The cable pulley machine can do more than sculpt your upper body! It can effectively target your lower body by giving it a constant resistance that will push your muscles to work a little bit harder - And the harder your muscles are working, the better the muscle-building results! So, if building stronger glutes and lower body is one of your fitness goals then don't neglect cable leg exercises. Yes, barbell squats, deadlifts, lunges, and hip thrusts, should be your bread and butter when it comes to your leg workouts. But they shouldn't be the only exercises you're doing! Throwing in different exercises using different equipment is one way to drive muscle growth without needing to increase the weight. Besides using dumbells and kettlebells to switch things up, utilize the cable machine at the gym!
The cable machine is amazing for many reasons, including that it offers constant resistance and tension, is great for all fitness levels, and the attachments allow you to tackle exercises from different angles and make it easier to go through the full range of motion. So, if you're ready to start maximizing your leg days then throw in some of these cable leg exercises after hitting your main compound exercises!
Cable side leg raises
This exercise is also known as the standing abduction because it involves abducting (pushing away) the leg from your midline. It helps work the glutes, specifically the gluteus medius and minimus, and the outer thighs. There are three other ways to do this exercise, using your body weight, a dumbbell, or a resistance band. The cable leg raise works similarly to the resistance band variation in that it provides a constant tension as opposed to working against gravity. So, if you really want to feel a burn on your outer thighs, grab a pair of UPPPER Ankle Straps and get ready!
How to do it: Stand tall with one shoulder next to the cable machine and your legs about shoulder-width apart. An ankle attachment should be placed around the ankle that's farthest from the cable machine. Place one hand on your hips, while your other hand is securely positioned on the cable machine. Raise the weighted working leg out laterally as high as possible. Pause and then reverse the motion back to the starting position. Complete 10-15 reps, and then switch to the other leg.
Kickbacks are one of the best exercises for the glute muscles. Why? First, it helps isolate the glutes so that other muscle groups aren't carrying the load. Second, and lastly, it works the entire glute muscle group - gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus. While also challenging your core! You can also do this using a resistance band, but if you want to continue making progress, use a cable machine to increase the resistance!
How to do it: Wrap an ankle strap around your right foot. Stand facing the weight stack and grasp the cable tower for support. With your knees slightly bent and your abs drawn in, slowly kick your right leg back until your hip is fully extended back with your glutes contracted. Pause for 1-2 seconds, then slowly bring your right leg back to the starting position and repeat. Complete 10-15 reps, and then switch to the other leg.
This exercise is a compound exercise that works the muscles in your posterior chain, including the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and lower back muscles. The great thing about this exercise aside from it working your entire backside is that it's a great introduction exercise to the deadlift. It involves a hip hinge movement that is required during deadlift exercises, so if you want to start deadlifting, but don't know where to start, try this exercise!
How to do it: Begin by standing a few feet in front of a low pulley with a rope or handle attached. Face away from the machine, straddling the cable with your feet set wide apart. Begin the movement by reaching through your legs as far as possible, hinging at the hips. Keep your knees slightly bent. Keeping your arms straight, extend through the hip to stand straight up. Avoid pulling upward through the shoulders; all of the motion should originate through the hips.
Cable squat walk-outs
We all know that squats are an excellent booty and leg builder, especially when squatting a heavy load. But if you need a break from the usual barbell squats and want to switch things up, try cable squat walk-outs! This exercise works your entire lower body, and the movement involves little pulses as you walk out and walk back to help really fire up your glutes!
How to do it: Attach a rope handle to a low pulley and hold the rope out in front of you facing the machine. Walk the cable out a couple of steps, and begin to descend into a squat position. Take six-step backward maintaining proper squat form and then six steps forward. Keep the weight in the heels and knees apart for the best results! Perform 5-8 sets.
Cable single-leg deadlifts
Single-leg deadlifts are a great leg exercise because not only does it challenge your glutes, hamstrings, and abductor muscles, it also challenges your balance and stability. However, if you don't have good balance yet it could be hard to do this exercise with a dumbbell or kettlebell. Before upgrading to free weights, try this cable machine exercise variation to help you get used to the movement!
How to do it: Attach a rope pulley at the lowest setting, stand a few feet away from the cable machine, and face it. Hold the rope with both hands, firmly plant your left foot on the floor and keep the right foot staggered behind you. Begin to hinge forward at the hips, keeping the left leg firmly on the ground and the right leg should be lifted behind you in the air. Keep your spine straight and neutral and engage your core to maintain balance. Make sure that your chest comes down only as much as the leg behind you comes up. Pull yourself back up to the starting position by using your glute muscle in the working leg. Complete 8-10 reps, then repeat on the other leg.
Cable Romanian deadlifts
Romanian deadlifts are one of the best exercises that target the entire posterior chain, which includes the glutes, hamstrings, and calves. However, those new to strength training or with back problems might struggle to perform a dumbbell or barbell variation. Using the cable machine is a great way to introduce you to this killer leg exercise! It'll help you get adjusted to the movement, and put less strain on your lower back.
How to do it: To begin, grab a cable in each hand (or straight bar) and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. With medium resistance on the cable machine and the knees slightly bent, bend forward at the hips and let the cable resistance slowly pull the hands toward the top of the feet. Extend from the hips and return to the starting position. Be sure to keep the back straight throughout the entire movement.
Standing cable hamstring curls
Having trouble growing your hamstrings? Switch things up and use a cable machine to perform hamstring curls! Not only will it help isolate the hamstring muscle one leg at a time, but it will also have it fight against constant resistance for better muscle recruitment.
How to do it: Attach an ankle strap to the low pulley and wrap it around your right ankle. Face the machine and hold on to it in front of you for support. This is the starting position. Using your hamstring muscle, raise your right foot as high as you comfortably can. Pause for a moment and begin to lower your foot back down. Repeat for 10-15 reps and repeat using the other leg.
Cable leg extensions
If you're having trouble growing your quads and need a new way to isolate them try this cable exercise variation of leg extensions! It's actually quite tough, some may say even tougher than the leg extension machine due to the balance needed... But you'll get the hang of it quickly once you start performing it regularly!
How to do it: Attach an ankle strap to the low pulley and strap it on one leg. Turn so that you're facing away from the machine. Lift the weighted working leg and bend it so that it's at a 90-degree angle. Slowly begin to extend the working leg until it's in a straight line. You should feel the pressure in your quads and hip flexors. Release the leg down to the 90-degree angle, try to stay balanced, and repeat for 8-10 reps, then switch legs.
There you have it - the best cable exercises that will help you continue growing the strong lower body you want! Use them to create a full glute workout, leg workout, or check out our favorite cable machine exercises and create a full-body workout using only the cable pulley machine!