Your Ultimate Guide to Cable Machines (2023 Guide) | Blog
18Oct 2023
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Your Ultimate Guide to Cable Machines (2023 Guide)

Cable machines are a common piece of exercise equipment that many travelers run into when staying in hotels with gyms. In some cases, this is the only piece of workout equipment available!

One of the primary reasons that so many hotels carry the cable machine is due to its versatility. Because most hotel gyms are small and compact, it is important to offer guests the ability to get a great workout without having access to endless equipment.

The cable machine offers just that!

So, stick around to learn exactly what cable machines are, how to use them effectively, and why You should learn how to maximize them when traveling. Let's roll.

Cable Machine Overview

Whether you call it a cable machine, tower pulley system, or otherwise, this popular piece of fitness equipment comes in many variations. From a simple single-cable machine to a more advanced multi-cable tower.

While most hotel gyms carry the common two-pulley cable machine, you are bound to run into several options that range in shape and size depending on the hotel you are staying in.

What is a Cable Machine?

Simply put, a cable machine is a versatile piece of gym equipment that uses a pulley system of cables, providing users with varying levels of resistance depending on the exercise.

Typically consisting of an adjustable weight stack, handles, a range of different attachments, and even a pull-up bar depending on its construction, the cable machine is offered in a number of different configurations and looks usually like this:

Cable Machine Towers

Three of the most popular brands include:

Cable machines are generally easy to use and do not require extensive setup or adjustment, making them accessible to a wide range of guests with varying levels of fitness knowledge. That makes it a common piece of hotel gym equipment.

Unlike dumbbells, cable machines add resistance for both upward (concentric) and downward (eccentric) movements. Because of this added tension throughout, cable machines result in a much better "muscle pump" and often result in an overall better workout.

Because of its pulley system, cable machines are much safer to use than the alternative (i.e., dumbbells and barbells).

How does it Work?

To illustrate its functionality, let's take a look at a common exercise: the chest fly.

The cable machine allows you to adjust each cable to the appropriate height, whether sitting or standing. In the case of a standing cable chest fly, you will likely adjust each pulley between hip and shoulder height based on your preference.

Upon adjusting it to the proper height, it is now up to you to adjust the weight stack to your desired resistance.

Finally, once you have attached the best fitting handles to each cable, it is time to engage in the exercise.

In the case of a cable chest fly, push the handles outward together. Doing so creates tension between the pulley and the weight stack, resulting in tension throughout the range of motion.

Tip: Watch this video to illustrate better how to do a cable chest fly.

Getting used to the cable machine, especially with so many variations available, certainly takes some time. Though awkward initially, especially if you are used to traditional dumbbells and barbells, cable machines are a great mode of exercise for beginners and experienced gym-goers alike.

If you are a traveler looking to stay in shape, cable machines will quickly become your best friend! Why? Since most hotels only carry light dumbbells, cable machines provide an added layer of resistance and difficulty that a standard dumbbell set would not otherwise provide.

Exercises you can Perform on Cable Machines

While the exercises able to be performed on cable machines depend greatly on the type of cable machine you have access to in your hotel, you will likely be able to engage in a full-body workout no matter the type of cable machine you are working with.

After all, that is the beauty of this versatile machine; with endless possibilities, you can use them for many things in numerous situations no matter the fitness goal.

Before we get into the specific exercises that are made possible by the cable machine, here are a few possible ways in which you can best use the cable machine to your advantage:

  • As a warm-up tool to prime your muscles for action
  • For mobility work
  • For rehabilitation during injury recovery
  • As an accessory to your entire gym routine
  • For hypertrophy and muscle growth

But remember, the cable machine is not a one-trick pony but a machine that offers many options that target different muscle groups.

Cable Machine Exercise

Here are some fantastic exercises to begin with:

  • Cable Machine Fly
  • Lat Pulldown
  • Cable Row
  • Tricep Rope Pushdown
  • Bicep Curl
  • Face Pulls
  • Rear Delt Fly
  • Side Lateral Extension
  • Cable Crunch
  • Standing Leg Kickbacks
  • Cable-Assisted Front Squat

Mix and match them to create full-body workouts that will keep you engaged and help you achieve your fitness goals. Whether you want to build muscle, tone up, or improve your overall strength, cable machines have your back (and every other muscle group, too!).

Do you need help figuring out how to make the most of the cable machine? Consider getting help from fitness apps like FitBod. By inputting your cable machine exercises into the app, you instantly create a personalized workout plan that includes videos and instructions on performing the exercise correctly.

This app will guide you through a customized training plan, and you can track your progress throughout to ensure you are getting the most out of your hotel workouts!

Tips for Maximizing Cable Machine Workouts

Now that you are familiar with the cable machine and all of its potential variations and constructions, let's dive into some tips and tricks on how you can maximize your hotel gym workouts on the go.

After all, traveling can easily disrupt your fitness routine. With some knowledge and creativity, you can make the most of your cable machine hotel workouts!

Here are some handy tips and tricks to take with you on your next travel adventure:

1. Plan Ahead

Be sure to research the hotel's gym facilities prior to arrival. Knowing in advance what type of fitness equipment they have and if a cable machine is included will help you plan your workouts accordingly.

Consider designing a routine around a full-body workout to maximize the cable machine's versatility.

2. Prioritize Mobility

Because cable machines are so effective at mobility exercises, why not take advantage of them and use them as a warm-up tool?!

Before you get into your workout, spend a few extra minutes warming up - a great opportunity to get used to the cable machines.

3. Adjust the Weight Wisely

While the cable machine is a particularly safe exercise modality, it is important to start slow and ease into the amount of weight/resistance you are lifting.

This is especially true for a beginner or someone who has never used a cable machine before.

4. Slow and Controlled Form

The last thing you want to do is injure yourself while traveling (or anywhere). Cable machines are all about control.

Perform each exercise with slow, deliberate movements to ensure you're working the targeted muscles effectively.

5. Experiment with Different Attachments

One of the advantages of cable machines is the variety of attachments it typically comes with. Not only does this inject an aspect of fun and excitement into your workout, but it also allows you to target different muscles in different ways while finding what attachment is most comfortable for you.

Cable Machine Attachments

You might want to check the article from Connor Kovacs about the benefits of all the different cable attachments and when to use which one.

6. Get Creative with Sets and Reps

Speaking of fun, mix up the number of sets and reps you do with each exercise.

Whether through supersets, drop sets, or otherwise, it is important to inject a level of intensity into your cable machine workout to make the most out of your time in the gym.

7. Track Your Progress

Lastly, consider keeping a journal to track your progress when traveling. This will help you progress quicker while also holding you accountable for performing at a higher level than you did during the previous workout!

One way to effectively and efficiently track your progress is through the FitBod app! Or if you prefer an app specializing in workout tracking rather than planning, check out Hevy.

Final Word on Cable Machines

Cable Machine Exercises

Cable machines are the unsung heroes for many travelers who exercise in hotel gyms. Like resistance bands, they offer a versatile and effective means of getting in a great workout repeatedly.

Whatever your fitness goals when traveling, whether it is strength, muscle gain, weight loss, or maintenance, cable machines offer a versatile and convenient solution to help you achieve them, making it a win-win.

With some planning and creative thinking, you can transform your hotel gym sessions into productive and satisfying experiences.

So, the next time you find yourself in a hotel gym, remember to seek out the cable machine. Incorporate the exercises, and remember the tips and tricks to maximize your workout.

Whether traveling for business or leisure, your fitness journey can continue uninterrupted, thanks to the mighty cable machine.

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