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Prone Y Raise Exercise | Dumbbell, Cable & Bent Over | Benefits 2023

The Y raise exercise is an effective strength training workout targeting the muscles of the upper back, shoulders, and traps (trapezius). It is named for the Y shape that your body forms at the height of the movement.

The Y raise workout is a multi-faceted movement focusing on the shoulders, upper back, and core muscles.

This workout is an extraordinary method to engage several muscle groups concurrently, offering a comprehensive activity enhancing strength, stability, and posture.

Adhering to the proper technique, you can stimulate multiple muscle groups concurrently and reap the benefits of augmented strength, stability, and improved posture.

I will cover five variations of the Y Raise workout Exercise

  • Army Prone Y Raise Workout
  • Prone Y Raise Workout
  • Dumbbell Y Raise Workout
  • Cable Y Raise Workout
  • Bent Over Y Raise Workout

Army Prone Y Raise Exercise

Army Y Raise
Army Y Raise

The third exercise in the army shoulder stability drill series is the Prone Y raise. Here, we will break down the exercise as it’s performed in a slow cadence, controlled manner.

Purpose: This exercise develops shoulder strength and stability

Cadence: Slow

Starting Position for the Prone Y Raise

  1. Begin in the prone position with your arms extended overhead at a 45-degree angle to your trunk. This forms the ‘Y’ shape.
  2. Your head should be slightly elevated, feet together, and toes pointing towards the rear.
  3. Keep your fingers and thumbs extended and joined, with your palms facing each other.

Counts Army Prone Y Raise

  1. On the first count, raise both arms off the ground by three to six inches, ensuring to keep the elbows straight. During this movement, your head should remain in its starting position.
  2. On the second count, return to the starting position.
  3. On the third count, repeat the first count.
  4. On the fourth count, return to the starting position again.

You should repeat this sequence five times for optimal results.

Check Points:

  • At the starting position, tighten the abdominals to stabilize the trunk. The head is slightly elevated and aligned with the spine.
  • On counts 1 and 3, keep the back generally straight with the head up.
  • Throughout the exercise, the arms should be fully extended, and the trunk and legs should also be aligned.

Precaution: Keep the head slightly elevated throughout the exercise and do not jerk the body into the up positions on counts 1 and 3.

Prone Y Raises Exercise (How to do it at Home)

The Prone Y raise exercise strengthens your shoulders and upper back, specifically the lower traps, as well as the shoulders. This is how to do the floor y raise:

  • Lie on your stomach with your arms fully extended and your thumbs pointing up. 
  • Raise your arms off the ground as far as you can. 
  • Your body should be in the shape of the letter Y. 
  • Pause, return, and repeat. 
  • Exhale when lifting your arms and inhale when dropping them down. 
  • Keep your arms straight during the exercise. Tighten your core.

I will now go over the dumbbell Y raise. 

Dumbbell Y Raise Exercise (How to do it)

The Dumbbell Y raise is a shoulder exercise targeting the upper back and shoulder muscles, particularly the deltoids and traps.

The dumbbell y raise is a great exercise that can strengthen your medial delt and improve your upper body strength, posture, and shoulder stability. 

It will be working your medial delt in the shortened range. And another exercise that is very similar to this is going to be the Dumbbell Lateral raise, which is probably one that you’re a little bit more familiar with

It effectively hits your medial delt in a fully shortened position, making it a worthy addition if you’re already performing lateral raises.

  • To find your Y position during the exercise, raise your arm straight before you and then rotate externally. 
  • This motion is your Y, which involves moving up and externally rotating. 

When performing the dumbbell Y raise while standing, ensure a slight hip hinge to position the medial delt at the top of the movement.  It’s essential to align the tissue with the resistance throughout the exercise.

How to do Dumbbell Y Raises

Below are the steps of how to do the Dumbbell Y raise with some dumbbells in hand

Here’s how to do a dumbbell Y raise:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Ensure your core is braced and has a neutral pelvis and spine.
  • Hold a pair of dumbbells with palms facing each other; choose light weights for this exercise.
  • Bend at the hips and lean forward, keeping your back straight until it’s nearly parallel to the floor. 
  • Bending ensures the medial delt is on top of the movement.
  • Let your arms hang straight down from your shoulders, palms facing behind you.
  • Without changing the angle of your hands, raise the weights out to the sides and up in a smooth arc until they’re above shoulder level, forming a Y shape with your body.
  • Keep your torso stationary as you perform the movement; only your arms should move.
  • The weights should be slightly ahead of your body at the top of the move.
  • Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position to complete one rep.

