Looking for a way to tone your legs and glutes and don't know where to start?

Cable ankle strap exercises are a fantastic way to strengthen your lower body.

In my experience, with only a few workout sessions each week, you can expect to see noticeable results in the appearance of your legs and glutes, fast!

Before we dive into my favorite exercises, there are some important aspects to note regarding using ankle straps with the cable machine.

Set up and use is important so make sure you don't skip past these important points, exercises to come straight after!

1. Choose The Right Straps

Not all ankle straps are created equal. In fact, there's a big difference between a cheap strap and a high-quality one.

What you'll want to look for are durable materials all throughout.

That means heavy-duty polyester, stainless steel rings and hooks, a strap with a mighty velcro strip, and generous foam padding.

From my experience, brand name and color mean nothing, so you can certainly find some affordable yet very durable ankle straps without breaking the bank.

2. How To Use Them Correctly

There are only a few rules you need to follow when using ankle straps.

First, make sure the strap is secure around your ankle before attaching it to the cable pulley. Next up, make sure it's attached securely.

Also, you can get double and single ankle straps, which allow you to do both double-sided and unilateral cable exercises, so know which one’s you need and when.

Furthermore, when removing the strap, always release the tension on the cable first before unclasping it from your ankle.

Finally, be sure to adjust the machine's weight according to your strength and fitness level. That's it!

10 Cable Ankle Strap Exercises Proven For Lower Body Toning

The cable machine is perfect for targeting the glutes, because the muscle remains under tension for longer and you can use it to target all the muscles surrounding your hips from a variety of different angles.

Not only do these exercises strengthen the glutes, they also help promote hip and knee joint stability so you can stay injury free.

I have handpicked 10 of the best exercises you can do with a cable ankle strap, let's dive in.

1. Cable Straight Leg Hip Flexions

Muscle Targeted: Glutes, quads, hip flexors
Cable Straight Leg Hip Flexions

A very beginner-friendly move, the cable straight leg hip flexion is perfect for those looking to build strength and tone legs. Deceptively straightforward, this compound-esque exercise does wonders for your lower body.

When performed correctly, you should feel the burn in your glutes, quads, and hip flexors. If you want to learn more, don't hesitate to jump over to our full cable leg exercises guide.


  • Strengthens your iliopsoas muscles responsible for hip flexion as well as pelvis and lower back stability.
  • Helps alleviate lower back pain.
  • Strengthens the hips which is important for every day movement and sports performance. 

How To Do It:

  1. Attach the ankle strap to one leg and the cable machine.
  2. Face away from the machine and keep your body perfectly straight.
  3. Pull your weighted leg upwards and forward, keeping your knee straight.
  4. Once you reach a 45-degree angle, hold the position for a second.
  5. Control the weight, slowly lowering your leg to the starting position.
  6. Switch legs and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you're struggling to maintain the balance, feel free to hold onto something. 

2. Cable Inner Thigh Pulls

Muscle Targeted: Adductors, gluteus maximus
Cable Inner Thigh Pulls

Targeting all three of your inner thigh muscles - the adductor longus, magnus, and brevis- the cable inner thigh pull is an excellent exercise for getting your legs ready for the summer.

Apart from the aesthetic benefits, strengthening these muscles will help improve the overall stability of your knee and hip joints, leading to injury-proof legs and better overall performance while running, jumping, and even performing compound exercises like squats.

Glutes will also get a solid workout from this exercise, but as they're the secondary muscle group here, they won't be taxed as hard as your inner thighs.


  • Strengthening the adductors helps prevent injuries.
  • Helps stabalize muscles around the hip and knee joints.
  • Better sports performance. 

How To Do It:

  1. Attach the ankle strap to the cable machine.
  2. Stand straight facing the cable machine with your back, with your working leg closest to the pulley.
  3. Keeping them hip-width apart, pull your outside leg (right or left leg) across and in front of your body while keeping your knee straight.
  4. Hold the final position for a second before slowly releasing to the starting position.
  5. Control the weight and leg movement on your way back, and keep the foot elevated until you're done with reps.
  6. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

A common mistake I see when watching people perform this exercise is bending the knee on your working leg or letting the ankle twist. Your working side should be stable and in a fixed position. I recommend going lighter if you cannot hold a stable position.  

3. Cable Hip Abductions

Muscle Targeted: Vastul lateralis, TFL, gluteus medius
Cable Hip Abductions

Mostly focusing on the lateral thigh muscles, the vastus lateralis, and the teardrop-shaped muscle above it, known as the tensor fasciae latae or TFL, cable hip abductors are a must-perform exercise for anyone serious about training their legs and glutes.

