14 Best Arm Exercises On A Cable Machine

Published by Roshan S Pillai on

Cable arm exercises

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You might be familiar with various free-weight exercises done with a barbell or dumbbells, which are very helpful in building the strength and size of the arms. But we should not ignore the importance of cable machines as they can help you in building an amazing shape and size of your arms.

Here, I will share with you some of the best cable exercises for building solid hardcore arms which will make your sleeves look tight and sexy.

We will talk about both bicep and tricep exercises alternatively along with their proper form and technique. So without boring you, let’s begin!

Arm Exercises With cables

Some of the best arm exercises you can do with cables are cable curls, cable pushdowns, and overhead arm extensions with ropes or a bar. Let’s discuss some more effective exercises here.

1. Triceps Pushdown

This is the most common exercise you will find people doing in the gym. This will be a great exercise to kickstart your tricep workout.

Targeted Muscles- Lateral head of the tricep

How to do

1. Attach a bar at the upper end of the cable machine and hold it with both hands are slightly less than the shoulder width.

2. Lean slightly forward and keep your elbows closer to the waist. This will be your starting position.

3. With your shoulders pinged back, start pushing the weights down and completely extend your elbows right at the bottom. Your chest should be up as you move.

4. Slowly return to the starting position without rolling your shoulders forward.

You don’t have to add too much weight which puts you in an improper form. Your form and technique are key during this exercise.

2. Standing Straight-bar Curls

This is the most common cable exercise for the biceps. This will isolate the biceps and is a good finisher after some heavy compound movements like barbell curls.

Targeted Muscles – biceps brachii

How to do

1. Attach a pulley at the lower part of the cable machine and grab the straight bar with both hands at shoulder-width apart.

2. Now step back and keep your elbows to the sides. You should lean back slightly for balance. This will be your starting position.

3. Start moving the bar up and squeeze your biceps at the top. Make sure to breathe in on the way up.

4. Slowly bring the bar down towards the starting position while breathing out and then repeat the movements.

You should try moderately heavyweight in this exercise. Don’t swing too much and ruin your form. You can also do a drop set at the end of the workout.

3. Cable Lying Triceps Extension

This is a perfect variation of regular skull crushers done with the bar. This cable version will create constant tension on your triceps and will help you in improving your mind and muscle connection.

Targeted Muscles– All the head of the triceps

How to do

1. Attach a bar at the lower end of the cable machine and place a bench in front of the cable machine.

2. Lay down on the bench and hold a bar with on overhand grip. Your elbow should face up and your arms should be at a 90° angle. This will be your starting position.

3. Move the bar down until the bar reaches below your head. Keep your elbows tucked in.

4. Press the bar up by squeezing your triceps and extend full at the top.

You can also do this with ropes. That will target your lateral head more than the long head. Play with different types of modalities available to always shock the muscles to grow.

4. Incline Bench Cable Curls

This exercise will put your biceps in an extra stretch position which will make it more challenging than the regular curls. It is another great bicep exercise with cables.

Targeted Muscles – biceps brachii ( short head)

How to do

1. Place a bench at the center part of the cable machine and set a bench at a 60° angle.

2. Attach handles at both sides of the pulley which is attached at the lower part of the cable machine.

3. Sit on a bench with your back resting on it while holding the handles. Your arm should be down in an extended position.

4. Start the exercise by pulling the cables towards your shoulder and squeeze your biceps at the top.

5. Slowly bring your arms back to the starting position and then continue the movement.

Keep in mind that your back should be on the bench and should not go forward while performing this exercise.

This is a unique exercise as it puts your arms in an uncommon position which makes it a harder and challenging exercise. If you have never tried this exercise then start with lighter weights and then slowly increase the weights according to your strength.

5. Cable Overhead Tricep Extension ( low pulley)

This exercise will completely stretch your triceps. If you want bigger triceps, then this exercise will help you with that.

Targeted muscles- Long head of the triceps

How to do

1. Attach a rope at the bottom of the cable machine. Hold each end of a rope and twist your body such that your back is facing the machine.

