How to: Cable Lateral Raise (video)

In this tutorial, we will go over the target muscle, setup, form, and more for the cable lateral raise. For more workout tips, tricks, and information, follow me on Instagram @daniellehamlin or visit the Exercise Library​ :) Enjoy the video!


Single Joint Movement

Joint and Joint Type Involved: Shoulder (ball-and-socket joint)

Main Muscles Worked: Deltoid (specifically medial delt)

Equipment: Cable Machine

Prerequisites: Ability to contract the delt and produce lateral abduction and adduction at the shoulder joint against the weight of limb without pain or problems.

A cable lateral raise is a single joint movement in which the deltoid muscle is used to increase the angle between the humerus and the ribs cage. Before you attempt to do this exercise be sure you can adequately contract your deltoids to abduct both arms without any pain. Once you have demonstrated that you can sufficiently contract your deltoids without any problems you may be ready to contract your deltoids against additional weight. For this exercise, you will need to use a cable machine.


1. To get started, you will first need to establish your working range, which will help to line up the medial delt with the cable force. Start by standing up tall with your arms by your side. Without shrugging, begin to reach out as wide as possible until you have found a comfortable width for the arms. At the top, make sure that your medial delt is pointed to the ceiling. Depending on your build, you may have to slightly internally or externally rotate your arms to stack the medial delt on top. This top portion of the exercise is also your shortened end range since the delt is contracted. As you bring your arms by your side, think about reaching for the floor. This is your lengthened end range since the delts have elongated. At the bottom, make sure that your medial delt is pointed directly out to the side. Adjust the arm as needed and mentally notate any internal or external rotation that is going to help you maintain this alignment.

2. After you have established your working range, adjust the cables to your desired height. Cable height will alter the resistance profile of the machine, meaning that you can make it either harder at the top or harder at the bottom depending on where you set the cables.

3. Pick a weight. It would be beneficial to pick a light weight at first to confirm your range of motion and your ability to CONTROL the weight. Once you have demonstrated control you may be ready to further increase the weight.

4. Stabilize. Before you do a rep be sure to stabilize everything as much as possible that is not the shoulder joint. This will ensure that you are producing as much output in the delts as you can.

Areas to stabilize:

-Extend through your thoracic spine and brace with the abs and glutes to counteract any body sway or lumbar extension.

-Create tension between your feet and the floor and stand firmly.

-Lock your arms in the position that was most favorable for your medial delt. Keep this position through the entire exercise.

5. To initiate the lateral raise, think about contracting the delts to produce abduction. A great cue is to think about pushing both of your upper arms against a wall as if you were boxed in and trying to move those walls. It’s important to note that as you reach wide some scapular movement may be involved. This is just fine due to the mechanics of the shoulder blade. Just make sure you are not using your traps to shrug the weight up.

6. Pause at the top of the rep to establish control and determine the end of your range where you still have tension on the delts and do not experience any pain or joint discomfort. Slowly bring the weight down and think about reading for the floor to lengthen the delt. Focus on resisting the weight with the delt on the way down.

7. Repeat steps 4-6 until your set is complete.

For common mistakes and easy corrections, see 3:21​ 👍

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