Cable Upright Row vs Lateral Raises (Which Should You Do?)


Cable Upright Row vs Cable Lateral Raise

The Cable Upright Row and Cable Lateral Raises are two popular exercises that target the muscles of the shoulders. Both exercises involve using a cable machine, but the movements and muscles worked are slightly different.

In this article, we will compare the cable upright row and lateral raise, including their differences in technique, muscle activation, and potential benefits.

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of both exercises and how to incorporate them into your workout routine.


Cable Upright Row


Cable Upright Rows

Equipment Needed

  • Cable Machine

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Attach a straight handle* to a cable machine and lower the attachment pin to the bottom of the beam.
  • Grab the handle with an overhand grip and stand tall with the handle starting right in front of the thighs.
  • Flex your knees slightly and stand upright with good posture.
  • Pull the cable handle upward along the abdomen and chest toward the chin.
  • At the top, the elbow should be higher than the wrist, and above the shoulders.
  • Lower the handle under control back to the front of the thighs.
  • Do not ‘jerk’ or ‘rock’ the weight up and keep the handle close to the torso throughout.

Coaching Points

*You can use multiple different attachments other than a straight handle. The Rope Attachment is another popular attachment for Cable Upright Rows.

Don’t stand too far away from the machine. Try to stay close to the tower so the row is as vertical as possible.

Related –> 10 Cable Upright Row alternatives that don’t require a machine.


Cable Lateral Raise


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 Upright Row vs Lateral Raise

Now let’s directly compare the two exercises by muscles worked and effectiveness for specific goals.

Muscles Worked

The main difference between a cable upright row and lateral raise is the movement and muscle activation.

The cable upright row is a vertical pulling exercise that primarily targets the muscles of the upper back and shoulders, including the trapezius, deltoids, and biceps. The lateral raise, on the other hand, is a horizontal raising exercise that targets the lateral deltoid muscles.

Which Is Better For Developing Strength?

I don’t think either exercise is necessarily better than the other at developing strength. Cable Upright Rows allow the lifter to use more weight, but that is because the hands are kept close to the midline where the lifter has a much better mechanical advantage.

Just because Lateral Raises use less weight doesn’t mean it is any less challenging of an exercise.

I think both exercises are equally effective at building upper body strength in the areas that each exercise focuses on.

Is One Exercise Better For Beginners?

Again, I think this is a toss-up between Cable Upright Rows and Lateral Raises. I think both exercises are equally easy to learn and easy to execute.

I believe as long as a beginner focuses on learning the proper technique first and then slowly progresses in adding weight, that both exercises can be beneficial for someone just starting out.

Final Thoughts

I’ve just half an article comparing which is better – Cable Upright Rows or Lateral Raises. However, the truth is, there is no reason you shouldn’t have both exercises in your strength training program.

Both are excellent exercises for developing strong shoulders and a strong upper back. Incorporating both exercises into your training program can also add variety and keep your workouts from getting stale.

So, my suggestion would be instead of trying to decide between the two exercises, figure out how you can utilize both Cable Upright Rows and Cable Lateral Raises in your training plan.

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Ryan Horton

Horton Barbell was created by Ryan Horton who has served as a Sports Performance Coach for almost 20 years. My mission is to create a training resource to help as many coaches and athletes as possible maximize athletic potential.

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