How to Use Cable Machine?

How to Use Cable Machine?

The cable machine is a mystery to many gym enthusiasts. 

Because utilizing a cable machine is not simple, unlike using dumbbells and barbells, it is frequently overlooked in favor of other gym equipment. 

You won’t return once you learn how to use the cable machine. This equipment is adaptable; if you wanted to, you could train your entire body inside the machine!

How to Use Cable Machine?

To use a cable machine, set the cable pulleys on desired height to perform a specific exercise and pick the right weight. Depending on the exercise you choose, the pulley system can be set between the level of your feet and head.

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Quick Summary

  • Cable machines are a fantastic way to build muscle and strength.
  • This piece of equipment has some distinct advantages over free weights, so incorporating most cable machine exercises into your training is beneficial if you are serious about building strength and size.
  • Use cable machines to keep a constant tension while raising and lowering the weight stacks.

How to Use the Cable Machine Like a Pro

You should know a few things about how to use the cable machine properly before adding cable machine workouts for the legs, chest, back, or arms to your routine.

When organizing your upcoming cable machine workout, keep the following in mind:

Slow and Steady Is Best

You might feel tempted to jerk or swing to finish a challenging set using free weights. However, it’s simple to reduce the weight slightly when using a cable machine, making it easier for you to complete the final few reps.

You will be able to concentrate more and truly learn the form of each exercise if you execute it in this manner.

Play With the Height

The cable machine’s adjustable height for each workout you perform is one of its best features. You can alter the height of curls to alter the angle at which your arm muscles are engaged. Find the most effective heights for each exercise you perform, and experiment with how changing things up might affect your muscles’ behavior.

Use the Various Cable Machine Attachments Right

Utilize all of the accessories that can be attached to the cable machine. Several examples are:

  • You can concentrate on perfecting the curl form by using the curl handle.
  • Thanks to the rope handle, you have the flexibility for curls, kickbacks, and extensions.
  • Training unilaterally is excellent with a single handle.

Try out several cable machine attachments to see which will provide you with the most fantastic, most efficient workout.

Watch Yourself in the Mirror

Focusing on your form and movement across the entire range of motion is crucial when performing new workouts.

Most cable machines are placed next to mirrors so you can observe yourself while you operate. Throughout the exercise, it is essential to pay attention to all the muscles in your body, not just the ones being worked on.

Ensure that your posture is good. Your focus should be on making gentle, fluid movements that will extend the period that your muscles are under tension while using only the necessary muscles.

Beginner Cable Machine Exercises

Here is a list of lower and upper body exercises that are excellent for beginners.

Standing Cable Chest Press

Standing cable chest press exercise

The two adjustable pulleys (two weight stacks) should first be set to approximately chest height. Ensure each pulley has the proper handle attachment and put the desired weight on each side.

Afterward, step forward while holding each handle, keeping your back to the machine until you feel strain in the cables and the weights “un-rack” from their stacks.

Then, perform repetitions by pushing the handles in front of you, just as you would with a bench or dumbbell press. 

You will notice that the stabilization of the action is significantly more complicated than it is for other free-weight movements. That shows that it is operating as intended.

“A movement like the standing cable press requires FAR more trunk activation as compared with the bench press.” – Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, author of the Functional Fitness and Beyond

Standing Cable Row

Standing cable row machine exercise

Start by attaching the rowing attachment with two handles to one cable to set up the activity. As you face the machine, set the weight, grasp the attachment, and then take a few steps back with your knees slightly bent and your arms extended until the weight racks.

The next step is as easy as bringing the attachment back to the center of your chest to perform reps. Throughout the move, you should draw back your shoulder blades.

For specifically targeting your latissimus dorsi muscle, there is a special half-kneeling single-arm row variation you should try implementing in your pull workouts.

Cable Machine Squat

cable machine squat exercise

Although this exercise is unconventional, it can be an excellent way to work your legs without running the risk of having a big bar with a ton of weight sitting across your upper back. One of the simplest ways to complete this exercise is shown here.

Fix one of the cable machine’s cables to a straight bar attachment. Place the pulley in its lowest position. Step back until the cable is taught while maintaining an overhand grasp on the bar with both hands. 

Then lower yourself and return to a low squat.

You can complete reps by pressing back up, using the lower body’s muscles, and repeating.

Overhead Tricep Extension

Cable overhead triceps extension

Set the cable pulley at the top of the pole, then attach the rope attachment.

Place both feet on the ground slightly wider than shoulder-width apart while taking a half-step back.

Put a neutral grip on the rope with both hands.

Put your glutes against the pole while bending both at the hips and the knees. 

