The cable machine can be your best friend at the gym. With a variety of attachments and settings, you can work almost every muscle group in your body by making adjustments to the machine. By lowering and raising the pulleys, changing the handles and grips and resetting the weight levels, you can get a full workout without having to hop from machine to machine, which means you'll be back in your car and on your way home in no time.
With the number of exercise options available, your upper body is by far the easiest to work at the cable machine. Many moves will develop the strength of your back, chest, triceps, shoulders and biceps. For the upper-body part of your total-body workout, pick one move that works each of these muscle groups and aim for three sets of 10 to 12 reps. Try cable crossovers for your chest, lat pulldowns for your back, cable pressdowns for your triceps, front raises for your shoulders and biceps curls for your biceps.
If you've never used the ankle attachments for the cable machine, it's time to learn. To work your lower body on the cable machine, use these handy attachments to target your hips, glutes, hamstrings and quads. Slip them around your ankles and try side leg lifts for your hips and glutes, standing leg curls for your hamstrings and front leg raises for your quads. Aim for three sets of 10 to 12 reps for each muscle group.
While the cable machine may not be the first thing you think of when envisioning an ab workout, it's actually ideal for zeroing in on the area. You have plenty of options for strengthening your entire core, which includes your abs, glutes, hips and back. Because you'll already have worked your glutes and hips during your lower-body work, you can get straight to work on your lower back and abs. For your back, take on a few back extensions by holding a bar attachment at your chest and lifting up from the lowest pulley setting. For your abs, try kneeling cable crunches, lying leg raises and standing wood choppers. Complete three sets of 15 reps for each move.
When you’re doing full-body workouts in a single weight session, fuel up before and after your workout. Your muscles need nutrients to carry you through the workout and rebuild themselves when you’re done. Use proper form in all of your exercises so that you can avoid injuries such as muscle strains, pulls or tears. Stay in control of the cable weight and don’t let it jerk back into place when you are finished or fatigued. As with any new exercise routine, consult your physician before you begin.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.