How To Do Cable Side Raises Properly

Cable side raises are a shoulder exercise that works the middle head of the deltoid muscle, which is the rounded muscle at the very top of each shoulder.

This exercise strengthens the infraspinatus and subscapularis muscles in your rotator cuff, thus allowing several shoulder movements, such as the internal and external rotations, to work at ease.

Moreover, the exercise when combined with frontal raises can give your shoulder a balanced, well-rounded shape.

Cable side raises focus primarily on the side deltoid muscles while still working the anterior deltoid, as well as both the middle and lower traps.

This exercise can be performed using both hands but it is often recommended to use just one to add more difficulty to your workout and stimulate more gains.


The basic cable side raises exercise are quite easy to perform. Here is how to start.

You first have to select a weight that you can lift with only one shoulder. You then attach the handle to a low pulley.

Stand next to the pulley machine with your feet shoulder-width apart, reach across your body and grab the cable handle.

The side you are going to work should be facing away from the pulley. To maintain good posture, push your chest forward, and point your shoulders back while slightly bending both knees.

You can also place your free hand on the machine for support or place your non-working hand on your hip or even let it hang by your side.

Now, reach across your body and grab the stirrup with your outside arm.

Slightly bend your elbow and raise your arm sideways until it’s level with your shoulder, exhaling as you lift.

Avoid rotating your arm as you raise the stirrup, and keep your focus on the area you want to train which is your middle shoulder.

Hold your position for 1–5 seconds, and then inhale while slowly lowering the weight back. Let the cable come to a complete stop before beginning the next repetition.

Repeat for the desired number of reps, preferably 10-15 for each arm.


If you want to keep more tension through the side deltoids, use a slightly slower eccentric than normal and keep some slack in the cable instead of allowing the weight stack to touch.

Allow the arms to move freely but do not lock out the elbows, and if you encounter pain within the shoulder while performing the movement, consider implementing one of the following tweaks; Tilt your pinkies slightly higher than your thumbs.

Secondly, you can allow the arm to rotate during the movement so that the thumb is pointing up a peak contraction. This will put the shoulder in a more externally rotated position and potentially open up the shoulder joint to allow for a bit more movement.

Finally, keep the abs braced and do not arch the back at the top of the movement.



The shoulder muscle is made up of 3 heads; anterior deltoid, medial deltoid, and posterior deltoid. The primary muscle worked in the cable side raises exercise is the medial or middle deltoid.


The prime benefit of the cable lateral raise is how well it targets the side deltoid, to the exclusion of the front deltoids. This is a highly sought-after section of the deltoid to build.

Often the front deltoid is over-worked during all kinds of pressing movements, but only a handful of exercises place major emphasis on the side strands of the deltoids.

This is why through this exercise people on an aesthetic level, develop strong deltoids that help upper body look bigger, stronger, and more toned.

Another advantage of the cable side raises is the different resistance curve provided by a cable as compared to a dumbbell.

On the dumbbell version of the side raise, there less resistance on the deltoids as you near the bottom of the movement. At the very bottom, there is no resistance you seem to be literally resting.

Building the deltoid muscles lowers your chance of injury, promotes good posture, and helps with shoulder stabilization. It can also help make your body more symmetrical and aligned.

The cable side raises improve strength, alignment, and mobility helps with athletic and everyday movements, including pushing, pulling, and overhead movements.

Finally, through this exercise you build strong rear deltoids that can give you power and stability when performing weightlifting exercises such as the bench press, snatch, and deadlift.

They also help with pushups, handstands, and dips.



The dumbbell lateral raise is an effective shoulder-strengthening movement designed to isolate the lateral head of the deltoid muscle. When performed regularly, this can help you develop stronger, broader shoulders.

All you need is a pair of light dumbbells and enough shoulder flexibility to abduct your arms lifting the weights out and away from your body until they form a ‘T’ shape at your shoulders.

Generally, lateral raises should be incorporated into upper-body strength training routines, and they should be performed after compound exercises that incorporate the shoulder.


The single-arm lateral raise is a shoulder exercise that targets the medial or middle head of the deltoid muscle. It is a staple strength-training move and is a great option for accessory work on upper-body training days.

Hold on to a post for balance, or do it free-standing to challenge core strength and stability. Athletes perform it for moderate to high reps, at least 8-12 reps per side, as part of the upper-body or shoulder-focused portion of a workout.


Use strict form by lifting and lowering the weight under control and getting a good contraction squeeze at the top. It is possible to easily cheat on this exercise by swinging the weight up using momentum and dropping the weight on the way down, so be sure to avoid these mistakes.


Cable side raises are a great exercise to give a balanced shape to your shoulders and make them look broader.

There are three variations of cable side raises that you can use to spice up your shoulder workout and strengthen the different shoulder muscles. These are dead-stop, eccentric, and elevator cable raise.

Modify and alternate between the three forms, but make sure your form is correct to avoid injury.