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6 Best Shoulder Cable Workouts


Well-sculpted shoulders are the cornerstone of a powerful physique! To achieve those shoulder-boulders, you need the right approach to your training regimen along with nutrition.  This is where shoulder cable workouts slide in! Thanks to the versatility of the cable machine, you can target every part of your shoulders, ensuring a balanced and comprehensive development.

In this guide, you’ll get to know about cable shoulder workouts that help you boost your strength and mass, giving you the confidence to rock your favorite gym polos.

Sculpt your delts with resistance band shoulder exercises

A Quick Overview

This guide covers the 6 best cable shoulder workouts that are great for building those superman shoulders you’ve always dreamt of such as:

  1. Cable Shoulder Press: This shoulder cable exercise builds upper body strength.
  2. Upright Rows: Strengthen your upper traps and side delts for a balanced upper body workout.
  3. Single Front Raise: Focus on your medial and anterior deltoids for balanced shoulder strength.
  4. Cable Lateral Raises: Strengthen your side delts for even shoulder development.
  5. Face Pulls: This exercise is important for improving posture and upper back strength in shoulder workouts using cables.
  6. Shoulder Cable Kneeling Press: Increase muscle engagement in your cable shoulder workouts by focusing on side delt activation.

You’ll learn more about:

  • Muscles targeted in each exercise, giving you an in-depth understanding of the shoulder anatomy. This is crucial for mind-muscle connection for any exercise.
  • Benefits of doing shoulder cable workouts that expand way beyond aesthetics.
  • Complete cable shoulder workout routine according to your fitness goal, allowing you to effectively incorporate the right exercises, range, load and frequency to achieve your dream look.

6 Shoulder Workouts To Do With Cables

1. Cable Shoulder Press


The cable shoulder press is one of the most effective shoulder cable workouts for developing strength. The cable machine ensures a smooth movement while providing continuous resistance to your muscles.

Step By Step

  • Make sure the pulleys are at the bottom and attach a D-handle on each side.
  • Now, take your place in the middle of the machine, grabbing each of the handles with both your hands.
  • Press the handles up and above your head until your arms fully extend.
  • Make sure there’s a slight bend in your elbows when pressing to prevent any strains or elbow locking.
  • While controlling your movement, bring the handles back down until they’re aligned with your shoulders.
  • Throughout this movement, make sure you brace your core and focus on working your shoulders mentally.
  • Do this 10-12 times to complete a set.

Get jacked with this shoulder workout

2. Cable Upright Row

Shoulder cable workouts

If you are looking for effective shoulder cable workouts, then look no further than the cable upright row. It is an excellent exercise that targets your upper traps and side delts. You can spice things up by either using a rope attachment, straight bar, or cambered bar when doing this exercise.

Step By Step

  • Attach a rope, cambered bar, or a straight bar to a cable stack in the lowest position
  • Hold the bar with both hands palms facing upwards and stand in a neutral position
  • Your arms should be extended in front of you with the weight stack elevated
  • Keep your arms slightly bent and avoid locking them on your sides
  • Slowly pull the bar up inhale and bend your elbows and move your shoulders away from your body
  • Keep your back neutral and core engaged
  • When your elbows reach your shoulders, hold this position for a couple of seconds and then go back to the starting stance
  • Repeat 10 to 12 times 3 sets each.

Switch to dumbbell workouts with these 3 deltoid exercises

3. Single Cable Front Raise

Shoulder cable workouts

Single arm cable front raise is a type of isolation exercise that targets your medial and anterior deltoids. Perhaps one of the most important shoulder cable workouts, this one requires single arm movement at a time putting less strain on your shoulders and enforcing your body to focus on each arm independently.

Step By Step

  • Adjust the weight on the machine according to your preference
  • Grab onto the attached cable with your left hand
  • Face your body away from the machine and position your arm down with the cable in front of your legs
  • Your palms should be facing inwards toward your thighs
  • This is going to be your starting position
  • Make sure your back is neutral and your core engaged so your torso doesn’t swing back and forth when you do this exercise
  • Slowly and mindfully lift your left arm up with your elbow slightly bent and bring it up until it is perpendicular to the floor
  • Hold this position for a few seconds and exhale
  • As you lower your arm to the starting position slowly inhale
  • Repeat 10 to 12 times with 3 sets

Ladies, don’t overlook your shoulder exercises. Get those smooth and defined delts with these shoulder workouts for women.

