December 07, 2021 8 min read

The cable machine is the one machine in the gym that offers endless opportunities for training every muscle group in your body. 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 legs.

You can also use some cable exercises in your leg workouts.

If you don’t really know how to use a cable machine, this article is for all you beginners. Below you will find ten effective cable machine leg exercises that you can do to build muscle on leg day. But first, you’ll need to get warmed up.

Getting Started

Especially if you tend to go to the gym early in the morning, your muscles are usually going to be quite stiff as you get started. Warming up properly for the exercises you will be doing and following a regular eating plan are a few of the things that many new lifters sometimes overlook when they are starting a full body workout routine.

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 legs ready to work. Also, the bench can be used for modified planks by placing your forearms on the bench and holding a plank position. 

Do a few planks to strengthen your core muscles and upper body, and get yourself feeling generally loose for your leg workout.

Cable Exercises for Your Legs 

Once you have finished warming up, head over to the cable machine. There are plenty of different ways you can use the cable machine to work your legs and do glute exercises too, and here are just a few of them for you to try. Be sure to keep your back straight and never bend your spine as you do these exercises.

Exercise #1: Cable Squats 

 

This exercise works your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. We recommend doing 12 to 15 reps as you are learning the proper form. Follow the sequence of steps below to get started with this exercise.

  • Attach a straight bar or narrow grip handle to the low pulley of the cable machine. 
  • Hold the handle on extended arms and walk the cable out a few steps. 
  • Keep your weight in your heels, push your hips back, and bend your knees as you drop down into a squat.
  • Stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground and hold for a second in this position. 
  • Stand up straight and squeeze your glutes hard at the top of the movement before doing your next repetition.

Exercise #2: Cable Alternating Step Ups 

 

This exercise works your glutes, quads, and calves. We recommend doing 12 to 15 reps for each leg as you are learning the proper form. You can also do this exercise using one leg at a time, such as doing 12 reps on your left leg followed by 12 reps on your right leg. Follow the sequence of steps below to get started with this exercise. 

  • Place a box or bench in front of the cable machine with your thigh parallel to the ground. 
  • Attach a single handle to each side of the cable machine on the low pulley and grab one in each hand.
  • With extended arms holding the cables, step up to the bench with the foot of your weaker leg first. 
  • Keep your spine neutral and your chest up. 
  • Push up until you are standing with both feet on top of the bench.
  • Step back down with the same foot you stepped up with first, and start your next repetition with the opposite foot.

Exercise #3: Cable Pull Throughs 

 

This exercise works your glutes and hamstrings. We recommend doing 10 to 12 reps as you are learning the proper form. Follow the sequence of steps below as you begin to get started with this exercise. 

  • Fix a rope attachment to the low pulley of the cable machine. 
  • Hold one side of the rope handle in each hand and step over the cable so it is in between your legs. Your back should be facing the cable machine. 
  • Walk a few steps out from the cable machine. 
  • Stand straight with the rope handles in your extended arms. 
  • With a slight bend in your knees and a neutral spine, hinge at the hips, driving them back and allowing the cable to go through your legs behind you to stretch your hamstrings. 
  • Engage your glutes and pull up to the standing position.
  • Squeeze at the top of the movement and begin your next repetition.

Exercise #4: Cable Romanian Deadlifts 

 

This exercise works your glutes and hamstrings. We recommend doing 10 to 12 reps as you are learning the proper form. Follow the sequence of steps below as you begin to get started with this exercise.

  • Attach a straight bar handle to the cable machine on the low pulley. 
  • Hold the bar with an overhand grip, shoulder width apart. 
  • Walk the cable out and stand with your feet about hip-width apart. 
  • Stand straight and hold the bar with extended arms and your weight in your heels. 
  • Bend your knees and push your hips backwards.
  • Lowering your chest towards the floor and the bar towards the cable machine to create a stretch through your hamstrings and lower back.
  • Pull back to the starting position using your hamstrings and glutes.

Exercise #5: Cable Single Leg Deadlifts

 

This exercise works your glutes, adductors, and hamstrings. We recommend doing 10 to 12 reps for each leg as you are learning the proper form. Follow the sequence of steps below as you begin to get started with this exercise. 

  • Attach a single handle to the low pulley of the cable machine. 
  • Hold the cable with an extended arm in the hand opposite to the leg you are working. 
  • Stand with your feet close together and then hinge forward at the hips.
  • Keep one leg grounded and send the other behind you while maintaining a neutral spine. 
  • Keep your core engaged to assist with balance. Think of your hips as a pivot so your chest will only go down as far as your leg comes up. 
  • Get your back and floating leg parallel to the ground before engaging through the glute of your working leg and pulling up to the starting position. 
  • Keep your reps slow and steady and do all of them on one leg before changing sides.