Often overlooked, these muscles play an important role in stabilizing your hips, as well as aiding in the movement and the overall stability of your legs, making this ankle straps exercise a must-perform.


  • Helps reduce knee valgus, a condition where the knees cave inwards.
  • Reduces the risk of knee injury.
  • Stabalizes the hip.

How To Do It:

  1. Attach the ankle strap to one leg.
  2. Stand straight, facing the cable machine sideways, with your working leg away from the pulley.
  3. Keeping both legs straight, pull the cuffed leg directly out to the side until your reach a 45-degree angle. Keep your toes pointed up while controlling the leg movement and keeping the core engaged.
  4. Hold the final position for a second.
  5. Slowly lower your leg and control the weight on your way back.
  6. Repeat reps on each leg.

Tips From A Trainer!

I always remind my clients not to use momentum or swing from your hips. Choose a weight that you can control with your working leg and you'll get much more out of this exercise. 

4. Cable 45-Degree Kickbacks

Muscle Targeted: Glutes, hamstrings
Cable 45-Degree Kickbacks

One of the least challenging moves on this list, the 45-degree kickback is perfect for those who are looking to engage their glute muscles and hamstrings in a way that other exercises might not be able to.

This cable exercise works your posterior chain from a different angle compared to some other glute and hamstring exercises, which is always beneficial for all-around muscle development.


  • Improves overall body balance and coordination.
  • Develops mind-muscle connection.
  • Great choice for beginners with weak glutes.

How To Do It:

  1. Attach the ankle strap to the cable machine.
  2. Face the cable machine.
  3. Keep your feet together and pull back the working leg at a 45-degree angle until you feel the stretch in your upper glutes. Keep your knee straight.
  4. Hold the final position for a second.
  5. Control the weight on your way back.
  6. Repeat reps on each leg.

Tips From A Trainer!

Arching your back is a no no with this exercise. I always tell my clients to keep their spine neutral by engaging the core and only pulling the leg up to the height that they can maintain this position. 

5. Cable Forward Leg Extensions

Muscle Targeted: Quads, VMO
Cable Forward Leg Extensions

Often performed as a part of a knee rehabilitation program, cable forward leg extensions are a terrific way to hit the fourth quadriceps muscle, known as the vastus medialis oblique or VMO.

This muscle is often neglected in training, as you can't quite hit it performing regular leg extensions. That's what makes this movement a great alternative to leg extensions.

What you get from this exercise is a well-rounded quad development as you’ll high both inner and outer thighs, but also a bulletproof patella, which is essential for anyone looking to stay nimble and injury-free.[1]


  • Challenges balance and coordination.
  • Builds a strong core.
  • Great modification for the leg extension if you don't have access to this machine.

How To Do It:

  1. Attach the ankle strap to one leg.
  2. Face the away from the machine.
  3. Lift your weighted leg slightly off the floor.
  4. Bend your working leg, forming a 90-degree angle.
  5. Kick your foot forward, locking your knee and contracting your quads.
  6. Hold the final position for a second.
  7. Control the weight on your way back to the starting position.
  8. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you are unable to maintain balance during this exercise, or you'd rather remove the balance aspect, hold onto something for stability. 

6. Cable Standing Hamstring Curls

Muscle Targeted: Hamstrings, glutes
Cable Standing Hamstring Curls

Opposite to the previous exercise, the standing cable hamstring curls is a beginner-friendly exercise that is mostly used for targeting the hamstring muscles.

While this isolation exercise does work your posterior chain, it's not quite as effective in working the glutes as some of the other cable exercises on this list. What I always promise my clients is that cable machine leg curls will set your hamstrings ablaze far more than regular hamstring curls - if you perform them correctly.

This movement is also a fantastic substitute for regular hamstring curls when you don't have a machine.


  • Constant tension on the muscle for better muscle strengthening.
  • Trains knee flexion function of hamstrings.
  • Increase performance of the hamstrings for sprinting, jumping and explosive sports.  

How To Do It:

  1. Attach the ankle strap to one ankle.
  2. Face the cable machine.
  3. Start from a neutral position with a slight bend in your knee.
  4. Pull your foot backwards towards your glutes as high as you comfortably can.
  5. Squeeze the hamstring and hold the final position for a second.
  6. Control the weight on your way back to starting position, and don't lock your knee at the end.
  7. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

I always emphasis the importance of making sure you don't jerk the weights, especially if you have bad knees. Always control the weight throughout the exercise. 

