How to Choose Between Different Cable Machine Attachments

Step-by-step Instructions

Here is what you need to do...
Step 1

Almost every gym has a cable machine. You know, those big apparatuses with a cable that is able to be moved up and down and has several different attachment options. If it's your first time in the gym (or even if you've gone for a little while now) these different attachments can seem foreign, making it hard to discern which ones should be used for which exercises. Have no fear, because in the following paragraphs I'll explain the purpose of each attachment, and I've also linked the most reliable versions of those attachments below for those who plan to acquire a cable machine in their home gym. Read on, fellow lifters

Step 2

Cable Rope Attachment The rope is the most commonly seen attachment for any cable machine. This rope is almost always black, thickly threaded, and comes with rubber stoppers at each end that serve as handles. Rope attachments are best used for exercises such as tricep pressdowns, face pulls, rope curls, and overhead extensions. Whether you're in a gym or building your own gym, you'll find yourself using the cable attachment more often than almost any other.

Step 3

Straight Bar Attachment The straight bar attachment is another that is commonly seen inside most gyms. This attachment runs about 20inches wide, and the one linked below comes with rubber stoppers on the end. Sometimes, after a lot of wear and tear, those stoppers fall off, which is occasionally the case in gyms. Straight bar attachments are used for upright rows, curls, straight bar pressdowns, horizontal curls, shrugs, etc. This bar is a must have if you're planning to create your own home gym, and it's a must use if you find it inside of the gym you attend.

Step 4

Double D Handle Attachment No, it's not what you think it is. Although I wish it were. The double D handle is essentially a 3D V-shaped handle bar. This attachment is typically found on the seated row station, but it can always be unhooked and applied to other exercises: face pulls, standing rows, close-grip lat pulldowns. This isn't the most necessary attachment for a home gym, but it will certainly be used at least once a week.

Step 5

Lat Pulldown Attachment The lat pulldown attachment runs about 36inches and has a slight downward bend on the end of each side. The bend serves as a natural hand grip, and generally comes with rubber over the handles. These bars will always be found on the lat pulldown machine, but they can be used for other purposes, such as: wide-grip cable curls, wide-grip tricep pressdowns, wide-grip overhead presses, wide-grip upright rows, wide-grip cable shrugs, wide-grip seated rows. Essentially, this is the only wide attachment for the cable machines, and for any exercise you feel can be made better by using a wide grip, this is your best friend. Necessary for lat pulldowns, absolutely helpful for the rest.

Step 6

Single D Handle The single D handle serves as the cable version of a dumbbell. It is basically the only attachment that operates with one hand, and you'll find it in virtually every gym with a cable machine. This attachment can be used for any exercise done on the cables, it only limits that exercise to being done one hand at a time- which is necessary for some peoples' training regimen. Having this for a home gym with a cable apparatus is absolutely necessary.

Step 7

Tricep V Bar The tricep V bar is just that- a downward shaped V for a bar. It operates well as a stable way to do tricep pressdowns, tricep overhead presses, and face pulls. It can also work as a cable curling bar, and a bar for supine cable front rows. This bar is in most gyms, and if you're considering a cable machine at home, it should be in yours too.

Special Attention

Difficulties people often experience or parts that need special attention to do it right.

The hardest part about picking the right cable machine attachment is figuring out exactly what you want out of your exercise. Most of these attachments are somewhat interchangeable (pun intended), so whichever one you decide to use comes down to your own personal goals. Now that you have the knowledge to know what each one is best for, go forth and claim yourself some attachments.

Stuff You'll Need

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Funny or interesting story about this topic...

While it is true that most of the attachments function in similar ways, and can be used mostly for the same exercises; there are some exercises that are simply impossible without the right attachment. For instance, there was one time I saw a fella in my college gym trying to do seated rows with a V-bar, The angles of his hands looked so painful that it was difficult for me to watch (but I watched anyway). He somehow got through his set and after that, I saw him immediately switch the attachment over to a Double D bar. Some people, I'll tell ya. Too bad he didn't have a chance to read this tip first.

When did you first do this & how did you get started?

Since my dad had a lot of fitness magazines laying around when I was a kid, I got an early start on figuring out which exercises could be done best with different attachments on the cable machine. I use the cable machine in damn near every workout, so I'm pretty familiar with the ins and outs of different attachments. Now I'm passing that knowledge on to you. So whether you're setting the cable machine up in your own home, or you're testing it out for the first time at your local gym, go forth with confidence. Happy lifting,

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