The cable machine workout

Chloe Corney Chloe Corney Wellbeing Personal Trainer
The many benefits of the pulley machine, from strength to core stability and injury-prevention are explained in this whole body workout.

You might have wondered what that large steel frame in the centre of your gym floor is for. This is a cable machine, which is used for weight training or functional training. The outer pulleys are usually adjustable so that you can fix the cable attachments at different heights and really personalise your workout.

The cable machine works in the same way as any strength building equipment: by providing resistance for muscles. You train by moving the cables around, while they remain under tension thanks to the weights. Your muscles will also be under constant tension while using the machine: unlike with free weights, there’s no ‘resting point’.

Train your whole body in one session

A pulley workout on the cable machine enables you to train your whole body in one session. As one of the most versatile machines in the gym, you can move the pulleys on the cable machine in any direction. You can also use various cable attachments and get creative to achieve your desired results.

Using the cable machine can help shave time off your workout as everything is in one place without having to move around the gym. You're also much less likely to get an injury on a pulley machine than a workout using free weights and barbells, as it allows you to exercise harder while maintaining the correct form. Cables are smoother and more fluid than free weights and put less strain on your joints.

If you’re suffering with injuries the pulley machine can be useful, as it allows you to target specific muscles and isolate exercises: avoiding muscles that need time to recover or targeting muscles that need extra attention.

Want to try the full body pulley workout?

For a full body pulley workout, ask your personal trainer to talk your through these exercises:

Split squat with front foot elevated

  • Place a low box a few feet in front of a low pulley
  • Face the tower
  • Elevate your left foot on the box
  • Holding the handle with your right hand, fully extend your arm with your legs straight
  • Bend your knees and lower your body towards the floor, keeping your chest upright and your right knee parallel with your shoulders
  • Return to standing, pushing through your feet
  • Do three to four sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side.

Cable pull-through

  • Attach a rope or handle to a lower pulley
  • Face away from the tower
  • Stand with your feet further than shoulder-width apart, holding the rope between your legs with both hands
  • Hinge forward, lowering your torso towards the floor maintaining a flat back, with your chest up and shoulders down
  • Engage your glutes to drive your hips forward and return to upright
  • Do three to four sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Single arm chest press

  • Adjust the cable to shoulder height
  • Facing away from the tower, hold the handle with your left hand
  • Place your right foot a few feet in front of your left, with slightly bent knees
  • Hold the handle at shoulder level, your elbow bent and in line with your wrist
  • Engage your core and push the handle forward to fully extend your arm
  • Slowly reverse to return to start
  • Complete three to four sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side.

Last updated Friday 5 April 2019

First published on Monday 1 April 2019