These Are the 10 Best Bodybuilding Cable Exercises for Muscle Growth

A superb bodybuilder makes use of each software at their disposal to construct muscle: Barbells for maximal loading, dumbbells to determine and assault muscular imbalances, and, particularly, cables. The cable tree is, in some ways, your finest pal within the weight room.

By releasing your self from the constraints of gravity, you open up a wide selection of latest workout routines and methods for constructing muscle. Consider the cable lateral increase, which applies pressure to your shoulder from high to backside. Or maybe the tried-and-true chest flye; few workout routines make it easier to squeeze your pecs higher.

A person doing bodybuilding workout on a cable machine.
Credit score: ThalesAntonio / Shutterstock

You may prepare principally each muscle in your physique with cables, positive, however for maximal muscle development, context and software reign supreme. Some cable workout routines are merely higher for bodybuilding than others. These 10 actions stand above the remaining.

Greatest Bodybuilding Cable Workouts

Cable Lateral Elevate

Large, three-dimensional delts elevate your total physique. That mentioned, your medial deltoids aren’t actually stimulated “at no cost” in the identical method that your entrance delts can develop from heavy chest urgent. Lateral raises are a must-do motion if you wish to develop all components of your shoulders.

Dumbbells are usually the go-to right here, they usually’re completely advantageous more often than not. Nonetheless, the character of the dumbbell lateral raise makes them extraordinarily inconsistent — the primary half of the vary of movement is simply too simple, whereas the highest half is simply too exhausting. Head to the cable tree and do the cable lateral raise to {smooth} issues over. 

How one can Do the Cable Lateral Elevate

  1. Set a cable attachment round knee top and stand subsequent to it together with your non-working arm closest to the fixture.
  2. Attain throughout your physique and seize the deal with together with your working arm, pulling the load off the stack to use pressure to your shoulder.
  3. From right here, increase your arm up and out to the aspect as you’ll for the standard lateral increase.

Coach’s Tip: You may stagger your ft and place the cable itself between your legs for a greater line of pull.

Advantages of the Cable Lateral Elevate

  • Encourages you to work your deltoids individually, which may help treatment muscular imbalances.
  • Supplies fixed pressure to your shoulder all through your complete vary of movement of the lateral increase.
  • Extremely stimulating even with very gentle weights. 

Cable Kickback

You don’t should compete within the Bikini or Wellness divisions to coach your glutes straight. Robust, highly effective gluteal muscle groups profit your efficiency within the weight room and your look on the stage, it doesn’t matter what division you compete in. 

That mentioned, your glutes aren’t notably simple to isolate. They’re the first muscle accountable for flexing and increasing your hips, one in every of your most fundamental movement patterns. This implies most good glute workout routines are giant, heavy, compound workout routines; assume squats, hinges, or thrusts. 

How one can Do the Cable Kickback

  1. You’ll want an ankle strap for this one. Repair your ankle to a cable attachment set very low to the bottom.
  2. Take a step away from the cable station and brace your self in opposition to it together with your arms. Lean ahead barely and pull the load off the stack together with your leg.
  3. From right here, keep a slightly-bent knee and kick your leg out behind you by squeezing your glute.
  4. Elevate your leg till it’s roughly parallel together with your torso, maintain for a second on the high, after which decrease it again down.

Coach’s Tip: You may place your non-working leg on an elevated floor like a weight plate to enhance your vary of movement. 

Advantages of the Cable Kickback

  • Permits you to isolate your glutes with out performing a compound train.
  • Trains your glutes within the lengthened place.
  • Allows you to work every glute isometrically to even out imbalances if wanted. 

Cable Press-Round

A superb cable bodybuilding exercise ought to stimulate all of a muscle’s anatomical features. Your pecs have two — they draw your arm horizontally throughout towards your midline, like in a flye, they usually flex your shoulder ahead, which occurs throughout each urgent motion.