Exercise #6: Cable Calf Raises

 

This exercise works your calves. We recommend doing 15 to 20 reps as you are learning the proper form. Follow the sequence of steps below as you begin to get started with cable calf raises. 

  • Place a step or weight plate for you to stand on in front of the cable machine. 
  • Attach a straight bar handle to the cable machine on the low pulley. 
  • Stand facing the machine with the front of your feet on the step or weight plate while holding the bar with extended arms.
  • Lower your heels towards the ground then push up onto your tiptoes until your calves are fully contracted. 
  • Return to the starting position and then push straight back up. 
  • Don’t spend too long in the bottom position. 
  • Aim for maximum tension in your calves.

Exercise #7: Cable Squat Walk-Outs 

 

This exercise works your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. We recommend doing 3 to 5 reps as you are learning the proper form. Follow the sequence of steps below as you begin to get started with this exercise. 

  • Attach a rope handle or straight bar handle to the low pulley of the cable machine. 
  • Hold the cable attachment with extended arms and walk it out a few steps. 
  • Go into a squat position and then hold it with a neutral spine and lifted chest.
  • Take five steps backwards followed by five steps forward. 
  • Keep your weight in your heels when you take the steps to allow for maximum glute engagement and make sure your knees don’t collapse inwards. 
  • Each way back and forward counts as one rep. 

Exercise #8: Cable Assisted Pistol Squat 

 

This exercise works your glutes, quads, and calves. We recommend doing 6 to 8 reps as you are learning the proper form. Follow the sequence of steps below as you begin to get started with this exercise. 

  • Attach the narrow grip handle to the top pulley of the cable machine.
  • For an unassisted cable machine pistol squat, attach the narrow grip handle to the machine at around waist height.
  • Stand a few feet from the cable machine and pull the handle towards your chest. 
  • Do a one-legged low squat and return to the standing position through your heel.
  • Complete all repetitions on one leg before starting on the other side.

Exercise #9: Cable Reverse Lunge

 

This exercise works your glutes and quads. We recommend doing 10 to 12 reps for each leg as you are learning the proper form. Follow the sequence of steps below as you begin to get started with this exercise. 

  • Attach the rope handle to the low pulley of the cable machine. 
  • Stand with your back towards the cable machine and swivel under the cable so that the rope handle is behind your head and your hands are just above each of your shoulders. 
  • Walk the cable out to give you enough space to go into a reverse lunge. 
  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart to start, then take a wide step backwards into a reverse lunge.
  • Bend both knees and lower yourself towards the ground. 
  • Keep your chest up and your weight in the heel of your front foot during the lunge. 
  • Step back into the starting position and repeat on the same leg for the desired reps.

Exercise #10: Cable Front Squats 

 

This exercise works your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. We recommend doing 12 to 15 reps as you are learning the proper form. Follow the sequence of steps below as you begin to get started with this glute workout.

  • Attach the straight bar handle to the low cable pulley of the machine. 
  • Face the machine and grab the handle with an underhand grip. 
  • Pull the handle up towards your chest so your hands are near your collar bones and the bar is running across your chest.
  • Engage your core and push back and down into a squat position while you hold the bar against your chest.
  • Hold at the bottom for a second and then push back up through your heels into the standing position.
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement.

Hypertrophy of Muscle Groups

As you can see, there are so many varieties of lower body exercises that can be performed as a cable workout or even with resistance bands. Some of them tend to place more tension on the muscles throughout the entire exercise.

This causes your muscles to fatigue faster, which leads to hypertrophy of the muscle groups and ultimately more impressive strength gains.

Always try to strike a balance between adequate weight and number of reps during your workouts. Try to complete about 10 to 12 reps of each of your leg extensions with enough weight so the last few reps are a challenge, but not enough of a challenge to prevent the use of proper form and technique. Some lifters use an ankle strap when doing these exercises, but you are not likely to need one of those until you get to a more advanced level.

Using Supplements

In addition to performing the best exercises we have listed above, you may want to try some supplements to get the type of results you want for your muscle groups a little more quickly. Using special supplements can work really well when you combine them with proper weightlifting techniques and a personal trainer. 

A good supplement for you to try and include with this type of exercise might be the ULTIMATE PUMP STACK for endurance and recovery.

It has been shown that following a high protein diet can increase your metabolism and provide you with more energy. An increase in dietary protein intake can be metabolically advantageous, mainly for overweight and obese adults who need to lose weight. With all other things being equal, more protein is better for generating greater fat loss and for lean body mass retention.

Start Exercising

There are lots of cable machine exercises for your legs. 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 for your goals. Try a few of them out to discover the type of results you are looking for.