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10 Best Cable Machines for Home Gym in 2024

Reviewed by: Sergii Putsov (Head of Sport Science, 20 years of Oly Lifting experience, PhD Sport Science)

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Cable machines are standard equipment that can be found in any large commercial gym, but for newbies in sports, it can seem quite challenging to cope with because of those multiple attachments and levers. Meanwhile, seasoned lifters and regular gymgoers appreciate this sports tool for their full-body workout. Considering the diversity of these machines, it can be quite difficult to define the best cable machines for home gyms because the majority are pretty bulky to place in apartments.

In this overview, we’ll outline the main characteristics and specs of the cable machines, their basic mechanics, and what perks you’ll get by training with this equipment. Additionally, you’ll be able to assess the list of decent models of cable machines that are worth your attention, and we hope it’ll help you to pick up a proper one for your home gym.

Our team, which includes certified personal trainers and professional athletes, has evaluated 34 products for this article. The products were assessed on five fundamental criteria and we have invested a total of 412 hours testing most of them. We’ve also examined hundreds of online reviews. Our list is updated all the time, so feel free to share your experiences in the comments section.

Best Cable Machines for Home Gym

Top 10 Best Cable Machines for Home Gym Reviewed

  1. REP Fitness FT-3000 Compact Functional Trainer 2.0 – Top Pick
  2. ROGUE CT-1X2 CABLE TOWER – Runner Up
  3. TITAN Cable Crossover Machine – Budget Pick
  4. NordicTrack Fusion CST Studio – Hybrid Training Machine
  5. REP Fitness Ares Builder – Fully Customizable
  6. Titan Fitness Plate Loaded Functional Trainer – Best plate-loaded
  7. Rogue FT-1 Functional Trainer – Premium Pick
  8. Inspire Fitness FTX Functional Trainer – Best for Small Spaces
  9. Rogue Monster Lite Slinger – Cable Pulley System
  10. Sunny Health & Fitness Lat Pulldown Pulley System Attachment – Pulley System Attachment
ProductTotalQualityDurabilityVersatilityAdjustabilityValue for Money
REP501010101010
Rogue CT-1X24910109.5109.5
Titan Cable Crossover49109.5109.510
NordicTrack48.510109.59.59.5
REP Ares48.51010109.59
Titan Plate-Loaded47.5109.59.59.59
Rogue FT-1479.59.59.59.59
InspireFitness479.59.59.599.5
Rogue Monster46.5109.5999
Sunny469.59999.5

1. REP Fitness FT-3000 Compact Functional Trainer 2.0 – Top Pick

REP Fitness FT-3000 Compact Functional Trainer 2.0
  • Item dimensions: 34” L x 52” W (front)/ 23” W (rear) x 78” H
  • Item weight: 770 lb
  • Weight stack: 187 lb (each stack)
  • Max resistance weight: 93.5 lb
  • Footprint: 34″ X 52″
  • Cable travel length: 76.3”
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty
  • Additional features: 21 cable positions, 2 D-handles, storage pegs, placard
  • Min/Max usable weight per side: 10-90 lb
  • Positions & Cable Range: 21

Our top-pick choice is a compact functional FT-3000 model of the cable machine from REP Fitness. It provides 21 cable positions and comes with two weight stacks, each of 187 lbs maximum resistance weight. It comes with a 2:1 ratio meaning 100 lbs feels like 50 lbs, so overall you get 374 lbs that feel like 187 lbs. You can adjust the weight with the help of a magnetic-tipped pin and an additional pin to secure the trolley. 

The purpose of a pin-loadable mechanism is to lock the chosen weight securely, so a rod itself won’t fall out from the hole and you can train without distraction and worries.

The frame is stable and durable, double-coated with a chip-resistant, electrostatic powder coating, with a matte black finish. The cables are equipped with aluminum pulleys. It includes two polymer D-handles, pegs for attachment storage, four additional 2.75 lb incremental weights enabling you to make smaller weight changes, and also a placard with different cable exercises.

You can add other additional attachments, such as an ankle cuff, sports handle, tricep rope, tricep press-down bar, multi-grip curl bar, triangle row, open row, 20” straight bar, and 48” lat bar to this functional trainer (although, you should buy it separately). There are also two bolt holes on the center of the cross-bar for future grip attachment capabilities.

rep fitness instagram
Photo by @avian70

The cable machine has 93.5 lb of the maximum usable weight per side, with the minimum usable weight of 10 lb, while the height is 78”. It fits athletes of 5’- 6’2” height: there won’t be any issues to perform triceps press downs (holding a tricep rope in the middle) or bicep curls without restricting your range of motion.

For us, this is the best cable machine for home gym that is compact enough to fit through a standard doorway and it doesn’t take up much space in your home gym.

50 EXPERT SCORE

It provides 21 cable positions and comes with two weight stacks, each of 187 lbs maximum resistance weight. It comes with a 2:1 ratio meaning 100 lbs feels like 50 lbs, so overall you get 374 lbs that feel like 187 lbs.


Quality:0
Durability:0
Versatility:0
Adjustability:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Has 21 cable positions
  • Is compatible with a wide range of attachments
  • Comes with 4 extra weight increments

Could be better:

  • Doesn’t have additional attachments in the package

2. Rogue CT-1X2 Cable Tower – Runner Up

Rogue CT-1X2 Cable Tower
  • Item dimensions: 54” L x 60” W x 107.5” H
  • Item weight: 760 lb
  • Weight stack: Pin-loaded
  • Max resistance weight: 300 lb
  • Footprint: 54" x 60"
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty for the frame, 5-year warranty for cables
  • Additional features: Dual swivel pulleys with a pair of Rogue Single Handle Cable Attachments included
  • Min/Max usable weight per side: 10-150 lb
  • Positions & Cable Range: 16

This robust cable machine has a lot of features that set it apart from the competition. It has an impressive 300 lb weight stack and provides a unique 2:1 or 1:1 training ration. This adds a lot of versatility to your workouts.

