How To Do Reverse Cable Laterals Properly

The reverse cable laterals exercise is a great shoulder exercise that targets the middle head of the deltoid-the rounded muscle found at the top of both shoulders.

Also known as cable lateral raises, reverse cable laterals are a hypertrophy drill for the infraspinatus and subscapularis found in the rotator cuff, creating room for easy shoulder movement.

When you combine reverse cable laterals with frontal raises, you will get the symmetrical well rounded shoulder shape.

This exercise focuses primarily on deltoid muscles and work the traps as well.

You can perform the dual arm variation, but it is usually recommended to perform with one hand to level up the difficulty and stimulate more benefits.

Also known as Cable Lateral Raises, Cable lateral shoulder raise

Targeted Muscles: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Exercise Mechanics: Isolation

Exercise Type: Hypertrophy

Equipment needed: Cable attachment, Single grip system


Knowing the proper technique of doing reverse cable laterals can save you time and injuries. Here’s all you need to know.

  • Set a single grip handle to the lowest point of a cable pulley machine.
  • Stand on your side and grip the cable with your outside hand.
  • Grab the cable system with one hand and lean away from it or take one step away and maintain an upright posture. You should feel the tension in the cable before you start.
  • Grab the handle either from the front or behind your body such that you feel a little stretch on your shoulders.
  • Bend your elbows slightly and raise your arm to your shoulder level while leading with your elbow.
  • Let your arm back down gently until you feel a stretch in your shoulders and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Repeat until you attain the recommended sets of reps.

Pro Tips:

Here’s how you can spare you muscles and get the most out of each rep.

  • Keep your shoulders back and down to prevent risk of injury.
  • Maintain your upper body at a straight and stable posture. Bend your knees slightly if it aids your balance.
  • Remember the move is not entirely about your shoulders. To avoid straining your back or sustaining injuries, engage your core throughout the session.
  • Avoid bending your back. Keep your spine at a neutral position to avoid injury.
  • Use slow and steady controlled movements. If the weights are too heavy for you, consider loading lighter weights that you’re comfortable lifting.
  • If you feel any strain or pain, stop immediately.


The main muscle worked is the lateral deltoid. It aids arm abduction between 15–100-degree range. The other two heads help to stabilize the arm.

Other muscles worked:  Posterior and front deltoid, serratus anterior, trapezius, biceps and subscapularis.

Antagonists: Lower Pectoralis Major, biceps, Teres Major and minor, triceps, latissimus dorsi


Reverse cable laterals are viewed as more of a bodybuilding workout but the benefits of this workout are far beyond muscle hypertrophy. With the right technique, reverse cable laterals reinforce correct bracing and improve shoulder health.


The commonly known apparent benefit of reverse cable laterals is the ability to target the middle deltoid. Many workouts incorporate the front and rear deltoids to complement their development, but reverse cable laterals are one of the few workouts that specifically target the lateral deltoids. Most critical for developing the v tapered physique.


Isolating specific muscles is the ideal technique when it comes to sculpting an impressive physique. The shoulder is made of three small but distinct regions that make you want to regularly adhere to the correct technique to pick the one muscle you’ve been targeting in the first place. Avoid using momentum and concentrate on maintaining the right posture and technique to attain successful reps and gain the most benefits by the end of the workout.


When your shoulders are healthy, you can perform all motion ranges without feeling any pain or being unstable. A properly executed reverse cable lateral levels up shoulder stability, specifically in the rotator cuff- consequently offering a functional stimulus.



The standing overhead press is an alternative drill that offers the same benefits as reverse cable laterals.

  • For a standing barbell press, step towards the bar and grab it slightly wider than your shoulder width, such that your arms face away from your body.
  • Remove the rack from the bar and take a step back. Rest the bar in your hands near your collar bone.
  • To begin the motion, tighten your abs and contract your glutes, tilt your hard back a bit and push the bar up in the direction of the ceiling.
  • When the bar passes your head, move your head back to the neutral position and lock out your arms overhead. Ensure you engage your abs and glutes at the top of the rep and you are not arching your lower back.
  • Tilt your head back as you gently lower the bar towards your shoulders to resume the starting position.
  • Repeat for the recommended sets of reps.



You should always aim to maintain the core tension in literally all gym exercises- reverse cable laterals are not an exception. One ideal way of maximizing tension on your side delts is locking down your ribcage all through the lift. This will disengage your spinal erectors and prevent you from swaying your torso backwards as you raise the weight up.


When you allow your hands to raise up higher than your elbows, what you’ll actually be doing is rotating your shoulder joints externally instead of shoulder abduction- which is the major workout goal here.

This action is usually traced back to lifting unnecessarily heavy weights, which consequently defeat the purpose of the workout by shifting the tension to the spine and the teres minor, making them the prime movers of the lift.

Always ensure your hands and elbows are parallel to each other to correct this mistake.


Reverse cable lateral should be part of your shoulder training workouts if its not already. It has several benefits that you don’t get to access with free weights. It is a great choice if you’re looking to build your lateral deltoids (which are hard to target, by the way!)

Combine this drill with other alternatives and you’ll be guaranteed visible results in a short time, even if you are not a weightlifting professional.

Best of luck!


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