train cable crossover

Maximize Your Training With The Cable Crossover

The cable crossover is a total body exercise machine that can be used to train countless exercises. Let’s take a look at a few.

Learn Your Way Around The Cable Crossover

The cable crossover is a fantastic training tool that has versatile pulleys and a crossbar chin-up attachment. It enables you to perform both traditional bodybuilding exercises and functional training movements.

The basic cable crossover machine has two high/low pulley systems linked together with a crossbar. The pulleys are swivel-mounted, allowing them to move in a more natural path. The weight stacks are easily changed. The more expensive units have additional attachments, such as special seats for performing lat pulldowns or preacher curls.

Exercises performed with cables require more stability than conventional machines. Therefore, you will generally use less weight than the same exercise performed on a cable crossover. However, before comparing a free weight exercise to a cable crossover variation, consider that often the pulley design creates a 2:1 ratio of resistance, such that 100 pounds on a cable crossover exercise may be equivalent to just 50 pounds on a barbell or dumbbell exercise. This is why most commercial gyms have weight stacks of at least 150 pounds each on their cable crossover machines.

Benefits of Training With The Cable Crossover

Cable crossover exercises are a useful way to instill variety into a program. They enable you to work the muscles from unique angles and with different strength curves. Compared to elastic band exercises, cable exercises are more functional as they provide resistance throughout the entire exercise, whereas bands provide minimal resistance at the start of the exercise.

For a few hundred ideas on what exercises you can do with the cable crossover, a remarkable resource is Bill Pearl’s classic, Key's To The Inner Universe. It’s impossible to list all the exercises you can train with a cable crossover, but here are a few for each of the major body parts.


The cable crossover is great for training the "six pack" muscles of the abs. Standing and kneeling crunches build the rectus abdominis without stressing the lower back in the way that sit ups do. A straight-arm pulldown with a high pulley attachment effectively trains the abs for those who find crunch-type movements uncomfortable.

Biceps and Triceps

There are numerous biceps and triceps exercises you can train with the cable crossover pulley system. Biceps curls and triceps pressdowns are likely the most popular. Change the implement or the height of the pulley to target different parts of the muscle.


The single most popular exercise for the chest on a cable crossover is the cable fly. In fact, cable chest flies are often simply called "cable crossovers." You can train several variations of this movement, such as performing with the low handles or with just one handle.

Hamstrings/Glutes/Lower Back

Try pull-throughs using a rope attachment connected to a low pulley to train the posterior chain muscles on a cable crossover. Single-leg deadlifts are another great way to target the glutes and hamstrings. You can also train conventional deadlifts with a low pulley, but the resistance is usually too light for anyone except a beginner.

Leg Adductors/Abductors

The cable crossover is useful for training the muscles of the leg adductors (pulling in) and abductors (extending out). The low pulley attachment and an ankle attachment enable you to perform these movements comfortably.


Use a low pulley to train split squats with a cable crossover machine. The low pulley affects the legs differently than a standard split squat with a barbell or dumbbell because the resistance pulls you forward rather than pushing you down. This activates the posterior chain muscles (especially the hamstrings) more.

Rotational Core Exercises

Rotational core exercises, such as the wood chop and reverse wood chop, are great for training the obliques with the cable crossover. The high/low pulley design of the cable crossover makes it easy to perform both standing and seated variations of these movements.


Pulleys allow for resistance throughout the entire movement of an exercise, making them ideal for shoulder exercises such as lateral raises. By changing the body position, you can effectively hit all areas of the shoulder.

Upper and Middle Back/Trapezius

The cable crossover provides many training options for hitting the upper back. Train lat pulldowns and rows to target the upper back muscles. More advanced trainees can train chin-ups and pull-ups if the unit comes with a chin-up bar attached to the crossbar. As for the upper trapezius, upright rows using the low pulleys are a good alternative to barbell and dumbbell variations.

Final Words

The cable crossover machine can be considered an on-the-spot, one-stop shop for your training needs. Rediscover this versatile exercise machine and see it can do for you!


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