There’s a carabiner on each side for easy adjustments and the max resistance per handle is 150 lb. The weight stack is adjustable in 10 lb increments and has 1’’ plastic band attachment pegs at the top and bottom.

What immediately stands out is the dual-handle system with swivel pulleys, which allows for a wide range of motion during workouts. It makes it perfect for two-handed movements, like cable flys, high pulls and cable presses. The swivel pulleys can be adjusted to 16 different height settings.

The machine itself is made in the USA from 3x3’’ 11-gauge steel, so you know it’s sturdy and durable. This machine has a pretty high price point, although its quality is inarguable.

49 EXPERT SCORE

This robust cable machine has a lot of features that set it apart from the competition. It has an impressive 300 lb weight stack and provides a unique 2:1 or 1:1 training ration. This adds a lot of versatility to your workouts.


Quality:0
Durability:0
Versatility:0
Adjustability:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Robust construction
  • Made in the USA
  • Pivoting design for a full range of motion

Could be better:

  • Pricey
  • Takes up a lot of space

3. Titan Cable Crossover Machine – Budget Pick

Titan Cable Crossover Machine
  • Item dimensions: 113” L x 36” W x 83.5” H
  • Item weight: 110 lb
  • Weight stack: Plate loaded
  • Max resistance weight: 220 lb on each side
  • Footprint: 113" x 36"
  • Warranty: 1-year warranty
  • Additional features: 2 cable handles included
  • Min/Max usable weight per side: 2.5-220 lb

This third-best home gym cable machine features premium-quality pulleys and cables that work smoothly and are designed to add maximum strength and capacity. Unlike our top model from REP Fitness which features a pin system for weight control, this crossover trainer is plate-loaded. This machine is 3” wide on either side, allowing for a greater range of motion while performing high or low-position pulley exercises.

The cable weight machine is equipped with 4-weight plate sleeves that measure 9.75” in length, giving you enough place to store bumpers. Its dimensions make it a decent functional trainer for your home gym. The equipment is compatible with standard Olympic-sized weight plates.

The construction is sturdy and of high quality: it’s made from 2” powder-coated steel tubes, and the machine fits the space with an 8’ ceiling. There may be around 12" of clearance between the ceiling, so keep in mind that the added clearance may assist during the assembly and disassembly. Also, this extra space allows you to use plates with bigger diameters and store them on the weight sleeves.

Generally, you’ll be able to train a wide range of muscles, including the pectorals, core, deltoids, biceps, triceps, and obliques.

49 EXPERT SCORE

The cable weight machine is equipped with 4-weight plate sleeves that measure 9.75” in length, giving you enough place to store bumpers. Its dimensions make it a decent functional trainer for your home gym.


Quality:0
Durability:0
Versatility:0
Adjustability:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Is compatible with 2” Olympic plates
  • Has swivel pulleys that bring more movement variations
  • Can fit the living apartments with ceilings up to 8’ in height

Could be better:

  • Need to purchase the weights and attachments separately

4. NordicTrack Fusion CST Studio – Hybrid Training Machine

NordicTrack Fusion CST Studio
  • Item dimensions: 41.5" L x 60.5" W x 73.5" H
  • Item weight: 378 lb
  • Weight stack: Not available; auto-adjustable 20 resistance levels from 10 lb to 100 lb tension increment
  • Max resistance weight: Has 20 levels of magnetic resistance
  • Footprint: 41.5" x 60.5"
  • Cable travel length: 95"
  • Warranty: 10 years for the frame, 1 year for the parts and labor, 1 year for the tablet
  • Additional features: Connection to Bluetooth, the iFit app, HD tablet, mirror, magnetic resistance
  • Min/Max usable weight per side: 10-100 lb
  • Positions & Cable Range: 95’’ Independent Cable Travel

This is a unique one-of-a-kind cable trainer that differs greatly from the rest of the cable machines in our list and market generally. It comes with a 10" HD tablet, 70" x 15" mirror, and overall, it is highly interactive equipment that is compatible with the iFit application.

You'll get a 30-day free trial with an opportunity to join online trainer-led classes, with auto-adjustable 20 resistance levels from 10 lb to 100 lbs of tension increments and access to endless cardio, strength, and cross-training workouts.

This compact cable machine features an innovative Silent Magnetic Resistance mechanism that creates a force field that delivers digital for effective training. The availability of a full-length mirror enables you to see yourself during the training and follow your form improvement and track the correctness of your movements.

This innovative machine is designed with 6 integrated removable handles, 2 squat pulleys, 2 ankle strap accessories, and 95” cable travel. For more comfort, you'll get an independently adjustable stand for your device you can place near the cross-training machine.

49 EXPERT SCORE

This is a unique one-of-a-kind cable trainer that differs greatly from the rest of the cable machines in our list and market generally. It comes with a 10" HD tablet, 70" x 15" mirror, and overall, it is highly interactive equipment that is compatible with the iFit application.


