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When you work out your shoulders with a cable machine, you can get benefits that you can’t get with other machines or free weights. With cable machines, you can change the direction of the resistance and keep the tension the same throughout the whole range of motion. This allows for greater isolation of the shoulder muscles and can result in a more significant stimulus for muscle growth.

What is a cable machine?

A cable machine is a piece of exercise equipment that you can usually find in gyms and fitness centers. It has a metal frame with a set of pulleys that can be moved and cables that are attached to weights that provide resistance. The cables can be moved to different heights and angles, so users can do many different exercises and focus on specific muscle groups.

Cable machines are versatile and can be used for a variety of exercises, including chest presses, rows, pull-downs, bicep curls, tricep pushdowns, and, of course, shoulder exercises. The ability to adjust the direction of resistance and maintain consistent tension throughout the range of motion can make cable machines a popular choice for bodybuilding and strength training.

Cable machines can provide several benefits, including the ability to target specific muscle groups with a greater degree of isolation and the ability to provide constant tension on the muscles throughout the exercise. However, it’s important to use proper form and technique when using cable machines to avoid any potential risk of injury.

Are cable shoulder workouts effective for building mass?

Yes, cable shoulder workouts can help you build muscle in your shoulders, especially when you do them along with other strength-training exercises and eat right. The muscles are always under tension when you use a cable machine, which can lead to a bigger stimulus for muscle growth. Additionally, the ability to manipulate the direction of resistance and isolate the shoulders to a greater extent can help target the muscles more effectively and build mass over time.

But it’s important to remember that building muscle mass in the shoulders (or any other muscle group) depends on many things, such as genetics, the intensity of your workouts, how much you rest and recover, and how well you eat. It’s also important to change up your workouts and focus on different parts of the shoulders so that your muscles grow evenly and you don’t hurt yourself.

Cables can target the front deltoid, side deltoid, and rear deltoid muscles. Cable machines can be used to work the front deltoid, side deltoid, and back deltoid muscles.

Front deltoid:

Cable exercises such as underhand cable front raises, half-kneeling single-arm cable shoulder presses, and cable cross-over reverse fly can effectively target the front deltoid muscles.

Side deltoid:

You can target the side deltoid muscles with cable exercises like cable lateral raises, single-arm leaning lateral raises, and alternating overhead presses.

Rear deltoid:

Cable exercises such as single-arm rear delt flyes, face pulls, and cable reverse flyes can effectively target the rear deltoid muscles.

Using a cable machine can keep the muscles under constant tension during the workout, which can lead to a stronger stimulus for muscle growth. Also, being able to change the direction of the resistance and keep the tension constant throughout the range of motion can make it easier to isolate and work on specific parts of the deltoid muscles.

Cable shoulder workouts can help you build muscle in your shoulders if you do them along with other exercises and eat right. However, individual results may vary based on a variety of factors.

Can cables increase the range of motion?

Yes, using cable machines can help increase the range of motion for common shoulder exercises. The ability to manipulate the direction of resistance and maintain consistent tension throughout the range of motion can help to improve overall flexibility and mobility in the shoulder joint.

For example, cable lateral raises can allow for a greater range of motion than traditional dumbbell lateral raises, as the cable provides resistance in a horizontal rather than a vertical plane. This can help to target the side deltoid muscles more effectively and can also reduce the risk of shoulder impingement.

Also, exercises like cable face pulls can help improve shoulder mobility by working the upper back and rear deltoid muscles. This can help improve posture and lower the risk of shoulder injuries.

Overall, using cable machines as part of a shoulder workout can help increase the range of motion for common exercises, improve overall shoulder mobility, and lower the risk of injury. However, it’s important to use proper form and technique when using cable machines to avoid any potential risk of injury.

What Are the Benefits of Doing Cable Shoulder Exercises?

Shoulder exercises with a cable can help your overall fitness and strength training in a number of ways. Here are some of the main benefits of doing cable shoulder exercises:

Increased Range of Motion:

Cable machines can provide resistance at various angles, which can help increase the range of motion in your shoulders. This can help to improve flexibility and mobility in the shoulder joint and reduce the risk of injury.

Improved Muscle Activation:

Cable machines can keep the muscles under constant tension while you work out, which can improve muscle activation and help you get better results. Also, cable machines can help you work on specific muscle groups like the front, side, and back deltoids in a more focused way.

Versatility:

Cable machines can be used for a wide variety of exercises, making them a versatile and efficient piece of equipment to have in your workout routine. You can use cable machines for exercises such as cable lateral raises, face pulls, cable upright rows, and more.

Reduced Risk of Injury:

Cable machines can provide a safer option for shoulder exercises compared to using free weights, as the cable can help reduce the risk of shoulder impingement and other injuries.

