Fitness Equipment To Try
Using the Weirdest Equipment at the Gym
Don't Knock It 'Til You Try It
Cable Crossover Machine
Assisted Pullup Machine
The Power Plate
Cable Crossover Machine
Image: Beth Bischoff
Taking advantage of the multiple pulleys, weight stacks, and handle attachments on a cable crossover machine requires a little more fitness know-how than banging out a few sets on a selectorized machine equipped with illustrated instructions.
Selectorized machines like the lateral pulldown or leg extension are great for isolating muscles, but that’s also one of their drawbacks. They don’t call on other areas of the body to help you perform an exercise, which can leave you with an incomplete workout. “The benefit of the cable cross is that you’re constantly forced to stabilize your entire body,” says Julia Valentour, programs coordinator for the American Council on Exercise. “If you complete a biceps curl on a machine, your body is already stable because the machine is there to help support you. Do a curl on the cable crossover and you have to brace your core and back as well.”
Another perk of the cable crossover: “You can train basically every muscle group just by changing your stance and the angle of pull,” Valentour says. Vary your workouts by moving the position of the pulleys from high to low and completing exercises while standing, sitting, or kneeling.
Use the cable crossover like a pro:
Set the pulley to a high position and change the handle to the short rope or a short bar, about 12 inches long. Reach up and grab it with your palms facing down toward the floor and bring your elbows tight to your sides. Don’t let your elbows move away from your body. Push the rope or bar down toward your thighs until your arms are almost fully extended. Bring them up by bending at the elbows, but stop when your hands reach chest level and before your elbows move away from your body.
Tip Make sure to stabilize your body by standing with one foot in front of the other (a split-stance position) with your shoulders down and back before starting. Brace your abs during the exercise to keep your core stiff for support.
Do this exercise with the pulley in the bottom position, using the same short bar attachment as in the triceps pushdown.
Perform the exercise in a split-stance with your shoulders down and back, and abs braced. Grip the bar with your palms facing up. With elbows tight to your sides, bring your arms from a straightened position to a bent elbow position without moving any body part except your forearms. Stop when the bar reaches chest height and then slowly lower the bar back to starting position.
Standing Cable Rotation
Anchor the pulley to the height of your midsection and attach the single handle—it looks like a D-ring—to the cable . Stand with the cable pulley to your side and keep your feet hip-width apart. Clasp the handle with both hands and lock your elbows at your side.
Keeping your shoulders down and back, and core muscles braced, turn your torso and shoulders in the opposite direction of the cable machine. Keep your body upright without leaning, and slowly return to starting position. Face the opposite direction to work the other side’s internal and external obliques.
Make It Harder Stand with your arms in front of you at shoulder height rather than with your elbows by your sides. Increasing the lever arm adds an extra challenge to your core muscles.