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Learn to Love the Cable Pulley Machine

There is a lot of love in the air with tomorrow being Valentine's Day, but I want to send a little love to the cable pulley machine. I know that with its sheer size and endless options, it can be a little intimidating. The fact that you can work out almost every part of your body and in any range of motion are good reasons to love it. It is one flexible machine.

New research backs up what many of us feel intuitively after working out with this machine; free-form strength training makes you stronger and more flexible. Not only that, but using the cable pulley machine challenges your sense of balance and improves it considerably more than working with fixed weight machines. In other words, it will help strengthen your core. Another noted benefit: there was a marked decrease in joint pain when working with cable pulley machines. With all these bonuses, how can you walk past this machine?

Remember, celeb trainer Gunnar Peterson said his favorite core exercise was the wood chopper. It is a great exercise to do with the cable pulley, and to see how


Pull the rope down and across your torso by bending and twisting at your waist so that the handle ends up on the far side of your left calf.

Pause at the bottom, then slowly straighten to return to the starting position. Finish the repetitions on that side, then repeat with your left side toward the weight stack.

  • After attaching a stirrup handle to a high cable pulley, grab it with both hands. With your feet shoulder width apart, stand with your right shoulder toward the cable pulley and hold the rope over your right shoulder. You should feel like you're about to swing an axe.
  • Exhale, engage your abs, and keeping your back straight, pull the rope by twisting and bending at your waist to bring the handle down and across your torso. The end of the motion is the outside of your left calf. Your right heel should lift as you do this motion. Don't pull with your arms; pull with your torso.
  • Pause at the bottom, then slowly untwist returning to the starting position. Do 10 reps then switch sides so your left shoulder is closest to the machine.

Do you use this machine regularly? Tell me your favorite exercise using the the cable pulley machine in the comments section below.


Join The Conversation
EllenfromAustin EllenfromAustin 8 years
This makes sense- I think it has to do with the broader range of motion that you get from a cable machine as well as the stability that you have to generate from your core. It does take balance to be able to use two cables at the same time, especially if you are considerably stronger on one side of your body. Here is another great cable workout:
SKC-Sparkle SKC-Sparkle 8 years
This machine reminds me of the wather-powered torture machine in The Prince's Bride.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
When I sold fitness equipment, we had one of these and it was so awesome! I miss it because my gym doesn't have one anymore. If you want to improvise, you can close the door on a resistance band at various heights to mimic the effect. It's not QUITE as good, but it works in a pinch.
rc4480 rc4480 8 years
just remember to put your outside hand under your inside hand, otherwise you risk it slipping out of your grip :)
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
This machine has always intimidated me. Ha.
A-Journey-To-Wellth A-Journey-To-Wellth 8 years
thanks for the 2 exercise suggestions fit and rockvixen! I have one of these in my gym and find it intimidating but I'll have to try these
rockvixen05 rockvixen05 8 years
i like to put it @ the lowest level, hook it around my ankle, face the machine, and then lift my leg behind me. i do that rotating from facing the machine, standing with the machine on my sides, and I do it to both legs. any way i face, though, i pull it straight away from the machine.
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