Cable Front Raise: How To, And 7 Best Variations That Help Build Strong Delts

The ultimate guide to the cable front raise, how to, benefits and best variations that build strong shoulders.

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The Ultimate Cable Front Raise Mastery and Guide

The cable front raise is a resistance training exercise that primarily enhances shoulder strength and stability, making it beneficial for activities that involve overhead movements.

It is one of the best exercises that help isolate and strengthen the front shoulder muscles, contributing to a balanced upper body development and worth considering by athletes looking to build shoulder strength and aesthetics.

Cable Front Raise Target Muscles

The cable front raise targets the front and middle deltoids, which are the muscles that make up the rounded contour of the shoulder. It also works the upper fibers of the pectoralis major, the upper trapezius, and the serratus anterior.

Below is a breakdown of the muscles that cable front raise target.

  • Anterior deltoid
    It is the front portion of the deltoid muscle. It is responsible for lifting the arm in front of the body.
  • Middle deltoid
    It is the middle portion of the deltoid muscle. It is responsible for lifting the arm to the side.
  • Upper pectoralis major
    It is the upper portion of the chest muscle. It helps to lift the arm in front of the body.
  • Upper trapezius
    The upper trapezius is the upper portion of the trapezius muscle. It is responsible for elevating and retracting the shoulder blade.
  • Serratus anterior
    The erratus anterior muscle is on the side of the chest. It helps to stabilize the shoulder blade during arm movements.

How To Perform the Cable Front Raise with Proper Form

cable front raise exercise

It is essential to perform the cable front raise with proper form. That will help maximize its benefits and reduce the risk of injury.

Required equipment: Cable machine with a low pulley and a rope attachment

Steps to follow

  • Set-Up
    Attach a rope handle to the low pulley on the cable machine.
    Adjust the weight to an appropriate resistance level to match your capabilities.
  • Stance
    Stand with your feet at shoulder-width, your back to the cable machine, and the cable running between your legs.
    Keep your knees slightly bent to maintain stability.
  • Grip
    Grasp the rope handle with both hands using an overhand grip. Keep your hands close together on the rope.
  • Starting Position
    Begin with your arms extended down in front of your body.
    Keep your core engaged to maintain stability.
  • Execution
    Keeping your arms straight, lift the rope handle in front of your body.
    Raise your arms until they are parallel to the floor or slightly below shoulder level.
    Exhale as you lift the weight.
    Ensure a controlled, smooth motion. Avoid using momentum or swinging the weight.
  • Peak Contraction
    Hold the raised position briefly to emphasize the contraction in your front deltoid muscles.
  • Lower the Weight
    Inhale and lower the rope handle back to its starting position.
    Maintain control as you lower the weight, resisting the pull of the cable.
  • Repetitions
    Repeat the exercise for your desired number of repetitions.

Cable Front Raise – Recommended Sets and Reps

The number of sets and reps for cable front raise can vary depending on your goals, experience, workout structure, and training regimen.

Muscle Endurance and Toning

For athletes looking to improve muscular endurance, achieve toning, or incorporate cable front raise into a higher-repetition, lower-weight routine.

  • Sets: 3-4 sets
  • Repetitions: 12-20 reps per set
  • Rest: 30-60 seconds between sets

For Muscle Growth or Hypertrophy

For athletes aiming to increase the size of their front deltoids

  • Sets: 3-4 sets
  • Repetitions: 8-12 reps per set
  • Rest: 60-90 seconds between sets

For Strength Development

Use a heavier weight and lower repetitions to help build strength in your front deltoids.

  • Sets: 4-5 sets
  • Repetitions: 4-8 reps per set
  • Rest: 2-3 minutes between sets

For Toning and Warm-up

For athletes who wish to use cable front raise as part of their warm-up or for general shoulder toning

  • Sets: 2-3 sets
  • Repetitions: 12-15 reps per set
  • Rest: 30-45 seconds between sets

Tips and best practices for cable front raise

Performing cable front raise requires attention to detail and proper form. Below are some tips and best practices to help you get the most out of the exercise