Bend your elbows to bring the rope’s ends back behind your head while keeping your shoulders as still as possible.

Pull the rope forward while flexing your triceps to get back to the starting position.

Cable Cross Over

Cable cross over exercise

Set the cable pulleys to head height and attach the handle attachments. Turn to face away from the cable pulleys and take a neutral grip on one handle with each hand.

Put your feet in a split stance with your left foot forward and your right foot back by taking two steps forward and ensuring they are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. 

Your hands should be at hip height as we extend our arms out in front of you. Keeping your elbows bent, extend your arms backward and outward until they parallel your chest.

Pull the handles forward by using your chest muscles to get back to the starting position.

Cable Knee-up

Cable knee-up exercise

Setting the cable pulley at the bottom of the pole after attaching the ankle wrap attachment. You should wrap one ankle in the attachment. Place both feet on the ground shoulder-width apart, facing away from the cable pulley. 

Your hands should be resting on your hips.

Breathe in and tighten your abdominals. Exhale as you lift the leg attached to the cable, making sure to keep your hips level as you do so.

Take a deep breath and lower your leg to get back to the beginning position.

You should feel the weight in your quads. Repeat the required number of times on each side.

Why Should You Use Cable Machines? 

You should use cable machines because you maintain consistent tension while lifting and lowering the weight stacks. 

You might be wondering why you should use the adjustable pulley system when there are so many other options available at a gym. 

Compared to free weights, this piece of functional training equipment has some unique advantages, so if you are serious about gaining strength and size, it is worth including cable exercises in your routine.

Here are some of the benefits of using the cable pulley machine.

Consider reading:

They Provide Constant Tension

Cable machines offer consistent tension throughout the movement pattern, unlike dumbbells or bars, which have points in the action with less resistance. Increased stress results in more significant improvements in strength.

You Can Change the Direction of Resistance

When using free weights, the press portion of a movement seems more challenging than the pull portion. Because of how much resistance a weight produces, gravity plays a role.

With cable machines, you may target any muscle from any angle because the resistance is in the cable pull’s direction rather than the center of gravity.

They’re Extremely Versatile

Almost every aspect of a cable machine can be adjusted, including the height, handle, weight, direction, etc. This suggests that you can exercise your muscles in any way you choose by doing nearly any exercise from any position.

It Works Your Core and Stabilizing Muscles

Most cable machine workouts are performed standing up, so your core and other minor stabilizing muscles must work hard to maintain your balance and your movement.

Cable Exercises Are Safe

Due to the lack of a chance for weights to fall, cable machines are incredibly safe equipment.

Safety Tips

Here is the list of safety tips that you should follow:

  • Allow yourself enough space. The workouts need you to move about freely, and the cable machine takes up a lot of floor area.
  • Get help by asking. Always consult a certified personal trainer if you are unclear about a technique or what height to set the cables at. 
  • Avoid going above your limits. Pick a comfortable weight that enables you to employ appropriate form, much like with free weights and other resistance machines. 
  • Look for any damage. Before using the cables and attachments, inspect them, and if you notice any tearing or splitting, notify a staff member.
  • Don’t change the equipment. Use only the handles and attachments made for the cable machine to avoid injury. 

For all skill levels, the cable machine is thought to be a particular piece of exercise equipment. You may, however, take precautions to increase your safety while exercising.


How Do Cable Machines Work?

The cable machine works by giving your muscles resistance to work against. The only difference between weights and other machines or equipment is that weights are attached to cables by a set of pulleys.

Can You Build Muscle With Only Cable Machines?

Yes, you can build muscle with only cable machines. In addition to letting you challenge your body from challenging angles to mimic with free weights or conventional machines, it is a remarkably safe technique to push yourself to the limit (or close to it).

Why Do Cable Weights Feel Heavier?

Cable weights feel heavier because the mechanical device’s angles, the way its handles move, and the number of pulleys employed can all impact how the weight “feels” on the other end.

How Should I Begin Exercising With a Cable Machine?

Cable machines can completely change the game when it comes to improving your workout’s effectiveness, adaptability, and joint comfort. 

It is one of the best gym equipment to include in your training whenever possible. 

Knowing where to begin when using a versatile kit might be challenging, so we shared 6 cable machine exercises to try out in this article. 

Which of these six is your favorite? Let us know.

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Vanja Vukas

Student at the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education and a hardcore functional training enthusiast. Heavily inspired by Michael Boyle, a strength & conditioning specialist, and by Adam Sinicki, the founder of Bioneer. Vanja believes that transitioning to a movement-based exercise program can drastically improve your fitness, balance out your muscles, and support your current lifestyle.

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