Unlike other gym machines that lock you into a fixed motion pattern (think the seated hip abductor or leg press), the cable tower, which has weight stacks and swappable handles, allows for more functional movements so you can work your muscles from all angles with a greater range of motion. The cables keep your muscles under constant tension, giving you a tough workout, especially in your core, which has to work overtime to stabilize your body each time you pull a cable. And it's a one-stop shop: You can get a killer head-to-toe workout without hopping around the gym. (Search: Where can I find the closest gym to me?)
This routine, created by Dan Trink, a strength coach and personal trainer at Peak Performance in New York City, alternates between upper-and lower-body moves and helps you build lean muscle to amp up your calorie burn during--and after--the workout. Three times a week, complete 12 to 15 reps of each exercise, moving from one to the next without a break. Rest for one minute, then repeat the circuit three more times. Don't have access to a cable station? You can get a similar workout by doing these moves with a resistance band. (Pair your workout with this Ultimate 7-Day Eating Plan for ultimate results.)
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Attach universal grips (a strap with two handles) at mid-chest height and grab a handle in each hand. Stand facing the weight stack, feet hip-width apart, then sit your hips back and bend your knees to lower your body until your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor (a). As you stand, bend your elbows to row the handles to the sides of your chest (b). That's one rep.
Set a cable-station handle at shoulder height. Stand facing away from the weight stack and grab the handle with your right hand, palm facing down, elbow bent; extend your left arm in front of you. Step your right foot back into a split stance, knees bent (a). Brace your abs and forcefully drive the handle forward, while bringing your left elbow back (b). Do all reps, then switch sides and repeat.
Secure a handle at the highest point and stand with your right side facing the cable station. Grab the handle with both hands so your arms are extended above your right shoulder; your feet should be two to three feet apart, knees slightly bent (a). Keeping your arms straight, pull the handle across the front of your body to the outside of your left thigh, shifting your weight from your right foot to your left (b). Pause, then slowly return to the starting position. That's one rep. Do all reps on that side, then switch sides and repeat.
With your left side facing the cable station, grab the handle (attached at chest height) with both hands. Step away from the cable stack with the handle at your chest (a). Keeping a tight core, press the handle directly out in front of you (b). Hold for two seconds, then return to start. Complete all reps on that side, then turn to face the opposite direction and repeat.
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