Cable Shoulder Workout 

Cable Shoulder Workout 

Cable Shoulder Workout: The cable machine is a god of machines when you need to train your shoulder muscles. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of using cable shoulder exercises to build and strengthen your shoulder muscles, you are at the right place.

Here are five cable shoulder workouts, build for different levels from beginners, intermediate and advanced. Not sure how to do a cable shoulder exercise, check out the list of best cables shoulder exercise, to develop your shoulders.

Cable Shoulder Workout 

The workout includes 5 exercises. Perform 3 sets -10reps of each exercise. 

Break: 1-2 minutes



Set 1: 70% of max

Set 2: 80% of max

Set 3: 90% of max

Set 4: max

Cable Shoulder Workouts

These are 5 cable shoulder workouts to add to your program.

For beginners, there is a special cable shoulder workout for beginners, that is with 1x/week frequency. This will give time to adjust your body and learn the proper technique of the cable shoulder exercises.

If you are already training shoulders with 2X/week frequency, there is a different cable shoulder workout plan built for you. For advanced lifters with training shoulders 3X/week frequency, there is an ultimate cable shoulder workout, that targets every single muscle to its destruction.

Cable Shoulder Workout 1[Beginner]

  • Warm-Up
  • Single-arm Lateral Raise – 3 sets 15 reps
  • Cable Front Raise – 3 sets 12 reps
  • Cable Reverse Flye – 3 sets 12 reps
  • Face Pulls – 3 sets 10 reps

Cable Shoulder Workout 2[Beginner]

  • Warm-Up
  • Leaning single arm side raise – 3 sets 20 reps
  • Bent-Over Rear Delt Flyes– 3 sets 15 reps
  • Cable upright row – 3 sets 12 reps
  • Cable Shrugs – 3 sets 10 reps

Cable Shoulder Workout 3[Intermediate]

  • Warm-Up
  • Cable Reverse Flye – 4 sets 15 reps
  • Cable front raise – 4 sets 12 reps
  • Single-arm Bent-Over Rear Delt Flyes – 4 sets 10 reps
  • Cable Shoulder press – 4 sets 8 reps
  • Face pulls – 4 sets 8 reps

Cable Shoulder Workout 4[Intermediate]

  • Warm-Up
  • Cable upright row – 4 sets 20 reps
  • Cable Shrugs – 4 sets 15 reps
  • Leaning single arm side raise – 3 sets 12 reps
  • Bent-Over Rear Delt Flyes – 3 sets 10 reps
  • Single-arm lateral raise – 3 sets 10 reps

Cable Shoulder Workout 5 [Advanced]

  • Warm-Up
  • Cable Shoulder Press – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Cable Reverse Flye – 3 sets 8 reps
    supersetted with
    Face Pulls- 3 sets 8 reps
  • Single Arm Leaning Lateral Raise – 3 sets 10 reps
    supersetted with
    Single Arm Rear Delt Flyes – 3 sets 10 reps
  • Cable Front Raise – 3 sets 10 reps
    supersetted with
    Cable Upright Row – 3 sets 10 reps
  • Cable Shrugs – 4 sets of 10 reps

Best Cable Shoulder Exercises

1. Single arm cable lateral raise

To build shoulder muscles, each muscle needs to be targeted. Lateral raise is the most popular shoulder exercise, every lifter performs. Although most people use dumbbells to perform, it is also effective by using a cable machine. In addition, using a cable machine is highly effective, than dumbbells. 

Dumbbells tend to lean most on the anterior (front) delt, but with a cable machine only your middle delt is activated. 

Main Area Targeted: middle deltoids

Strengths: Like every other cable shoulder exercise, this exercise creates constant tension on the middle delt. Unlike dumbbells, you have the advantage to decrease/ increase the weight in a quick second. Thus, you can create a drop set to failure.

Alternatively, some lifter performs this exercise by putting cable behind the back instead of the front. However, this movement requires lots of balance during exercise. 

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How to do: 

  • Begin by standing close to the cable machine, adjusting the weight on the cable machine.
  • Hold the handle with one hand, and adjust your position to the side of the cable machine and the cable is running behind your legs
  • When raising your arm sideways, exhale, and manage your arms parallel to the floor. 
  • Hold the position for 0.5 seconds, then inhale and lower your arm. 
  • While raising the arm, keep a slight bend in your elbow( the bend protects the joints, too much movement, you’ll be off-balance, and not targeting the middle deltoid. 
  • Avoid swinging, bounce or using momentum to lift the arm. Keep your back straight always. 
  • Make sure to perform this exercise on both sides. 

