You’re confident with dumbbells, know how to swing a kettlebell, and pump a barbell like a champ…but when was the last time you gave the cable machine some love?
If you’re avoiding the pulleys, you’re missing out. Unlike most machines, this one doesn’t lock you into a fixed motion, and it comes with a host of power-building benefits. Yet it’s been overlooked with the rise of free weights. “Both are great for strength, but certain movement patterns can be done only with cables,” says Rachel Cosgrove, C.S.C.S. So it’s high time to make this machine your workout bud.
If you’re new to pulleys, start with these three simple steps. (Still feeling stuck? Trainers hanging around the gym love helping out! Don’t be afraid to flag one down and ask a question.)
Ready to get started? Mix these staple cable exercises into any workout routine.
Time: 10 to 15 minutes
Equipment: Cable machine
Good for: Total-body
Instructions: Do 10 to 12 reps for each move. Complete three to four sets total before moving to the next move.
Split Squat With Front Foot Elevated
How to: Place a low box a few feet in front of a low pulley; facing tower, place left foot on box and step right foot back two feet. Grab handle with right hand, right arm fully extended and legs straight. Bend knees to lower body toward floor, keeping chest upright and right knee in line with shoulders. Push through feet to return to standing. That’s one rep. Do 10 to 12 reps on each side. Complete three to four sets, then continue to the next move.
Form tip: Stand tall to sculpt your legs and back with each rep.
How to: Stand a few feet in front of low pulley with rope or handle attached, facing away from tower. Place feet more than shoulder-width apart and hold rope between legs with both hands, then hinge forward to lower torso toward floor, keeping chest up and shoulders down. Squeeze glutes and drive hips forward to stand. Pause, then slowly reverse to return to start. That’s one rep. Do 10 to 12 reps. Complete three to four sets, then continue to the next move.
Form tip: Keep your chest up, back flat, and core tight.
Single-Arm Chest Press
How to: Set cable to shoulder height; grab handle with left hand and face away from tower. Place right foot a few feet in front of left, knees slightly bent, and raise handle to shoulder, elbow bent and in line with wrist. Brace core and push handle forward until arm is fully extended. Pause, then slowly reverse to return to start.
That’s one rep. Do 10 to 12 reps on each side. Complete three to four sets.
This article originally appears in the January/February 2018 issue of Women’s Health. For more intel on how your favorite stars and influencers lead healthier, happier lives, pick up an issue on newsstands now.
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