Commonly found in most modern gyms, cable machines can easily be adapted to fit a wide range of exercises and address numerous fitness concerns. They’re easily adjustable for height and angles worked, which makes the cable machine extremely versatile.
Having said all that, there are a few things to keep in mind before hitting the cable machine. Beginners in particular should be careful to add resistance to the cable machine in small increments, and to ensure they master the correct form for each exercise. Here are the 10 cable machine exercises to give you a core-engaging way of making gains — without the strain and risk of injury that comes with free weights.
1. Cable Forward Lunge
The cable forward lunge will work the muscles of your core and shoulder.
- Start the workout by facing the cable machine.
- Set the cable pulley to the lowest level and hold the handle as you would do while doing a goblet squat.
- Hold your core tightly and take a step forward while going into a deep forward lunge.
- Just like in other lunge moves, be sure not to let your knee extend beyond your toes at the bottom of every lunge.
2. Lateral Cable Lunge
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with your side turned to the cable machine, grab the handle of the cable machine with the hand farther away and step away from it in a side lunge.
- You’ll have to fight the resistance of the cables pulling you back to the starting point and that will strengthen your core.
3. Cable Step Up
- Place a box, or some sort of platform that you can stand on in front of the cable machine.
- The starting position will have you facing away from the machine with the pulley and cable at the lowest setting.
- The rope should be suspended over your shoulder.
- Step with one foot onto the box with your knee forming a 90-degree angle then explosively bring your other foot on to the box.
- Step off the box one foot at a time and repeat for as many reps as required.
4. Cable Reverse Lunge
- Place the pulley and cable from the cable machine at its lowest position and while still gripping the cable handle, turn around and pull the cable over your shoulder.
- The cable should provide a resistance that pulls you down and backwards.
- Stand in the position with your back turned toward the machine, and step backwards into a reverse lunge.
- Repeat the same motion with your other leg and continue alternating sides as required.
5. Cable Front Squat
- You’ll start this exercise facing the cable machine.
- Set the pulley and the cable to the lowest setting on the machine.
- Next, you’ll need a rope attachment that allows you to pull the rope upwards towards the ceiling.
- With the rope attachment and pulley held as taut as possible, descend into a deep squat.
- Repeat for as many reps as possible.
6. Split Stance Single-Arm Shoulder Press
- Face away from the cable machine in a split stance posture (one foot in front of the other).
- Set the pulley and cable to the lowest setting and bring the handle to shoulder height on the side of your back leg.
- Press the handle upwards as high as possible over your shoulder and head for one rep.
7. Single Arm Cable Row
- Set the pulley to a precise chest height for this exercise; stand with your chest towards the cable machine; and squat slightly while gripping the pulley handle with a single arm.
- Pull the cable back with one swift movement while ensuring your back remains aligned vertically and your chest up.
8. One Knee Single-Arm Cable Pulldown
- Face the cable machine and set the pulley to the highest position.
- Hold the handle of the cable and step back until the cable is taut. Kneel with the opposite knee holding the cable handle.
- Hold your core tight and explosive drag the pulley down to your hip area.
9. Side Plank Cable Row
- Lie in a side plank position facing the cable machine and grab the cable handle.
- Grab the pulley and drag toward your body.
10. Bicep Curl
You won’t want to neglect your biceps as you build muscle!
- Set the cable pulley to the lowest setting and facing the cable machine, grab the handle and curl the cable upwards.
- Repeat with the other hand for as many required reps.