Progressive Resistance:

Most cable machines have weight stacks that can be changed, which lets you train with increasing resistance. This means you can slowly add weight and challenge your muscles, which can lead to better results over time.

Overall, cable shoulder exercises can offer several benefits for your fitness routine. However, it’s important to use proper form and technique when using cable machines to avoid any potential risk of injury.

Types of Cable Shoulder Workouts

Cable shoulder workouts can be an effective way to build mass and strength in your shoulder muscles. Here are nine cable shoulder exercises that can help you achieve your goals:

Cable Lateral Raise:

Stand sideways to the cable machine and hold the cable handle with one hand. Keep your arm straight and raise it to shoulder level, then lower it slowly. Repeat for 8–12 reps, and then switch sides.

How to do it

  • Set the cable machine to a low height and stand with your side facing it.
  • Keep your elbow slightly bent and hold the handle with the hand that is farthest from the machine.
  • Slowly lift your arm out to the side until it’s parallel to the ground, keeping your palm facing down.
  • Hold for a second at the top of the movement, then lower your arm back down slowly.
  • Repeat for 8–12 reps before switching sides.

Pros:

  • Targets the lateral deltoid muscle, which is responsible for shoulder width and size.
  • Provides constant tension on the muscle throughout the movement, leading to a more intense workout.
  • Can be done with cables or dumbbells, making it a versatile exercise.
  • Helps to improve shoulder stability and posture.
Video by Testosterone Nation

Cons:

  • Can put strain on the rotator cuff if done with incorrect form or with too much weight.
  • May not be effective for those with pre-existing shoulder injuries.

Pro tips:

  • Keep your elbow bent just a little bit to keep tension on the lateral deltoid muscle.
  • Avoid using momentum to lift the weight and instead focus on a slow and controlled movement.
  • Start with a lighter weight and work your way up gradually to avoid injury.

Underhand Cable Front Raise:

Stand facing the cable machine and hold the handle with an underhanded grip. Raise your arm to shoulder level, then lower it slowly. Repeat for 8–12 reps.

How to do It

  • Set the cable machine to a low height and stand with your back facing it.
  • Hold the handle with an underhand grip in front of your thighs.
  • Keeping your arms straight, slowly lift the handle up to shoulder level.
  • Hold for a second at the top of the movement, then lower your arms back down slowly.
  • Repeat for 8–12 reps.

Pros:

  • Targets the front deltoid muscle, which is responsible for shoulder size and definition.
  • Provides constant tension on the muscle throughout the movement, leading to a more intense workout.
  • Can be done with cables or dumbbells, making it a versatile exercise.
  • Helps to improve shoulder strength and stability.
Video by Renaissance Periodizatio

Cons:

  • May put strain on the wrist or elbow if done with incorrect form or with too much weight.
  • May not be effective for those with pre-existing shoulder injuries.

Pro tips:

  • Keep your arms straight and use your shoulders to lift the weight, not your back or legs.
  • Focus on a slow, controlled movement to keep tension on the muscle throughout the exercise.
  • Keep your core engaged to prevent swinging or losing momentum.

Single-Arm Leaning Lateral Raise

The single-arm leaning lateral raise targets the lateral deltoid muscle of the shoulder.

How to do It

  • Set the cable machine to a high height and stand facing it.
  • Hold the handle with one hand and lean forward.
  • Pull your arm back and out to the side, squeezing your shoulder blade.
  • Lower your arm slowly and repeat for 8–12 reps before switching sides.

Pros:

  • Targets the lateral deltoid muscle, which is responsible for shoulder width and size.
  • Helps to improve overall shoulder strength and stability.
  • Provides constant tension throughout the exercise, leading to a more intense workout for the lateral deltoid muscle.
  • Can be modified to target other muscles in the back and shoulders by changing the angle of the pull.
Video by Renaissance Periodizatio

Cons:

  • May put strain on the lower back if done with incorrect form or with too much weight.
  • May not be effective for those with pre-existing lower back or shoulder injuries.

Pro tips:

  • Keep your back straight and engage your core to prevent strain on the lower back.
  • Focus on a slow, controlled movement to keep tension on the muscle throughout the exercise.
  • Start with a lighter weight and work your way up gradually to avoid injury.

Cable Machine Single-Arm Rear Delt Flyes

The single-arm rear delt fly targets the rear deltoid muscle of the shoulder.

How to Do It

Set the cable machine to a high height and stand facing it.

  • Hold the handle with one hand and face away from the machine.
  • Start with your arm by your side and your palm facing your body.
  • Slowly lift your arm up and out to the side, keeping your elbow slightly bent and your palm facing down.
  • Hold for a second at the top of the movement, then lower your arm back down slowly.
  • Repeat for 8–12 reps before switching sides.