These two actions are, for essentially the most half, distinct. Till you begin performing cable press-arounds, that’s. This distinctive chest exercise combines the 2 main anatomical features of your pecs after which hundreds that movement; a sure-fire approach to develop muscle. 

How one can Do the Cable Press-Round

  1. Set a cable attachment between waist and shoulder top. Stand adjoining to it and seize the deal with together with your working arm.
  2. Step ahead and away from the stack with the deal with and bend your elbow barely. The beginning place ought to resemble the underside of a flye train, however together with your arm drawn behind your torso. 
  3. From right here, draw your arm ahead and in. Go previous the purpose the place your arm is perpendicular to your shoulder and press the deal with towards your reverse aspect.

Coach’s Tip: Take into consideration pushing your higher arm in opposition to your torso throughout the cable press-around.

Advantages of the Cable Press-Round

  • Combines the stimulation of a press and a flye for maximal pec development.
  • It’s a singular pec train that doesn’t fairly really feel like every other.
  • Takes your chest via its full contractile vary of movement.

Cable Flye

Leaving the health club with a skin-tearing pec pump is the hallmark of a great chest exercise. Dumbbell flyes are all properly and good as a chest-day capstone, however nothing beats the cable station for placing collectively a giant pump.

The cable flye suits properly on the finish of your chest workout for a number of causes. It’s simple to carry out, you will get high-quality reps in whereas fatigued from earlier workout routines, and the pump is unparalleled. 

How one can Do the Cable Flye

  1. Set twin cable attachments round shoulder top and stand between them, dealing with away from the weights. 
  2. Seize every cable within the corresponding hand and take a step ahead to determine pressure.
  3. From right here and with a really slight bend in your elbow, draw your arms collectively in entrance of your physique till they’re parallel with one another.

Coach’s Tip: You may play with the angle of your arms throughout the cable flye to seek out the optimum line of pull on your personal physique. 

Advantages of the Cable Flye

  • Supplies an unparalleled “squeeze” in your pecs.
  • Simple to arrange and carry out.
  • Makes for a terrific finisher to torch your chest on the finish of your exercise. 

Straight-Arm Pulldown

Rows and pull-ups are all properly and good for constructing your again, however it is best to have at the very least one train in your repertoire that isolates your lats particularly. Some direct consideration can do wonders for muscle development, in spite of everything.

The straight-arm pulldown may help you domesticate a stable mind-muscle connection with part of your again that’s usually troublesome to flex. 

How one can Do the Straight-Arm Pulldown

  1. Set a cable attachment with a straight-bar or V-bar deal with round eye-level.
  2. Seize the attachment with each fingers and an in depth grip and step backward from the cable.
  3. With the deal with held at arm’s size, unlock your elbows barely, take a shoulder-width stance, and lean ahead slightly bit.
  4. From right here, sweep the deal with downward to your thighs with out bending your elbows.

Coach’s Tip: Take into consideration tucking your elbows into your again pockets throughout the straight-arm pulldown. 

Advantages of the Straight-Arm Pulldown

  • Stimulates your lats equally to the dumbbell pullover with out requiring as a lot shoulder mobility.
  • Applies pressure to your lats within the lengthened place.
  • The movement of the straight-arm pulldown additionally stimulates the lengthy head of your triceps.

Face Pull

Secure, wholesome shoulders are vital for aggressive energy athletes and profession bodybuilders alike. The appropriate higher again workout routines can each bulletproof your shoulders and construct a sick yoke on the identical time. 

The face pull hits each marks with room to spare. It presents a singular motion sample you received’t get from most different higher again actions, is simple to carry out, and works as each a primer and a finisher. 

How one can Do the Face Pull

  1. Repair a rope attachment to a cable set round shoulder top or barely greater.
  2. Seize the heads of the rope together with your fingers and step backward so the weights come off the stack and your arms are held slack in entrance of you.
  3. From right here, pull the middle of the rope towards your brow.
  4. As you pull, externally rotate your shoulder; take into consideration opening up your arms to disclose the insides of your biceps.
  5. Pull till your higher arms are parallel to one another and pause for a second. 

