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Cable One-Arm Lateral Raise

If you want an athletic build, with broad and well-rounded shoulders, then you will have to dwell on the external deltoids. These muscles are the ones that will give you that breadth so much sought after by bodybuilders.

Cable one-arm lateral raise is one of the best strength exercises to isolate the side of the shoulder. This is also the only isolation exercise I do for this muscle group, after of course exercising on basic, poly-articular movements, such as bench presses or dumbbells.
You can, of course, do the exercise with the dumbbells, but the cable has the advantage of keeping the tension at shoulder level from the beginning to the end of the movement, especially in the lower part.

It may be worth incorporating Cable one-arm lateral raise into your training routine if you want to gain shoulder width without thickening the trapezoids too much.

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How To Make Cable One-Arm Lateral Raise

This movement is generally carried out in the same way as with dumbbells:

  • Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart or on your knees between two Cable Crossovers, depending on the height of your pulleys. The goal is to have your hands at the level of the pulley.
  • Grasp the two handles of the low pulleys.
  • Spread the arms away from the body axis, until you finish the arms crosswise. No need to go beyond the horizontal, because in this case, it is the trapezoids that will take over and not the shoulders.
  • The arms should not be stretched so as not to risk injuring the biceps which is greatly stretched or the elbow joint, but they should not be bent either, as this greatly facilitates movement. So bend your arms very slightly.
  • Lower your arms, controlling the movement, until your two hands cross in front of you, so stretching is more important, which is not possible with dumbbells.
  • Avoid suddenly, if you have to cheat to succeed the movement is that you are handling too heavy loads.

For this exercise, you must take your inspiration before raising your arms, blocking the breathing during the movement, and then exhaling during the descent.

Targeted Muscles

The Cable one-arm lateral raise stresses mainly the middle beam of the deltoid (side of the shoulder) and indirectly the trapezius muscles especially if one exceeds the horizontal with the arm – which is not recommended.
In fact, the deltoid raises the arm horizontally until the humerus comes up against the acromion of the scapula. The trapezoid then comes into action to tilt the scapula and continue the movement.

It is generally not advisable to raise the arm above the shoulder level as this places unnecessary stress on the joint and can lead to irritation and pinching. The supraspinatus tendon that initiates the movement can be sandwiched between the head of the humerus and the acromion.

Risks And Mistakes To Avoid

  • Do not mount the arm above the shoulder: this not only risks causing pain in the joint but it is also irrelevant for the realization of the Cable one-arm lateral raise since beyond the horizontal it is essentially the trapezoids that take over.
  • Keep your elbows slightly bent during the entire movement: do not extend your arm up.
  • Favor light loads and long series to achieve this movement. It is also recommended to place this exercise at the end of a weight training session.
  • In case of pain in the shoulders: when climbing, stop before reaching horizontal to relieve the joint. You can also raise the arm slightly in front of you instead of mounting it in the extension of the shoulder. Use the free hand to hang on and gain stability and improve technical performance.


For Cable one-arm lateral raise, breathing is reversed. You have to breathe in when you mount the handle because the rib cage rises at that point.
The elbows should remain slightly bent throughout the movement. Do not extend your arm when you arrive in a horizontal position. Make sure that the little finger is pointing towards the ceiling at the top of the movement.
If your joints are making you suffer and you have to avoid basic exercises like the exercises above the head, you can replace them with cable exercises that will allow you to work your shoulders well.

Generally, we do not work hard on this exercise and we use a fairly long series of more than 12 repetitions, focusing mainly on muscle sensations. It is advisable to start your shoulder strength training session with basic heavy compound exercises like the Barbell Shoulder Press and finish with isolation exercises like the Cable one-arm lateral raise or dumbbells.


  • Exhale slowly during the arm raising phase and in the high position.
  • Inhale during the descent and in the starting position.

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The exercise can be done on your knees if your pulley does not adjust in height. It is indeed necessary that the pulley is located at the height of your hand with arms outstretched.

Cable one-arm lateral raise can be done in an overhand grip, in which case they will be more likely to use the “rear” portion of the middle deltoid where it joins the back of the shoulder.

Finally, the movement can be carried out with the hands slightly in front of or behind the body in order to vary the angles.

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