Pros:

  • Targets the rear deltoid muscle, which is responsible for shoulder size and definition.
  • Helps to improve overall shoulder strength and stability.
  • Provides constant tension throughout the exercise, leading to a more intense workout for the rear deltoid muscle.
  • Can be modified to target other muscles in the back and shoulders by changing the angle of the pull.
Video by Renaissance Periodizatio

Cons:

  • May put strain on the rotator cuff if done with incorrect form or with too much weight.
  • May not be effective for those with pre-existing shoulder injuries.

Pro tips:

  • Keep your back straight and engage your core to prevent strain on the lower back.
  • Focus on a slow, controlled movement to keep tension on the muscle throughout the exercise.
  • Start with a lighter weight and work your way up gradually to avoid injury.

Half Kneeling Single-Arm Cable Machine Shoulder Press:

Set the cable machine to a high height and kneel on one knee. Hold the cable handle with one hand and press it overhead, then lower it slowly. Repeat for 8–12 reps, and then switch sides.

How to do It

  • Set the cable machine to a high height and attach a rope handle.
  • Stand facing the machine and grab the handles with both hands, keeping your palms facing each other.
  • Slowly pull the handles towards your face, keeping your elbows out to the sides.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement, then lower the handles back down slowly.
  • Repeat for 8–12 reps.
Video by Bowtai Fitness

Pros:

  • Targets the rear deltoids, traps, and rotator cuff muscles.
  • Helps to improve overall shoulder strength and stability.
  • Provides constant tension throughout the exercise, leading to a more intense workout for the shoulders.
  • Can be modified to target different parts of the shoulder by changing the angle of the pull.

Cons:

  • May put strain on the rotator cuff or wrists if done with incorrect form or with too much weight.
  • May not be effective for those with pre-existing shoulder injuries.

Pro tips:

  • Keep your core engaged and your back straight to prevent strain on the lower back.
  • Focus on a slow, controlled movement to keep tension on the muscle throughout the exercise.
  • Start with a lighter weight and work your way up gradually to avoid injury.

Face pulls:

Stand facing the cable machine and hold the cable handle with both hands. Pull the handle towards your face, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Lower the cable slowly and repeat for 8–12 reps.

How to do It

  • Set the cable machine to a high height and stand facing it.
  • Hold the handle with one hand and bring it up to shoulder level, keeping your elbow bent and your palm facing forward.
  • Slowly press the handle up towards the ceiling, extending your arm fully.
  • Hold for a second at the top of the movement, then lower your arm back down slowly.
  • Repeat for 8–12 reps before switching sides.
Video by Video by Renaissance Periodizatio

Pros:

  • Targets the entire shoulder complex, including the front, side, and rear deltoids.
  • Helps to improve overall shoulder strength and stability.
  • Provides constant tension throughout the exercise, leading to a more intense workout for the shoulders.
  • Can be modified to target different parts of the shoulder by changing the angle of the press.

Cons:

  • May put strain on the lower back or shoulder if done with incorrect form or with too much weight.
  • May not be effective for those with pre-existing lower back or shoulder injuries.

Pro tips:

  • Keep your core engaged and your back straight to prevent strain on the lower back.
  • Focus on a slow, controlled movement to keep tension on the muscle throughout the exercise.
  • Start with a lighter weight and work your way up gradually to avoid injury.
  • Keep your elbow close to your body to engage your triceps as well as your shoulders.

Alternating Cable Machine Overhead Press:

Stand facing away from the cable machine and hold the cable handles with both hands. Press one handle overhead, then lower it slowly while pressing the other handle overhead. Repeat for 8–12 reps.

How to do It

  • Set the cable machine to a high height and stand facing it.
  • Grab the cable handle with an overhand grip, keeping your hands about shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull the cable up towards your chin, leading with your elbows and keeping them close to your body.
  • Squeeze your shoulders at the top of the movement, then lower the cable back down slowly.
  • Repeat for 8–12 reps.
Video by My PT Hub

Pros:

  • Targets the upper traps, deltoids, and biceps, making it a great exercise for building overall shoulder and arm strength.
  • Helps to improve posture and shoulder stability.
  • Can be modified by changing the width of your grip to target different areas of the shoulders.
  • Provides constant tension on the muscles throughout the exercise.

Cons:

  • May put strain on the wrists or shoulders if done with incorrect form or with too much weight.
  • Can be difficult for those with pre-existing shoulder injuries or limited mobility.

Pro tips:

  • Keep your elbows close to your body and your wrists straight to avoid strain on these joints.
  • Focus on a slow, controlled movement to keep tension on the muscle throughout the exercise.
  • Choose a weight that allows you to complete the full range of motion with proper form.
  • Breathe out as you pull the cable up, and breathe in as you lower it back down.

Cable Machine Cross Over Reverse Fly:

Stand facing away from the cable machine and hold the cable handles with both hands. Cross the handles in front of you and then pull them apart behind your back, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Lower the cable slowly and repeat for 8–12 reps.