Note on Muscle Activation

  • And if you feel like your traps are starting to be a bit sore after this exercise, that is great news because your lower trap will stabilize your scapula throughout this movement.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Going all the way down to your quads
  • Ending the motion prematurely; we’re going to get that fully shortened position when we get here.

Tips to do the Dumbbell Y Raise

  • For beginners or those new to the exercise, starting with lighter weights is recommended to ensure full control of the movement. 
  • You could start with no weights, five-pound dumbbells, or even 2.5s, as this movement is challenging. 
  • The key is to ensure control over the movement before gradually increasing the weight.

There are also alternative methods to perform a Y raise, such as using cables. However, using dumbbells offers the added advantage of incorporating a bench into the exercise. 

Using a bench allows for more output during the movement, ensuring you are fully stabilized so your medial delt can effectively perform the work.

The Dumbbell Y Raise is an exceptional exercise for the medial delt. A critical point to remember about the range of motion during this exercise is that you should not bring your arms down to your sides. 

Instead, maintain a position with tension on the muscle before moving to the fully shortened position. This technique makes the Dumbbell Y Raise a highly effective movement to grow your delts.

The Dumbbell Y Raise is a fantastic workout for your medial delt, offering several benefits when performed correctly and regularly.

Cable Y Raise Exercise

I will now go over the Cable Y raise exercise.

The Cable Y Raise is a resistance exercise targeting the deltoid muscles, primarily the medial or side deltoids and the mid-trap muscles. 

The exercise is named so because the movement resembles creating a “Y” shape with the arms.

With this exercise specifically, we will be targeting the medial delt as well as targeting the mid trap as well. 

To find the range of motion within this exercise, we will be training the medial delt in the shortened range by raising your hands out in front of you and raising them as high as you can without extending at your back. 

Setting Up the Cables:

  • When setting up the cables for this exercise, ensure they are set at a low level – ideally between the knee and the ankle.

The goal within the cable y raise exercise will be having the cable go directly through the joints while having the cables in hand. 

  • When doing the cable y raise workout, having your arms out in front is important. 
  • And then from there, you will raise and keep your core contracted while maintaining tension through that medial delt. 
  • You will feel tension through the upper back.

How to do the Cable Y Raise Exercise

Here are the basic steps of how to do to a Cable Y Raise workout.

  1. Set the cables on a machine to a low level; the cable height should be between the knee and the ankle.
  2. Stand away from the machine, holding a cable in each hand with your arms in front of you.
  3. Maintain a neutral spine and contract your core to maintain stability throughout the exercise.
  4. While keeping the arms straight and maintaining a slight external rotation, raise your hands out in front of you as high as possible, stopping before you have to extend your back. The movement should be such that your arms and your body form the shape of a “Y.”
  5. Ensure the cable goes through your shoulder, elbow, and wrist at the top of the movement. This positioning allows the medial delt and the mid-trap muscles to take on the tension.
  6. Lower your arms slowly back to the initial position to complete one repetition.

Bent Over Y Raise Exercise

The bent-over Y raise exercise is an effective movement for targeting and strengthening the muscles of your shoulders, specifically the posterior deltoids, traps, and rhomboid.

The Bent Over Y raise is a great shoulder stability exercise targeting the rotator cuff muscles and lower traps.

How to do the Bent Over Y Raise Exercise

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to properly perform this exercise.

Starting Position.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend over at the hips, keeping a neutral spine and bracing the abs.
  3. Tighten your abs as if someone was about to punch you in the stomach or touch your belly with an ice cube.
  4.  Let your arms hang straight down towards the floor with your palms facing in and your thumbs pointing forward. 
  5. This is your starting position.

