9 Best Cable Shoulder Exercises for Boulder Shoulders

Best Cable Shoulder Exercises: The cable machine is a versatile piece of equipment. There are many ways to use cables to strengthen your upper body muscles, especially your shoulders.

Not sure how to build your shoulders using a barbell or a cable instead of a barbell? Here are 9 ideas for the best cable shoulder exercises to add to your next upper-body workout.

9 Best Cable Shoulder Exercises


1. Single-Arm Lateral Raises

When it comes to growing and strengthening shoulder muscles, lateral raises are a popular move to add to your routine. Most people use dumbbells when doing lateral raises, but you can also do them with a cable machine for a different stimulus (or if the dumbbell rack at your gym is busy).

To perform these staple shoulder cable exercises correctly, follow these tips:

  • Start by standing next to the cable machine with the cable set to the lowest point.
  • Attach a handle to the cable, then grasp the handle with one hand; stand with your arm to one side and the cable running behind your legs
  • As you exhale, raise your arm straight up, stopping when it is parallel to the ground.
  • Inhale and lower your arm back
  • Bend your elbow slightly, but do not allow your elbow joint to flex and extend; The slight bend protects your joint, but if you allow too much movement, you’re not actually targeting your shoulder.
  • Try to isolate the movement so that your shoulder and arm muscles do most of the work; don’t jump and use momentum to swing the weight up
  • Be sure to do this exercise on both sides.

2. Anterior Raises

When adding cable shoulder exercises to your workout, be sure to address the front of the shoulder. Cable front raises help you sculpt fuller, more defined shoulder muscles.

One of the best ways to perform this exercise is to use the straight bar attachment. Connect the cable to your machine, set the cable to be at the lowest point of the machine, and then follow these steps:

  • Stand with one foot on either side of the cable
  • Bend over and grab the bar with both hands, then walk a few steps forward to stretch the cable – the bar should be close to your hips as you begin.
  • As you exhale, raise your arms up until the bar is parallel to the floor.
  • Inhale and lower the bar back to the starting position.
  • Keep arm locked with a slight bend at the elbow
  • As with lateral lifts, do your best to avoid bouncing or bouncing the weight up.

3. Bent-Over Rear Delt Flyes

Be sure to include back delts in your workouts to really define your shoulder muscles and keep them looking good from every angle. This exercise targets the back delta, which is the back of your shoulder muscle.

To perform twisted back delt flights, you need to stand in the middle of the cable machine and hold a cable in both hands. Before you begin, set the cables to the lowest point of the machine. From here, follow these tips:

  • Hold a wire in each hand and cross it to form an “X”.
  • Hinge on your hips as if you were going to do a curled row
  • As you exhale, raise your arms to the sides until they are parallel to the floor.
  • Inhale and lower your arms back
  • Keep elbows locked and bend slightly

4. Leaning Single-Arm Lateral Raises

This variation of the single-arm lateral raise allows you to target the delta better and prevents you from using momentum to increase the weight. Here are some tips to help make sure you’re doing it right:

  • Start by standing next to the cable machine, grasping the cable as you would for a normal single-arm lateral lift.
  • Grasp the edge of the machine with your opposite hand and adjust your feet closer to the machine.
  • Lean-to one side holding the machine to prevent tipping
  • As you exhale, raise your arm until it is parallel to the floor.
  • Keep your elbow locked with a slight bend

5. Face Pulls

There wouldn’t be a list of cable exercises for the shoulders if we didn’t mention face pulls. Facial pulls are another excellent exercise for rear delts. They also target the upper back muscles and are great for those looking to improve their posture.

To perform face pulls correctly, follow these steps:

  • Tie a rope to the cable machine and adjust the cable to the highest point
  • Stand in front of the machine and grasp one end of the rope with both hands (grasp at the top and turn your palms towards each other)
  • Raise your elbows in line with your shoulders
  • Take a step back to stretch the cable
  • As you exhale, bend your elbows and pull the rope towards your face.
  • As the attachment approaches your face, spread your hands apart so that one end of the rope passes either side of the face.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together, then inhale and return to the starting position.

6. Cable Shoulder Press

The cable shoulder press is similar to the overhead press, but instead of a set of dumbbells or barbells, you use a cable and straight bar attachment.

Start by attaching the flat bar to the cable machine and adjusting the cable to its lowest point. From here, follow these steps:

  • Pull the weight up so it sits in front of your shoulders
  • Inhale, tighten your glutes and enter the score
  • As you exhale, raise the bar above your head.
  • Make sure you don’t arch your lower back or use your legs to help you push up.
  • Inhale and return to the starting position

7. Cable Upright Row

Upright rows target the front of the shoulder and are a good accessory exercise to add to your upper body days.

You can use the straight bar attachment or the rope attachment while doing this exercise. Whichever attachment you choose, set the cable at its lowest point, grasp the rod or string with both hands, and then take a step back to give the cable some tension.

From here, follow these tips:

  • As you exhale, bend your elbows and pull the bar or rope towards your chest.
  • Stand with your elbows in line with your shoulders
  • Inhale and return to the starting position

8. Rear Delt Crossover

If you’re interested in focusing on building your rear delts, the rear delt pass is one of the best cable machine shoulder exercises to do on a regular basis. This is similar to the cable rear delt ends, but you start with the cables at a higher point on the machine.

Grasp a wire in both hands, making sure they cross and form an “X”, and start with your hands close together. Then follow these guidelines:

  • As you exhale, separate your arms and pull them down and back (think of opening your arms as if you were doing a chest fly).
  • Inhale and return to the starting position
  • Be sure to bend your back and not let the momentum take over.

9. Cable Shrug

Shrugs mainly target your trapezius muscles (muscles that start at the base of the neck and end in the upper back). Still, they create an additional stimulus for the shoulders and help you shape a more rounded upper body.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of wired shrugs:

  • Attach a flat bar to the cable and adjust the cable to its lowest point
  • Grasp the bar with both hands using an overhand grip (palms should be facing down)
  • As you exhale, lift your shoulders toward your ears to lift the bar a few inches (do not move your arms)
  • Inhale and return to the starting position

Get Bigger, Stronger Shoulders with These Cable Shoulder Exercises


Looking to enlarge and strengthen your shoulders? If so, there are many cable shoulder exercises that can help.

Keep this list of exercises in mind as you start planning your next upper body workout and you’ll have no problem getting the beautifully shaped shoulders you’ve always wanted!

Read More>> Best 8 Cable Chest Exercises for a Solid Chest Workout