September 21, 2021 9 min read
Have you ever gone to the gym, excited to hit legs, only to find out that every squat rack is taken? Or that every leg machine is being used besides the cable machines?
This is a frustrating occurrence for many lifters, but what you might not know is that you can still get a killer leg day in by using only a cable machine! In this article, we’ll go over 7 cable machine exercises for your legs.
Cable leg extensions are an excellent lower body exercise. This leg exercise will work your quads and will get you feeling the burn quickly if you are going heavy.
Additionally, this exercise can be used used as an excellent warm-up to prep your quads for other types of heavy lifts. Doing this exercise does require the use of a bench, so it might not be the most convenient exercise if your gym is busy or has limited equipment.
How To Do Cable Leg Extension:
The cable squat, sometimes known as a Brignole squat, is an excellent substitute for a normal squat. If you can’t find an open rack or Smith machine, you’ll definitely want to keep this exercise on deck for an excellent leg workout.
The cable squat works all of the same muscles as a normal squat but doesn’t require you to hold all the weight on your back, like a dumbbell or barbell squat. An added benefit of this alternative to traditional squats is that they do more than just work your legs.
You’ll need to use your abs, as well as your arms and back, mostly for stabilization during this exercise. You will primarily feel it in your legs, of course, but this exercise really helps you feel the tension in your entire body.
How To Do Cable Squats:
Here we have another classic leg day exercise that’s been adapted to be used with cables. An added benefit of doing this variation, kind of like the cable squats, is that there won’t be as much strain on your lower back as a traditional Romanian deadlift. This makes it ideal for people that have lower back pain, or other problems.
How To Do A Cable Romanian Deadlift:
If you’re looking for a killer glute exercise to add to your routine, then look no further. This exercise is also known as the glute kickback if you’re looking to really focus on your that part of you and it's a good substitute for something like hip thrusts if are unable to do them. Incorporate this exercise into your routine to isolate those glutes and hamstrings and get them burning.
How To Do Cable Kickbacks:
Now, this is an excellent exercise, not just for working on your legs, but for helping with your balance and coordination as well. The cable reverse lunge works all of your lower body muscle groups while putting a little bit of pressure on your upper body. Those of you with knee pain will like this exercise because the exercise actually puts less strain on the joints in your knees due to the momentum from moving backward, as opposed to forwards.
Admittedly, some beginners who try this exercise for the first time may have some trouble doing it. This is because it can be hard to stabilize yourself while working against the resistance from the cable machine. You can actually try out the exercise without the machine first, to get a feel for things. Obviously, you’ll need to know how to do that beforehand.
How To Do Cable Reverse Lunges:
Now we have another exercise that is a perfect glute workout, the cable pull-throughs. These are an excellent compound exercise that is great for supplementing other lifts that involve hip movements such as a deadlift or a hip thrust. This is one of the best isolation exercises for your glutes and really helps drive growth.
How To Do A Cable Pull-Through:
Finally, we’ll end this list of cable exercises by isolating just the calf muscles.
These muscles tend to be overlooked and can be pretty stubborn when it comes to development. Therefore, you should always include these types of isolation exercises in your leg day routine.
How To Do Cable Machine Calf Raises:
Now that you’ve got a good idea about what exercises you can do for a killer leg day with nothing but a cable machine, we’ve put together a little workout circuit that’s sure to get those legs burning. This circuit focuses on isolating different parts of your legs.
You’ll start with cable squats first at a lightweight with high repetitions (12-15). Do this for three sets and rest for a minute in between the sets. After three sets of that, we’ll do some cable pull-throughs. This will help your hips be ready and warmed up for the rest of the workout. For this, also go with high reps for three sets with a minute rest in between sets.
For the first set, we’ll be doing mostly quad work. So, we’ll start with cable leg extensions. For this exercise, we’ll want to hit that sweet spot rep range for hypertrophy. So, you’ll want to do 8-10 reps at an appropriate weight. Do this exercise for three sets as well with a minute rest in between sets.
The other exercise that we’ll be doing during this set is cable reverse lunges. While they are great for your entire leg, they will really help you feel the burn in your quads and get you pumped up. Like the leg extensions, do these for 8-10 reps for three sets with a minute rest between your sets.
If you really want to step up the intensity, something you can do is do both of these exercises in a superset. For those of you who aren’t aware, a superset is where you do one exercise right after the other without rest.
Set two is all about your hamstrings and glutes. Therefore, we’ll be starting off with cable kickbacks. Do three sets of 8-10 reps of these with a minute rest in between them. After that, do cable Romanian deadlifts, do the same amount of sets and reps as with the kickbacks.
For the final set, we’re going to end with cable calf raises. For this final exercise, we’ll actually be doing five sets of 8-10 reps instead of 3. Remember, the calves are stubborn muscles and need extra stimulation.
While exercises like the traditional barbell squat and the use of machines to isolate certain parts of your leg are perfect for heavy weight training, sometimes you don’t have free weights available to you.
Cable machines are versatile pieces of equipment that can work wonders if you know what you’re doing. With a little creativity, you can make a really effective cable workout!