2. Cable Reverse Flye

There are very few shoulder exercises, this focus on the rear delts, and cable reverse flye is one of them. Middle and front deltoids are also targeted during chest exercise, but rear deltoids are not. This is a specific exercise just for building rear deltoids on your shoulder. It is similar to pec dec fly, but in this, you need an additional constant balance through the workout.

Main Area Targeted: rear deltoids

Strengths: Using cable, instead of dumbbells or machines, makes the exercise free from resistance ( gravity). The only resistance is a cable, which requires constant muscles power. During the entire exercise, your rear delts are going to work hard, till you take a break. 

Related: How Often To Train Calves


  • Stand in the middle of the two cable machines. And add D- handle to machine, and make it set to the upper limit. 
  • Hold the left handle in your right hand and the right handle in your left hand. 
  • Make sure to stay in the center of both these machines. 
  • Slightly widen your feet and relax your elbows and shoulders. 
  • Your elbows should be fixed at your upper cheat level. 
  • Open both your arms to your side, while pulling each handle across to the other side. 
  • Both should make a “So sign, and your pose will be similar to the ” Open-hug’ pose. 
  • Inhale while pulling the cable to the sides, and exhale, when you bring your arms to the original position. 

3. Cable front raise

This is a specific shoulder exercise that works on the anterior delt. Unlike all other cable shoulder exercises, this one experiences the resistance of the weight and also the gravity. It is because the lifter has to raise the arms in front of him from the back position. 

It is a brutal shoulder workout exercise that will pump your shoulder in no time. Also, performing this is very difficult, as you maintain balance while lifting just your single arm. 

Main Area Targeted: anterior (front) deltoids

Strengths: The movement of the exercise is difficult, as your hand will be not in the center position. If your hand is away from the body, it is very difficult to maintain balance, and it’s very difficult to hold weight, with constant resistance. 

Alternative, lifters also do this with dumbbells, but due to heavyweight, they can not maintain constant tension in the deltoid all through the exercise. Also, there is a high probability of momentum building up with dumbbells. 

Related:Can You Train Calves Everyday


  • Stand straight and Face backward to the cable machine. 
  • Hold a D-handle in your hand, and the other hand should be placed in your hip for balance.
  • With a neutral grip and knees slightly bent, raise the cable. 
  • Raise up and out in front, until your upper arm is parallel with the floor. 
  • Hold for 0.5 sec on the position. 
  • Slowly bring back the arm, to it’s original position. 
  • Never bring the cable at the lowest point, always keep a slight tension in your atm. 
  • Perform 15 reps and then switch the arms. 

4. Leaning single arm side raise

This cable shoulder exercise is similar to the single-arm lateral raise. The oy difference is that instead of standing straight on both legs, the user will be leaning outwards, from the cable machine. The modification, to the exercise, allows the user to target the delta better, and also avoid using any momentum to lift the weight. 

Main target: middle deltoid

Strengths: The update to the single-arm raise, causes you to target better middle deltoid, as you provide a maximal range of motion during exercise. 

While performing the exercise, control the upward motion and don’t lean far away from the cable machine, so it’s impossible to maintain a perfect balance. Upper trapezius muscles are also involved in this cable shoulder exercise. 

Related: Is chest and biceps a good combo

How to:

  • Set the cable handle to the bottom of the machine, and stand next to the cable machine. 
  • Get in the pose as you would for single-arm lateral raise. 
  • Hold something of the machine with your opposite hand, and adjustable your feet to make them closer to the machine. 
  • Lean outwards to one side, while holding the machine with a closed hand, and D-handle with another hand. 
  • Raise your arm, until it is parallel to the floor while exhaling. 
  • Hold the position for 0.5 seconds. 
  • Then inhale, and bring back your arm to its original position. 
  • Make sure to keep a slight bend in your elbow. 

5. Bent-Over Rear Delt Flyes

This most common shoulder exercise during a shoulder workout, that every lifter must have performed. It is generally done with dumbbells, but it can be also done with a cable machine. 

Choosing a cable machine for this exercise will give the user advantage, to change the weight proportion at its will, and jas the ability to perform drop sets until failure. 

In addition, using dumbbells is not effective as a cable machine. It is because, of the additional resistance of the gravity. There is a high risk of getting an improper form when using dumbbells. 

However, with cables, you will have full control over the range of motion, and a low risk of improper technique. 