Quality:0
Durability:0
Versatility:0
Adjustability:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Operates based on the magnetic resistance mechanism
  • Is a highly interactive cross-training machine
  • Comes with integrated handles, squat pulleys, ankle straps, and pulley cable

Could be better:

  • There’s no manually adjustable weight resistance
  • Provides a low resistance rate

5. REP Fitness Ares Builder – Fully Customizable

REP Fitness Ares Builder
  • Item dimensions: Depends on your rack size (adds 1.2" to the height; 1.6" to width to PR-4000 and 5" to PR-5000); 6" to the front of the rack with footplate
  • Item weight: 965 lb
  • Weight stack: 260 lb each (possible to upgrade to 310 lb each)
  • Max resistance weight: 310 lb for each cable
  • Footprint: Depends on your initial rack size
  • Cable travel length: 96" (93" rack) & 72" (80" rack)
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty, 1 year for pulleys and cables
  • Additional features: 4 small-sized 2.5lb weight increments, D-handles, a knurled lat pull-down bar, low row bar, connector banana
  • Min/Max usable weight per side: 10-260 lb (can be upgraded to 310 lb)

REP Fitness cable attachment is a functional trainer with the lat pulldown/low row attachment that can be attached to the REP PR-4000 or PR-5000 power rack. You should be very attentive to the instructions since this attachment can work with a specific range of racks and other components. Moreover, you should upgrade and purchase additional items to make this trainer function to its maximum. For example, for the PR-4000, you need to upgrade to the 16” cross-members with vertical holes.

REP Fitness Ares Builder instagram
photo by @philsgaragegym

This equipment features two weight stacks of 260 lbs each with the possibility to add another 50 lbs to it. The trolleys come with a plastic liner that’s easy to adjust up and down. The pulley ratio is 2:1 meaning 150 lb will feel like 75 lb. Also, Ares cable attachment is equipped with a footplate that helps during low rows, 4 small-sized 2.5 lbs weights increments, D-handles, a knurled lat pull-down bar and low row bar, and a connector banana that unites two weight stacks to pull 260 lb.

It’s possible to make this functional trainer fully customizable by choosing the preferred configuration (add a rack, or weight storage), rack height (80” or 93”), and make a weight stack upgrade (add 50 lb to each weight stack making the new total weight 310 lb or 620 lb, and additionally 4 increments of 2.5 lb for micro-adjustments).

48.5 EXPERT SCORE

This equipment features two weight stacks of 260 lbs each with the possibility to add another 50 lbs to it. The trolleys come with a plastic liner that’s easy to adjust up and down. The pulley ratio is 2:1 meaning 150 lb will feel like 75 lb.


Quality:0
Durability:0
Versatility:0
Adjustability:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Comes with more than 30 pulleys
  • Can train with maximum total weight resistance of 620 lb
  • Smooth cable travel and solid design 
  • Features micro-adjustment plates to increase the total weight 

Could be better:

  • D-handles are of a poor quality
  • Can be integrated into the REP racks only

6. Titan Fitness Plate Loaded Functional Trainer – Best Plate-Loaded

Titan Fitness Plate Loaded Functional Trainer
  • Item dimensions: 61" L x 53" W x 81" H
  • Item weight: 178 lb
  • Weight stack: Plate loaded
  • Max resistance weight: 660 lb
  • Footprint: 61" x 53"
  • Warranty: 1-year warranty
  • Additional features: Pull-up bar, lat pulldown, low row pulleys, grip handles
  • Max usable weight per side: 0-330 lb

Unlike the previous models, this cable workout machine is plate-loaded, meaning it has dual Olympic plate-loaded weight sleeves and is equipped with a pull-up bar at the top, lat pulldown, and low-row pulleys, as well as different grip attachments. The weight plate capacity is 660 lb, cable capacity is 1, 540 lb, while individual handle capacity is 220 lb.

This cable machine provides you with diverse options of training exercises, such as lat pulldown and low-row training like seated cable row to build strength for the lower/middle back muscles and forearms, cable flys, squats, lunges, twists, etc. The trainer is also equipped with rubber feet that protect the floor from scratches making it perfect for home gyms.

47.5 EXPERT SCORE

This cable workout machine is plate-loaded, meaning it has dual Olympic plate-loaded weight sleeves and is equipped with a pull-up bar at the top, lat pulldown, and low-row pulleys, as well as different grip attachments.


Quality:0
Durability:0
Versatility:0
Adjustability:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Lightweight machine with a sufficient weight capacity
  • Includes different accessories to perform full-body training
  • Is equipped with rubber floor protectors

Could be better:

  • There's no knurling on the bars

7. Rogue FT-1 Functional Trainer – Premium Pick

Rogue FT-1 Functional Trainer
  • Item dimensions: 47" L x 90.5" W x 107.5" H
  • Item weight: 1600 lb
  • Weight stack: 250 lb each stack (+10 lb increments)
  • Max resistance weight: 500 lb
  • Footprint: 90.5" x 47"
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty for the frame, 5 years for cables
  • Additional features: Accommodates different storage shelves and optional attachments, comes with a pair of single-handle cable attachments
  • Min/Max usable weight per side: 10-250 lb
  • Positions & Cable Range: 16

Rogue presents a stand-alone construction of a functional training machine, made from 3x3” 11-gauge steel. It must be bolted to the floor to be fixed securely, but the mounting hardware is not included. Although, a rack-mounted version is also available.

This cable exercise machine includes two CT-1 Cable Tower stations that are connected with a 43” Monster Crossmember at the bottom and a Monster Nameplate Crossmember at the top of the construction. This machine provided almost endless space opportunities for storage of the equipment. You can add several storage shelves at an additional price, placing them between the cable towers. While they don't take up too much space for such a versatile unit.

You can use it as a standalone unit or attach it to the back of a Rogue Monster Rack. The FT-1 model can accommodate 43” Monster Rack storage panels and all versions of 43” Monster single-post shelves. The front top crossmember is also compatible with a Monster Crown pull-up bar or Solo Mount pull-up bar.

