Yes, you can work your entire body on a cable machine!
Posted Mar 22 2011 7:00am
I'm really rather unmotivated today! Call it a serious case of the workweek blues, combined with a cold that seems to have come back to life. Sniffles and snot, oh my. It's only Tuesday, so I'm hoping it shakes off right quick. Seriously, I could curl up with a book and call it good for the rest of the day. But I can't because I'm stacked with clients this morning. One in the afternoon, too. And of course, there's you. My dear lovely reader anxiously awaiting their dose of fit. Happy to oblige, so let's get to it.
I love me some cable machine! Of course, I prefer free weights, but I hate getting bored. I know my clients do, too which is why I tend to mix it up from session to session. And so I jump from free weights to the cable machine quite regularly. It's so versatile, so forget bicep curls and triceps presses. Behold, an entire full-body workout! Try these moves, which I've organized by corresponding muscle group. Start with two sets of 12 repetitions at a weight that begins to burn around the 6th or 7th repetition. You can do it, I have faith!
1) Legs: Mock a dead lift and work your lower back, too. Attach a double-ended rope to a hook set to the lowest working point, then turn around and grab the rope in between your legs. Squat down with the rope in your hands, leaning forward to about 45 degrees as you would in a typical dead lift. Stand up, pushing your hips forward. And since you're holding onto the rope handles, the weight will come with you, ultimately creating more work for your legs. Just be careful not to give yourself rope burn on your inner thighs!
2) Back: Attach a straight bar to a hook set at the highest position. Grab it with both hands and walk yourself back to the point where your arms are out and up in front of you. With a soft bend in your knees, while keeping your chest up and back straight, pull the bar down toward the top of your thighs. This targets the latissimus dorsi muscle, which is the largest muscle in your back.
3) Chest: Sure, you can do cable flyes, but I much prefer single-arm chest presses because they engage your core a bit more. Just attach a single handle to a hook set at armpit level, grab it with one hand, then turn around so that you're facing away from the hook. Step forward with one foot to anchor yourself, then push the handle forward from the armpit while taking care to keep your chest from moving forward. Reverse and hit the other side when you're done.
4) Biceps: The typical response to biceps on a cable machine involves the straight bar, but I much prefer using two handles set at shoulder-height. One on each side of the machine, of course. With a handle in each hand and your palms facing toward the ceiling, your arms will be stretched out to either side. Curl them into your shoulders as if you were putting on a "gun show," making sure to keep your elbows up the entire time. You can also do this exercise with one arm at a time, which would simply force you to engage your core a bit more than before.
5) Triceps: Attach a double-ended rope to a hook anchored at head height. Turn around from the machine, then reach behind you and grab the rope. One handle in each hand, elbows bent into your ears, upper body bent forward to 45 degrees. Again, you'll want to anchor yourself with one foot forward. Extend your arms straight to the other side of the cable machine, relax and repeat.
6) Shoulders: Attach a single handle to a hook set at the lowest anchor point. Set yourself up perpendicular to the handle, with the handle itself in your outside hand. Place your inside hand on your hip for balance, then pull the handle straight out until your outside arm is parallel to the floor. If you think this is called a shoulder abduction, you'd be thinking correctly!
7) Abs: Attach a double-ended rope to a hook anchored at head height. Turn around and drape the rope across your neck and shoulders, sort of like if you had a towel around your neck, and firmly grasp the ends. Tuck your elbows down, feet hip-width apart and slightly bent. Crunch forward as you would if you were on the floor. You can do this same exercise in a kneeling position.
Of course, after you hit the weights, you should always stretch. But I need not remind you of that. RIGHT?
Question: What is your favorite exercise on the cable machine?