5 Best Cable Shoulder Workouts For Boulder Shoulders

Cable machines are an often-overlooked way to target your shoulder muscles at the gym. Do you want to make gains quickly and responsibly, without risking injury? These cable shoulder workouts will get you pumped!

What Do You Need to Watch Out for When You’re Training Your Shoulder Muscles?

Any bodybuilder, or regular gym goer who includes serious weightlifting in their routine, will tell you that it’s crucial to make sure that your workouts are well-rounded. It is, in other words, important to work all your major muscle groups, and not to neglect any part of your body.

Because most folks who go to the gym want strong and broad shoulders, they’ll probably no need to be told to work their shoulders twice. They might even focus excessively on this area. Did you know, though, that around 36 percent of gym-related injuries involve the shoulder joint? That’s right, because the front, lateral, and rear delts are fairly small muscles, they’re also prone to injury. 

You wouldn’t be the first person to dislocate your shoulder at the gym, nor the last, and poor-form overhead lifts also risk rotator cuff injuries and tendonitis. Long-term inflammation of the acromioclavicular joint is another common problem when it comes to shoulder training, and it’s so infamous in the gym community that it’s referred to as a “weightlifter’s shoulder”.

What Are the Benefits of Using Cable Machines for a Shoulder Workout?

By focusing on cable machine workouts to train your shoulders, you’ll get a consistent tension (and a minimum resistance of around 20 lbs) that can effectively work the front, lateral, and rear deltoid muscles. Using a cable machine promotes excellent form while allowing for increased range of motion. 

In terms of results, that means that cable shoulder workouts can offer maximum benefits while slashing your risk of injury when compared to using free weights or doing resistance exercises using your own bodyweight. Not everyone has access to cable machines. If you do, though, there’s absolutely no reason not to take advantage of them!

So, what are the best cable machine exercises for your shoulders? These top picks will target all the major muscles, allowing you to make serious gains in the shortest time possible!

1. Cable Front Raise

Cable front raises give your front delts an intense workout, buffing up the part of your shoulders that immediately grabs everyone’s attention. To correctly pull off a cable front raise:

  • Attach the pulley to the lower portion of the cable machine, and pick a straight bar.
  • Turning your back to the cable machine, place your feet shoulder-width apart and maintain an upright stance.
  • Grab both ends of the bar with your hands from the top.
  • In a slow and controlled way, lift your hands up until they’re just above shoulder height. Pause.
  • Slowly return your hands to the starting position.

Begin with 10 reps, and work your way up to 15 gradually.

2. Face Pull

This cable shoulder workout targets your rear deltoid muscles. They’re great for everyone who wants buff shoulders, but also for folks who’ve been dealing with some shoulder and back pain. Here’s how to do a face pull on a cable machine:

  • You’ll want to choose a rope to attach to the upper portion of your cable machine. 
  • As you hold onto each end, step back. 
  • Using a traditional shoulder-width stance, pull the rope toward your nose in a controlled manner. As you do the workout, keep in mind that your elbow should move backward.
  • After pausing, gradually return to the starting position.

Start with 15 reps and aim for 20 after some practice.

3. Single-Arm Cable Lateral Raise

This exercise is great for your lateral deltoid muscles, and if you want broad shoulders, the single-arm cable lateral raise is one cable shoulder workout you shouldn’t skip. How? Here goes:

  • You’ll want to attach a handle to the lower section of your cable machine.
  • Standing upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, and your side turned to the machine, you’ll lift one arm at a time, diagonally, as if you were waving hello to someone. You’ll do this with the cable behind your back as well as in front of you.
  • Slowly return to the starting position, aiming for 10 reps in each arm.

4. Incline Cable Front Raises

So, you want big shoulders as quickly as possible? Try some incline cable front raises, which require:

  • Two handles to be attached to the lower portion of your cable machine, as well as an incline bench at a 90 degree angle.
  • Positioning yourself onto the bench, take each handle into your hands. Make sure your back and neck are as straight as possible.
  • Lift your arms up simultaneously. At shoulder height, take a breath as you feel your delts working, before returning to the starting position.

Beginners can do 15 reps, while advanced gym goers can aim for 20.

5. One-Handed Cable Shoulder Presses

Do you want to work your lateral and front delts at the same time and get more bang for your buck? If so, one-handed cable shoulder presses are perfect for you! 

  • For this cable shoulder exercise, you’ll want to hook a pulley onto the cable machine at hip height.
  • Your stance is crucial here — stand up straight and feel your abdominals.
  • Bring your hand up to your shoulder in a classic “look at my biceps” stance, and then bring your arm up to your the top of your head. Pause.
  • Return to the starting position slowly.

A total of 10 to 12 reps per arm are perfect for this workout. “Asymmetrical” folks who have a weaker arm can instead choose to target their weaker side more heavily.

Although these five cable shoulder exercises are far from the only great ones, they’ll give you a balanced start to working with cable machines — and if you keep it up, you’ll see gains in as little as two weeks!

Don’t forget though, all the effort in the world will never pay dividends unless you are investing eating the sufficient amounts of protein required to grow (in addition to as many whole foods as possible). You also need to allow enough recovery time in between workouts to allow your muscles to heal and rebuild.

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