Cable Front Raise

Exercise Guide, Variations, and Alternatives

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: June 27, 2023

Are you looking to strengthen and sculpt your shoulders? Then the cable front raise exercise might be the secret weapon you need.

In this blog post, I’ll explain everything about cable front raises, including the benefits, proper form, and how to incorporate this exercise into your workout routine.

Get ready to elevate your shoulder game and achieve those desirable chiseled delts!

Cable Front Raise

What Is a Cable Front Raise?

The front raise exercise involves lifting your arms straight out to the front without bending your elbows. Therefore, this is an isolation movement only involving rotation around the shoulder joint.

There are multiple ways to add resistance to the front raise exercise, including free weights and machines. But using the cable machine for the front raise exercise results in some unique muscle activation.

Cable Front Raise Muscles Worked

Cable front raises primarily target the anterior deltoids, helping to build definition and strength in the front portion of your shoulders. In addition, different cable handles and grips can activate other parts of the shoulder muscle group.

For example, neutral or underhand grips help isolate the anterior deltoid. While using an overhand grip involves the lateral delt on the side of the shoulder.

Cable Front Raise Muscles Worked

Cable vs Free Weight Front Raise

When performing a cable front raise, there are some differences to be aware of compared to the free weight variation. One of the main distinctions is the direction in which the force is applied.

While free weight exercises solely rely on gravity pulling the weight straight down, cable exercises apply tension in the direction of the cable. 

Also, it’s important to understand that the peak resistance happens when the force vector is perpendicular to the lever, which in this case, is your arms. With free weights, this happens at the top of the movement, whereas with the cable front raise, peak resistance is in the mid-range.

Cable Front Raise vs Barbell Front Raise

Benefits & Limitations

One advantage of the cable front raise exercise is that it maintains constant tension throughout the entire range of motion. Conversely, free-weight front raises only provide tension in the upper portion of the movement.

Additionally, the cable equipment provides the ability to alter your hand and body position to target different areas of your shoulders. And you can use a variety of cable attachments such as a straight bar, EZ bar, rope, or single handle.

However, a downside is that you need access to a cable machine to perform this exercise, and some machines may limit your range of motion.


  • More constant tension
  • Can adjust body position and angles
  • Multiple cable attachment options


  • Requires a cable machine
  • Can restrict range of motion

How to Cable Front Raise

There are a few different cable front raise variations that I’ll cover in another section. Here, I’ll explain how to perform the cable front raise with a bar attachment and the cable between your legs.

Start by setting up the cable machine with the pulley at the lowest position and attach a handle. Then stand with your back to the machine and the cable between your legs.

Next, grab the handle with an overhand grip and stand with your arms straight down and the bar in front of your thighs. Now slowly lift the cable up and out while keeping your arms mostly straight.

Continue lifting until your arms are parallel to the floor or slightly higher. Pause briefly at the top of the movement before slowly lowering the cable back down to the starting position in a controlled manner.

Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions, typically 8-12 repetitions per set for muscle growth.

Here are the step-by-step instructions for doing a cable front raise:

  1. Set the pulley at the lowest level and attach a handle
  2. Stand with back to machine and cable between legs
  3. Hold the bar with an overhand grip, hands about shoulder-width apart
  4. Lift the cable up while keeping your arms straight
  5. Slowly lower the cable back to the starting position
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps

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Cable Front Raise Form

The instructions and video above should give you a great starting point for performing the cable front raise properly. But here are some additional pointers to ensure safety and effectiveness.

  • Maintain a steady and controlled tempo throughout the exercise and avoid sudden jerking or swinging motions.
  • Think about moving only your shoulder joints rather than initiating movement with your hips or knees.
  • Focus on keeping constant tension on your anterior delts.
  • Keep your core engaged and maintain proper posture throughout the movement.
Cable Front Raise Starting Position
Cable Front Raise Form

Cable Front Raise Variations

Here are some additional ways to perform front raises on the cable machine.

One Arm Cable Front Raise

To perform the one arm cable front raise, you’ll need to use a single-handle attachment and stand off to one side of the pulley. This position allows your arm to start by the side of your thigh and gives you a wider range of motion as your legs won’t obstruct the bottom movement.

In addition, working one arm at a time can help you focus on contracting the anterior deltoid.

One Arm Cable Front Raise

Underhand Cable Front Raise

To focus more on the front delt while minimizing side delt involvement, try using an underhand grip or palms up when doing cable front raises. This alternative hand position, also known as the supinated grip, is possible with both a bar attachment and a single handle.

Cable Rope Front Raise

When using the rope cable attachment, your hands are positioned in a neutral grip that falls between an overhand and underhand grip. This attachment also keeps your hands closer together compared to a bar attachment.

Additionally, the rope results in a different feel when performing the cable front raise exercise, effectively targeting your front and side delts uniquely.

Cable Rope Front Raise

Lying Cable Front Raise

Finally, a cable front raise can be performed while lying on your back, with your feet closest to the pulley. This position maximizes resistance when your arms are near the top of the range of motion, similar to a free-weight front raise.

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Cable Front Raise Alternatives

Next, I will show you some alternative exercises you can rotate into your shoulder workouts instead of the cable variations.

Barbell Front Raise

The barbell front raise is a classic shoulder exercise that effectively works the anterior deltoid in the contracted position. This means you will feel it most at the top of the movement.

Also, depending on your preferences, you can perform the barbell front raise using an overhand or underhand grip.

Dumbbell Front Raise

A dumbbell front raise involves holding a weight in each hand, allowing for a greater range of motion at the bottom of the exercise. In addition, dumbbells enable you to perform the exercise with both arms or alternating arms.

Plate Front Raise

Lastly, the plate front raise is a variation where hold either side of a weight plate while lifting it straight in front of you. The weight plate provides a unique type of resistance, although the range of motion is even shorter than that of the barbell.

More Shoulder Exercises & Workouts

Now you know exactly how to do cable front raises, and you even have several variations and alternatives to keep your workouts fresh.

But a complete shoulder workout also needs side and rear delt exercises. So check out these related articles to help you build your perfect shoulder workout routine.

23 More Anterior Deltoid Exercises

Best Side Delt Exercises for Capped Shoulders

Unique Landmine Shoulder Exercises

11 Dumbbell Shoulder Exercises & Example Workout

Compound Shoulder Exercises for Size & Strength

Arnold Press vs. Shoulder Press for Anterior Delts

17 Cable Shoulder Exercises for Chiseled Delts

Or, if you’re up to speed on shoulder exercises, feel free to browse some of my other content below. You’ll find practical tips and helpful information on all things fitness-related!

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By |June 27, 2023|Workouts|Comments Off on How to Cable Front Raise – Exercise Instructions & Video
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