  • Warm-Up
    Always start your workout with a warm-up to increase blood flow and prepare your muscles. Five to ten minutes of light cardio and dynamic stretching can help prevent injury.
  • Proper Weight Selection
    Begin with a light to moderate weight, especially if you are a newbie.
    You can increase the weight as you become more comfortable with the movement.
  • Core Engagement
    Keep your core muscles engaged throughout the exercise.
    That will help stabilize your spine and prevent excessive arching of the back.
  • Straight Back
    Maintain a straight, upright posture. Avoid arching or rounding your back during the exercise.
  • Elbow Position
    Keep a slight bend in your elbows, but don’t excessively bend them.
    The main motion should come from your shoulders.
  • Controlled Movement
    Perform the cable front raise with controlled and deliberate motions.
    Avoid using momentum or jerking the weight.
  • Full Range of Motion
    Lift the weight until your arms are parallel to the floor or slightly below shoulder level.
    Lower it back to the starting position without letting the weight touch the stack.
    That ensures you target the intended muscles throughout the entire range of motion.
  • Breathing
    Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.
    Breathing rhythmically helps with both concentration and form.
  • Focus on the Delts
    Concentrate on feeling the contraction in your front deltoid muscles as you lift the weight.
    Visualize these muscles working throughout the exercise.
  • Mind-Muscle Connection
    Develop a strong mind-muscle connection, focusing on the muscles you are working rather than just moving the weight.
    That can help maximize the effectiveness of the exercise.
  • Avoid Overtraining
    The exercise targets specific shoulder muscles, so it’s important not to overdo it.
    Incorporate it into a balanced shoulder workout regimen, and don’t overperform it to prevent overuse injuries.
  • Variation
    You can vary your grip and hand positioning on the rope attachment for slight variations in muscle engagement.
  • Recovery
    Ensure you practice proper recovery techniques, such as stretching and using ice or heat on your shoulders after your workout.
    That can help reduce any potential post-workout soreness.
  • Consult a Trainer
    Newbies or those with concerns may consider consulting a fitness professional for guidance.
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Cable Front Raise – Common Mistakes and How to Correct/Avoid Them

Common mistakes during the cable front raise exercise can reduce the effectiveness of the exercise and increase the risk of injury. Here are some of these mistakes and how to correct or avoid them:

Using Too Much Weight

Mistake: Lifting too heavy a weight can lead to improper form and put excessive strain on your shoulders
Correction: Start with a lighter weight and focus on maintaining proper form
Gradually increase the weight as you become more comfortable with the exercise.

Swinging or Using Momentum

Mistake: Using your body’s momentum to lift the weight instead of your shoulder muscles can reduce the effectiveness of the exercise
Correction: Focus on a slow, controlled motion
Avoid any swinging or jerking. Try using a lighter weight if you find it challenging to avoid swinging.

Lifting the Weight Too High

Mistake: Raising the weight too high, such that your arms go above shoulder level, can strain the shoulder joint and potentially cause injury
Correction: Lift the weight until your arms are parallel to the floor or slightly below shoulder level
That provides adequate shoulder engagement without overstretching the joint.

Arched Back

Mistake: Arching your back during the exercise can lead to lower back discomfort or injury
Correction: Keep your back straight and maintain a neutral spine
Engage your core muscles to stabilize your body.

Locked Elbows

Mistake: Keeping your elbows fully locked can put excessive strain on the joint
Correction: Maintain a slight bend in your elbows throughout the movement
That can reduce stress on the elbow and shoulder joints.

Failure to Control the Descent

Mistake: Letting the weight drop quickly during the descent phase can be jarring on the shoulder muscles
Correction: Lower the weight with control, resisting the pull of the cable
That can help engage the muscles during both the lifting and lowering phases.

Not Focusing on the Deltoids

Mistake: Allowing other muscle groups, like the traps or back, to take over the movement
Correction: Concentrate on using your front deltoid muscles to lift the weight
Visualize the muscles working as you perform the exercise.


Mistake: Overusing the exercise can lead to overtraining or shoulder strain
Correction: Include the cable front raise as part of a well-rounded shoulder workout, and avoid doing it too frequently
Adequate rest between workouts is crucial.

Skipping Warm-Up

Mistake: Neglecting a warm-up can increase the risk of injury.
Correction: Always warm up with light cardio and dynamic stretches before beginning your strength training routine.

Ignoring Pain

Mistake: Pushing through sharp or persistent pain during the exercise can lead to injury
Correction: Stop the exercise and seek guidance from a healthcare professional if you experience pain beyond typical muscle fatigue

Cable Front Raise – The Benefits

The cable front raise is an exercise that can provide several benefits for the body. Some of the potential benefits include,

Targeted shoulder development

The cable front raise targets the front and middle deltoids, which can help build strength and size in those muscles.

Having strong and well-developed shoulders can enhance your ability to perform several daily tasks, including lifting objects, pushing, pulling, and reaching overhead.

Improved shoulder stability

Working the serratus anterior and upper trapezius muscles can help to improve shoulder stability and prevent injury.

That is essential for athletes or exercisers who engage in activities that require frequent shoulder use.

Thus, it can benefit athletes involved in swimming, tennis, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, and weightlifting, where the shoulders are heavily involved in the movements.

