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You may have already been familiar with cable exercises for the chest, back, and biceps. Cable machines are quite often used to train these muscle groups.
But what about the legs and glutes? Can you train your legs and glutes with just cables?
Here, you will know about 10 different ways to train your legs and glute muscles by just using a cable machine. Most of these exercises will be new to some people so make sure to read the how-to section to know the proper technique and form of each exercise. Also, there is a bonus cable leg workout for you at the end so read the entire blog. So first let’s talk about the exercises!
Cable Exercises for Legs and Glutes
1. Cable Deadlifts
This is a great variation of a regular deadlift. Here, instead of barbells, you are using a cable machine. You cannot add so many weights on this like regular deadlifts but it’s great for isolating your glutes and hamstrings.
Targeted muscles- Glutes hamstrings, lower back
How to do
1. Attach a pulley at the lower end of the cable machine. Hold the bar hanging on a pulley and go few steps back. Stand in a closed stance for better range of motion.
2. With your back straight, start going down by moving your hips back. Your hand should be straight with only a slight bend in the elbow. Your lower back should not bend during the movement.
3. Go down as far as you can till you can maintain the proper back position. Always keep the tension on your glutes and hamstrings.
4. Stop at the bottom and then come back to the starting position without bending your elbows. Your neck should stay neutral.
Recommended reps- 15-20 reps
You don’t have to go fast on this. Do this exercise with proper form and technique. Also remember to squeeze your glutes at the top for better hip activation.
2. Cable Squats
Another great cable leg exercise. You can use this exercise at the end of the work out to get a massive pump on those legs. It is also used at the beginning of the work out as a warm-up set before doing any barbell compound exercise.
Targeted muscles- quads, hamstrings, and glutes
How to do
1. Attach a straight bar at the bottom pulley of the cable machine. Now hold the bar and stand at a shoulder-width stance. Your toe should point out.
2. With your hands straight, start going down by squeezing your glutes. Your hands should be straight forward. Your neck should be in line with the spine.
3. Go down to the bottom and pause when your upper quads are parallel to the floor. Your knee should not come over your toes and your lower back should not bend.
4. Come back to the starting position by squeezing your glutes and moving your hands towards you.
Recommended reps– 10-20 reps
This exercise should be used to isolate the legs. But it cannot replace the regular squat exercise you do with a barbell. But it’s great if you add as an accessory movement.
3. Cable Glute Kickbacks
If you want to completely isolate your glutes and looking for that well-shaped glutes, then this exercise is for you. Here, you will use your glutes during the entire range of motion. So let’s know more about it.
Muscles targeted- glutes and hamstrings
How to do
1. Attach an ankle strap over the pulley and wrap it up over your ankle. Use lighter weights to move at a full range of motion.
2. Keep your hands over the pillars of a cable machine. Then bend down until your back is parallel to the ground. This will be your starting position.
3. Now start raising your leg by squeezing your glutes and take your legs at the top. Pause when your glutes are fully squeezed.
4. Hold there for 1 second and then come back to the starting position. You should move your legs at a full range of motion.
Recommended reps– 10-15 reps
4. Prone leg Extensions
This exercise looks pretty easy, but believe me it will crush your hamstrings. If you don’t believe me, then try this exercise and comment down what you feel about this exercise
Targeted muscles– hamstrings and glutes
How to do
1. Attach a pulley at the mid part of a machine. You would need an ankle strap for this. Wrap it over your ankles and lay down flat on a mat or floor.
2. Take your hands up towards the cable machine and hold a pillar for support.
3. Now start moving your leg down with a slight bend in the knee. Take it down at the bottom and squeeze your glutes.
4. Slowly bring your leg back to the starting position.
You should not use heavy weights on this. Also don’t rush with this exercise. Do it slowly and feel your hamstrings getting fired up.
If you have a partner with you, then it will be better. As he or she can help you with wrapping the strap after you have done with one leg.
5. Cable Leg Extension
This is a great alternative to leg extensions done on a machine. This will really make your quads fired up. Do this at the end of the workout otherwise you will not be able to do other leg exercises after this!
Targeted muscles- Quadriceps muscle
How to do
1. Attach a pulley at waist height. Wrap your ankles with a strap attached on a pulley. Place a bench in front of you so that you can place your hands on it for balance and support.
2. Bend your knees at a 90° angle. Here are two movements you will do. You should not go heavy in this.
3. First, bring your knees parallel to the other leg. Then from there, start extending your legs without moving your knees.
4. Go back to the starting position slowly and repeat the movement. You don’t have to completely extend your knees.
Recommended reps– 8-12 reps
Note- If you feel pain in the knees or joints then stop the exercise immediately.
Also, remember that this exercise is not appropriate for beginners. It can hurt your knees if done incorrectly. This exercise can be done once in a while to shock the muscles. I would recommend adding this once or twice in a month.
6. Cable Pull Through
Another great exercise for your glutes and hamstrings. This is similar to kettlebell swings. Cables will put more focus on isolating your glutes.