You have two weight stacks, each of 250 lb, with it being adjustable in 10 lb increment while having a 2:1 pulley ratio. The cable tower features 16 adjustable height positions. It also has plastic-covered band pegs at the top a bottom, carabiners, and a texture foot platform for adding various low-row exercises. Additionally, the package includes a pair of single-handle cable attachments, i.e., leather tricep straps.

47 EXPERT SCORE

This cable exercise machine includes two CT-1 Cable Tower stations that are connected with a 43” Monster Crossmember at the bottom and a Monster Nameplate Crossmember at the top of the construction.


Quality:0
Durability:0
Versatility:0
Adjustability:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Is compatible with a great number of the Rogue attachments and accessories
  • Can be used as a standalone unit or be attached to the Rogue Monster Rack
  • Has a great maximum weight stack capacity

Could be better:

  • Should be bolted to the floor
  • Need to buy all the attachments you find useful for your training

8. Inspire Fitness FTX Functional Trainer – Best for Small Spaces

Inspire Fitness FTX Functional Trainer
  • Item dimensions: ‎40" L x 54" W x 85" H
  • Item weight: 544 lb
  • Weight stack: 2 x 165 lbs (75 kgs) (2:1 ratio for 82.5 lbs per pulley)
  • Max resistance weight: 330 lb
  • Footprint: 40" x 54"
  • Warranty: residential: Limited lifetime
  • Additional features: Tricep rope, 2 x D-handles, dual hook curl bar, and chin/dip belt included
  • Max usable weight per side: 11-165 lb

The InspireFitness cable machine distinguishes itself from others due to its compact construction and small footprint as full-fledged functional training equipment. It has 30 swivel pulley positions that bring ultimate freedom of movement by activating the core and stabilizing muscles.

The home gym cable machine includes a tricep rope, a pair of D-handles, a chin/dip belt, and a curl bar. So, it's possible to perform numerous strength and resistance training exercises. The machine comes with two weight stacks, each of 165 lb, two pulleys, and a built-in pull-up bar.

Additionally, there's a separate place to store all the accessories and keep your device during the training. Everyone who owns this equipment can subscribe to the fitness platform called Centr by Chris Hemsworth, which provides a 3-month subscription and access to around 2000 training classes for all levels, audio-guiding workouts from Chris Hemsworth, and nutrition expert advice for a balanced and healthy diet.

47 EXPERT SCORE

The InspireFitness cable machine distinguishes itself from others due to its compact construction and small footprint as full-fledged functional training equipment.


Quality:0
Durability:0
Versatility:0
Adjustability:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Comes with four attachments
  • Can be synced with the InspireFitness app and Centr platform for a greater range of training
  • Sturdy construction and smooth pulley gliding

Could be better:

  • The low height of the highest setting for the machine can be uncomfortable for tall people of 6' and higher 
  • Can't add weight increment
  • Weak carabiners

9. Rogue Monster Lite Slinger – Cable Pulley System

Rogue Monster Lite Slinger
  • Item dimensions: 22.8" L x 13.25" H
  • Weight stack: 300 lbMax resistance weight: depends on the resistance type you’ll choose
  • Footprint: Depends on the rack you’ll use
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty for the frame, 5 years for cables
  • Additional features: Length and height can be extended, available in 3 weight-resistance options, comes with the attachment kit
  • Min/Max usable weight per side: 10-300 lb

Now, let's observe this durable solid rack-mounted cable-pulley and lat pulldown system from Rogue that absolutely deserves to be reviewed. It can substitute the conventional lat pulldown machine and bring the same training benefits, by taking much less space, than complete stationary equipment.

It needs to be mentioned that this pulley system is compatible with Monster LITE Power Racks only. Also, consider that the Monster Lite Slinger with the weight stack resistance model works only with Monster Lite 3.0 Crossmembers.

The cable system for home gym comes with adjustable components for set-up on a unit height of 90” or 108”. However, the weight stack resistance option can't be compatible with a rack above 90” in height.

The Monster Lite Slinger attachment includes:

  • 2 Slinger Mounting Plates
  • 2 6" Cable Pulleys
  • 1/4" MIL Spec Cable with hardware
  • Slinger extension strap that fits 108” unit height (can't be applied to weight stack model)
  • Slinger band sheath - 1000D Cordura
  • 2 carabiners
  • 2 black zinc 5/8” bolt assemblies
  • 2 rubber grommets for protecting the cable

The length can be extended 7" beyond the face of the mounting upright, as well as the height - 7" above the top of the upright. The pull ratio is 1:1.

You can choose the resistance type:

  • Weight stack (300 lb adjustable stack in 10 lb increments)
  • Banded resistance kit (2 orange Monster bands of 15 LB resistance, 1 red Monster band of 30 LB, 1 blue Monster band of 50 LB, 1 green Monster band of 65 LB)
  • Plate load kit

Each weight resistance package includes a list of specific tools, so you don't need to search for the needed parts and accessories on your own.

Optionally, you can purchase a Rogue tricep strap, Pioneer Leather tricep strap, and lat bar attachment. With that, it's also possible to pick up the plate load attachment among the available 3 options.

So, before buying this pulley system, be attentive when checking its compatibility with other Rogue racks and crossmembers.

46.5 EXPERT SCORE

It can substitute the conventional lat pulldown machine and bring the same training benefits, by taking much less space, than complete stationary equipment.