Aesthetic Benefits

Strengthening the muscles can help improve shoulder stability and develop a more balanced, toned appearance in your upper body.

Many people find well-defined shoulders aesthetically pleasing. Incorporating cable front raises into your training can help you create a more balanced and symmetrical upper body appearance.

That can contribute to a more balanced, aesthetically pleasing appearance of the shoulders.

Improved shoulder mobility

The cable front raise can help improve shoulder mobility. It can promote a broader range of motion in the shoulder joints.

That can benefit those with limited shoulder mobility due to injury, surgery, or other conditions.

Enhanced muscular endurance

Performing the cable front raise with lighter weights and higher reps can improve muscular endurance.

That can help delay the onset of fatigue during other exercises and activities, ultimately leading to better fitness.

Injury prevention

The cable front raise can help strengthen the muscles and connective tissues around the shoulder joint, which can help prevent injury.

That can help those who participate in activities that place a lot of stress on the shoulders, such as overhead sports or weightlifting.

Convenience and versatility

The cable machine used for the cable front raise is available in most commercial and home gyms.

That makes it a convenient exercise to incorporate into most regular workout regimens.

Additionally, you can modify the exercise by changing the cable attachment or resistance level, making it a versatile exercise that you can tailor to meet your needs and fitness goals.

Cable Front Raise – The Limitations

The cable front raise is a potent exercise, but it has some limitations.

  • Partial Range of Motion
    The cable front raise works the front deltoids and does not engage the entire shoulder complex.
    It neglects the rear deltoids and the muscles of the rotator cuff.
    A comprehensive shoulder workout should include exercises that target all shoulder muscles for better balance and function.
  • Potential for Overuse Injury
    Performing the cable front raise too frequently, especially with heavy weights, can lead to overuse shoulder injuries.
    Allow adequate rest and recovery between shoulder workouts to prevent strain.
  • Limited Functional Strength
    The exercise builds strength in the front deltoids, which may not directly translate to functional strength in everyday activities.
    Many daily movements involve a combination of muscles, and isolated exercises like the cable front raise may not fully address those needs.
  • Risk of Poor Form
    The cable front raise can strain the shoulder joint, neck, or lower back if you perform the exercise without proper form and technique.
    Beginners or those without proper guidance are more susceptible to making form mistakes.
  • Equipment Dependency
    You need access to a cable machine to perform the exercise, which may not be available at home or all gyms.
    Some people prefer exercises that require minimal equipment.
  • Suitable
    People with shoulder issues or injuries may find the cable front raise uncomfortable or potentially exacerbating their condition.
    Consult a healthcare professional or physical therapist before attempting the exercise.

For best results and to help address the above limitations, include a variety of shoulder exercises in your workout regimen. That can help build well-rounded shoulder strength and stability.

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Cable Front Raise – The Variations

Cable front raise variations can add diversity to your shoulder workout and help target the front deltoid muscles from different angles.

Below are some cable front raise variations to consider.

Single Arm Cable Front Raise

Instead of using both hands, perform the cable front raise with one hand at a time.

The variation allows for a unilateral or one-sided focus on the front deltoid. It can help address muscle imbalances and improve stability.

Steps to follow
  • Attach a rope handle or a stirrup to the low pulley on the cable machine.
  • Stand facing away from the cable machine with your feet at shoulder-width.
  • Grasp the rope handle with one hand, palms hand facing your thighs.
  • Keeping your arm straight, lift the handle up and out in front of your body until your arm is parallel to the floor.
  • Hold the position briefly, then lower the handle back to its starting position in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat for your desired number of repetitions with one arm, then switch to the other hand.

Alternating Arm Cable Front Raise

Lift one arm at a time, alternating between the left and right hands with each repetition.

The variation can help improve balance and core stability while isolating each side of the front deltoid.

Wide-Grip Cable Front Raise

Use a wide grip attachment and hand placement on the cable machine.

That can emphasize different parts of the front deltoid and engage the chest muscles much more.

Narrow-Grip Cable Front Raise

A narrow-grip attachment and hand placement can help target the front deltoids differently.

It may also place more emphasis on the triceps.

Cable Front Raise with an Incline Bench

You can perform the cable front raise while sitting on an incline bench.

The change in position challenges the front deltoids from a different angle and can be a variation to break the routine.

Lying Cable Front Raise

Lie on a bench, facing up, and perform the cable front raise.

The variation isolates the front deltoids without involving other muscle groups for support.

Cable Cross-Body Front Raise

Use a single-hand grip and cross your arm over your body during the front raise.

The variation engages the front deltoid differently and can work on the upper chest and serratus anterior.


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