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December 07, 2021 9 min read

If you have been lifting weights for a while, you may have realized that you don’t have to only use dumbbells or barbells (free weights) to build bigger and stronger arms. You can also make a lot of progress by incorporating some cable exercises into your workouts.

If you don’t really know how to use the cables at your gym, this article is for all you beginners. Below you will find ten effective cable machine exercises for arms that you can do to build muscle. But first, you’ll need to get warmed up.

Warming Up Your Muscles and Joints

Especially if you tend to go to the gym early in the morning, your muscles are going to be pretty stiff.

Warming up properly for the exercises you will be doing and following a regular eating plan are some vital factors that many athletes sometimes overlook when they are starting a new training routine. 

It may seem like a waste of time and energy to spend a large portion of your tricep cable workout just getting warmed up, but you will find it to be worth the effort when you consider how well it can prevent injuries. You never want to start doing any exercises that are beyond the range of motion of the muscles you are trying to train.

In most gyms, you’ll find a level bench that can be used for easy warm-up exercises before and after your workout. The step at one end of the bench can be used to get your upper arms ready to work. Also, the bench can be used to do a modified plank by placing your forearms on the bench and holding a plank position. 

Planks are a good way to strengthen your core muscles without putting too much strain on your back.

Cable Exercises for Your Arms 

There are plenty of different ways you can use the cable machine to give your upper arms a heavy workout, and here are just a few of them for you to try.

Exercise #1: Cable Rope Curls 

 

If you are looking for straightforward cable machine bicep exercises, cable rope curls are a good way to get started. Cable rope curls are similar to dumbbell hammer curls, but they place more tension on the muscles throughout the entire exercise. This causes your muscles to fatigue faster, which leads to hypertrophy and ultimately more strength gains.

To do this exercise, start by clipping a rope attachment to the cable machine, set at the lowest point.Hold one end of the rope in each hand with your palms facing each other and elbows held close to the body.

Next, follow this sequence of steps: 

  • Inhale and brace your core.
  • As you exhale, bend your elbows and curl the rope attachment up toward your torso.
  • Be sure to keep your wrists straight while curling the rope attachment.
  • Squeeze your biceps once your elbows are completely flexed.
  • Inhale and slowly lower the rope attachment back down with a full range of motion to the starting position.

Exercise #2: Cable Tricep Extensions 

 

Cable tricep extensions are another great exercise for your cable arm workout. To do this type of exercise, you can still use a rope attachment, but you will also need to adjust the cable machine so that the rope is at its highest point.Grasp one end of the attachment in each hand, and then turn around so that you are facing away from the machine. Stand in a split stance and hold the rope attachment over your head with your elbows bent until you feel a stretch in your triceps.

Next, follow this sequence of steps: 

  • Inhale and brace your core.
  • While exhaling, straighten your elbows to pull the ends of the rope attachment forward.
  • Be sure to keep your wrists straight.
  • Squeeze your triceps when your elbows are completely extended.
  • Inhale and slowly bend your elbows to return with a full range of motion to the starting position.

Exercise #3: Rope Hammer Curl 

 

This exercise requires a single pulley cable machine with a rope attachment for you to work your biceps and your forearms.

Get yourself into a comfortable position and then follow this sequence of steps: 

  • Set the machine to the low pulley setting. 
  • Stand facing the machine.
  • Hold the rope handle so that your palms are facing each other. 
  • From a start position with your arms fully extended, curl the rope up to your chest level. 
  • Lower and repeat the full range of motion. 
  • Keep your back straight and never swing it as you curl the rope up.

Exercise #4: Single-Arm Cable Curls 

 

When doing an arm workout with a cable machine, there are plenty of single-arm exercises you can add to correct potential imbalances. Be sure to never arch your back when you are doing this exercise, and never use your momentum instead of the muscles you are trying to target.

To set up for this exercise, start by hooking a handle to the cable machine, adjusting it to the lowest point. Stand facing the machine, grasping the handle in your right hand, palm facing up (supinated).

Rest your other hand on your hip or let it hang by your side, and follow these steps: 

  • Inhale and brace your core.
  • Exhale and bend your elbow, curling the handle up toward your chest.
  • Keep your wrist straight as you flex your elbow.
  • Squeeze your bicep when your elbow is fully flexed.
  • Inhale and slowly straighten your elbow to lower the weight back down with a full range of motion.
  • Repeat this exercise with both arms.

Exercise #5: Straight Bar Tricep Pushdowns 

 

This is one of the best two-arm cable tricep exercises that you can do during your upper body workout. Be sure to never arch your back when you are doing this exercise, and never use your momentum instead of the muscles you are trying to target.

Start by hooking a straight bar attachment to the cable machine, adjusted so it’s at its highest point. Grasp the bar in both hands with your palms facing down, elbows bent and close to your torso.

After this, follow these steps: 

  • Inhale and brace your core.
  • Exhale and straighten your elbows as you push the bar down toward your hips.
  • Keep your wrists straight while pushing the bar down.
  • Squeeze your triceps when you have fully extended your elbows.
  • Inhale and bend your elbows as you return with a full range of motion to the starting position.

