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Single Cable Machine Full-Body Workout

Here is a full-body cable machine workout requiring just one side of any typical cable stack and the rope attachment. Two long single handles can also be used as an alternative. Due to design, most cable machines are adjustable and have tactile feedback. Become familiar with how to lower and raise the cable and change weights before beginning then you are good to go!

Tricep Extension

To perform tricep extensions, have the cable raised as high as possible. Grasp the rope attachment with palms facing and pinkies placed as low as possible on the rope. Pull the rope until your elbows are tucked into your sides and upper arms are pointing straight to the floor. Your elbow will be bent so your forearm is in contact with your bicep. This is the starting position. Maintain this upper arm position and lock out your elbows by flexing the triceps. Now bend the elbow so the arm returns to the starting position. This is one rep. Rinse and repeat with good form.

Description: Evan standing tall, elbows tucked to his side. His forearms sit parallel to the floor as he holds the weight.

Description: Evan extends his arms, flexing his triceps and bringing his hands towards his sides.

Bicep Curl

To perform curls, lower the cable as low as possible. Grasp the rope so that when you are standing, your thumbs are against the ends of the rope and palms face one another. Then, keeping your upper arm pointed to the ground, flex your elbow to close the joint as much as possible without the upper arm leaving its position perpendicular to the floor. You have the option of twisting the rope open at the top to face your palms toward the ceiling. This will activate the supination aspect of the elbow flexors further.

Description: Evan stands tall, holding the cable out in front of his body.

Description: Evan pulls the weight up, using his biceps to bring his hands towards his face.

Bent Over Rows

Now it’s time for some good back work. Lower the cable to its lowest possible position. To set up for the bent over row, grab the rope with pinkies against the ends of the rope and stand tall. Back up to get the weight off of the stack then take another half step or so back. This will give you more room to be bent over without slamming the weight back down on the stack. Now, to bend over into position, keep your core tight and back straight, push your butt backwards placing increased pressure in your heels. Keep hinging at the hips until your chest is facing exactly where the cable is coming out of the machines. If you feel like you are falling forward, place more pressure in your heels or check to make sure your knees are bent letting your butt sit backwards instead of letting your chest fall out the front too much. Once you have found this position, it’s time to row! Palms facing, pull the ends of the rope to your lower ribs. Focus on dragging your elbows backwards and pinching your shoulder blades together. Reverse the row to reset to the start. Reversing the rope back in will tempt your shoulders to slump forward but keep a big proud chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together to keep everything nice and safe. You can now perform one of my absolute favorite back exercises!

Description: Bent over, with a proud, tall chest, Evan holds the cable out in front of him.

Description: Evan pulls the weight in, using his elbows to drive backwards and bring his hands to his midsection.


Now for the posterior chain: glutes, hamstrings, and low back. Keeping the cable at its lowest setting, face away from the machine, grip the rope with thumbs on the ends and stand tall. Your arms will be long and never bend during this entire exercise. Walk away from the cable stack a couple small steps, staying tall. Even up your feet and root yourself with a slight lean forward. Place good pressure in your heels and hinge backwards toward the cable stack. Still will be reminiscent of your hinge on the bent over row setup with the caveat of facing the other way. This hinge will load up your hips. Once you reached a stretched position without rounding your back over, explosively push your hips back through to the start position. Rinse and repeat these hinges for reps, keeping explosive on the way up and controlled on the lowering portion. Play with balance, foot position and distance from the stack to get the best glute contraction you can.

Description: A few steps away from the machine, Evan stands, slightly bent forward. He holds the cable in between his legs.

Description: Evan hinges at the hips, loading his posterior for the push back to a standing position.

So there you have it, four excellent exercises you can do with just one cable stack and a rope attachment. Here’s an example of how you could program these movements for a quick, effective workout.

The Workout

2 warmup sets of 8 of each exercise before starting.

10-12 challenging reps of tricep extensions

Followed immediately by lowering the cable and:

10-12 challenging reps of bicep curls

Rest 30 seconds and repeat for 3-5 total sets of this pairing

4 sets of 15-20 challenging reps of bent over rows

Rest only 30 seconds between sets, lowering the weight if necessary

4 sets of 15-20 challenging reps of pull-throughs

Rest only 30 seconds between sets, lowering the weight if necessary




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