Quality:0
Durability:0
Versatility:0
Adjustability:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • The pulley system features a wide range of accessories and hardware
  • Can choose the resistance option you prefer training with mostly
  • Is compatible with numerous Rogue attachments
  • It's adjustable in 10 lbs increment 

Could be better:

  • If you already have a rack of another brand, this pulley system won't fit you
  • Need to buy additional accessories optionally 
  • Mind your rack height before buying this system 
  • May occur a mismatch between the cable length and the rack height  

10. Sunny Health & Fitness Lat Pulldown Pulley System Attachment – Pulley System Attachment

Sunny Health & Fitness Lat Pulldown Pulley System Attachment
  • Item dimensions: 36.4" L x 39.5" W x 84.2" H
  • Item weight: 48.5 lb
  • Weight stack: Plate loaded
  • Max user weight capacity: 200 lb
  • Footprint: 36.4" x 39.5"
  • Warranty: 1 year for the frame, 180 days for parts and components
  • Additional features: Counterweight weight resistance, comes with long and short grips
  • Max usable weight per side: 0-100 lb

This compact pulley system for home gym is capable of holding weight plates of 200 lb max weight capacity. The counterweight helps you with curls and underarm upright row exercises to train your upper body. It's also compatible with weight plates of any size for the proper type of strength.

It comes with the following attachments: 39" long grip, 20" short grip, pulley bearings, durable nylon coated cables, weight plate holders with safety clips, and hook safety latches.

Keep in mind that this attachment fits the particular power racks and cages. You can utilize the attachment for a wide range of exercises: for instance, the upper handlebar can be used to perform lat pull-downs, tricep extensions, lat pushdowns, and crunches. The upright handlebar at the bottom is designed to perform upright rows, bicep curls, pull-throughs, and calf raises.

46 EXPERT SCORE

This compact pulley system for home gym is capable of holding weight plates of 200 lb max weight capacity. The counterweight helps you with curls and underarm upright row exercises to train your upper body.


Quality:0
Durability:0
Versatility:0
Adjustability:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • Is compatible with the Sunny Health & Fitness power racks only
  • Can adjust the resistance with the help of the counterweight
  • Extremely lightweight and easy to adjust to the cage rack

Could be better:

  • Targets mostly the upper body
  • A small number of attachments

Experts Who Contributed To This Article

Sergii Putsov

Sergii Putsov

20 years of Oly Lifting & Training experience

Jacek Szymanowski

Jacek Szymanowski

M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology, Sports Nutritionist

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What Is A Cable Machine?

A cable machine is a bulky metal frame set with a pulley system and weighted plate stacks that move up and down with the help of the pulley/cable. It comes with multiple attachments or grips for performing various strength exercises that make it a highly versatile piece of equipment. You can find a trainer with a single pulley with a directional change without reducing the weight you lift, and a double pulley which cuts the weight in half.

Unlike with free weights, you can utilize a cable machine to train the whole body and perform different exercises by changing the resistance and attachments. It also provides additional control of your movements and brings constant pressure on muscles from the bottom to the top of each motion, by building strength capabilities and overall endurance.

A cable machine can be equipped with marked weight stacks that make it easy to control the load you work out with, or have plate loadable sleeves. Both options are effective and help you to track your progress. With a pin system, you just need to adjust the pin to the needed level to pump your muscles and improve your load capacity.

Besides keeping the upper and lower body tight while exercising, this equipment engages the core muscles too as the majority of exercises you perform in a standing position. So, you’ll activate your trunk for better stabilization and support. There’s no risk to drop the weight unlike when training with a barbell or dumbbells due to the weight stack and pulley system that control your movements throughout the rep with an opportunity to manage tension level.

cable machine

Benefits Of Cable Machine Usage

This versatile gym equipment can be underestimated thanks to the numerous perks you’ll get by training on it. Despite the fact that it may take some time to get used to it, especially for beginners, once you know the purpose of each attachment and the construction overally, you’ll prefer working out on this full-body trainer instead of using a barbell, kettlebell, or other equipment to target specific muscle group separately. Let’s highlight the key benefits of a cable machine you’ll get from using it correctly.

✅ Unlimited Range Of Motion

This machine brings you an opportunity to perform exercises in those ranges of movement that are more comfortable for you. It won’t limit your maximum power to perform each exercise with the maximum possible reps, but will enhance your strength and muscle mass build. You get the freedom to move as you want, without a fixed path of exercise motion.

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✅ Isolating Specific Muscles 

Due to the standing position, you can activate your core muscles including the abdominals, lower back, hips, and obliques to isolate the targeted muscle that you are training. Working out more muscles at the same time can result in challenging your body and gaining better performance and results.

For example, let's look at the standing cable back row exercise: it targets the core, the upper back muscles mainly such as deltoids, traps, and rhomboids, with shoulders and arms (biceps and forearms), by engaging also other muscles such as the low back, abdominals, glutes, thighs, and calves.

benefits of cable machines

✅ Performing Diverse Exercise Variations

A cable machine is the perfect equipment for any type of functional training, so you can perform a wider range of exercises by managing the resistance level. Here are some exercises you can perform with the help of a cable machine.

For Upper Body:

  • Standing cable shoulder press by using low to medium-height cables with handles to target middle and posterior deltoids
  • Cable chest fly to strengthen chest muscles that is also a good alternative to the bench press exercise

For Abdominals:

  • Cable wood chopper to enhance your core strength and improve spine flexibility
  • Cable standing crunch to work out your rectus abdominis muscles
  • Cable twists to target your core totally and obliques, by engaging hips and legs.

For Lower Body:

  • Cable glute kickbacks to shape and strengthen the gluteus maximus muscles by focusing the resistance better than squats
  • Cable Romanian deadlift to train hamstrings, back, and glute muscles.

