How To Do Cable Lateral Raises

Cable Lateral Raises (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

The Cable Lateral Raise is a popular exercise used to strengthen the muscles in the shoulders. This exercise involves using a cable machine to lift weights out to the sides of the body, working the lateral deltoids, as well as the upper back and traps.

In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to do Cable Lateral Raises including important coaching points, muscles worked and a few alternatives as well.

How To Do Cable Lateral Raises

Equipment Needed

  • Cable Pulley Machine

How To

  • Start by adjusting the cable machine to the appropriate weight and attaching the handle to the low pulley.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and reach across your body to grasp the handle with your palm facing down*.
  • Keeping your elbow slightly bent, lift the weight out to the side of your body until your arm is parallel to the floor.
  • Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of reps.

Coaching Points

*Cable Lateral Raises can be done one arm at a time or both arms at the same time if you have a dual tower. The instructions above are assuming one arm at a time, but instructions are basically the same if doing both arms simultaneously.

To keep the focus on the medial delt, make sure to keep your palms down at the top of the movement. Many lifters like to pull back, instead of lift straight out to the sides, which brings the stronger muscles of the upper back into play.


Cable Lateral Raises, also known as Cable Side Raises, offer a number of benefits for the muscles in the shoulders and upper back. Some of the benefits of this exercise include:

  1. Improving shoulder strength and hypertrophy.
  2. Increasing shoulder stability and mobility which can improve athletic performance.
  3. Reducing the risk of injury by strengthening the muscles that support the shoulders and upper back.

How Many Reps?

Dumbbell Side Raises are always done in relatively high rep ranges. I generally program Side Raises as 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps per set.

Muscles Worked

Cable Lateral Raises work both the Delts and the Traps, but their primary focus is on the medial deltoids.

  • Deltoid (Medial, Anterior and Posterior heads)
  • Supraspinatus
  • Trapezius (if dumbbells are lifted slightly higher than shoulders at the top)

Cable Lateral Raise Alternatives

If you’re unable to do Cable Lateral Raises, for whatever reason, here are a couple of alternatives you can replace them with.

Need more options? Here are 10 of my favorite Cable Lateral Raise alternatives to grow your shoulders.

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

If you simply don’t have a cable machine, you can replace Cable Lateral Raises with Dumbbell Lateral Raises.

Keep the movement exactly the same in either case.

Barbell Upright Row

Upright Row

This isn’t an exact replacement, but Barbell Upright Rows are another good exercise that works the trapezius and deltoids.

So, if all you have to work with is a barbell (which I did when I first started my garage gym), Barbell Upright Rows are a suitable alternative.

More Links and Info

Horton Barbell has a growing Exercise Library including many more Upper Body Exercises.


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