Exercise #6: Single-Arm Cable Tricep Kickbacks 

 

Another good single-arm cable exercise is the tricep kickback. A lot of people perform this exercise just using the cable, without any kind of handle or bar attached to it at all. So that is something you might try.First, adjust the cable to the highest point on the machine, then grasp the cable with one hand and your elbow bent and close to your torso. Take a step back to create tension, then bend your knees and hinge at your hips slightly while resting your left hand on your hip or left thigh.

From here, follow this sequence of steps: 

  • Inhale and brace your core.
  • Exhale and straighten your elbow, sending the hand that is holding the cable straight down and back.
  • Keep your wrist straight and squeeze your tricep.
  • Inhale again and bend your elbow to return with a full range of motion to the starting position.
  • Repeat this exercise with your other arm.

Exercise #7: Overhead Cable Curls 

 

This exercise is another good way to target your biceps and grow your arms. To do this exercise, stand in the middle of the cable machine and hold a cable in each hand. Never arch your back when you are doing this exercise, and never use your momentum instead of the muscles you are trying to target.Start by attaching a handle to each cable, then adjust the cables so they line up with your shoulders. Hold a handle in each hand with the arms straight and palms facing up.

Then, follow this sequence of steps: 

  • Inhale and brace your core.
  • Exhale and bend your elbows, pulling the handles in toward your shoulders.
  • Keep your wrists straight and squeeze your biceps as you flex your elbows.
  • Inhale again and straighten your elbows as you return with a full range of motion to the starting position.

Exercise #8: Supine Cable Curls 

 

If you want a way to get more creative with your bicep curls, supine cable curls could be the answer. This exercise might look simple because you are lying back on the bench, but there is a bit more to it than that.To do this exercise, move the cable to its lowest point on the machine and lie on the floor if the bench is already taken. Attach a straight bar or rope attachment to the cable and then grasp the attachment in both hands with your palms facing up toward the ceiling.

From here, do the following sequence of steps: 

  • Inhale and brace your core.
  • Lie back on the bench with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Hold the attachment with your arms straight, then inhale again and brace your core.
  • As you exhale, bend your elbows and curl the attachment up to your shoulders. 
  • Keep your wrists straight and squeeze your biceps as you fully flex your elbows.
  • Inhale again and straighten your elbows to return with a full range of motion to the starting position.

Exercise #9: Supine Cable Tricep Extensions 

 

While you are already lying down to do your bicep curls, you can also do some supine tricep extensions. This exercise is similar to a barbell or dumbbell skull crusher, but it can be done with cables instead.Set up the same way you would for the cable bicep curls, but pull the bar or rope attachment up over your head with your arms straight (as if you were doing a lat pulldown).

Place your feet flat on the floor and then follow these steps:

  • Inhale and brace your core.
  • Bend your elbows to pull the bar or rope attachment back behind your head.
  • Exhale and straighten your elbows while keeping your wrists straight.
  • Squeeze your triceps when your elbow is fully extended. 
  • Bend your elbows and inhale deeply as you return with a full range of motion to the starting position.

Exercise #10: Single-Arm Cable Preacher Curls 

 

Another effective cable arm exercise is the single-arm cable preacher curl. To do this exercise, you might need to move over an adjustable bench (set up in a seated position) to lean against. Never arch your back when you are doing this exercise, and never use your momentum instead of the muscles you are trying to target.Start by attaching the handle to the cable, then hold it in your right hand with your palm facing up.

Lean forward against the back of the bench and then follow this sequence of steps: 

  • Inhale and brace your core.
  • Exhale and bend your elbow, pulling the handle up toward the shoulder.
  • Squeeze your bicep when your elbow is fully flexed, being sure to keep your wrist straight throughout the movement.
  • Inhale again and straighten your elbow while slowly lowering the handle back down with a full range of motion.

Bonus Exercise: Lying Straight Bar Curls 

This final exercise requires a single cable pulley machine with a straight bar handle attachment for you to work your biceps especially hard. Be sure to perform all of your reps slowly and deliberately by achieving strong contraction at the top of every rep.

Once you are ready to start, follow this sequence of steps:

  • Set the machine to the low pulley setting. 
  • Grab the bar and lie on the floor in front of the machine. 
  • From a starting position with your arms at full extension resting on your upper legs, curl the bar up to shoulder level.
  • Lower the bar and repeat the exercise with a full range of motion. 

Recommended Supplements for Your Workouts

In addition to performing the types of exercises we have listed above, you may want to look into trying some supplements to get the results you want for your muscle groups a little more quickly. Using supplements can really be an effective strategy when you combine them with proper weightlifting techniques and a personal trainer. 

A good supplement for you to include with this type of exercise is the Ultimate Pump Stack for endurance and recovery. This is a combination of our top pump products, and this unique combination of ingredients will spike your nitric oxide production, muscle hydration, blood flow, and muscle endurance. 

It has been shown that following a high protein diet can increase your metabolism and give you more energy to put into your workout routine. An increase in dietary protein intake can be metabolically advantageous, mainly for overweight and obese adults attempting weight loss. With all other things being equal, more protein is beneficial for lean body mass retention and for generating greater fat loss.

Time to Work Those Arms

As you can see, there are lots of cable machine exercises for arms that you really should add to your strength training workouts. It doesn’t really matter if your main bodybuilding goal is to increase your strength or simply to put on a lot of extra bulk. Either way, these exercises will prove to be very effective. Try a few of them out to see for yourself the kind of results they can provide.