Hunter Labrada on Why Cable Lateral Raises Are the Superior Movement for Shoulder Growth

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Image via Instagram @hunterlabrada

Hunter Labrada compares cable lateral raises vs. dumbbell lateral raises. 

Nothing showcases your physique like strong boulder shoulders. However, as an avid lifter, having broad shoulders are about more than just the aesthetics. They help to enhance your upper body strength. And movements like the cable lateral raise explode shoulder growth and strength. 

Lateral raises are a strength training exercise that works on your shoulders, specifically your medial deltoids. When done correctly, they enhance muscle growth and widen your frame to get you the X-frame — when your torso is so muscular, it creates an “X” shape — imperative in bodybuilding and helps your range of motion. You can do a lateral raise with either a cable or a dumbbell

The debate on which lateral raise variation is best for shoulder growth has raged. But, of course, both have strong points. To get answers, we turned to Hunter Labrada, a professional bodybuilder aiming to crush the Tampa Pro and Texas Pro competition this year.

Hunter Labrada’s shoulders are a wonder to behold and represent what many bodybuilders aim for. To get them, Labrada picks the right movements to include in his workout routine, which has crowned his many professional wins. He is one of the best contenders in the IFBB Pro League and has participated in Mr. Olympia three times, getting as high as the top four in one of them. 

Hunter Labrada loves to share valuable bodybuilding tips on his YouTube channel. On March 28th, 2023, he talked about two types of lateral raises to build the medial deltoid muscles of the shoulders. Here, we compare the two movements and tune in to Labrada’s advice on which is best for building those bolder shoulders and his reasons why.

Full Name: Hunter Labrada
Weight Height Date of Birth
235-245 lbs 5’9” 05/17/1992
Profession Era Nationality
Bodybuilder 2010 American


How Lateral Raises Promote Shoulder Growth

The shoulder is made of three deltoid heads — anterior, medial, and posterior —- which all work together to lift your arm (1). Lateral raises stimulate the medial deltoids, which widen your frame. The medial deltoid starts at the top of your scapula. You can see this muscle flex when you do a shoulder abduction, which is part of what happens when you do a lateral raise.

Besides improving your aesthetics, lateral raises help you get muscles that can better tolerate movements with big loads. Unfortunately, many bodybuilders tend to neglect lateral movements in their training. But they can help make your body more resistant to injuries. 

Types of Lateral Raises

A bodybuilder can do many lateral raise variations, e.g., the cable lateral raise, dumbbell lateral raise, wall press lateral raise, and kettlebell lateral raise. First, let’s discuss the difference between the cable lateral raise and the dumbbell lateral raise and then see what Labrada says. 

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Dumbbell lateral raises help you perfect the V-taper of your torso and can be performed sitting or standing. They’re done with a dumbbell held in both hands with your core braced as you lift your arms to a parallel position. This exercise is essential to for overall broad and athletic shoulders.

Cable Lateral Raise

With the cable lateral raise variation, bodybuilders use a cable machine instead of dumbbells for their lateral raise. This offers you more constant tension throughout your motion. It’s also essential if you’re looking to limit the momentum and many compensations that could happen while doing a lateral raise. 

Hunter Labrada on Cable vs. Dumbbell Lateral Raises 

Hunter Labrada says that cable lateral raises are his favorite regarding shoulders. He has been doing them for about two years and has seen promising results. This is because the cable machine keeps your arms active even when down. 

“If you are here, all the resistance is pulling straight down; it requires zero effort for your body to main your shoulder position with a dumbbell because the load is going down. When we use a cable, even at the bottom position with muscles fully lengthened, the load pulls my arm back into adduction. So I am active even in the bottom position by resisting and keeping my shoulder positioning,” stated Labrada.

Hunter also prefers cables because they offer a better resistance profile. This is because the angle between your arm and the cable decreases as you lift. This leads to more load when your arm is in a neutral position when standing.

“Another reason I prefer cables is that you can get a much better resistance profile. It is hardest when the muscle is longest and easier and has a perceivable drop off when it is shortest, which is ideal.”

Hunter Labrada Cable Lateral Raises Tips for Shoulder Growth

Besides showing which he prefers and why, Labrada shares how he does cable lateral raises. Here are some essential tips that you can use to make your routine as effective as his:

  1. Stand from the machine where your shoulder is stable and capable of producing the best output. This is known as the scapular plane (2).  
  2. Focus on keeping your shoulders down and back to initiate movement. Then drive your shoulders down and into the ground to prevent shrugging when beginning.
  3. Get a full contraction by keeping your arms at the right parallel angle as you raise sideways. If you go beyond your shoulder level, you’ll no longer work on the delts, and your traps become involved. 
  4. If you are at a busy gym, do one side at a time and use your other arm to get a good brace. You can carry out lateral raises bilaterally or unilaterally, although doing them unilaterally is faster. Both arms do the work simultaneously, and you can rest between sets. 

Hunter Labrada’s shoulders are a testament to the efficacy of cable lateral raises. So whether you’re a beginner or a long-time bodybuilder, you could benefit from adding this to your routine. 

Check out the full video on Hunter Labrada’s personal YouTube channel below:

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  1. Hecker, A., Aguirre, J., Eichenberger, U., Rosner, J., Schubert, M., Sutter, R., Wieser, K., & Bouaicha, S. (2021). Deltoid muscle contribution to shoulder flexion and abduction strength: an experimental approach. Journal of shoulder and elbow surgery30(2), e60–e68.
  2. Reed, D., Cathers, I., Halaki, M., & Ginn, K. A. (2016). Does changing the plane of abduction influence shoulder muscle recruitment patterns in healthy individuals?. Manual therapy, 21, 63–68.
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.