I used to be scared of two things…the eyelash curler and the cable machine at the gym. Both are intimidating, look like they could hurt me, and seem complicated. Luckily I didn’t lose any eyeballs or limbs when mastering both. In fact, as funcionally opposite as they are, both are now on my “favorite things” list. So that’s why this cable machine total-body circuit is one of my favorite gym-time exercise routines!
But seriously, doesn’t the cable machine look like some sort of transformer? How the heck are you supposed to maneuver all the arms and weights and cables and adjustments?! Girlfriend, don’t let that gentle giant fool you. This machine is actually easier than it looks, and targets so many muscle groups, for the optimal total-body workout.
Take a moment to get familiar with the cable machine if you haven’t used it before. Most machines have adjustable arms you can shift out and in, up and down. You may need to adjust the weight for each exercise. Just make sure it’s heavy enough to give you a challenge (feeling fatigued towards the end of the repetition).
Cable Exercise #1
Start with the left arm of the machine (as if you are facing it) parallel to the ground and stationed outward. Pull the cable out slightly with both hands. Face your body away from the machine and bend your legs, executing a small squat, while your upper body faces the cable (to your right). Next, jump up to your highest point and pull the cable over to your left, keeping both arms straight. Land in the original position, keeping the tension on the cable the entire time. Do 12 repetitions on one side, then switch to the other side (to do this, face towards the machine, arms reaching to your left, then hop and pull across to your right).
Cable Exercise #2
Keeping the arm of the machine where it is, face your back toward the machine, take the cable with your right arm, and lunge into your left knee, and straightening your right leg and placing your left hand on your hip. Next, pull the cable in toward your body and squeeze your left elbow in towards your back as far as you can. Extend your arm back to the original position and do 12 repetitions. Then face the machine, take the cable with your left hand and repeat on the other side.
Cable Exercise #3
Shift both arms of the machine up and inward (parallel to each other). Facing your body towards the machine, lift your right leg up and bend at your knee and extend your arms overhead. Next, bend into your left knee and pull the cables down, pressing your elbows towards the ground. Extend your arms and straighten your knees to the original position. Do 12 repetitions on your left leg, then do 12 on your right.
Cable Exercise #4
Keeping the arms of the machine where they are and your body still facing the machine, step your right foot in front of your body, left foot behind, pull the cable in and flip your palms so they face your body, bending at your elbows and executing a bicep curl. Bend your legs into lunge position and extend your arms, pulling the cables towards the ground. Return to the original position and do 12 repetitions.
Cable Exercise #5
Switch legs, placing your left leg in front and right leg behind your body. Switch your grip so your palms are facing outward, bending your elbows and keeping them close to you sides. Next, bend your legs into a lunge and press the cables down. Do 12 repetitions.
Cable Exercise #6
Bring the arms of machine down and one-notch above parallel to the ground. Face your body towards the machine, grip the handles so your palms are facing each other and walk out slightly, so there is tension in the cables with your arms extended in front of you. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and bend into a squat position (knees tracking directly above your ankles). Holding the squat, press the cables in towards your body, elbows pushing behind your body. Extend your arms back to the original position and do 12 repetitions.
Phew. Lots of direction here, but I promise once you start making this machine your BFF, it will become second nature to adjust the arms and weights in a flash. The possibilities are endless, so go ahead and try it. You may even come up with a few additional circuits you love!