Targeted muscles– Glutes, hamstrings and lower back
How to do
1. Attach a rope at the bottom of a cable machine and stand with your back facing the cable machine.
2. Bend down and hold the ropes and come forward until the weights are resisting the arms.
3. Now stand straight with your hands straight down while holding the ropes. This will be your starting position.
4. Now start taking your hands back behind the body by bending your back. Your knee should be slightly bend and your hips should go back.
5. Return to the starting position by bringing your body up. You should use your glutes to get back up and not your hands. Your hands should just hold the ropes.
Recommended reps– 12-20 reps
You have to squeeze your glutes and make it a dominating muscle during this exercise. Otherwise, your lower back will work the most. So always contract your glutes at the top.
7. Single-leg Cable Deadlift
This exercise will help you in focusing on each part of your leg separately. This will also improve your balance and muscle combination. It is also a great exercise for athletes.
Targeted muscles– Quads, glutes, calves, hamstrings and abs
1 Attach a handle down at the bottom of a pulley. Hold the handle and step backward until the weights slide up.
2. Take one leg up while holding the handle and balance your body with the other leg.
3. Now start going down by taking your hips back. Your chest should be up and your arms should go forward. There will be a slight bend in the knees.
4. Pause at the bottom and come back up by squeezing your glutes harder. Remember to completely extend your hips at the top.
Recommended reps- 10-15 reps (one side)
This exercise will also work your core a lot. Athletes should do these kinds of exercises to improve their balance and stability which plays a significant role in their field.
8. Cable Calf Raises
You cannot ignore the calf muscles when it comes to leg training. Calves are small muscles but very essential for the overall strength of your lower body. It plays a vital role in stabilizing your body.
Targeted muscles- Soleus and gastrocnemius
How to do
1. Place a step or weight plate in front of a cable machine so that you can stand on it.
2. Attach a straight bar handle or a rope at the bottom.
3. Stand facing the machine with the front of your feet on the step or plates. Your hand should be extended while holding the bar or rope.You can stand on a close or wide stance.
4. Lower your heels towards the ground and then push up with your tiptoes until your calves are fully contracted.
5. Bring your heels down and repeat the movement.
Don’t fully extend your knees as you do this exercise. Also, don’t bend too much during the movement.
8. Cable Front Squats
If you cannot do front squats with barbell, then try this for some time and after few weeks, you will start improving on barbell front squats.
It is also a great exercise if you do not have other free weights or machines available to train your legs.
Targeted muscles- Quads, hamstrings and glutes
How to do
1. Attach a pulley with a v bar at the bottom of the machine. Hold the v bar and stand at a shoulder width stance. You can also use straight bar on this.
2. Hold the v bar at your chest height and then start going down by taking your hips back. Keep your chest up all the time.
3. Pause at the bottom where your upper thigh is parallel to the floor. Your lower back should not bend.
4. Then come back to the starting position and then repeat for the prescribed number of reps. Your hands should not move during the movement.
Recommended reps– 10-15 reps
9. Cable Squat Walk Backs
This exercise will put constant tension on your glutes. Cables will put more tension on the glutes by adding more resistance to the movement. Try this exercise and you will love it.
Targeted muscles– Glutes, hamstrings and quads
How to do
1. Attach a straight at or a rope at the bottom part of a cable machine and hold the bar with your hands straight.
2. Take a few steps back such that the weights are up and creating resistance.
3. Stand at a shoulder-width stance with your toes slightly pointing out.
4. Bend down to the semi-squat position with your chest up and hands straight.
5. From this position, take one step back without raising up. Do the same with the other leg and walk backward.
6. Come forward the same way you went back and repeat the movement.
Always remember to squeeze your glutes as you move. Put constant tension on your glutes. Your chest should be up and your arms should be straight forward.
Recommended reps– 20- 30 reps
Cable Workout for Legs and Glutes
This cable workout is best for those who don’t have any other machines or equipment available with them. You can also do this work out once in a while to shock your legs and glute muscle. So let’s start with the workout.
Do 3 sets of kickbacks by using cables or your own body weight. Don’t exhaust the muscle. Just feel the pump to activate your glutes for the main set.
We will do 3 supersets and one single set at the end of the workout. Here, superset means 2 exercises done together without rest.
- Perform each exercise with the right form and technique which we discussed before.
- After completing each exercise, take 1-2 minutes rest.
- Each superset should be done 3 times with 45-60 seconds rest in between
- Cable Squats
- Single-leg Cable Deadlift
SUPERSET 2 –
- Cable Squat Walk Backs
- Cable front squats
- Cable Glute Kickbacks
- Prone Leg Extensions
Cable Calf Raises–
- Do 3 sets of 20 reps
- Take 45 seconds rest between each set
So by now, we can clearly say that there are many leg and glute exercises we can do with the cable machine.
Cable exercises are great for shaping the muscles and improving the overall look of the muscles. But don’t ignore your basic fee weight exercises done with dumbbells and barbells. Those are the foundational movements that you should do.
If you know some more cable leg exercises, then please share it with us in the comment section below. Also share it with all of your friends who like these topics.
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 has worked as a personal trainer in gyms and is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com. He is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.