Also, a cable machine is helpful in overcoming a plateau in free weight training, because you can switch to training several parts of the body instead of targeting a specific muscle group.

✅ Low Probability To Get Injured

This machine is safe in usage: you’re more likely to get injury or strains when training with free weights or other conventional weight machines than when using a cable cross-trainer. That’s due to the pulley system that restrains you from direct contact with weights since you pull the cable. You don’t push and pull against the gravity force, so you get less tension on your ligaments. Also, it’s a good variant for people who recover from injuries.

✅ High Versatility 

Cable machines are very versatile: you can change the starting height for any exercise using multiple attachments, including a rope, v-handle (known as a double-D handle), straight-bar, and single-handle (known as a split-handle). Such a variety enables you to try different grip options which challenge your hands and forearms in different ways to strengthen and build muscles.

For instance, with a narrow grip, you’ll be able to build the lats that are the large back muscles; with a wide grip, you’ll focus on the upper back muscles (namely rhomboids and trapezius) and arm muscles.

cable machines characteristics

How To Choose A Cable Machine?

Considering the fact that cable machines are becoming more and more popular even among gym enthusiasts who are just taking up functional and strength training, the first thing they should know is to outline which key features of this functional trainer matter to them most. But, if you see this equipment for the first time or have already tried it several times at the gym, and still can’t define what plays a significant role in choosing the best home gym cable machine, then the following points.

Our expert Jacek Szymanowski have multiple personal recommendations for you as well:

“If you’re looking to save some space and already got some plates, check titan fitness. They have basic ones that are really affordable and surprisingly won’t take much space. If you’re building a gym in the garage check what ROGUE has to offer - they really got your back. You can modify their squat rack to cable machine with extra bucks. My opinion - Can’t go wrong with Rogue.”

1. Weight Resistance System

When picking up a cable machine for your home gym, think well about what weight resistance system you prefer most - a weight plate-loaded or pin-adjustable one. The first option offers you to load the machine with plates of different weights. However, it can require more space because of the plates you need to store somewhere.

The second means that to change a weight resistance you need to move a pin up or down the weight stack. Generally, machines with pin load are easy to use and you can adjust the needed weight quickly. Such functional trainers come with weight stacks (single or double) that vouch for small footprints, but the machine weight can be quite bulky.

Our expert Sergiy Putsov gave his tips for choosing as well:

“I recommend investing in a compact, but versatile cable machine for your home gym, like the one on the top pick from REP. It's great for targeting various muscle groups and offers a wide range of exercises for a total body workout.” 

It’s difficult to say what type is better, although, with a pin system, there’s no need to take additional weight and switch heavy plates manually. All you need to do is to take a pin and insert it in a proper hole on the weight stack which also brings more weight increment.

2. Construction Design

You can find cable machines with pulley systems with a single-weight stack which limits the range of exercises and reduces the user capacity to one. A dual-stack design enables more full-body exercises. The dual-weight stack can be located on either side of the machine or at its back. The main difference is the availability of storage shelves where you can store the attachments, but it’s more of a user preference.

Tips From the Champ

When choosing cable machines for your home gym, to prioritize build quality and an effortless pulley system. These two (especially the second) are often overlooked and underrated. You want a smooth cable glide, which will provide consistent resistance while exercising. The build quality will ensure product longevity. It is always a great long-term strategy to ensure the maximum mileage of a cable machine, without sacrificing the quality of the pulley system. Other than that, look for comfy handles, and a reliable locking system for the weight stacks.

Oleksiy Torokhtiy
Oleksiy Torokhtiy

Olympic Weightlifting Champion

3. Attachment Variety

As usual, a high-quality cable machine is equipped with numerous attachments that add variety to the training and can challenge your body with different intensities, angles, and range of motion. You can find the following accessories that will target diverse muscles: single grip handle strap, tricep rope, straight bar, curl bar, row handles, lat bar, narrow pulldown bar, V-bar, etc.

cable machine attachements

4. Adjustability 

Before buying a cable machine, you should check its adjustability to be able to use it in many ways. To change the intensity of the training, you can manage cable weight and height. The more functional a trainer is, the better quality of your workout will be. By changing the height of the pulley, you’ll be able to work out different muscle groups and vouch for better comfort during the workout.

Key FeatureDescriptionConsideration Points
Weight Resistance SystemWeight plate-loaded or pin-adjustable resistanceWeight-plate loaded needs storage space for plates. Pin-adjustable systems are user-friendly and quick to adjust
Construction DesignSingle-weight stack or dual-stack designSingle-stack limits workout variety. Dual-stack can support more exercises and can have storage shelves
Attachment VarietyHigh-quality machines come with a variety of attachmentsLook for attachments like single grip handle strap, tricep rope, straight bar, curl bar, row handles, etc. Attachments let you target the same muscle group in different ways.
AdjustabilityMake sure the machine is adjustable in terms of cable height to cater to different workouts and comfortMore adjustability means more workout variety

How To Adjust A Cable Machine?

As you get closer to this bulky training machine, it’ll be super easy to adjust it to your needs. You can start the adjustments by selecting a fitting weight load by putting a pin in a weight stack. The lower you put the pin, the heavier weight you’ll get.

Then, you can set the height of the adjustable pulley by placing it at the top, middle, and bottom of the pole depending on the exercise you plan to do. Slide it up and down along the tower. You need to find an adjustable lever that keeps the pulley locked in place. Press the lever up to release the lock. Then you can move the pulley up and down to the needed height. Hold the pulley with one hand to secure the lever back, so it won’t get loose.

