Blog Fitness Workout Plans Cable Machine Exercises: The Best Full Body Cable Workouts For Increased Muscle Mass And Size

Cable Machine Exercises: The Best Full Body Cable Workouts For Increased Muscle Mass And Size

Cable machine exercises are among the go-to exercises for muscle builders. They are very effective in building strength in different muscle groups, toning, and refining ones technique. However, if you are new to the cable machine, you may be in the dark on the best cable machine exercise to perform. Worry not. This article discusses some of the best cable machine workouts and their benefits. 


The Best Cable Machine Exercise To Try

Have you been doing the same cable machine workouts and are now craving some change? Or are you new to the gym and are interested in the cable machine? Whatever the case, we are glad to help. We have compiled a list of the best cable machines to try for full-body strength. 

Before we delve into them, let us quickly point out that you need to get the green light from your doctor and trainer before starting such a fitness program. Additionally, be sure to learn the correct form to minimize injury risk. Here are the cable machine exercises to consider for your regime:

The Cable Front Squat

The cable front squat is one of the best compound exercises to build lower body strength. It works on your entire lower body, plus your abs and deeper core.

Muscles targeted: Quads, glutes, lats, quads, calves, abs, hamstrings, lower and middle back (1).

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How to: 

  1. Start by setting up the cable machine by attaching a bar to the pulley, with the pulley on the lowest setting.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while facing the cable machine.
  3. Get someone to help you lift the bar and place it on top of your shoulders and just below your chin.
  4. Pull up the handle and position it at your shoulder level.
  5. Breathe in and lower to a squat. Make sure you keep your back straight. Additionally, do not remove your hands from the handles as you lower into a squat.
  6. Push through your heels to return to the standing position and clench your glutes at the top of the movement.
  7. Repeat.

Read More: Dynamic Warm Up Exercises To Do Before Your Workout

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Single Arm Cable Row

The single-arm cable row exercise is one of the best cable arm workouts. This exercise targets your upper back muscles one side at a time. However, it also targets other body muscles making it an excellent upper body workout (4). 

Muscles targeted: lats, rhomboids, traps, and rear deltoids 

How to:

  1. Start by adjusting the cable pulley at lower-chest height.
  2. Grasp the D-handle with one hand while facing the machine.
  3. Take a few steps back away from the cable and assume a half squat position (Knees bent, back straight, and feet shoulder-width apart).
  4. Tighten your core and slowly row the cable back without moving your core or hips. Bring your shoulder blade straight across your upper back toward the spine, then the arm.
  5. Be sure that your elbow is not behind the body or that the shoulder tips forward as you finish the row.
  6. Return to the starting position and repeat on the same side before switching sides.
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Biceps Cable Curl

As the name suggests, the biceps cable curl exercise mainly targets the biceps brachii, the two-headed muscle on the front of your arm. It merges into one muscle near your elbow. It is an effective exercise for building the mass and size of your biceps (2).

Muscles targeted: Biceps, lats, rhomboids, and the trapezius

How to:

  1. Start by adjusting the cable pulley to the lowest setting.
  2. Set the rope attachment, then hold the ropes in your hands with your thumbs pointing up.
  3. Keep your elbows close to your sides, then curl the handle up. Remember to breathe normally and deeply.
  4. Slowly lower to the starting position.
  5. Repeat.


Cable Crossover

The cable crossover exercise mainly works the muscles at the bottom part of your chest known as the pectoralis major muscles. These muscles contribute to the movement of your shoulder and scapula on either side.

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Muscles targeted: Pectoralis, serratus anterior, deltoids, biceps (2).

How to (2):

  1. Stand upright between two pulleys with stirrups.
  2. Stretch your arms and grab each cable pulley stirrup by the hand with only a minor bend at the elbows.
  3. Engage your core, then step slightly forward with your right foot.
  4. Pull both cables downward across your body so that you form an X shape at the waistline.
  5. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly release to return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat.

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Overhead Cable Curl

The overhead cable curl exercise is a terrific compound movement that primarily works your biceps. It is one of the few biceps exercises where your elbow is away from your body. Nevertheless, it is very effective in toning your biceps. 

Muscles targeted: Biceps, traps, delts, triceps, and lats (3).

How to (3):

  1. Stand upright and evenly between two overhead pulleys with stirrups.
  2. Hold each cable pulley in each hand with the palms facing inward.
  3. Flex at the elbows and then bring the pulley toward each ear.
  4. Hold for a few seconds and squeeze.
  5. Release and return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat.
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cable machine exercises

Cable Flyes

Cable flyes are cable machine shoulder exercises that are great alternatives to the bench press exercise. When done in the correct form, they may promote shoulder blade stability and reduce stress on the shoulder joints.

Muscles targeted: Pectoralis, anterior delts, rhomboids, levator scapulae, and latissimus dorsi (3).

How to:

  1. Set the pulleys with stirrups to your chest height level, then stand evenly between them.
  2. Grab each handle by the hand and position your back straight and palms facing forward.
  3. Tighten your core, and then take one step forward until you feel some tension at each cable. Be sure to keep one foot in front of the other.
  4. Slightly bend at the elbows like you are assuming the starting position and then pull your hands in front of your chest and towards each other. 
  5. Hold in this position for a few seconds and then release to return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat and then switch your feet positioning.

cable machine exercises

Triceps Pushdown

Triceps pushdowns are among the best cable machine tricep exercises. Although they mainly target the triceps, they build strength and endurance in your shoulders, back, and core.

Muscles targeted: Triceps, core, back, and shoulders (4).

How to:

  1. Start by attaching a rope to the high pulley.
  2. Face the triceps pushdown cable machine, tuck your elbows at the sides and grab the rope handle with both hands with an overhand grip and to your chest level.
  3. Tighten your core, place your feet slightly apart, inhale and push down until your elbows are fully extended. They may not have to be straight but in a locked position.
  4. Position your elbows close to your body, bend your knees during the pushdown, and keep your back straight.
  5. Hold for a few seconds, then breathe out to return to the starting point.
  6. Repeat in a controlled movement.
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The Bottom Line

Cable machine exercises have become a favorite amongst most weight lifters due to their effectiveness in building muscle mass and size. Of course you will need the cable machine to perform these workouts.

The most recommended cable machine workouts are the cable front squat, triceps pushdown, cable flyes, and cable crossovers. The overhead cable curls, biceps curls and the single-arm cable rows are excellent recommendations.

It would be best to talk to your doctor and trainer before trying these workouts. Additionally, remember to learn the correct form to minimize injury risk.



This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. 8 exercises trainers never do (and what to do instead) (2018,
  2. Best home gyms and home gym systems, according to experts (2021,
  3. Exercises to Build Your Upper Body Strength (2019,
  4. Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier (2021,
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