Main Area Targeted: rear deltoids

Strengths: The bent-over raise is a versatile cable shoulder exercise, that can be performed either by standing or seated on the bench. The high range of motion, allows the user to better target the muscles, without adding any unwanted resistance. Although, if you higher weight, you might have a problem with stabilization. This can be treated after a few weeks of use when your body can not balance during the exercise. 

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How to :

  • Stand in the center of the cable machine, and adjust the cables at their lowest point. 
  • Add the D-handle to both the cables,  and hold them with both hands. 
  • Bring them close to your chest, and slightly bend your knees and back. 
  • Make an ‘X’ sign by crossing both the cables and hinge at your hips, as you were about to do a bent-over row. 
  • Raise your arms straight until they are parallel to the floor while exhaling. 
  • Bring back the arms to their original position, and inhale while doing this. 
  • Keep a slight bend in your elbows, while doing this exercise. 

6. Single-arm Bent-Over Rear Delt Flyes

This is similar to the bent-over rear delt flye, the only difference is that instead of working out both your shoulders at the same time, you are going to train a single side shoulder at a single time. It’s a good exercise if your gym has a single cable machine, or you find difficulty in training both shoulder sides at the same time. 

Some lifters believe training one arm is better than training both arms because you have a better muscle-mind connection. And also, you have full control over your motion, as training both arms limits the range of motion. 

Main Area Targeted: rear deltoids

Strengths: If you have a balancing problem, during training both arms at the same time, you can use this exercise. It allows the user to better control the movement of his arms. 

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How to:

  • Stand at least 5 feet from the cable machine, and adjust the cables at their lowest point. 
  • Insert the D-handle to the cable, and hold it with a neutral grip. 
  • Slightly bend your knee, and also bend your back. The back will be parallel to the floor. 
  • Hold the handle on the opposite side of the cable machine. 
  • Exhale, and bring your arm upward, thus making it parallel to the floor. 
  • Hold for 0.5 seconds, and then inhale and bring back the arm to its original position. 
  • Keep a slight bend in your elbows, while doing this exercise. 

7. Cable upright row

This exercise primarily focuses on the front part of the shoulder. The cable upright row, help you build more pronounced shoulder muscles in a very short period. The exercise technique is simple, and with the use of cable, you can add a drop set to your cable shoulder workout. There are different ways you can do this, some prefer to use ripe and other a straight bar. 

Main Area Targeted: front deltoids

Strengths: It is variation, that helps in building shoulder and traps muscles. With constant tension in your shoulder and traps, you can achieve higher results in a very definite period. 

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How to: 

  • Attach a straight bar to a cable machine, and get to its lowest point. 
  • Stand straight withhold the bar with both hands. 
  • The palm should be facing downward. 
  • While exhaling, bend your elbows and pull the bar or rope, straight up towards your chest. 
  • Raise until your elbows are in level with your shoulders. 
  • Hold the position, and while inhaling bring back the arms to their original form. 

8. Face pulls

This exercise is popular for its posture correction feature. People who face neck problems can use exercise to get rid of the problem. This exercise target the rear delt, and also the upper back muscles which help in the correction of the body posture. 

Main Areas Targeted: rear deltoids, middle trapezius

Strengths: The advantage of the cable face pull exercise is that it targets the middle traps and rear deltoid. This exercise enhances the weight capacity you endure on your regular exercise. 

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How to:

  • Set the cable to its highest point and attach a rope to it. 
  • Stand straight in front of the cable machine, and hold the rope with both hands. 
  • The overhand grip is used, and turn your palm, to make them face each other. 
  • Lift your elbows to make them level with your shoulders. 
  • Take a few steps back from the machine, to activate a muscle tension on the shoulder. 
  • While exhaling pulls the rope towards your face and bends your elbows while doing. 
  • When it reaches your face, split your hands, so each rope is on either side of the face. 
  • Hold the position for 0.5 seconds, while squeezing your shoulder muscles. 
  • Inhale and bring it back to its original form. 

9. Cable shoulder Press

The shoulder press is the most common shoulder exercise, and the cable shoulder press is similar to the overhead press. The difference is that a straight bar is attached to the cable, instead of the dumbbells or barbells. 

Main Areas Targeted: anterior, middle, and rear deltoids

Strengths: The cable shoulder press would require a little more muscle coordination than dumbbells and barbell shoulder press. There is a high risk of losing balance, but with a proper technique, it targets the muscle and gets rid of any unwanted resistance. 

