Side Cable Laterals to Enhance Your V-Taper

Tate press and triceps pushdown

Side cable laterals will broaden your frame to make your waist appear smaller. 

Developing your shoulder muscles is crucial, but your approach to training them makes a significant difference. While specific exercises can increase the strength of your delts, it’s essential to incorporate exercises that help broaden your shoulders to achieve the desired V-taper look. One great exercise is side cable laterals, aka cable lateral raise. 

Side cable laterals focus on your delts and help to broaden and strengthen them. It works by increasing the size of your shoulders to create an illusion of a bigger torso and a smaller waist. This adds to that perfect bodybuilding V-taper look.

Side cable laterals are a variation of lateral raises that you do with dumbbells. You use a cable machine to do side cable laterals, and you can go either unilaterally or bilaterally. In this guide, we look at side cable laterals and their benefits. We also discuss alternatives you can use to build and protect your shoulders and answer common questions about this routine.

Techniques and Muscles Used

Side cable laterals target all three heads of the deltoid muscles in the shoulders, the traps, supraspinatus, and serratus anterior. However, its main emphasis is on the lateral delts (1). When broadening up your physique, the lateral delts are one of the necessary muscles to focus on. 

While side cable laterals look and sound simple, you need to focus when doing this exercise to maximize your gains. Using the proper form will help reduce your injury risk and keep your workout safe. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do side cable laterals.

  1. Start by attaching a handle to the lowest setting on your cable machine.
  2. Stand next to the machine with your feet apart at hip width. Grab onto the machine with your right hand for support, or put your right hand behind you.
  3. Keeping your back straight, pull your shoulders back and your chest in front of you. Then, slightly bend your knees
  4. Reach across your body with your left hand and grab the handle. Your palms should be in a face-down position with your elbows slightly angled. This is your starting position.
  5. Pull the cable, lifting your arm until your hands are outwards and parallel to the ground. Stop when you get to shoulder level.
  6. Pause for one or more seconds, then return to the starting position to complete the rep.
  7. Do for as many reps as you desire. 


Side cable laterals are a lateral raise variation and offer many benefits. They’re a great routine to include in your shoulder workout. Below are more benefits of this shoulder isolation exercise.

Broader Shoulders

Side cable laterals are one of the best variations of lateral raises for your medial delts. While lateral raises are significant for muscle hypertrophy, cable laterals focus on the medial delts more (2). This makes it the better option for bigger shoulders contributing to your V-taper. 

Better Posture

Side cable laterals also build and strengthen the muscles that affect your posture. You won’t get hunched shoulders and slouched traps when doing this routine. Strengthening this muscle also helps to prevent injuries as you do daily activities. 

More Muscle Growth

Research shows that time under tension increases muscle hypertrophy and growth (3). With dumbbell lateral raises, the tension on your muscle changes and is highest at the end of your upward phase. However, the cable machine in side cable laterals keeps consistent tension on your muscles throughout your range of motion, leading to more growth.

Better Coordination

Muscle imbalance and poor posture lead to inadequate coordination and stability. Side cable laterals can be done unilaterally to help find and fix muscle imbalances between each arm. They also work on your posture, and this helps to improve your overall coordination. 

Side Cable Lateral Raise Alternatives 

The cable lateral raise is a great exercise. However, it shouldn’t be the only exercise in your shoulder workout. Here are some alternatives that also target your shoulder muscles or the muscles in your back to prevent shoulder injuries from accruing, which is common when you overstimulate your shoulder muscles and undertrain your posterior upper body muscles. 

Inverted Rows

The inverted row is a bodyweight exercise that involves upper, mid, and lower body muscles. This routine mainly builds muscles in your arms and back, but it involves your legs for stabilization. It also gets your posterior delts activated. 

Barbell Military Press

The barbell military press is an exercise that builds the muscles in your upper bodytriceps, traps, and delts. The barbell military press works on your anterior and lateral delts in the shoulder and is an excellent compound movement that lets you carry heavy loads. 

Chin Ups

Chins ups are a great back exercise to do to prevent shoulder injuries. Doing this exercise with an underhand grip also better recruits your pecs and biceps and places less strain on your shoulders than pull-ups.


What are cable side laterals?

Cable side laterals are a variation of dumbbell lateral raises. This exercise targets your shoulder muscles and is excellent for a V-taper. You can use it to build strong shoulder muscles. 

What muscles do cable side lateral raises work

They isolate and target the muscles of your shoulders. They’re particularly significant for your lateral delts. Check the guide above for a better breakdown of using this exercise to build big shoulders.

How do you do side lateral raises on cable?

Side lateral raises are done on a cable machine by attaching a handle to the lowest position on the cable machine. Read above for a step-by-step guide on doing this exercise. 

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  1. Coratella, G., Tornatore, G., Longo, S., Esposito, F., & Cè, E. (2020). An Electromyographic Analysis of Lateral Raise Variations and Frontal Raise in Competitive Bodybuilders. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(17), 6015.
  2. Campos, Y. A. C., Vianna, J. M., Guimarães, M. P., Oliveira, J. L. D., Hernández-Mosqueira, C., da Silva, S. F., & Marchetti, P. H. (2020). Different Shoulder Exercises Affect the Activation of Deltoid Portions in Resistance-Trained Individuals. Journal of human kinetics, 75, 5–14.
  3. Mang, Z. A., Ducharme, J. B., Mermier, C., Kravitz, L., de Castro Magalhaes, F., & Amorim, F. (2022). Aerobic Adaptations to Resistance Training: The Role of Time under Tension. International journal of sports medicine, 43(10), 829–839.
Terry Ramos
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 ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.