It has been a favorite discussion in the world of fitness lately, whether the use of cable machine is better than the use of free weights. Fitness professionals and body building enthusiasts watch and tend to compare both ways from different standpoints. Apparently, there are a lot of factors to consider when you try to decide which technique or equipment is better. You need to consider the safety, practicality, convenience and, of course, the level of effectiveness, among others, when it comes to your fitness goals.

While it is true that basic dumbbell and barbells should form the underlying foundation of your overall training plan, however, they do have a certain drawback. That is, they depend on the specific lift that you’re performing. Such exercises are those where the weight is lifted in a straight line rather than in a circular movement.

In this article, we will pretty much sum up how cable machine works. At the same time help you learn when and how we can say that cable machine exercises are greater for the most part. Let’s get started.

What is a cable machine?

What Is Cable Machine in Work OutFirst of all, if you are a beginner or you are used to working out alone, you need to know what a cable machine is and how is it different to a simple weights.

Any set or stack of weights so connected together by a systematized body of cables and pulleys are called a cable machine. A cable machine, as used in weight training and functional training, is designed to simplify your over complicated weight lifting routine and direction. It helps you keep your workout in a specific pace and motion.

There are different kinds of cable machine according to the exercise that you want to perform or the muscles that you want to develop. And, here’s the catch, we will get to know all of them!

Cable weight machine versus Free weights

Free weights rely on the straight-line force of gravity for each exercise. And because of that, other weight lifting directions, such as circular movements, will always end up giving you an inconsistent resistance curve. Then, there’s going to be a tendency of a very high degree of tension in the bottom half of the range of motion, but very little in the top half or a high degree of tension.

Now, obviously, if you want to maximize the degree of stress on any given muscle, then the goal should be to place that muscle under consistent tension under the entire range of motion from top to bottom. This is a situation where cables allow you to do something that can’t be replicated through using free weights. Because they let you place the resistance in the proper line to get that consistent tension that you are after.

Let’s learn more of the benefits of doing cable machine exercises that may not be found in free weights method.

Exercises where cable machine is beneficial

Various fitness machines have been celebrated all over the world, bringing different functions for workout and exercise. Although, most of these cable machines are intimidating at first, especially, because they are so huge, their benefits are really worth getting out of your comfort zone.

Definitely, there are tons of benefits that cable machine usage can offer, but we want to narrow down the most important and, the most exciting ones. Exciting, because, we found that even most gym people don’t know about these benefits. Don’t be one of them, read more.

In your chest fly exercise

Fitness Man Working Out Cable Chest FlyThe downside of your traditional dumbbell fly is that they only place the pecs under a high degree of tension in a bottom half of the range of motion. The downside is, as you come up passed half-way, and into the top position, the tension gets lost because gravity is pulling the resistance straight up and down.

Flyes are going to be best done when the resistance is pulling your arms out to the side, so that the chest is actively working through that function at all times.

With that being said, your best bet here is going to be a cable fly. Either performed lying on a bench in between a cable stand or done from a standing position. The best tip we can give you is to use an inclined angle cable machine to target the upper chest, and a declined angle cable machine to target the middle and lower chest.

When you do the straight-bar bicep curls

Barbell curls have always been considered as the bread and butter of bicep training. And yes, they are an effective exercise, but again, because barbell curls are done in a circular motion, you end up losing tension in the bottom half of the range of motion, with very little tension on the biceps on the very bottom position when your arms are fully extended.

The best variation for this, is the single arm cable curl where you grab a single cable pulley attachment, stand facing away from the weight stack, and then perform your cable curl from that position. That’s going to force your biceps to be constantly engaged throughout the entire range.

In your tricep extensions

Man Working Out Tricep ExtensionsUsing free weights with your tricep extensions gives you the opposite problem that free weights bicep curls do. And that is that your triceps are going to be fully engaged in the bottom half of the range of motion. But the tension gradually decreases as the weight is extended up into the fully extended position.

This applies to any basic tricep extension movement that you might do, including skull crushers, overhead extensions, and tricep kickbacks.

So again, you’ll ideally want to perform your tricep extension exercises using cable machine.

For overhead extensions, you can stand facing away from the cable machine, and grab onto

A single pulley attachment using no cable machine attachment at all, and perform them one arm at a time.