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How to:

  • Bring the cable to its lowest point, and attach a straight bar to it.
  • Hold the bar with both hands, the palm should be facing downward. 
  • Stand straight, and pull the weight too close to your shoulders. 
  • Exhale, while raising the bar straight up over your head. 
  • Keep your back straight, and avoid leaning in front. 
  • Inhale, when you bring back the bar to your shoulder position. 
  • You can use a slight push power, with the help of your legs( a slight bend will give a push) 
  • Perform until your complete all the reps. 

10. Cable Shrug

Shrugs are the most common exercise to build your trapezius muscle( muscle starting from the base of the neck to the upper back). However, shoulder muscles are also engaged in this exercise. Every muscle is engaged, in the exercise, a sit helps to built is nice shape rounded upper shoulders. 

Main Area Targeted: middle deltoids

Strengths: Shrugs are a great exercise to build traps, and also give a nice shape to the shoulder muscles. Alternative, lifters usually do this with dumbbells or barbells, but with cable, it’s most efficient. It allows performing a drop set until failure. 

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How to:

  • Adjust the cable to the lowest point and attach a straight bar to the cable. 
  • Three styles to hold the bar( palm facing upward, facing downward, one facing downward, and the other facing upward). 
  • For each set, the user can change to a different hand holding position. 
  • While exhaling, shrug your shoulders up towards your ears, which will lift the bar. 
  • Keep arms straight, and don’t bend the elbows. 
  • Hold the position for 0.5 seconds. 
  • Inhale, and slowing bring back the shoulder downward. 

Build stronger shoulder with the cable shoulder workout

Follow the exact cable shoulder workout, and perform these cable shoulder exercise with the sets and reps mentioned, and in a very short period, you’ll achieve rock-hard, broad shoulders. 

Always keep this list of cable shoulder exercise in your mind when you start your shoulder workout in the gym, and you’ll have no trouble building strong shoulder muscles! 

Are cable shoulder workouts effective? 

A cable shoulder workout can be effective for building up strong shoulder muscles. During a cable shoulder workout, the cables are offering consistent tension on the shoulder muscles, through the entire range of motion. This helps in building quicker growth of the muscles. 

If you are new to the gym, it is hard to get the proper technique of the exercises. Cable shoulder exercise creates an efficient form, as you have the freedom to move your muscles. 

For a professional gym freak, a cable shoulder workout will target their front deltoid, side deltoid, and rear deltoid muscles. 

People who have had shoulder injuries in the past can easily train with the cable machine, as they can train with less weight and increase the flexibility and stability in their shoulder muscles. 

By using a cable machine, the cable can be set in the direction that best hits the muscle fibers and also this safety of resistance machines. 

With a higher range of motion in the shoulder workout, a lifter will have the advantage of creating constant tension throughout the muscle. This also builds up a better muscle-mind connection. 

Regardless, where the lifter is holding the cable, the shoulder muscles are still holding tension from the weight. 

Cables vs Free Weight

With free weights like dumbbells, the resistance is in the direction of gravity, while with cable, the lifter can change the resistance to its priority ( any direction). 

This, with a cable machine, the lifter can target muscle is as per its priority, and it’s free from gravity resistance. 

To elaborate with an example, 

Through the lateral raise exercise with dumbbells, the deltoids don’t feel the tension at the bottom position. Whereas, with cable machines, this is exactly the opposite, as the resistance is present on the deltoids. 

Boost Cable Shoulder Workout effectiveness

Change Cable direction

The primary feature of using a cable machine for a shoulder workout is that the lifter has full control over the direction of the cable. This includes, the cable can be adjusted to create higher tension to the muscle, at different heights and angles. 

In addition, this boosts the deltoids, as the path of cable can be set in the direction of muscles. 

Weight distribution quicker

The cable machine allows the lifter to change the weight in an instant. The difficulty level of the cable can go from 100 to 1 in just a few seconds. This is very effective, for lifter performing supersets. 

Additionally, there is less risk of injury with cable machines as compared to free weights. 

Better range of motion

Training with barbells has its benefits and disadvantages. The biggest downside is the fixed range of motion. But with a cable machine, the mobility is not fixed. And the lifter can easily move around the weight that suits his muscles better. 

Additionally, with a higher range of motion, the body also has to maintain greater stability. This boosts the engagement of the shoulders muscle for the lifter. 

Cables targets every shoulder muscle

Cable shoulder exercises target all the deltoid muscles( Front Deltoid, Side Deltoid, and Rear Deltoid Muscles). You can choose how much you have to target the muscle for building mass. 

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