How To: Rope Cable Front Raise

The rope front raise is an excellent isolation exercise for the front delts, and the neutral grip makes it very comfortable on your shoulder joint. If you have existing shoulder problems, this exercise may be a nice relief.

April 9, 2013

Jimmy Peña MS, CSCS

The Start

STEP 1: Attach a rope to a low pulley. Stand facing away from the stack just in front of the pulley and grasp the rope with both hands. Allow the cable to run between your legs.

STEP 2: Step forward slightly to ensure there’s tension in the cable. You should feel it immediately in your delts at the start.

STEP 3: Hold the ends of the rope with a neutral grip a few inches away from your body. Keep your eyes focused forward, abs tight, chest up and knees unlocked.


STEP 1: Keeping your arms slightly bent throughout the motion, raise the rope in front of you until your arms are just above parallel.

STEP 2: Hold that position for a count before slowly returning the rope to the start position.

STEP 3: Stop the motion a few inches from your quads, pause and begin the next rep.

>> Do multijoint movements like overhead presses first in your workout before doing single-joint exercises like this one. Alternatively you can do this exercise first as a pre-exhaust before doing multijoint movements. For best results vary the order in which you do all of the single-joint exercises from workout to workout.

Biggest Training Errors

1. Curling the rope. Many guys try to use too much weight on this exercise and end up turning it into a hammer curl, working more of their forearms than delts. The key is to use a manageable weight. You don’t need a heavy load to target the anterior (front) delts.

2. Letting the plates touch down. This error is a biggie. Be sure to step away from the stack so that you have tension before you even begin to raise the rope. If you let the plates touch on each rep, you’ll lose the constant tension provided by the cable. Tension throughout the range of motion (ROM) is the greatest advantage of the cable.

3. Stopping at parallel. We’ve all heard someone say you should stop when you reach shoulder height on laterals and front raises. Well, ignore that advice. The delts are highly engaged above that arm position. Research shows the target delts during isolation exercises are innervated as high as 40 degrees above parallel. So if you don’t have lingering delt issues, raise the rope!

Best Alternative: Incline Barbell Front Raise

A suitable free-weight alternative to the rope cable front raise should provide tension from start to finish without allowing the delts to relax. A great choice is the incline barbell front raise, but not done standing. Lie faceup on an incline bench holding a light barbell a few inches above your quads. In this way you get immediate tension on the front delts, Then raise the bar until it’s just shy of perpendicular to the floor. Lower it back to a point above your quads and repeat. Much like the rope front raise you don’t need a ton of weight to feel it immediately, so we suggest you start light and work your way up.