7. Cable Prone Hamstring Curls

Muscle Targeted: Hamstrings, glutes
Cable Lying Down Hamstring Curls

A step-up from a banded lying leg curl, prone cable hamstring curls is a fantastic finisher exercise.

The beauty of this exercise is that you can really focus on the working muscle, as there's no swinging or momentum involved, making it quite hard to cheat or injure yourself.

Another benefit of this exercise is that it's engaging your hamstrings in both directions, making it perfect for making the most out of your set.


  • Works on each leg separately which is ideal for reducing imbalances.
  • Good for those who are rehabbing injury.
  • Creates constant tension on the hamstrings, ideal for muscular hypertrophy.

How To Do It:

  1. Attach the ankle strap to the cable pulley.
  2. Lie flat down on a flat bench and face away from the cable machine, keeping your knees at the edge of the bench.
  3. Push your thighs and hips into the bench, isolating your hamstrings and glutes.
  4. Curl your feet towards your glutes as far as you comfortably can.
  5. Squeeze the hamstring and hold the final position for a second.
  6. Control the weight on your way back without locking your knees.
  7. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

I often see people go too heavy on this and their hips lift as they bring their heel to their butt. Make sure you use a weight that allows you to keep you hips down throughout the exercise.

8. Cable Reverse & Lateral Lunges

Muscle Targeted: Glutes, quads, adductors, calves
Cable Reverse Lunges

Cable reverse and cable lateral lunges will engage most of your lower body muscles. The best thing about cable lunges is that they're more than just strengthening exercises. They require quite a bit of balance and stability.

Unlike weighted reverse and lateral lunges, cable lunges provide more resistance during the eccentric phase of the movement putting additional strain on your muscle fibers.


  • Develops both stability and strength.
  • Builds a strong core.
  • Promotes better body awareness, balance and coordination.

How To Do It - Cable Reverse Lunges:

  1. Attach the ankle strap to the cable pulley machine.
  2. Face the machine with your feet together and an ankle strap attached to one leg.
  3. While keeping your spine in a natural position, step back into a reverse lunge position with the attached leg.
  4. Keeping your chest upright and core engaged, step back up into the starting position.
  5. Repeat with the other leg.
Lateral Cable Lunge

How To Do It - Cable Lateral Lunges:

  1. Stand sideways to the machine with your feet together and an ankle strap attached to the further-away leg.
  2. With your core engaged, step out into a side lunge position with your attached leg, moving away from the machine.
  3. Keep the resting leg fully extended at all times, and keep the weight on your heels.
  4. Step back up into the starting position, controlling the weight with your attached leg.
  5. Repeat with the other leg.

Tips From A Trainer!

I always emphasis keeping your chest up and torso vertical during lunges. If you are collapsing forwards then coming out of the lunge, the weight is too heavy. My top tip is reduce the weight and keep a stable torso.  

Related Article - Benefits Of Lunges

9. Weighted Leg Raises

Muscle Targeted: Rectus abdominis, obliques, hip flexors, quads, hamstrings
Weighted Leg Raises

While primarily an exercise for tight and toned abs, weighted leg raises will also work your lower body muscles, specifically your hip flexors, quads, and hamstrings.

Cable weight leg raises are a much more safe and beginner-friendly version of the exercise as they take away the adductors from the equation, allowing you to focus on the working muscles instead of how to prevent the medicine ball or a dumbbell from falling on your face.


  • Improves range of motion in your hips.
  • Better time under tension compared to using free weights.
  • Strengthens the hip flexors very effectively. 

How To Do It:

  1. Attach the cable to both legs.
  2. Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and close together with weighted ankles towards the cable pulley machine.
  3. Slowly lift both weight ankles straight up, keeping the legs straight all throughout the motion until your glutes are off the ground and your body makes an "L" shape.
  4. Hold the final position for a second.
  5. Lower your legs slowly, without touching the ground, controlling the weight on your way to starting position.
  6. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

I always find that people struggle with balance during this exercise. If this it you then feel free to rest your behind on your hands. 

10. Cable Mountain Climbers

Muscle Targeted: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, abs
Cable Mountain Climbers

Another great ankle strap exercise, cable mountain climbers are a great compound movement to tone your glutes and legs - especially the former.

Cable mountain climbers are a more challenging and effective version of the bare exercise as they put additional strain on your quads while also engaging your stabilizer muscles all throughout the body.