Coach’s Tip: Externally rotating your shoulders is crucial if you wish to interact your rear deltoids and decrease trapezius muscle groups. 

Advantages of the Face Pull

  • Works properly as each a warm-up exercise on chest day or a finisher on again day.
  • A stellar possibility for shoulder prehab.
  • Nice for creating your rear delts with cables. 

Shut-Grip Lat Pulldown

The lat pulldown station is prime actual property in most gyms — and for good cause. Pull-ups are definitely a rewarding again train, however heavier gymgoers could discover them troublesome to carry out. Should you’re expert sufficient to do weighted pull-ups, you might discover them unnecessarily taxing, although they really feel nice in your again.

The tried-and-true lat pulldown sidesteps these points whereas nonetheless permitting you to coach the motion sample. Particularly, the close-grip lat pulldown will emphasize your lats greater than your higher again or arms as a result of tucked-arm posture. 

How one can Do the Shut-Grip Lat Pulldown

  1. Set a parallel bar attachment into the hook of the lat pulldown station. 
  2. Seize every deal with together with your fingers and pull it off the stack as you sit down into the seat together with your knees below the pads.
  3. Permit the cable to drag your arms unfastened and elevate your shoulders up towards your ears.
  4. Lean again barely and provoke the pulldown by miserable your shoulders away out of your ears, after which following via by pulling your elbows down into your sides.
  5. Pull the deal with down till your higher arms are tucked in opposition to your torso.

Coach’s Tip: Grasp the shoulders-then-elbows sequencing throughout the close-grip pulldown for optimum lat activation. 

Advantages of the Shut-Grip Lat Pulldown

  • Allows you to load up your again with heavy weight whereas nonetheless benefiting from the fixed pressure of a cable machine.
  • Simple to carry out and requires little setup.
  • Develops carryover energy to different compound again workout routines. 

Rope Hammer Curl

You possibly can spend all day within the weight room working via varied arm workout routines and nonetheless not scratch the floor. Constructing beefy arms takes extra than simply biceps curls, although — that you must prepare your brachialis, brachioradialis, and the smaller muscle groups in your forearms as properly. 

Hammer curls are all properly and good, however dumbbells don’t present constant pressure. You most likely discover them to be too simple on the backside and too troublesome on the high. Performing the rope hammer curl as an alternative alleviates this inconsistency and ensures a smooth-as-butter set. 

How one can Do the Rope Hammer Curl

  1. Connect a rope deal with to a cable fixture set on the lowest potential top. 
  2. Seize the rope in your fingers, calm down your arms, and take a step backward to drag the cable taut.
  3. From right here, tuck your higher arms tight to your sides.
  4. Along with your palms dealing with one another, bend your elbows, sustaining that impartial wrist place your complete time. 

Coach’s Tip: Keep away from supinating your wrists. Turning your palms as much as the ceiling will apply extra of the load to your biceps brachii on the expense of your brachialis and forearms. 

Advantages of the Rope Hammer Curl

  • Nice for each elbow and wrist prehab.
  • The hammer curl emphasizes your brachialis, which contributes to the looks of thick arms.
  • Works the musculature of your forearm as a bonus. 

Single-Arm Overhead Triceps Extension

Few muscle groups are higher suited to cable exercises than your triceps. Free weights are nice, however many bodybuilders discover too many cranium crushers or kickbacks uncomfortable on their elbows. Cables present a smoother stimulus and are extra versatile. 

Furthermore, triceps training doesn’t should imply thrashing your physique with heavy presses, extensions, or weighted dips. By manipulating your posture and dealing with one arm, even a lightweight weight will really feel ultra-heavy throughout the single-arm overhead triceps extension

How one can Do the Single-Arm Overhead Triceps Extension

  1. Set a cable fixture at waist top and seize it by the deal with or the ball of the cable itself, then take a step again.
  2. Twist your physique round; for those who’re holding the cable in your proper hand, flip to the left and permit the cable to drag your arm up till your higher arm is perpendicular to the bottom.
  3. Stagger your stance for stability. You may maintain your non-working arm out to the aspect or place it in your hip.
  4. Prolong your elbow by flexing your triceps.