How to do It

  • Set the cable machine to a low height and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Grab the cable with both hands, keeping your palms facing up and your elbows bent at 90 degrees.
  • Press the cable out in front of you, extending your arms fully.
  • Rotate your hands so that your palms are facing down, then pull the cable up towards your chin, keeping your elbows close to your body.
  • Lower the cable back down to the starting position and repeat for 8–12 reps.
Video by Live Lean TV Daily Exercises

Pros:

  • Targets the shoulders, upper back, and triceps, making it a great exercise for building overall upper body strength.
  • Helps to improve posture and shoulder mobility.
  • Provides constant tension on the muscles throughout the exercise.
  • Can be modified by using different cable attachments to target different areas of the shoulders.

Cons:

  • May put strain on the wrists or shoulders if done with incorrect form or with too much weight.
  • Can be difficult for those with pre-existing shoulder injuries or limited mobility.

Pro tips:

  • Focus on a slow, controlled movement to keep tension on the muscle throughout the exercise.
  • As you do the exercise, keep your elbows close to your body to work your upper back and triceps.
  • Breathe out as you press the cable out in front of you, and breathe in as you pull it up towards your chin.
  • Start with a lighter weight and work your way up gradually to avoid injury.

Cable Machine Upright Row:

Stand facing the cable machine and hold the handle with both hands. Pull the cable up towards your chin, keeping your elbows out to the sides. Lower the cable slowly and repeat for 8–12 reps.

How to do it

  • Set the cable machine to a low height and stand facing it with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Grab the cable handle with one hand and take a few steps back to create tension on the cable.
  • Lean forward at the hips, keeping your back straight and your core engaged.
  • Lift your arm straight out to the side, keeping it in line with your shoulder, and squeeze your shoulder blade.
  • Lower your arm back down slowly and repeat for 8–12 reps before switching sides.
Video by Uplift Fitness

Pros:

  • Targets the rear delts and upper back, helping to improve posture and balance out the shoulders.
  • Can be modified by using different cable attachments to target different areas of the shoulders.
  • Provides constant tension on the muscles throughout the exercise.
  • Helps to improve shoulder mobility and stability.

Cons:

  • May put strain on the lower back if done with incorrect form or with too much weight.
  • Can be difficult for those with pre-existing shoulder or back injuries or limited mobility.

Pro tips:

  • Start with a lighter weight and work your way up gradually to avoid injury.
  • To avoid putting stress on your lower back, keep your back straight and your core engaged throughout the exercise.
  • Focus on squeezing your shoulder blade to engage the rear delts and upper back muscles.
  • Breathe out as you lift your arm to the side, and breathe in as you lower it back down.

Cable Cuban Press:

Hold the cable handle with both hands and stand with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Rotate your arms outward and then press the cable handles overhead. Lower the cable slowly and repeat for 8–12 reps.

How to do it

  • Set the cable machine to a low height and stand facing it with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Grab the cable handle with one hand and take a few steps back to create tension on the cable.
  • Lean forward at the hips, keeping your back straight and your core engaged.
  • Lift your arm straight out to the side, keeping it in line with your shoulder, and squeeze your shoulder blade.
  • Lower your arm back down slowly and repeat for 8–12 reps before switching sides.
Video by JS FIT

Pros:

  • Targets the rear delts and upper back, helping to improve posture and balance out the shoulders.
  • Can be modified by using different cable attachments to target different areas of the shoulders.
  • Provides constant tension on the muscles throughout the exercise.
  • Helps to improve shoulder mobility and stability.

Cons:

  • May put strain on the lower back if done with incorrect form or with too much weight.
  • Can be difficult for those with pre-existing shoulder or back injuries or limited mobility.

Pro tips:

  • Start with a lighter weight and work your way up gradually to avoid injury.
  • To avoid putting stress on your lower back, keep your back straight and your core engaged throughout the exercise.
  • Focus on squeezing your shoulder blade to use the muscles in your back and upper back.
  • Breathe out as you lift your arm to the side, and breathe in as you lower it back down.

Final thoughts on cable shoulder exercises

Cable shoulder exercises can be an effective and versatile addition to your fitness routine. They offer several benefits, such as increased range of motion, improved muscle activation, versatility, reduced risk of injury, and progressive resistance. By using cable machines, you can target the front, side, and rear deltoids with a greater degree of isolation and maintain constant tension on the muscles throughout the exercise.

But, as with any exercise, it’s important to do cable shoulder exercises with the right form and technique to avoid getting hurt. It’s also important to slowly add more weight and challenge your muscles over time if you want to keep getting stronger and better.

Overall, cable shoulder exercises can be a great way to build strength and size in your shoulders, but it’s important to include them in a well-rounded fitness routine that includes exercises for your whole body.

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