  • Creates a strong and stable pelvis.
  • The easiest method to adding weight to this core exercise.
  • Effectively targets the obliques and hip flexors.

How To Do It:

  1. Attach the cable ankle strap to both of your legs and assume a high plank position.
  2. Keep your hands under your shoulders, and keep your back flat and core engaged. Balance the weight between your toes and hands. Do not drop your hips.
  3. Pull with one leg at a time, bringing your weighted knee as close to the chest as possible.
  4. Hold the knee to chest position for a second.
  5. Move your weighted leg back into the starting position while controlling the weight.
  6. Repeat with the other leg for a full rep.
  7. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

Make sure you don't twist your torso as you bent your knee up towards your chest. Keep stable by engaging the core. I like to think about bracing for a punch as a way of reminding myself to keep my core tight.  

Why Are Ankle Straps So Popular For Cable Machines?

A cable ankle strap is a simple wrap-around ankle band attachment for a cable machine that allows you to add resistance to exercises like lunges, squats, and every other exercise we've just mentioned.

What you can also do is turn these things into wrist wraps, allowing you to perform cable exercises for the upper body, as well.

1. Helps Sculpt Your Lower Body To Perfection

One of the main reasons people love incorporating ankle strap exercises is because they're extremely effective at toning and shaping your lower body, as evident from this guide.

If you want to get ripped, naturally you have to focus on your diet, but adding some extra resistance to your lower body workouts will help you sculpt a firm and toned backside that will look amazing in any outfit.

2. Ability To Perform Many Exercises

There are only so many weighted leg-toning cable exercises you can do. Leg raises, donkey kicks, and weighted lunges only work so much of your lower body.

But with a cable ankle strap workout, we can pretty much target any muscle in your lower body with any exercise imaginable.

A cable pulley makes you get creative with your workouts and target muscles that you normally wouldn't while performing other movements.

And, it’s not just leg exercises these can help with. Ankle straps could even assist with weighted cable crunches and alternatives or even some upper body exercises.

3. Comfortable To Use (Remains Snug)

As long as you find comfortable and high-quality ankle straps, they should remain snug on your leg throughout your entire workout.

This is extremely important as you don't want the strap to slide down your leg or burst open while you're performing a tough exercise.

A good quality ankle strap will also have some sort of padding to make it more comfortable to wear and prevent burns or scratches.

4. Enhances Balance & Agility

The one thing I love about adding a pulley machine to the mix is that it forces your body to recruit more stabilizer muscles.

This results in better balance and agility, two extremely important yet often overlooked, aspects of fitness.

What good are toned legs if you can't jump, run, or move side to side without losing your balance or, even worse, injuring yourself?[2]

5. Increased Stamina & Athletic Performance

Most pulley machine workouts with ankle straps will get your blood pumping (especially the mountain climbers) and your heart rate up, resulting in increased stamina and better athletic performance.

As a trainer, I always try and put emphasis on athletic performance, as this is what ultimately matters whether you're an athlete or just looking to get in better shape.

Furthermore, athletic performance usually translates to a better physique, which isn't necessarily true the other way around.

Your Cable Ankle Strap Exercise Questions Answered

What can I use instead of an ankle strap?

Some of the ankle straps cable exercises we've mentioned could also be performed with a Theraband or any other kind of resistance band.

Do gyms provide ankle straps to members?

More often than not, gyms have a few ankle straps for cable machines available for members to use. However, these can be worn out, so make sure they're in good condition before using them.

Where can you get ankle straps?

Any good sporting goods store should have them, or you can buy them online from stores like Amazon or Rogue.

Can you do cable kickbacks without an ankle strap?

You could perform cable kickbacks with a foot harness, but that's about it.


Still thinking toned legs and glutes are out of your reach? Didn't think so.

Now that you know how to use ankle straps and which toning and strengthening leg exercises to perform, there's no excuse not to achieve the powerful and toned legs and glutes.


1. https://meridian.allenpress.com/jat/article/44/3/264/110915/Two-Modes-of-Weight-Training-Programs-and-Patellar
2. https://www.pmr.theclinics.com/article/S1047-9651(05)00026-4/fulltext

Jo Taylor

Jo Taylor

Hi, I’m Jo. I love sunrise swims, cold water immersion and cats. I have been dedicated to strength training for the past 14 years. I became a qualified Personal Trainer in 2020, and am passionate about helping my clients get stronger. Visit Jo Taylors Website