Side Lift vs Front Lift: Difference, Advantages & Disadvantages

Wondering if side raises or front raises are better for your shoulder training? To find out, let’s compare the two exercises: in this article, you’ll learn what the difference is between side raises and front raises, as well as the pros and cons of both exercises.

What is the difference between side raises and front raises?

The main difference between side raises and front raises is the direction in which you lift the weights. In the side lift, you lift the weights to the side of your body, which primarily puts weight on your side shoulder. With front raises, on the other hand, you lift the weights in front of the body, which primarily loads the front shoulder. While both exercises work the shoulders, different shoulder heads are engaged depending on the exercise.

Side Lift Advantages & Disadvantages

The advantage of side raises is that it is the only movement that can be used to train the lateral shoulder in isolation. Side raises are the best exercise for developing the lateral shoulder and gives the upper body a V-shaped appearance. The disadvantage of lateral raises is that there is a tendency to falsify or incorrectly perform the exercise and thus train the front shoulder instead of the lateral shoulder. Therefore, especially with side raises, a clean technique is important so as not to mistakenly turn an exercise for the lateral shoulder into an exercise for the anterior shoulder.

Front Lift Advantages & Disadvantages

The advantage of front raises is that you can specifically train the front shoulder through this exercise. Front raises, compared to exercises such as shoulder presses, allow you to take the load off the other shoulder heads as much as possible during the movement. The disadvantage of front raises is that with this exercise you train a muscle that is already stressed by pressing exercises, such as shoulder presses or even bench presses. Doing an additional exercise for the anterior shoulder can lead to a visual imbalance and affect the recovery of the anterior shoulder and therefore the performance in other exercises.


Which exercise is appropriate for your shoulder training depends on your training plan and the development of your shoulder muscles. In general, side raises have higher priority because the front shoulder is already indirectly trained as an accessory muscle through pressing exercises, such as the shoulder press or bench press. If you have a full-body training plan or you train the shoulders together with other muscles, such as chest and triceps, it is advisable to prefer side raises to front raises, because you can not do too many exercises for the shoulders. However, if you have a separate training session for the shoulders or a deficit in the front shoulder (which is rarely the case) you can do front raises as an additional shoulder exercise.

Did this comparison help you plan your shoulder workouts? Feel free to share your experience in the comments, I’m happy to exchange ideas with you. If you have any other questions about side raises and front raises, you can also ask me there, I’ll be happy to help you!

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