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Cable cross machine: Exercise uses, benefits

If you are serious about and think working out in a gym is the best option for you, then you might want to get familiarized with gym equipment and machines and you will quickly learn that one of the best machines to workout on is the cable cross machine. 

What is a cable machine? 

standard cable cross machine
Standard cable cross machine

The cable cross machine is a wide machine which has two ends and on opposite sides, on these ends there are weights hanging off of cables and have a progressive weight stack, the weight stack is pulled using a pulley system and you can pull them using multiple grips and handles. 

This machine is available in almost every gym and is a must have gym equipment. 

Advantages of cable cross machine

To the untrained person cable cross is just another exercise equipment but advanced lifters knows how well engineered and useful cable cross is, following are some of the advantages of using cable cross that makes them reliable. 


The number of exercises you can do on a cable cross will astonish a beginner. You can do cable fly variations, chest presses, bicep curls, lat pull downs, variation of rows, tricep pull downs and extensions and if you are really imaginative and determined you can even do squats. 

Works well at different stages

The cable cross has versatility but that doesn't mean it's not for beginners. Any lifter can start their first step into fitness with a cable cross machine, cable cross will help you reach your fitness goal and still manage to have its usefulness in future. 

You might see some experienced lifters who still use cable cross because it is that good of a machine. From beginners to advanced lifters cable cross serves well at different stages. 

Helps to make the pectoralis muscle stronger

A well defined chest is what everyone aspires to achieve, the cable cross machine is here to help to do exactly that. With the cable cross's amazing design you can do almost every chest on this machine. 

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You can obviously do chest fly and its variations. The stretch of pectoral muscles is great in a cable cross machine compared to any fly machine or dumbbells. Unlike a strict machine you can adjust the cable cross to help you stretch and contract pectoral muscles in different angles. 

Just by adding a bench in front of it you can do chest presses and that too in a cable cross machine that too in different inclinations. 

For any muscle to grow you must load it and stretch it and for pectoral muscles a cable cross machine does exactly that. 

Make the core muscle strong

Imagine if you are doing any seated variation of chest press or machine chest fly and you had to do that exercise without any back support, what would it feel like? You would immediately feel your core engaging more and you would need the feel to lower the weight a little bit. 

Cable cross somewhat offers the experience where you need to do a fly or row without any support to the back or chest. The lack of support causes the core to engage a lot more and helps the body understand its limitations. 

Save enough time

If you feel like setting up dumbbells, barbells and plate loaded machines is taking up your time, then using a cable cross machine might help you save some time. 

If you plan to do a superset or drop set, then racking and unracking of weights is going to be annoying. Luckily cable cross. Machines have easy mechanisms to rack and unrack weights in a good progressive manner. 

Highly customizable

Gym equipment are mostly rigid and have very little adjustment to them, if you are a very tall individual or a short one, then using some machines might not give you the optimal angle to workout. Using nonoptimal machines can even lead to injury. 

The cable cross machine on the other hand offers highly customisable workout ranges for small and large individuals. 

When it comes to workout selection, the cable cross always fits like a glove. 

The best exercise that you can do with cable machine

The cable cross machine offers a variety of exercises from upper body to back and even legs. Following are the exercises are optimal on the cable cross machine 

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Chest fly: Chest fly is probably the only exercise which stretches the pectoral muscles properly and doing them with dumbbells gives a weak contraction and with machine fly it gives a weak stretch. 

With cable cross both of these problems are solved, the contraction is good and the stretch is also deep when you perform chest fly on a cable cross machine. 

Tricep pull down and pull over: The tricep pull down is the best exercise if you want to grow your tricep's short head and tricep pull over is best to hit the tricep's long head. The third short head is also worked in these exercises. Tricep kickback is one which works best on cable cross only. 

Bicep curl: The bicep curl on a cable cross machine is one of the best bicep workouts because it allows for constant tension on muscles. The superset of bicep curls on the cable cross machine is faster and convenient. 

Back workout: Almost all exercises for the back can be performed on the cable cross machine. You can do lat pull downs, rows both single handed and double handed. You can hit your back with different grip attachments. 

6 benefits of cable machine (better workouts and more muscle) 

The cable cross machine is a staple equipment in any gym and the reason being is the benefits this machine provides over other equipment. 

  1. Great for beginners: The easy nature of cable cross makes it beneficial for beginners to try new workouts and exercises first on this machine. The pulley action on each weight stack makes the weight easier to pick up and progress gradually and slowly without increasing the risk of injury. 
  2. No direct load: The inherent risk while working out is the injury risk and to avoid it you must master balance with strength but cable machines eliminate this risk with ease. The way weight is pulled from cables takes the heavyweight out of the zone of injury which makes it easier to drop the weights without any hesitation. 
  3. More time under tension: If you are looking to optimally grow your strength and size you know the best way to do it is by exposing the muscle to more time under tension. To do this on free weights is a challenge as they cause a lot of swinging due to momentum, but cable machines work really well as the swinging and momentum gets eliminated from the pulley system and the muscles are exposed to more time under tension. 
  4. Maximum versatility: There are very few machines which are as versatile as the cable machine, you can work out any body part on the cable machine, you can do chest, back, shoulder, arms and legs too right on the cable cross machine. 
  5. Greater whole body engagement: The recent study shows the better results comes from doing workouts that train multiple body parts at the same time. The cable cross exactly provides this, whenever you perform flys or rows you will feel the need to engage your core even more, resulting in better mind muscle connection. 
  6. Challenging for all fitness levels: If you think that cable machines are just for beginners then you might be mistaken, the progressive overload provided by machines is safer than most free weights and you might be surprised to see people doing the same exercises on cable machines for years. The level of challenge on cable machines is gradual and safer and is going to help you get fitter for a long time. 
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Why should you train with a cable machine? 

The number of exercises you can perform on the cable machines is the single best reason why you should use them, not only are they good but are also safer for beginners and progresses gradually

The weight stack feels safer in cable cross than in pushing any barbell or dumbbell because even if you accidentally drop the weight it won't cause any injury.

The long-term benefits of using a cable machine is what makes them appealing. Many people develop injuries in joints and tissues overtime but that is rarely seen in people who use cable machines. 


Can you build muscle with just cable machines? 

Yes, it is possible to build muscles with just using cable machines, you can use them for both loading and stretching exercises. 

Are cable machines a better workout compared to regular machines?

The preference of the person matters and differs according to which machine we are taking into consideration here, but remember that cable machines provide a number of workouts with safer range of motion, a gradual progressive overload with constant time under tension.


queue for cable cross machine
queue in front of cable cross machine

The cable machines have gained a reputation of being the most reliable workout equipment ever and that too for good reason, you can do a number of workouts, safely, with progressive overload and with constant time under tension. 

There is no downside to training cable machines as they are available in almost every gym so you always know you progress won't be disturbed by changing gyms and learning new workout machines. 

These benefits are the reason why cable machines are always occupied in the gym and always have a queue in front of them and if you wish to build solid strength and muscle gains I suggest you also join that queue. 

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sandesh Khade
sandesh Khade

Hi I'm Sandesh khade and I am an electronics and telecommunications engineer, I have taught math to engineering, diploma and 10+2 students. I am also an avid fitness enthusiast and workout regularly. I love to analyze and write. I try to write about almost any event or make one up just for the sake of practicing writing.