For instance, to perform an overhead tricep extension you need to place the pulley on each side at the top of the machine, for cable knee-ups - in the top center, and to execute glute kickbacks - at the bottom of the pole.

It’s also possible to adjust the angle of the cable from the overhead to the lower position. Changing the angles provides diverse motion patterns with safe plane movements for multiple exercises:

  • When attached to the above cable: tricep rope extension, lat pulldown, cable flys, etc.
  • When attached to the lower cable: bicep cable curls, seated cable row, hip abductors, leg raises, etc.

Depending on the exercises you plan to do, choose a corresponding attachment you will secure to the carabiner located on the end of the pulley cable. If you want to do bench presses, you can place a bench between the pulleys, with the cable at the bottom, and choose a fitting weight by placing the pin at the specific hole on the weight stack.

lat bar

1. Choose Your Exercise

First, choose the exercise you want to do because different exercises need different pulley positions (whether at the top, center or the bottom of the machine).

If you’re unsure about the pulley position for a particular exercise, consult a trainer because proper setup is important for your workout to be effective.

2. Adjust the Machine

Next, what you want to do is adjust the machine according to the chosen exercise. Modify the height by sliding the pulley up and down along the tower until you find a height that works best.

Then, choose the appropriate handle (this depends on the exercise you want to do). After you’ve chosen the handle, attach it to the carabiner that’s at the end of the pulley cable.

Now, find the adjustable lever that locks the pulley and push it to release the lock (this allows adjustments to be made). After setting the pulley to the height that works for you, hold it with one hand while securing the lever to prevent any unwanted movement.

If you want to do exercises like bench presses, position a bench between the pulleys and adjust the cable to the bottom position.

3. Choose Your Weight

Choose the amount of weight you want to lift and insert the pin at the chosen weight level. Remember that lower positions usually represent heavier weights and higher positions indicate lighter ones.

Now you’re done with adjustments and you’re ready to start your workout!

cable machne in use

Cable Machine Attachment Types

We’ve already established how incredibly versatile cable machines are, and part of that versatility comes from the wide range of attachments.

These attachments allow you to target different muscle groups and do a lot of different exercises with precision and control.

Let’s see which attachments you can choose from and what you can use them for.

1. Straight Bar

This is a solid, rigid bar that gives a stable grip and distributes the force evenly.

Used for: 

  • Lat pulldowns
  • Tricep pushdowns
  • Upright rows
  • Bicep curls
  • Overhead tricep extensions
  • Seated rows
Short Straight Bar

2. Tricep Rope

It’s designed to isolate the triceps with a flexible rope. The tricep rope reduces wrist strain and gives a comfortable grip. 

Used for: 

  • Tricep extensions
  • Rope hammer curls
  • Face pulls
  • Overhead tricep extensions
  • Rope crunches
  • Standing rope curls
  • Front raises
tricep rope

3. Single D-Handle

This is a super versatile attachment designed for single-arm exercises.

Used for: 

  • Single-arm cable curls
  • Single-arm rows
  • Single-arm chest press
  • Single-arm tricep pushdowns
  • Single-arm lateral raises
  • Single-arm cable cross
cable machine exercises

4. V-Bar

The V-Bar is designed with multiple grip positions and is ideal for targeting biceps, triceps and back muscles while also ensuring wrist comfort.

Used for: 

  • Upright rows with V-bar
  • Close-grip face pulls
  • Seated V-bar rows
  • V-bar bicep curls
  • V-bar rows
  • V-bar tricep pushdowns
v-bar

5. Ankle Strap

This is absolutely essential for workouts that focus on your legs and glutes. It secures around your ankle and provides support and stability.

Used for: 

  • Cable kickbacks
  • Leg raises
  • Hip abductions
  • Hip adductions
  • Cable leg curls
  • Front leg raises
Ankle Straps

6. Stirrup Handle

The stirrup handle offers a neutral grip that’s good for a lot of different workouts.

Used for: 

  • Cable curls
  • Lateral raises
  • Stirrup handle rows
  • Crossbody curls
  • Standing chest press
  • Front raises with stirrup
  • Stirrup handle pushdowns
stirrup handle

7. Crossover Handle

This is ideal for chest and upper body exercises and gives a broad range of motion.

Used for: 

  • Cable crossovers
  • Decline cable cross
  • Incline cable cross
  • Standing flys with crossover
  • Crossover tricep extensions
  • Crossover bicep curls
  • Cable shrugs
crossover

Multi-Attachment System

If you do any research on cable machines, you’ll notice that some of them offer a multi-attachment system, which allows you to quickly switch between various handles and grips. This system adds a ton of flexibility to your workouts and makes for a very seamless workout experience.

Close-Grip

This is designed for a more compact grip, it enhances muscle engagement in focused exercises.

Used for: 

  • Close-grip lat pulldowns
  • Close-grip cable curls
  • Close-grip seated rows
  • Close-grip tricep pushdowns
  • Close-grip cable chest press
  • Close-grip upright rows
  • Close-grip shoulder press
close grip

5 Top Popular Cable Machine Exercises

If you ask someone “What workouts are cable machines good for?”, prepare for a long answer. One thing about cable machines everybody knows about is that they’re super versatile and allow for more movement. But still, with all the workouts you can do, there are some that are absolute staples.

1. Lat Pulldown

The first one is the lat pulldown - it’s a cornerstone for developing back and shoulder strength

2. Cable Row

To complement it, the cable row will do a great job at targeting the upper back and lats, which contributes to better posture and improved pulling strength. 

3. Cable Flys

For chest-focused workouts, cable flys are an excellent way to isolate your pecs.

