What Do Cable Exercises Do for Your Muscles?

Cable machines provide an effective alternative to free weights.

Cable machines provide an effective alternative to free weights.

Cable exercise machines are really useful. It's hard to think of a single muscle that you cannot target with them. Soft, flabby arms? You can fix that with push downs. Need to lift your butt? Do some hip extensions. Want to trim your waist? Russian twists will get the job done. A cable machine can affect your muscles in a variety of ways, depending on how you use it. If you apply specific guidelines to your cable exercise workouts, you are much more likely to get the results you really want.

Increased Muscle Tone

Tone can refer to one of two things: the healthy and defined appearance of a muscle or the tension in a muscle. You can improve both by using a cable machine. For a particular exercise, perform moderate to high repetitions, say 15 to 20, and use light to moderate weights to make your muscles look and feel firmer without making them bigger.

Increased Strength

Strength only seems important when you find you don't have enough! Having difficulty lifting a heavy bag or a growing child is often the first indicator that you aren't as strong as you once thought. To build strength, you need to lift progressively heavier weights and a cable machine allows you to do this. To develop your strength, perform sets of 5 to 8 repetitions using a weight that feels challenging but is not impossibly heavy.

Increased Muscle Size

While the development of bigger muscles is usually considered a guy thing, some women also want to make their muscles bigger. If you want a bigger butt or legs that are less skinny, you might feel this way. Building muscle is not as easy for women. The lack of testosterone means that women aren't hormonally programmed for muscle gain. However, if you do want to build some muscle, you can still achieve great things. Perform sets of 6 to 12 repetitions using a moderate to heavy weight and perform multiple sets of each exercise. Building muscle also requires a well-rounded diet so make sure you support your efforts with the right combination of macronutrients, including protein.

Increased Endurance

Endurance means being physically active for long periods of time without getting tired. Walking up a long flight of stairs, gardening, and jogging are all examples of activities that will feel easier if you have good muscular endurance. You can improve your endurance with a cable machine by performing high repetitions, say 20 to 30, and using light weights. Rest no longer than 30 seconds between sets to really crank up the intensity.

Fat Burning

If you want to be able to see the outline of your muscles, not only do you need to target each area of your body with the right exercises, you also need to burn fat. As you lose fat all over your body, you will begin to see muscles you never knew you had! If fat burning is your goal, you will make your workouts more effective by performing your exercises as a circuit. This simply means moving from one exercise to the next without resting. Once you have reached the end of your exercise routine, take a brief rest and start over. You can combine circuit training with any of the training methods described in this article.

 

References

  • Women's Strength Training Anatomy; Frederic Delavier
  • ACSM's Resources for the Personal Trainer; American College of Sports Medicine
  • The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess; Lou Schuler M.S., et al.
  • The Complete Guide to Strength Training; Anita Bean

About the Author

Patrick Dale is an experienced writer who has written for a plethora of international publications. A lecturer and trainer of trainers, he is a contributor to "Ultra-FIT" magazine and has been involved in fitness for more than 22 years. He authored the books "Military Fitness", "Live Long, Live Strong" and "No Gym? No Problem!" and served in the Royal Marines for five years.

Photo Credits

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