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How To Do Cable Lateral Raise

Proper Form, Variations and Modifications

The cable lateral raise works the middle head of the deltoid muscle, which is the rounded muscle at the top of each shoulder.

According to studies, this activity targets the infraspinatus and subscapularis muscles in your rotator cuff, allowing you to do many shoulder motions, such as internal and external rotations. Plus, its one of the more visible muscle groups along with biceps which make you stand out more.

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


Target Muscle Group – Shoulders

Exercise Type – Strength

Equipment Required – Cable Pulley Machine

Mechanics – Isolation

Force Type – Pull (Unilateral)

Experience Level – Intermediate

Secondary Muscles – Traps

Graphic showing deltoid muscle which is targeted during cable lateral raise

Single Arm Cable Lateral Raise (Crossbody) Instructions

  1. Attach a single handle to the cable at the lowest pulley position.
  2. With a neutral grip, reach across your body and grab the handle.
  3. Raise the handle laterally by pulling it across your body and bending your elbow slightly.
  4. Slowly lower the handle back to the starting position while keeping control.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Guy doing lateral cable raise at gym for deltoid workout

Cable lateral raise Pro Tips

Swinging the weight up using momentum and then dropping it on the way down is simply cheating on this exercise. So, do not lift too heavy, use relatively low weights so that all the focus is on your mid-shoulder. Exhale, raise the weight to shoulder level and hold for 1–5 seconds. Lifting and lowering the weight with care while maintaining control throughout and achieving a good squeeze at the top is crucial.

Cable lateral raise modifications

There are a few modifications you may make to this exercise. However, like with any other movement, the most essential things are progression and excellent form.

To make this exercise more challenging, here’s an example of a modification that you may try

To get better results, gradually raise the weight and pause for 3–7 seconds in each rep to increase the intensity of the exercise. The lateral deltoids will burn as the tension in them grows, forcing your muscles to grow.

Lifting weights slowly for a long time helps the muscle stay under tension for a longer period, which increases how much protein the muscle synthesizes after the workout and aids in its growth.

Lateral raises variations

There are a few alternative versions of the cable lateral raise to make your routine more interesting.

Dead-stop lateral raises

The dead-stop lateral raise increases tension in your muscle by reducing momentum. Dumbbells are preferable to cable pulleys for this exercise.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Sit on a bench with two dumbbells in your hands.
  • Extend your arms out to the side with one dumbbell in each hand and allow the weights to rest on the bench.
  • Raise your arms to shoulder height.
  • Lower the dumbbell until it rests on the bench in a controlled manner.
  • Relax your hold after each repetition.

Eccentric lateral raises

You increase muscular tension by extending the duration of time the arms are raised in this activity. This adds resistance — and a degree of difficulty to the exercise. Here’s how to do it:

  • Hold your dumbbells and bend your elbows to 90 degrees and raise them out to the side around shoulder height.
  • Extend your elbows out to the sides and make a “T” shape with your body, keeping your palms facing down.
  • Maintain this posture for 1–3 seconds before lowering your arms to your sides, keeping them extended.

Elevator lateral raises

Elevator lateral rises are intended to extend the amount of time the muscle is under tension, which will lead to greater growth. Here’s how to do it:

  • With your arms close to your body, grab the dumbbells with both hands.
  • Raise both arms to shoulder height simultaneously.
  • Lower your arms a third of the way down and then raise them back to shoulder height. After that, bring your arms back down half way and then raise them up to shoulder height.
  • Lower your arms to your sides.
  • Repeat the sequence for the desired number of reps.

Behind The Body Lateral Raise

Another popular variation is the lateral raise behind the body. The side-rear deltoid region is more easily isolated with this sort of lateral because the movement plane is more directly to the side of your body, as opposed to the standard cable lateral raise, which begins in front of your body.You may also get a better pre-stretch by doing this. Simply stand in front of the wire in this variation, allowing it to pass behind your buttocks and legs.


Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant. He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves. Rahul has a master's degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.

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