Kinesiology of Exercise

Front Arm Raise

In many sports and occupations, most of the body's movement takes place in front of the body. As a result, the front arm raise can be done to enhance some of these movements and to maintain or even improve shoulder flexibility.

Major Muscles and Actions Involved

The anterior deltoid, the pectoralis major (upper portion), and the coracobrachialis are involved in the front arm raise. The action in this exercise is shoulder joint flexion, in which the arms move directly forward and upward from a position alongside the body. In the shoulder girdle the serratus anterior and the upper and lower trapezius are involved in upward rotation of the scapula. When both arms are involved, the right scapula rotates counterclockwise and the left rotates clockwise on an axis through the center of each bone when viewed from the rear. When one or both arms are used, the scapula also undergo some abduction, especially in a reaching action, in which they move away from the spine toward the sides of the rib cage.

Sports Uses

Shoulder joint flexion and the muscles involved are most important in sports that require you to move your arms up and in front. This includes gymnastics and diving, and basketball and volleyball when you reach upward to get or block the ball. They are also needed in boxing to get and keep the arm up and in the uppercut, and in judo, wrestling, and other sports. However, most often these movements are not done against a heavy resistance.

Exercise Analysis

  • Heavy weights are not recommended, nor are they needed for proper and effective execution of this exercise. Because of the long lever created by your straight arms, a small weight can be very heavy when you hold it in your hands away from your body. Usually up to 20 pounds will challenge the strongest men when the exercise is done with strict form.
  • Moreover, people who use very heavy weights have a tendency to hyperextend or arch their spine in order to raise the weight sufficiently high. This, in turn, produces stress on the spine. Some individuals often bend the elbows to shorten the arm lever. In order to avoid these negative changes you should use relatively light weights, not only for maximum effectiveness, but also for
  • The front arm raise exercise, when done through a full ROM so that the arms go completely overhead, is also beneficial in increasing shoulder joint flexibility. In this way not only will you be developing flexibility, but you will also be gaining strength in the deltoid muscle through the full range of motion. This version of the exercise is also effective for improving posture. When you raise your arms overhead, you feel your rib cage lifting and your shoulders pulled to the rear. You also assume a very upright stance.
  • It is important to understand that the deltoid muscle is most active from approximately 45° below the horizontal to 45° above the horizontal. It is not active in the initial movement when the arms are alongside the body up until about 45° above level. The main
    muscle in the early stages of movement is the supraspinatus, not the deltoid. This is why if you want full development of the deltoid you must go through a full ROM with the arms overhead. Stopping at a level position does not tax the deltoids to the same extent.
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