4. Cable Lateral Raises

Shoulder cable workouts

If you want to do arguably one of the best shoulder cable workouts out there, then cable lateral raises are your best bet.

  • This workout targets your side delts throughout making them stronger.
  • Take two D handles and attach them to the lowest position on the machine
  • Hold the handles with each hand with your palms facing the floor
  • Position yourself in the middle and extend your arms fully in front of you
  • Make sure the weight stack is slightly elevated and one arm should cross over your other arm. This is going to be your starting stance
  • As you raise your arms to the side inhale, keeping your elbows slightly bent and make sure they are positioned higher than your wrists
  • When your shoulders reach shoulder height, hold this position for a few seconds while squeezing your side delt and then go back to the starting stance
  • Repeat 10 to 12 times with 3 sets

Build your front shoulders with barbell upright rows.

5. Cable Face Pulls


Face pulls is an exercise that can be easily done with a cable machine. It is great for developing and engaging your rear deltoids.


  • Select the weights on the cable machine and make sure to set the pulley at the top position
  • Connect the rope to the pulley
  • Hold both ends of the rope with a neutral grip ensuring your thumbs face the ceiling
  • Step away from the machine and keep your arm straight
  • Engage your core, bring your shoulders back and keep your back straight
  • Pull the rope to your face and make sure the rope splits to avoid hitting your face
  • Make sure your elbows are flared and then maintain a neutral grip
  • Hold this position and squeeze your rear deltoids
  • Bring your arms back to the starting position
  • Do 10 to 12 reps

Work your rear delts with bent over flys.

6. Shoulder Cable Kneeling Press


This is one of the best shoulder cable workouts because it is a compound exercise. It targets your side deltoids and makes your muscles work harder if you add more weight.


  • Set the pulley cable at the lowest position and make sure to use a straight bar
  • Select the weight accordingly
  • Get on your knees and hold the bar with an overhand grip
  • Make sure your arms are shoulder-width apart
  • Hold the bar in front of your chest ensuring your elbows are locked on your sides
  • Engage your core, bring your shoulders back, and inhale as you lift press the bar overhead
  • Hold the position for a few seconds and then bring the bar back to the starting position
  • Do 10 to 12 reps

Hit shoulders with a full range of motion by fixing your rhomboid pain.

Muscles Targeted

Shoulder cable workouts

Shoulder cable workouts are great for your upper body. They can improve the range of movement of your shoulders and add a bit of oomph to your generic shoulder exercises. Compared to your usual dumbbells, the cables used for shoulder cable workouts are lighter and smaller. You can do similar exercises as you do with dumbbells and row bars but with an added variation.

Also, the levels of difficulty when using cables are higher compared to dumbbells, but the risk of injury is less. You can easily push yourself harder with shoulder cable workouts.

Here are some muscles targeted with shoulder cable workouts:

4 Benefits of Cable Shoulder Workouts

Cable shoulder exercises provides several science-backed benefits such as:

1. Sustained Muscle Engagement

Cables provide consistent resistance as you move, activating your muscles even during an exercise’s “easier” parts. This constant tension is important for building muscle and endurance, as it keeps your muscles engaged throughout the entire range of motion.

For example, when doing a cable chest fly, the tension from the cables is still present when your arms are fully extended in the “easier” part of the movement, which keeps your chest muscles working. This is beneficial for muscle growth and overall strength development.

Check out the right way to do cable crossovers to build your pecs!

2. Enhanced Muscle Activation

A recent study found that cable machines might be more effective for shoulder workouts than sectorized machines because they allow for less restrictive movement patterns. This means that when you use cable machines for exercises like the overhead press, you can activate more muscles in your shoulders, as well as secondary muscle groups like the biceps and external obliques.

This enhanced muscle engagement is due to cable machines’ dynamic nature, which allows for a more natural and comprehensive range of motion. So, the next time you hit the gym, consider incorporating cable machines into your shoulder workout for a more effective and engaging experience.

Add triceps workout to your shoulder days to see some insane gains!

3. Customizable Angles

The cable machine is super versatile because you can adjust the angle and height to target different shoulder muscles. This is great for ensuring you evenly work all parts of your shoulders, like the front, side, and rear deltoids.

For example, you can do shoulder presses at different cable machine heights to really hit those different shoulder muscles and get a well-rounded workout. Working all parts of your shoulders like this helps with balanced shoulder development and is great for your overall shoulder strength and stability.