Coach’s Tip: The nearer you will get your higher arm to perpendicular to the bottom, the stronger of a stretch you’ll put in your triceps. 

Advantages of the Single-Arm Overhead Triceps Extension

  • Allows you to work your triceps individually to right any potential imbalances. 
  • Even a lightweight weight shall be fairly difficult with this train, so you will get a great exercise in with out going heavy.
  • Extending your elbow together with your shoulder absolutely flexed locations an excessive stretch on the lengthy head of your triceps. 

Cable Crunch

Shredded abs aren’t elective if you wish to achieve bodybuilding: Abs could also be revealed within the kitchen, however they’re constructed within the health club. Extra importantly, your core obeys all the identical hypertrophy guidelines as every other muscle group. You want correct loading, a full vary of movement, and, after all, endurance. 

Infinite units of crunches on the ground received’t get you there, however the cable crunch will. You don’t have to wriggle your self into a clumsy place on an train machine or check your endurance on the ground. This motion hits all of the benchmarks of a great hypertrophy train on your abs.

How one can Do the Cable Crunch

  1. Set a cable round shoulder top. You need to use a rope attachment or maintain on to a straight bar for the cable crunch.
  2. Seize the attachment with each arms and bend your elbows to drag it near your brow.
  3. Drop down right into a full kneeling place near, however circuitously beneath, the cable fixture.
  4. Deliberately arch your again to stretch out your abs, after which crunch down by rounding your backbone. Keep away from transferring or bending your arms at any level.

Coach’s Tip: Consider using your abs to drag your brow all the way down to the bottom.

Advantages of the Cable Crunch

  • Helps you prepare your abs via flexion and extension, quite than the isometric contractions offered by an train just like the plank.
  • Simple to induce progressive overload onto your abs. 
  • A good way to progress from beginner core exercises into one thing more difficult. 

Cable Coaching Ideas for Bodybuilding

Cable stations are a part of the “holy trinity” of gym equipment; consider them as the center floor between free weights and train machines. Whereas sure barbell or dumbbell actions have extraordinarily steep studying curves, cables are usually fairly intuitive. 

That mentioned, you may nonetheless make some small changes to your coaching to get much more worth out of your cable-based bodybuilding workout routines. 

Make the most of Tempo

Gradual and regular wins the race within the weight room. As a bodybuilder, you haven’t any good cause to hurry via your repetitions (except you’re on the clock and have to crush a fast exercise, after all).

Cables are notably well-suited to using an extra-slow tempo. The constant pressure offered by the cable ought to create a {smooth} eccentric section, encouraging you to essentially stretch out the goal muscle. 

Tweak Your Setup

The very nature of cables as a type of resistance coaching presents you greater than you will get from free weights or machines. Barbells and dumbbells should obey gravity; if the train doesn’t contain transferring one thing upward in some capability, it received’t be very efficient.

A bodybuilding doing a cable straight-arm pulldown.
Credit score: Lebedev Roman Olegovich / Shutterstock

Machines are improbable when used correctly, however lock you right into a pre-determined aircraft of movement that won’t gel together with your physique. Cables dodge each points; they apply resistance regardless of the angle and you may transfer freely with them. Make the most of this freedom and experiment together with your workout routines to seek out the precise proper angle on your physique. 

Make use of Drop Units

Depth methods like supersets, clustered repetitions, or drop sets are improbable for muscle development — for those who apply them correctly. Whereas analysis signifies that coaching to (or past) muscular failure isn’t strictly essential to make positive aspects, (1) doing so ensures that you simply aren’t leaving positive aspects on the desk.

