Cable Machine Attachments
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1: Lat Pulldowns
Lat pulldowns are a staple exercise in most of the best full-body cable workouts.
This cable machine exercise is one of the best exercises for strengthening the lats, and if you are unable to do pull-ups, you can add this move to your cable workouts to help build the necessary strength to master pull-ups.
You can play around with different hand spacing to target different sections of your lats.
For example, a wide-grip lat pulldown will help target the lateral portions of your lats, whereas a narrow-grip lat pulldown will involve more of your biceps and shoulders along with your lats.
Here are the steps to perform this cable machine exercise:
- Sit upright at the lat pulldown machine with your thighs anchored under the pads with your feet on the floor.
- Reach up and grip the bar with your palms facing away from your body.
- Lean back slightly as you tighten your core while you pull the bar down towards your collarbones. Make sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together at the end range of motion.
- Slowly return the weight to the starting position, resisting the momentum of the weight stack.
- Do not let the weights totally touch down so that you maintain tension in your muscles throughout the duration of the movement.
2: EZ Bar Cable Machine Bicep Curls
You can use any attachment handle that you prefer, but most people find the EZ-curl bar attachment to be the most comfortable for cable machine biceps curls.
The EZ-bar cable curls offer a good modification of standard cable curls because turning your wrists inward using the grip pattern on the EZ-bar targets different muscle fibers in your biceps to maximize your gains.
Moreover, the EZ bar is more ergonomic for your wrists and elbows.
Here are the steps to perform this exercise in your cable machine workouts:
- Set the cable pulley at the lowest setting and attach the EZ bar or your favorite cable curl attachment.
- Face the cable machine with good posture, standing about one to two feet back from the anchor point.
- Grip the EZ bar using the inner angled grips so that your hands are turned inward, partially facing one another, and are positioned slightly closer than shoulder-width apart.
- Slowly curl the bar up all the way and then back down, making sure to use control so that gravity is not doing the work on the eccentric (lowering) portion with the weight stack.
- Lower the weight all the way back down to the straightened position to maximize the full range of motion and not “cheat “ by only going 95% of the way down before beginning your next rep.
3: Seated Cable Rows
This is one of the best cable back exercises for hypertrophy because the constant time under tension and the path of motion afforded by the cables allows you to load your lats, traps, deltoids, and rhomboids with a lot of weight to maximize your gains.
Here are the steps to perform this cable machine exercise:
- Sit at the cable row station with your feet on the footplates and your hands gripping the cable row attachment with a neutral grip (palms facing one another).
- Press your torso into the machine.
- Bend your elbows and squeeze your lats to pull the cable row attachment towards your waist.
- Hold the end range of motion for 2 to 3 seconds.
- Slowly extend your arms to return the weight stack to the starting position.
4: Straight-Arm Pulldowns
The straight-arm pulldown cable exercise is an effective way to strengthen your lats, especially at the end range of motion.
You will also work your shoulders and triceps.
Here are the steps to perform this cable workout exercise:
- Set the pulley at the highest setting and clip in the rope attachment or straight bar attachment.
- Stand facing the cable attachment about three to four feet back.
- Grip the attachment with straight arms overhead.
- Tighten your core as you hinge at your hips and lean your torso to a 45° angle. There should be tension on the cable so that the weight stack is lifted for the entire duration of your set.
- Keeping your arms straight (elbows can be unlocked but still extended), pull the rope straight down towards the top of your thighs.
- Slowly return to the starting position, beginning the next rep before the weight stack can completely touch down.
5: Cable Shrugs
Doing shrugs in your cable machine workouts is a great way to optimize the workload on the traps because the cable pulley path of motion matches the muscle fiber alignment in the traps.
This also helps reduce stress on the shoulders.
Here are the steps:
- Attach the single handles to set the pulleys to the lowest settings.
- Stand in the middle of the cable machine holding a handle in each hand.
- Keep your core tight and drive your shoulders up and inward towards your ears.
- Hold the top position, pulling your shoulders back as they are lifted.
- Slowly lower back down.
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