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4. Scalable Intensity

One of the greatest benefits of cable machines is the ability to adjust intensity without compromising technique. This adaptability gives you personalized resistance levels. As a result, you can gradually increase the resistance levels as your strength increases.

This is especially advantageous for shoulder workouts, as it allows for precise targeting of the shoulder muscles at varying levels of resistance. By maintaining proper form and gradually increasing the challenge, cable machines help to enhance shoulder strength and stability while minimizing the risk of injury.

Build lean muscle with this resistance band full-body workout.

The Shoulder Workout Routine for Various Fitness Goals

Fitness Goal Exercises Sets Reps Load Notes
Strength Building Cable Shoulder Press 4 4-6 Heavy (80-90% 1RM) Focus on maximal strength.
Cable Upright Row 3 4-6 Heavy Engage upper traps and shoulders deeply.
Cable Shrugs 3 4-6 Heavy Ensure full shoulder elevation and depression.
Hypertrophy Single Cable Front Raise 3 8-12 Moderate (60-75% 1RM) Isolate front deltoids.
Cable Lateral Raises 3 8-12 Moderate Focus on the side delts.
Seated Cable Rear Delt Fly 3 8-12 Moderate Enhance rear deltoid development.
Muscle Definition Cable Face Pulls 4 12-15 Light to Moderate Improve posture and shoulder health.
Cable Overhead Press 3 12-15 Light to Moderate Comprehensive shoulder engagement.
Dynamic Cable Lateral Raise 3 12-15 Light Stimulate side delts for definition.

Key Takeaway

Building big and strong shoulders requires more than bench presses a couple of times a week. You need to add a variety of different upper body exercises to get the results you desire. This is where shoulder cable workouts come into play.

They target almost all areas of your shoulder and provide a much-needed range of movement to your shoulders. The versatility of these workouts is great for when you get bored with the same old upper body exercises with dumbbells and barbell rows.


How do you train your shoulders with cables?

For the most effective shoulder cable workout, design a routine that incorporates exercises that target each of your delts in isolation and with compound movements. To train your shoulders with cables, add these exercises into your routine:

  • Stand a few steps away from the cable machine with a bar attachment. Lift the cable attachment until your arms parallel your body to work your front shoulders or anterior delts.
  • Stand side-to-side with the cable machine and grab the attachment with your opposite hand. Lift the cable until your arm aligns with your shoulder to target your side shoulders or lateral delts.
  • With the cables at the highest position, grab the attachments and pull them in a cross-arm manner, squeezing your shoulder blades during the contraction to engage your posterior or rear delts.
  • Push the attachment over your head for a cable shoulder press, whether seated or standing. This dynamic, compound movement engages your side, front, and rear delts all at once.
Are cable shoulder exercises good?

Yes, cable shoulder exercises are great for getting those shoulder boulders. Not only can you do a variety of movements and exercises with cables, but you can also work all the muscle groups in your delts individually and simultaneously. With these exercises, you get constant resistance, enabling you to maintain tension in your muscles, which activates and engages your muscles for growth. In addition, you can do isolated workouts such as cable lateral raises, cable front raises, and cable rear delts or shoulder pulls. Rales are much safer to work with than barbells or dumbbells since they lock you in, reducing the risk of injury and keeping you safe as you get your gains.

What is the number 1 shoulder exercise?

According to several fitness experts, the best and number 1 shoulder exercise is the Standing Overhead Press. Since this is a compound movement, it works your front (anterior), side (lateral), and rear (posterior) delts all at once, along with secondary muscles such as your upper back and triceps. This exercise helps you increase strength and build mass in your shoulders, improving your functional strength. The best part is that you can do this exercise with cables, barbells, and dumbbells, depending on your equipment.

How do you hit front delts on cables?

You’ll be doing Cable Front Raises to work your front or anterior delts on the cables. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can do this:

  • Stand with your back against the cable
  • Make sure you’re using an attachment you’re comfortable with such as a bar or rope
  • Grab the pulley with both hands, maintaining a shoulder-width gap
  • With a slight bend in your knee, lift the pulley so it’s horizontally parallel to your body
  • Raise the attachment until your arms extend fully to shoulder level
  • Controlling your movements, bring the pulley back down towards your knee then repeat

This exercise works your front delts in isolation.

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