In performing lats pullover

Commonly, the way that you’ll see this being done is by laying perpendicular across a flat bench. And then performing the pullover movement using a single dumbbell.

But this variation doesn’t give you any significant tension on the lats in the top half of the range of motion.

So, the way to go about performing this one is to go with cable pullovers. Which is done in a standing facing the machine. If you take a look at the specific motion being used here, and the direction that the resistance is pulling in, then you’ll see that your lats are going to be placed under constant tension from the very bottom position, all the way up to the top.

In your weighted crunches

Man Working Out Weighted Crunches For FitnessPerforming standard weighted crunches on the floor, or on a declined bench, or even on a swiss ball. These are all effective ways of training the gorgeous six packs.

However, to hit your abs as intensely as possible, cable machine for crunches are going to be your best choice. These cable machines put your abs under constant tension, and through the largest possible range of motion.

This is also a favorable exercise at home. You can modify a home gym cable machine. Simply attach a rope at the top of it and get down in to a kneeling position. You can put your hands on either side of your head. And blow the air out of your lungs by flexing your abs really hard.

In your real lateral raises exercise

So, this is performed using the same basic movement as the side lateral raise, except that your body will be in a bent-over position. And, you will be targeting the posterior head of your shoulder.  Posterior head of your shoulder is the rear as opposed to the lateral head which is located in the middle. The same basic logic applies to this exercise as well.

If you do your rear lateral raises using dumbbells like most people do, then the posterior head of your shoulder is really only activated in the top half of the movement, with very little to no tension in the bottom half.

If you want to increase the effectiveness of this particular movement by going on a bent-over rear lateral cable raise. And performing it one arm at a time. You can also do it in a standing position in between a cable stand, and using a reverse fly motion.

In your side lateral raises exercise

Man Working Out Side Lateral RaisesMost people use dumbbells or free weights for this exercise. But little did they know that the use of dumbbells is lacking of the tension that you get in the bottom half of range of motion.

When you’re in a starting position and you’re just holding the dumbbells at your sides, there is almost no stress at all on the lateral head of your shoulder. And it’s only when you come up past halfway that the shoulder muscles really kick in to the gear. So, just like with chest fly, the only way to solve that is by having the resistance pulling your arm from the side rather than using the straight line force of gravity.

To do this, you’ll want to go with the side lateral cable machine, ideally performed one arm at a time. And, you should really feel the difference with this variation, because the lateral head of your shoulder is going to be under constant tension from the bottom position all the way up to the very top.

Guide to know the best cable machine

Knowing the best machine suited for your workout and desired outcome means walking on the right path of fitness. It is necessary that you know the top variety of cable machine in the market, or even in the gym. In this list, we will render to you the proper guide of choosing  the best cable machine. We will help you  recognizing the best cable machine for your workout routine.


For your chest muscles development, you need to start getting to know the low cable crossover. This cable machine is highly recommended by the community of gym experts online. The steps are amazingly less complicated. Even if you are new in body building, it would never be hard for you to befriend the system.

Most people vote for butterfly cable machine and inclined flyes machine as well.


Of course, the arms are very important target in body building. So, you only need the best possible effective machine workout for this.

The use of cable machine for Seated Two-Arm Palms-Up Low-Pulley Wrist Curl is the best way to start your journey to big arm muscles.

We also found the Low cable crossover Cable flyes as greatly effective, too. These methods are awesome for beginners as the steps are incredibly easy.


For your back muscles, we highly recommend doing the very basic, very doable cable crossover. This exercise targets your back like no other and firms your muscles really tight and huge.

You may also try some variations like the single-arm cable crossover and the one-arm cable pulley rows. But these exercises are not really recommended for beginners.


What is body building, without abs? There are actually a lot of cable machines and cable machine exercises. Most of them are designed to target and form your six packs. But to mention really one of the best is the Standing cable lift. This exercise really involves a lot of abdominal work to really firm and develop your front muscles.

The cable crunch and the V-bar pull down has also been talked about to be very effective as well.

Most definitely, using free weights has its own advantages as well as the use of cable machine. While people debate which has more, we say, incorporating both to your workout routine is the best option.

It is important that we never let go of the basic in our exercise. It is also beneficial to keep in stepping out of your comfort zone and try new things. What’s important is that you get your desired structure and health results.