2. Take your hands back such that your triceps are facing the ear and keep your arms straight up. Your stance can be staggered or together. For beginners, the staggered stance is preferred.

3. Start moving your hands down by flexing your elbows. Reach the bottom and stretch your triceps.

4. Now pull the weights up without moving your elbows and extend your elbow at the top.

Your hands should go out naturally as you go back, but make sure it’s not going too far out. Furthermore, your elbow should not come forward as you move the ropes upward.

6. Cable Preacher Curl

This is another best way to isolate your biceps and to feel that amazing pump! Preacher curls help you in adding that extra peak to your biceps which makes it look bigger and stronger. Preacher curl also targets the long head more according to the study

Targeted Muscles- biceps brachii

How to do

1. Attach a bar placed at the lower part of the cable machine and then bring the preacher curl station in front of the cable machine.

2. Sit on the preacher curl station and hold the bar with both hands at shoulder-width apart.

3. From an extended arm position, start pulling the bar and bring it toward the shoulder level. Make sure to completely contract your biceps at the top.

4. Slowly bring the bar back to the starting position and then repeat the exercise with the prescribed number of reps.

You can use a zig-zag bar instead of a straight bar to add a variation to the workout. Zig-zag bar is a great alternative for those who have wrist problems or lacks mobility.

You can do 15-20 reps of 3 sets of these without taking too much rest in between each set (30-45 seconds).

7. Cable Triceps Kickback

You may have already tried triceps kickback with dumbbells, but this is a cable version of kickback which will completely crush your triceps. Do this as a finisher set of your workout.

Targeted Muscles– lateral head of the triceps

How to do

1. Attach a pulley at the lower end of the cable machine.

2. Hold the end of the pulley and stand at a shoulder-width stance.

3. Now bend down by taking your hips back and keep your arms parallel to the floor. Keep your back straight.

4. Start moving your wrist up by squeezing your triceps and fully extend your elbow at the top. Your arms should remain parallel to the floor.

5. Gradually return to the starting position and then repeat the exercise. Do the same with the other hand also.

We don’t usually take our hands back behind the body like this exercise which makes our triceps weak. Therefore training your arms by putting them in a weaker position will make your arms gain more strength.

8. Cross Body Cable Curl

Another effective way to use a cable machine! Here, you can focus on each side separately which is good for those who cannot feel their one side working while performing any bicep curl movements.

Targeted Muscles- Biceps brachii ( long head)

How to do

1. Attach a handle on a low cable pulley and grab the handle with the opposite hand. This will be your starting position.

2. Stand straight while holding the handle and then start moving the arms up without moving your elbows.

3. Curl up and bring your wrist towards your mid-chest and squeeze your biceps at the top. Breath out on the way up.

4. Slowly return to the starting position and then repeat the movement. Do the same exercise from the other side as well.

If you have a muscular imbalance or if your one arm is bigger or stronger than the other, then adding these unilateral movements will help you in reducing those imbalances which occur due to a lack of muscle activation.

These single-arm movements will help you in improving mind and muscle connection. So if you have a complaint that you cannot feel anything on your left biceps during the exercise, then start doing these movements which will help you in developing a mind-muscle connection.

9. Single-arm Tricep Pushdown

Another great exercise to isolate your triceps and to create a better mind and muscle connection. You can completely focus on your triceps while performing this move without any other muscles involved.

Targeted Muscles- lateral head of triceps

How to do

1. Attach a cable at the upper end of the cable machine and grab the cable.

2. Lean forward and keep your elbows closer to the side. This will be your starting position.

3. Start pushing the cables down and completely extend your elbows at the bottom. Your chest should be up as you move. Don’t bend your lower back.

4. Pause at the bottom for a second and then slowly return to the starting position.

If your left arm is weaker than the right or vice versa, then this type of unilateral movement will help you to focus on each part separately. This will make your triceps look symmetrical.

10. Behind the head Cable Curls

This is a great finisher exercise for your biceps! You can do this at the end of the arm workout to get that amazing pump.

