows slightly bent the entire time. 
  • Pause at the top before bringing the bar down in a controlled manner. 
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps. 
Barbell Front Raise

3. Incline Barbell Front Raise 

This is a great way to shake things up and get your core involved in your workout. We recommend lying back on a half-seated bench at the gym for this one, but some choose to lie on their front to help them maintain a straight back throughout. Make sure to keep your back straight and engage your core and glutes. 

How to perform an incline barbell front raise: 

  • Set your bench to incline at a 45-degree angle. Sit on it and hold the barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart. 
  • Raise the barbell to your shoulders, keeping your elbows slightly bent throughout. 
  • Slowly lower the barbell and repeat. 
Incline Barbell Front Raise

4. Side-Lying Lateral Band Raise 

The side-lying lateral band raise is an excellent move that works your lateral head without straining your shoulder joint or spine. Remember to focus on your form and choose lighter weights. You can try this move with a looped resistance band hooked around your foot if you prefer. 

How to perform a side-lying lateral band raise: 

  • Lie on a yoga mat on your side with your legs and feet stacked. Rest your head on your bottom elbow. 
  • Holding a light weight in your free hand, make sure that your hand rests at your side to start. 
  • Using your shoulder, raise this arm straight up until it is level with your shoulder. 
  • Slowly lower your arm and repeat for your desired number of reps. 
  • Switch sides and repeat. 
Side-Lying Lateral Band Raise

5. Cable Front Raise 

Cable front raises do a great job at providing constant tension that is harder at the beginning but gets easier towards the end of each rep. This is another excellent isolation move. 

How to perform a cable front raise: 

  • Set the cable on a cable pulley machine to your mid-thigh. Stand one foot away from the machine with your back to it.  
  • Hold the handle in one hand in an overhand grip at your side using a full arm extension. 
  • Bring your arm up to shoulder level in a controlled manner. 
  • Lower it back down slowly and repeat. 
  • Switch hands and repeat for the desired number of reps. 
Cable Front Raise

6. Knee-Up with Overhead Reach 

For those who can’t get enough cardio, knee-ups with overhead reaches could be an excellent way to shake things up. This is a plyometric cardio workout that works your whole body while building your shoulders. 

How to perform a knee up with overhead reach: 

  • Stand in front of a step or block, holding a free weight in front of you with both hands. 
  • Put one foot on the step and extend your arms over your head. 
  • Drive the opposite knee up to your hip, bringing the weight down to meet it in one motion. 
  • Return to your starting position. 
  • Swap sides and repeat. 
  • Repeat these on each side for the desired number of reps. 
Knee-Up With Overhead Reach

7. Alternating Dumbbell Front Raises With Hold 

We recommend doing these two exercises one after the other. Using lower weights is also an excellent way to build strength without overdoing it. Remember to keep your core braced and focus on perfecting your form. It is possible to do this move with resistance bands if you are traveling or don’t have free weights at home. 

How to perform alternating dumbbell front raises: 

  • Sit on an incline bench or chair. With your palms facing down, hold a light weight in each hand at your side. 
  • Engaging your core, raise the weights in front of you until they are level with your shoulders. 
  • Keep one dumbbell in this position as you slowly lower the opposite one and do your desired number of reps. 
  • Switch sides and repeat. 
Alternating Dumbbell Front Raises With Hold

Benefits of Alternative Exercises Over Dumbbell Front Raises

There are a variety of reasons why you may need to find an alternative to performing dumbbell front raises. Maybe you're traveling and only have resistance bands, or you don’t have a fully stocked home gym. Using alternative methods like these can help inspire you, avoiding that old mindless routine that is so easy to fall into.

These exercises provide a different feeling with similar effects, engaging your mind as well as your body. Beginners and veterans alike can find something to love if dumbbell front raises just aren’t cutting it anymore. 

Frequently Asked Dumbbell Front Raise Questions

Are dumbbell front raises dangerous? 

Not at all, provided you listen to your body and take care of yourself. Make sure to slowly increase the resistance level over time and keep the moves in line with your shoulders. Maintain proper form and rest well to see your desired results. 

What is the easiest exercise on our list? 

This is a tricky one to answer without knowing your fitness level. However, we do recommend giving these a try if you can – experiment with different reps, holding times, and weight levels to see what challenges you without overdoing it. 


Dumbbell straight arm front raises are not for everyone. Whether you find them stale or want to use different equipment, there are plenty of alt front raise moves for any fitness level. Give these a try and feel the burn on your next arm day. 


Last Updated on March 17, 2023