Cables and drop units pair very properly collectively. First, the inherent stability of the cable itself implies that hitting failure is much less dangerous than for those who did so with a barbell or dumbbell. Extra importantly, this can be very simple to regulate the resistance on a cable station. You don’t should lug dumbbells round or exchange the plates in your bar; merely alter the pin and also you’re again in motion. 

Advantages of Cables for Bodybuilding

In some ways, cables are to bodybuilding what the barbell is to the powerlifter or weightlifter. You’d be hard-pressed to seek out an IFBB Professional that doesn’t make very common use of the cable station all through their coaching week. Right here’s what you stand to achieve from incorporating some extra cable coaching into your bodybuilding workout plan

Constant Mechanical Stress

The recipe for hypertrophy (that’s muscle development for those who aren’t scientifically inclined) is easy. You want mechanical pressure, metabolic stress, and precise muscle injury. The primary half is, by all accessible metrics, a very powerful of all. (2)

Any train that locations excessive quantities of mechanical pressure or torque on the muscle you’re working is certain to result in positive aspects for those who’re affected person and constant. Cables shine right here — they tax your muscle groups from begin to end and are simple to recuperate from on a session-to-session foundation, which means you may work with them frequently to construct muscle over lengthy intervals. 

Customizable to Your Physique

There’s nothing higher than the barbell for gaining energy. That mentioned, barbells (together with many different varieties of free weights and train machines) aren’t precisely one-size-fits-all. It’s potential that sure mainstay bodybuilding strikes don’t give you the results you want as a result of the tools required doesn’t align together with your bodily construction.

Cables, for essentially the most half, don’t endure from this situation. The flexibility to drag a cable attachment in nearly any path means you may tweak and tailor an train just like the biceps curl, lateral increase, or triceps extension till it “feels proper.”

A person doing cable face pulls in the gym.
Credit score: Serhii Yevdokymov / Shutterstock

There’s some fascinating analysis backing this up, too. Some research have proven that muscle exercise can differ between cable workout routines relying on the kind of attachment you employ or the approach you utilize, (3) so make sure you take a bit of additional time to seek out the very best model of no matter train you’re doing to gain muscle

Versatile and Handy

Until you have got your personal home gym and a profession centered round your physique, you most likely aren’t having picture-perfect exercises on a weekly foundation. Time constraints, facility entry, and loads of different logistical components not directly have an effect on your capacity to build muscle.

Say, for instance, that it’s shoulder day and also you’ve bought overhead presses on the menu. You stroll into the health club and discover each squat rack taken and the dumbbell rack largely stripped naked. Do you throw within the towel in your exercise?

You possibly can, or you may discover an open cable station and go to city. You will discover a handful of workout routines for each muscle in your physique that work simply advantageous with cables as an alternative of free weights. Extra importantly, the cable station is simple to make use of and most gyms can have a number of of them. You may get one heck of a bodybuilding workout in with out ever leaving the cable station for those who actually needed to. 

Plug In to Good points

As a bodybuilder, the tools in your health club is nothing greater than a set of instruments. What’re you constructing? Muscle, after all. The appropriate cable workout routines can elevate your total exercise, whether or not you’re utilizing them as a warm-up on your bodybuilding session or to cap off your day within the health club. 


  1. Nóbrega, S. R., & Libardi, C. A. (2016). Is Resistance Coaching to Muscular Failure Vital?. Frontiers in physiology, 7, 10. 
  2. Schoenfeld B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their software to resistance coaching. Journal of energy and conditioning analysis, 24(10), 2857–2872.
  3. Rendos, N. Ok., Heredia Vargas, H. M., Alipio, T. C., Regis, R. C., Romero, M. A., & Signorile, J. F. (2016). Variations in Muscle Exercise Throughout Cable Resistance Coaching Are Influenced by Variations in Deal with Sorts. Journal of energy and conditioning analysis, 30(7), 2001–2009.

Featured Picture: ThalesAntonio / Shutterstock

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