The Full-Body Shoulder Cable Workout

Try this high-intensity shoulder cable workout from STACK Expert Jim Carpentier for a full-body challenge.

For sports that require pushing, pulling, and overhead and lateral motions, athletes need strong shoulder muscles. Although dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, kettlebells and bodyweight exercises such as Dips, Push-Ups and Pull-Ups are great tools to build size and strength, a cable machine is another effective approach. (See The Best Exercises to Build Shoulder and Neck Strength.) Try the high intensity full-body cable workout below, incorporating various shoulder strengthening exercises.

Before starting, do a dynamic lower- and upper body warm-up such as lunges and arm circles.

Shoulder Cable Workout

Squats/Press Outs Combo Superset with Squats/Rows

Sets/Reps: 3x10 at 70 to 80% RM

  • Set cable height at chest level.
  • Assume athletic position with back toward machine and hold cable handles with shoulder-width overhand grip near chest level.
  • Squat and rise up while simultaneously pressing out.
  • On the last rep, hold press-out position for 10 to 20 seconds for added intensity.
  • Slowly return to start position.
  • Immediately turn around, face the machine and go into a squat position with an overhand shoulder-width grip and arms extended.
  • Explosively pull toward shoulders, hold one second; squeeze shoulder blades together, then slowly release to start position. Hold 10 to 20 seconds on last rep.
  • Rest 30 seconds, hydrate, and repeat sequence twice more.

Muscles worked: Front and rear deltoids, chest, upper back, biceps, triceps, forearms, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings.

Front Lunges/Overhead Presses Superset with Reverse Lunges/Upright Rows

Sets/Reps: 3x10 at 70 to 80% RM

  • Set cable height at ankle level.
  • With back toward machine, bend down and grab one cable handle at a time and bring to shoulder level.
  • Lunge forward with right leg and simultaneously press handles overhead and down five times (with lunge in between reps).
  • Repeat five times with left leg lunges/overhead presses.
  • Without rest, turn and face machine.
  • Get close to machine, bend knees, grab handles and pull upward in one second toward shoulders with left leg lunging backward.
  • Pause one second at top and lower in three seconds to start. Keep back straight while returning to beginning position.
  • Do five reps then lunge backward with right leg while performing five upright rows.
  • Rest 30 seconds and repeat sequence twice.

Muscles worked: Front, lateral and rear deltoids, triceps, biceps, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings.

Alternating Side Chops

Sets/Reps: 3x10 at 70 to 80% RM

  • Set cable height above head and attach a rope handle.
  • Facing machine, assume athletic stance and bend knees while simultaneously pulling rope to each side toward ankles 10 times. Rest 30 seconds, hydrate and repeat twice.

Muscles worked: Front deltoids, upper and middle back, obliques, lower and upper abdomen, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings.

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