Ultimate Cable Workout to Tone Every Muscle in Your Body

Ultimate Cable Workout to Tone Every Muscle in Your Body

Do you want a perfectly toned bod?

All those unsightly bumps and bulges ironed out?

Not a lot of people know this, but cables are absolutely perfect for targeting all the major muscle groups for honing and toning. They are probably the most versatile bit of equipment in the gym, giving you all the benefits and wide range of motion associated with free-weights…

But without having to venture into the free-weight room if it’s not your cup of tea or the sight of overly muscle-bound hulk-ish lads and lasses intimidates you slightly.

The 7 exercises detailed below will workout every muscle in your body, so prepare yourself for the ultimate fitness training.

The Power of Cables

Close up of woman performing cable row on gym machine

Free weights normally offer several advantages over machines. The main one is that your muscles develop extra tone and definition as a result of overcoming the inherent instability. Cables with V-bar, single handle and rope attachments replicate that instability and range of motion, making them more effective than fixed machines.

Also, as this is a complete body workout, it’s recommended that you warm-up with plenty of stretches covering all body parts and joints, as well as a core warm-up and some light cardio to raise your body temperature.

Single leg cable squat and row

Muscles trained: Legs, glutes, core and lats

Cable Attachment: Single handle fixed to a low position

Method:

  1. Grip the handle with one hand and arm extended. Stand a couple of metres back from the weight stack.
  2. Balance on the opposite foot to the hand gripping the handle. Your other leg should be raised at about a 30-degree angle to the vertical leg.
  3. Get into the starting position with your upper body straight and upright and the cable pulled back at your side.
  4. Breathe in and squat down on one leg, allowing the weight to pull your arm out in front of you. Your raised leg should remain in front of you. Keep your shoulders pushed back.
  5. Breathe out and push up through your heel, tightening your quads and glutes, while simultaneously rowing the cable back to your side.
  6. Repeat for the required number of reps alternating hand and arm between sets.

Avoid: bending your torso and allowing your chest to lean forward. Keep your weight firmly pulled back onto your planted leg.

Cable lateral lunge

Muscles trained: Legs, glutes and core

Cable Attachment: Single handle or V-bar fixed to a low position

Method:

  1. Stand sideways on and a few metres away from the stack. Grip the handle with both hands, and position it next to your hip nearest the stack.
  2. Stand straight, keeping your head up and shoulders back.
  3. Exhale as you lunge towards the cable, bringing your nearest foot a step towards the stack, slightly bent at the knee, and allow the trailing leg to form a straight diagonal from foot to hip. Keep the handle close to your hip, with wrist resting on your thigh.
  4. Inhale, and push your body back up to the starting position, keeping the handle close to your hip to provide resistance to the lunging motion.
  5. Repeat as required alternating sides between sets.

Avoid: allowing the handle to move away from your hip or thigh as you lunge and straighten back up. The cable provides resistance to the lunging motion, so don’t use your arm muscles to move it.

Single-arm cable row and rotation

Muscles trained: Back, shoulders, biceps and abs

Cable Attachment: Single handle fixed to a low position

Method:

  1. Sit on the floor with your back straight. Extend one arm fully, grabbing the handle with an over-grip. Rest your other hand on your hip and bend your knees up slightly.
  2. Breathe out and pull the handle to the same side as your extended arm, bringing it towards your stomach while simultaneously twisting your upper body in the same direction.
  3. Rotate as far as you can, pause momentarily, then return the starting position while breathing in.
  4. Repeat as required, alternating sides between sets.

Avoid: leaning forwards, the only movement in your back should be the rotation.

Low to high cable fly

Muscles trained: Chest and shoulders

Cable Attachment: 2 cables and 2 single handles fixed to low positions

Method:

  1. Stand between two pulleys with cables behind you and set to the bottom position. Grab each handle with your palms facing forward.
  2. Keep your upper arms at approximately 30-degree angle from your sides.
  3. Tense your upper chest, exhale and pull your arms upwards and inwards to meet each other. Pull them both steadily in a diagonal line so that they meet at shoulder height or slightly above. Imagine the motion as drawing an inverted V.
  4. Pause at the top for a moment. Inhale then lower the handles smoothly.
  5. Repeat for the required number of reps.

Avoid: jerking the handles upwards or forcing them up through your legs. Make sure your chest and shoulder muscles are engaged. Remember to breathe steadily throughout.

Plank tricep kickbacks

Muscles trained: Core, triceps and legs

Cable Attachment: Single handle fixed to a low position

Method:

  1. Adopt the plank position facing the stack and grab the handle with your right hand, keeping your palm facing to the left.
  2. Exhale and pull the handle in towards the side of your torso.
  3. Keep extending your arm back past your hips and rotate your palm upwards as you do so.
  4. Pause when you reach full extension.
  5. Inhale, bend your elbow and return the handle steadily to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the required number of reps, changing sides between sets.

Avoid: any movement in your back and legs. Keep your head facing down towards the floor, with a straight line from your neck to your heel.

Bridge curl

Muscles trained: Legs, biceps, glutes and core

Cable Attachment: 2 cables and 2 single handles fixed to low positions

Method:

  1. Lie down on your back, feet near the stack with knees bent and arms at each side.
  2. Grab a handle in each hand with palms facing up.
  3. Exhale, and curl your arms up towards your chest as you raise your hips from the floor to form a bridge. Keep your upper back, shoulder blades and head in contact with the floor.
  4. Keep curling your arms until the handles are close to your shoulders. Pause at the top of the motion for a moment.
  5. Inhale and slowly lower your hips and arms back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the required number of reps.

Avoid: lifting your head or upper back from the floor. Try not to jerk your arms up, curl them in a steady, controlled motion.

Seated cable row

Muscles trained: Middle back

Cable Attachment: V-bar attached to a low setting

Method:

  1. You will need a bench with foot-plates or a dedicated low pulley row machine for this exercise.
  2. Sit on the bench with your firmly planted on the plates, with your knees slightly bent.
  3. Lean forwards and grab the V-bar with a neutral grip (i.e. palms facing each other).
  4. Extend your arms fully then pull back on the handle. Keep going until your upper body is 90-degrees to your legs. Keep your back slightly arched. This is the starting position.
  5. Exhale and pull the handle towards your stomach, keeping your arms tucked in until the handle reaches your abs. Keep your back muscles tensed during this movement.
  6. Hold this position for a moment, inhale, then steadily move your arms back to the starting position.
  7. Repeat as required.

Avoid: moving your back during the row. Keep your torso at a 90-degree angle to your legs throughout.

Workout Plan

It is recommend that you repeat the exercises below three times per week, performing 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps of each exercise. Select a weight that makes the final set challenging to perform, but not too gruelling. Build up the applied weight during the week to vary the workout intensity.

An example workout schedule could be:

Monday | 3 sets of 10 reps with 20kg weight total

Wednesday | 3 sets of 8 reps with 40kg weight total

Friday | 3 sets of 6 reps with 50kg weight total

Don’t be tempted to repeat this workout on consecutive days. You need to build in a rest period as every muscle group is being trained. Also, avoid any heavy strength training in between, stick to aerobic or light workouts.

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