Movement Phase

  1. Begin the movement by retracting your shoulder blades, pulling them together.
  2. Don’t shrug your shoulders, though. Make sure you push them down,
  3. Raise your arms at about a 30 to 45-degree angle from your torso as high as possible to form a Y shape with your body.
  4. Pause slightly at the top position and slowly lower your arms back down,

Breathing Pattern

  • As for the breathing for this exercise, I recommend taking a nice big breath in while squeezing the shoulder blades and exhaling as soon as you reach the top position with your arms. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid

There are two common mistakes to avoid. 

  • Overarching the lower back and using momentum.
  • Using too heavy weights, you can’t control the movement with

Beginner’s Tip

  • If you’re a beginner, you can start without any additional weight using only your arms. I promise that after 15 reps, you’ll feel your lower traps. 

Muscles Worked by the Y Raises

Y Raises Muscles Worked
Y Raises Muscles Worked

The Y raise exercise, regardless of variation (Army Prone, Prone , Dumbbell, Cable, Bent Over), typically targets the following muscles:

  • Shoulder Muscles: Primarily the Medial Deltoids.
  • Upper Back Muscles: Predominantly the Upper and Lower Trapezius and Rhomboids.
  • Rotator Cuff: A set of muscles responsible for shoulder stability.
  • Serratus Anterior: Assists in upward rotation of the shoulder blades.
  • Core Muscles: Engaged for stability, especially in cable and dumbbell variations.

Benefits of the Cable, Dumbbel and Bent Over Y Raise Exercises

The Y raise exercise stimulates various upper body muscle groups, making it a comprehensive and effective workout. Here are some perks of integrating this exercise into your workout sequence:

Strengthened Shoulder Muscles 

  • The Y raise is primarily engineered to work the deltoids, the muscles accountable for shoulder stability and mobility. 
  • By consistently embedding this exercise into your routine, you’ll cultivate more muscular shoulders, aiding injury prevention and augmenting performance in other upper body exercises.

Improved Posture 

  • The Y raise targets the muscles in your upper back, specifically the rhomboids and trapezius. 
  • Fortifying these muscles can aid in correcting posture imbalances and mitigate the risk of developing rounded shoulders, a prevalent issue resulting from prolonged sitting and poor posture. 
  • An upright posture enhances your aesthetics and decreases the risk of back and neck discomfort.

Enhanced Upper Body Definition 

  • The Y raise exercise contributes to overall upper body strength and definition by stimulating multiple muscle groups in the upper body, including the shoulders, upper back, and core. 
  • Embedding it into your workout routine can assist in achieving a well-sculpted physique.
  • The enhanced definition and strength in the upper body can also boost performance in other exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and overhead presses.

Increased Shoulder Stability 

  • Robust shoulders are indispensable for stability and injury prevention, especially if you participate in activities that involve repetitive overhead movements. 
  • The Y raise targets the smaller muscles in the shoulder region, amplifying their strength and stability, thereby mitigating the risk of injuries. 
  • This exercise can also enhance mobility and motion range by fortifying the shoulder muscles.

Versatile Exercise 

  • The Y raise can be performed with diverse equipment, such as dumbbells, resistance bands, or body weight. Its versatility allows you to adjust the intensity based on your fitness level and the available equipment, making it suitable for fitness novices and advanced enthusiasts. 
  • You can also perform the exercise in different positions, such as standing, lying down, or on an incline bench.

Strategies to Optimize Y Raise Exercise Outcomes

To extract the maximum benefits from the Y raise exercise, bear these strategies in mind:

  • Initiate with minimal weight or no weight until you acclimatize to the movement.
  • Emphasize proper form over speed.
  • Engage your core throughout the exercise to retain stability and amplify its benefits.
  • Gradually enhance the number of repetitions or weights as you grow comfortable with the exercise.


  • The Y raise exercise provides a comprehensive upper body workout, stimulating multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
  • Incorporating this regimen into your workout sequence will assist you in achieving muscular shoulders, improved posture, enhanced upper body definition, augmented shoulder stability, and improved mobility. 
  • The versatility of the exercise makes it a fitting addition to any fitness program. 
  • Grab your preferred equipment and brace yourself to elevate your fitness with the Y-Raise movement!
George N.