4. Arm Development

Tricep pushdowns and bicep curls are excellent for arm development because they give constant tension throughout each rep and help define your muscles.

5. Lower Body

Cable machines aren’t limited to your upper body; they’re just as good for your lower body. Cable squats, for example, are a very dynamic leg workout that targets your quads, hamstrings and glutes. Leg raises and kickbacks are also fantastic leg workouts that target specific muscle groups, like quads and glutes.

If you want to go beyond standard workouts, you also have an opportunity to use a cable machine for functional movements, like wood chops and standing rotations, which engage the core and help with overall stability.

FAQ

Can I Build Muscle Just With A Cable Machine?

Yes, you can build muscle mass by training on a cable machine since it provides continuous tension during the whole range of motion and can incorporate almost all muscles while working out the specific muscle group. You can adjust the height and angle to exercise with different resistance levels and target diverse muscles. This makes a cable machine perfect to pump up muscles via performing compound and isolation exercises. 

Why Cable Machines Are Better Than Free Weights?

Cable machines are highly versatile by offering numerous attachments you can choose from to train diverse muscles simultaneously. Also, this equipment is more suitable for beginners because it brings less probability of injuries due to the possibility to adjust the weight with the help of a pin system and has no direct contact with weight thanks to the available pulley mechanism.

Is A Cable Machine A Good Workout?

Yes, a cable machine offers multiple exercise options to activate the whole body with the possibility to isolate particular muscles. A cable trainer will fit athletes, beginners or those who get used to training alone since it works muscles in a controlled way. This equipment can help to build up a proper form and technique by making a novice move in a certain way to learn correct movements and their trajectory.

How Much Does A Good Cable Machine Cost?

Yes, a cable machine offers multiple exercise options to activate the whole body with the possibility to isolate particular muscles. A cable trainer will fit athletes, beginners or those who get used to training alone since it works muscles in a controlled way. This equipment can help to build up a proper form and technique by making a novice move in a certain way to learn correct movements and their trajectory.

Conclusion

So, after observing the most functional and profound cable machines, we hope you’ve already determined what is the best cable machine for home gym you can pick up to train with renewed energy. On our part, we highly recommend considering REP Fitness FT-3000 Functional Trainer 2.0 which became our top-notch model of multi-functional trainer. You’ll get a complete workout with this home gym equipment that will replace standalone machines at commercial gyms. No matter what your level is, you’ll be able to build general stamina and coordination while targeting particular muscles.

Although, if you have some uncertainties about how to diversify your training routine with a cable machine, don’t hesitate, and write us any question that matters to you. We’ll gladly answer your queries and provide useful tips on how to use such a functional trainer with maximum advantages.

Also read:

References:

  1. Functional strength training // ScienceDirect: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0531556516301735
  2. Differences in Muscle Activity During Cable Resistance Training Are Influenced by Variations in Handle Types // LWW: https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2016/07000.aspx
  3. Progressive overload without progressing load? // NCBI: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36199287/
  4. A Novel Method for Assessing Muscle Power During the Standing Cable Wood Chop Exercise // LWW: https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2017/08000.aspx
  5. Optimal loads for power in older men and women using plate-loaded resistance machines // ScienceDirect: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0531556519301780
  6. Effects of Grip Width on Muscle Strength and Activation in the Lat Pull-Down // LWW: https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2014/04000/Effects_of_Grip_Width_on_Muscle_Strength_and.35.aspx
  7. Joseph F Signorile, "Differences in Muscle Activation and Kinematics Between Cable-Based and Selectorized Weight Training" NCBI, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28129277/ (2017 Feb)
  8. Ronald Snarr, "A Comparative Analysis and Technique of the Lat Pull-down" ResearchGate, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282178642 (October 2015)
  9. Silvio Lorenzetti, "Pulling Exercises for Strength Training and Rehabilitation: Movements and Loading Conditions" MDPI, https://www.mdpi.com/2411-5142/2/3/33 (19 September 2017)
  10. "Build Strength and Enhance Your Workout with These Cable Exercises" HealthLine, https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/cable-exercises

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All products we select are primarily approved and tested by the Olympic Weightlifting Champion Oleksii Torokhtiy. Under his guidance, we provide honest and reasonable assessments of the products we review by checking their characteristics, packaging, design, comfort and durability features, and general product rating. We select products from only high-quality and trusted sports brands, thus vouching for their quality.

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Ihor Shymechko

Author: Ihor Shymechko
Pro Olympic Weightlifter, Coach

Experience: 26 years
Best Results: Snatch – 208 kg,
C&J – 240 kg

Ihor has been a professional weightlifter since 1996, boasting over two decades of competition experience. His notable achievements include clinching the European Championship in 2009 and securing a silver medal in the 105kg division at the Senior World Championships in 2011. Ihor represented his country in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Summer Olympics. After retiring from competitive weightlifting, he transitioned to coaching, leveraging his vast experience to guide athletes who now compete on both national and international stages.

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Sergii Putsov

Reviewed by: Sergii Putsov
Head of Sport Science, PhD

Experience: 20 years
Best ResultsSnatch – 165 kg,
C&J – 200 kg

Sergii Putsov, Ph.D., is a former professional weightlifter and National team member, achieving multiple medals in the 94 kg weight category at national competitions. With a Master’s degree in “Olympic & Professional Sport Training” and a Sport Science Ph.D. from the International Olympic Academy, Greece, Sergii now leads as the Head of Sport Science. He specializes in designing training programs, writing insightful blog articles, providing live commentary at international weightlifting events, and conducting educational seminars worldwide alongside Olympic weightlifting expert Oleksiy Torokhtiy.

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