Targeted Muscles – biceps brachii ( long head)

How to do

1. Attach a zig-zag bar at the pulley placed at the upper part of the cable machine.

2. Place a bench in front of the cables and set it at about 60° angle.

3. Sit on the bench while holding the bar and lean back slightly. Your arms should be straight and should face up. This will be your starting position.

4. Start curling the bar up and bring the bar above your head at the end to get that peak contraction.

5. Slowly return to the starting position without dropping your elbow. Your elbow should be extended at the end.

This is an awesome exercise to get that amazing peak to your biceps. Make sure that your hands are parallel to the cables when you curl. You can also use the straight bar for this exercise.

11. Cable High Pulley Overhead Extension

Another great cable exercise to target your triceps. You can do this with either a rope or a bar. This will help you to get that fuller look to your triceps.

Targeted muscles- long head of the triceps

How to do

1. Attach a pulley at the top of the cable machine and then hold each end of a rope. You can also use a straight bar for this exercise.

2. With your back facing the cable machine, step a few steps forward and stand at a split stance. Bend slightly forward and keep your hands parallel to the floor.

3. Start moving your hands forward while keeping your straight. Fully extend the elbow at the end.

4. Now slowly bring the ropes back to the starting position and stretch your triceps at the end.

You should not go too heavy as it can hurt your neck. Also, keep your back straight and abs tight during the exercise.

12. Rope Hammer Curl

This is an alternative to the regular hammer curls done with the dumbbells. Here, you can use ropes to isolate your brachialis and brachioradialis muscles without using dumbbells.

Targeted Muscles- Biceps brachii, brachialis

How to do

1. Attach a pulley at the bottom end of the cable machine with the rope attached.

2. Hold both ends of the rope and step few steps back from the cable machine. Keep your elbows to the side and stand straight with your arms straight down.

3. Now start moving your hands up and squeeze your biceps at the top. You can move your elbows forward at the end to create that extra tension on your biceps.

4. Slowly bring the ropes down and then repeat the movement.

You should not forget to train your brachialis because it pushes the bicep brachii forward, making your biceps look bigger. So if you want bigger biceps, then do not skip hammer curls.

13. Crossbody Cable Tricep Extension

This is a unique way to do tricep extensions. This will completely burn your triceps brachii muscles. This is also a great exercise for those who want to work on their upper portion of their triceps.

Targeted muscles– both short and long head of the tricep

How to do

1. Attach both sides of the pulleys at the top end of the cable machine. Grab each end of the cables and stand in between the cable machine.

2. Keep your chest up and shoulders back and start moving the hands to the sides. Your shoulder should not move up or come forward.

3. Fully extend your elbows at the bottom and then return back slowly.

14. Reverse Cable Curl

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This is a great exercise to train the brachioradialis and brachialis muscle which is situated at the lateral side of the forearm and bicep muscle. This will make your arms look bigger and stronger.

Targeted Muscles – brachialis and brachioradialis

How to do

1. Attach a pulley at the lower part of the cable machine and grab the straight bar with an overhand grip.

2. Now step back and keep your elbows to the sides. You should lean back slightly for balance. This will be your starting position.

3. By keeping your upper back tight and elbows tucked in, start moving the bar up and squeeze your biceps at the top. Make sure to breathe in on the way up.

4. Slowly bring the bar down towards the starting position while breathing out and then repeat the movements.

Training the brachialis muscle is very important because it makes your bicep look bigger from the side. So don’t forget to train them.

Final Words

So these were some of the best arm exercises you can do on your arm day with just using a cable machine. You can include any of these exercises into your workout program, but also include some free-weight heavy exercises like dumbbell or barbell curls which will make your training effective and will give you the best results possible.

If you enjoyed this article, then do share it with your friends and family. Also, please write in a comment section below that what topic would you like me to cover related to fitness, I will make a blog on the topic in which most people are interested. Also, give your suggestions too so that I can improve my blog accordingly.

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Roshan S Pillai

Roshan Pillai is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with more than 6 years of experience in lifting weights and guiding people to get fit. He is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com, and has worked as a fitness coach in gyms and is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.

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