How to Do Barbell Raise Properly

When it comes to upper body workouts, the shoulders and back might be right up there based on how often they are overlooked.

That said, the barbell raise caters to the more engaged part of the shoulder (the front deltoids). In fact, the barbell raise is one of the more lauded exercises when it comes to working the front delts.

This is primarily because it facilitates the increase in size and strength of the shoulders. It also brings about a ‘V-shaped effect’ on the torso which is aesthetically pleasing to the general population.


  • Grip the barbell with hands shoulder-width apart and feet positioned at about hip-width. Hold the barbell down by the front of your thighs.
  • Maintain an erect posture with shoulders about neutral or retracted.
  • While keeping the elbows straight or slightly bent, raise your arms up in front of you to eye or shoulder level.
  • Slowly lower the bar and repeat.



The ball and socket joint is one of the more engaged areas when doing the barbell raise. The more you continue doing reps of the exercise the stronger this area gets.

A strong ball and socket joint ultimately stabilizes the rotator cuff which improves flexibility within your shoulder joints

It facilitates the function of the shoulder as a ball and socket joint and is stabilized by the rotator cuff. It also attaches to the tendon of the biceps and triceps brachii and plays a big role in the various movements of the shoulder.


This is the front-most part of the shoulder and often operates in conjunction with the pecs. As such they are what allow the shoulder to flex.

Therefore, the front deltoid is crucial in allowing you to perform certain movements while doing the exercise.

In return, it leads to engagement and strengthening of the target area.


This is the middle section of the shoulder that aids in the abduction of the shoulders i.e. when the barbell moves away from the central body line.

Every time you lift the barbell the lateral deltoid is engaged as it plays a part in the internal rotation of the shoulder.


The serratus anterior are what allow you to raise your arms overhead.

As such, they play a major role in enabling movements necessary to perform the exercise thus getting a high amount of engagement.



The fact that the barbell raise is an isolation exercise means it does detailed work on your shoulders, specifically the anterior deltoid muscles.

The targeted engagement is what enables the size increase of the shoulders and how toned your shoulders get.


The barbell raise takes your shoulder through a whole cycle of movements, actions that require reasonable mobility levels.

Therefore, the natural body mechanisms put in place to enable mobility are engaged, the more they are engaged the better they get at their roles.

This is what ends up improving the flexibility of your joints.


Although the barbell raise is categorized as an isolation exercise, its reach is still extensive enough to improve general strength levels in the upper body

For instance, it engages the upper back, biceps, triceps, areas along your ribs and the pecs – all areas within different areas of the upper body block.



This is an extension exercise intended to stretch the target areas into a stronger back and shoulder.  To do the exercise:

  • Lie face down on your stomach with your arms and legs extended. Keep your neck in a neutral position.
  • Keeping your arms and legs straight and your torso stationary, simultaneously lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling to form an elongated “U” shape with your body.
  • As your back arches, your arms and legs lift several inches off the floor.
  • Hold for two to five seconds and lower back down to complete one rep.
  • Do three sets of 12 reps.


  • Lie on your back on the floor (or, preferably, on a mat for some support). Press your lower back into the floor and bend your knees while keeping your feet flat on the floor.
  • Place hands behind head, interlacing fingers if preferred. Keep elbows wide and gently cradle your head in your hands.
  • Bring your knees up, with shins parallel to the floor, as you lift shoulder blades off the floor.
  • As you straighten your left leg out at about a 45-degree angle, turn your upper body to the right, bringing your left elbow toward your right knee.

Ensure that your rib cage acts as the hypothetical power source thus facilitating some of the movements

  • Return to centre, with both knees bent and elbows wide.
  • Repeat on the other side: Straighten your right leg to a 45-degree angle and turn your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow toward your left knee.
  • Return to the starting position to complete 1 rep.


  • Stand with your feet at shoulder width and your arms held out at shoulder height. Engage your core by drawing your belly button in towards your spine.
  • Bend forward and twist to your right as you reach down and across with your left arm to try and touch your right foot.
  • Keep your legs as straight as possible. Raise yourself back up to the start position and repeat the movement by twisting to the left and reaching across with your arm.

Aim to keep your spine as straight as possible and to hinge from the hips.



When doing the barbell raise, using the tension generated from your movements is crucial to how much engagement your target muscles i.e., the front delts.

Therefore, when you go first in between raising and lowering the barbell, you lose a lot of potential engagement that could be used to increase the effectiveness of the exercise.


This is often an indication of taking on more than you can handle. When you do this the target muscles aren’t even working.

In the end, you also place excessive strain on your lower back and this can even lead to injuries


The barbell raise is an important member of the lineup when it comes to exercises that engage the shoulders.

However, in order to get the most out of the exercise, spend a lot of time getting your form right through each movement.

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