15 Cable Arm Exercises (Sleeve-Splitting Workouts At Home)

Cable arm exercises are more effective at building strong arms than almost any other type of workout. The cable action lets you engage different muscle fibers and work your arms from every angle. [1]

People are putting down their dumbbells and barbells and reaching for cable machines instead.

To help you join in with this trend, we've compiled a list of the 15 best cable arm exercises to help you grow massive arms.

1. Cable Rope Curls

Cable rope curls are one of the best exercises you can do using a cable machine. The smooth movement makes them perfect for beginners, and it's very difficult to get the form wrong.

The constant tension helps you increase the strength and size of your biceps more than almost any other arm workout.

Cable rope curls can be performed on a single pulley cable machine, and they're best with a straight bar attachment.

Muscles Worked

Cable machine curls are an effective cable arm exercise because they completely isolate your biceps. You can perform single arm exercises to target one side or use both hands to target both biceps.

How To

Set the cable machine to the lowest pulley setting and grip the straight bar attachment. Face the machine with your arms fully extended, and curl the bar up to shoulder height.

Your biceps should be fully flexed near the top of the movement. Pause, and then return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

The key to bicep growth is achieving strong contraction in the muscles. Keep your feet flat on the floor and your wrists straight so you can focus the effort on your biceps and get a much bigger pump.

15 Cable Arm Exercises (Sleeve-Splitting Workouts At Home)

2. Cable Tricep Extensions

Exercising your triceps is important for building strong, functional arms and cable triceps extensions are one of the best cable exercises for growing them.

Tricep extensions are typically performed with a rope attachment or rope handle and a single pulley cable machine. The movement is a little more difficult to get used to, so it's better suited for advanced lifters.

Muscles Worked

This workout isolates your triceps to help you grow big arms. It also engages your core to help keep your upper body stable throughout the movement. 

How To

Set the single cable pulley machine to the highest setting and face away from the machine. Reach up and grip the rope attachment, keeping your elbows bent.

Slowly straighten your elbows and squeeze your triceps to pull the rope away from the cable machine. When your elbows are fully extended and your triceps are fully flexed, then stop, pause, and return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

Keep your elbow bent as your grip the rope attachment, so you have further to pull it. This will give you a longer movement and provide more tension to your triceps.

Try to keep your wrist straight as you move the rope attachment forward. This will prevent you from engaging other muscles and keep the exercise focused on your triceps.

Cable Tricep Extensions

3. Single-Arm Cable Curls

This cable exercise is a great way to target one side of your body at a time and works well for those carrying an injury. You’ll need a single pulley cable machine and a bar or rope attachment for this exercise.

Muscles Worked

The single arm cable curl works the biceps on each arm.

How To

Set the single cable pulley machine to the lowest setting and stand facing the machine. Grip the rope or bar attachment in one hand, with your arms fully extended.

Slowly bend your arm, so it curls towards your shoulder. Pause at the top to create tension in the muscle, and then lower back down to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

Perform your reps slowly so you can maximize the tension on your biceps. Focus on keeping your wrist straight and your feet flat on the floor, so you force your biceps to do all the work.

Single-Arm Cable Curls

4. Single-Arm Cable Tricep Kickbacks

A tricep kickback helps you to shape the muscles of your upper arm and improve your strength. They are often used by athletes to improve physical performance, but they’re simple enough for people of all abilities.

This exercise is best with a straight bar attachment, but you can use a rope handle.

Muscles Worked

Single-arm cable tricep kickbacks isolate the triceps on each arm one at a time.

How To

Set the cable machine to the lowest pulley setting. Stand in front of the machine and grab the cable with one hand.

Lean your torso forward, so you're almost facing the floor, and hold the handle next to your upper legs, with your elbows bent. Extend your arm back until it's at full extension, pause, and return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

The starting position is key for this exercise. Using a split stance can give you greater stability for the tricep kickback, and by leaning your hips slightly forward, you'll help to isolate your triceps.

The entire exercise relies on getting your arm fully extended, so keep the movement slow and controlled. You’ll benefit from slowly lowering your hand back to starting position so your triceps are under strain for longer.

See Also - Best Gym Equipment For Arm Fat Loss

Single-Arm Cable Tricep Kickbacks

5. Arm Cable Preacher Curl

Single arm cable preacher curls are regarded as one of the most effective ways to get a bicep pump. This is a challenging cable exercise and not one for beginners, but advanced lifters know they are one of the best cable exercises.

Single arm cable preacher curls are best with a preacher bench, but you can always use a regular adjustable bench to get the right angle.

Muscles Worked

This is a great exercise to target the biceps brachii, which is the short head of your bicep.

How To

Set the machine to the lowest setting and move your preacher bench in front of the cable machine (you can also use an incline bench if you have one). Sit on the bench and hold the straight bar attachment in your hands.

Extend your arms to full extension resting on the bench, and slowly curl up towards your shoulder. Pause, and then slowly lower the bar back to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

It's essential to set your bench at the right angle so you can engage your biceps but not put them under too much strain. Your arms should be draped over the bench to allow your arms to get to full extension.

Arm Cable Preacher Curl

6. Low Cable Curls (Facing Away)

This is one of the different exercises that isn't as commonly used, but it can help you build muscle quickly.

By pulling from a low angle, you shorten the range of movement, making it more intense on your biceps, and by performing them regularly, you'll be able to grow stronger arms.

Muscles Worked

Low cable curls primarily engage your biceps, but they also engage your core muscles to keep you stable throughout the lift.

How To

Set your pulley to the lowest setting and stand facing away from it. Grip a rope attachment in an underhand grip, and hold them at waist height.

With your arms fully extended, curl the rope attachment handles up towards your shoulders. Pause at the highest point, and return to the start.

GGP Training Tips

It's easy to use your momentum to swing through each cable curl. Try to slowly lower the handle to avoid it and to keep the energy in your biceps.

Low Cable Curls (Facing Away)

7. High Pulley Cable Curls

High pulley curls provide a peak contraction much more intense than most cable crossover bicep workouts. The upper body workout crushes your biceps, leaving you feeling stronger and more pumped up.

Muscles Worked

High pulley curls target your biceps primarily but will also engage some smaller muscles around your shoulders.

How To

Set your handles to the highest setting on each cable tower and stand between them. Grip the handles in both hands and extend your arms out to the sides of your body. Curl the cables back in until it reaches your ears, pause, and then return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

Unlike many other cable exercises, this movement only focuses on horizontal movement rather than vertical. Keep your elbows above your shoulders throughout the movement to isolate your biceps and maximize your gains.

Pulley Cable Curls

8. Rope Hammer Curl

Dumbbell hammer curls are considered really effective at adding mass to your biceps and forearms, and rope hammer curls are just as good.

They're suitable for experienced lifters because they give a great pump, but you will need a rope attachment to perform them.

Muscles Worked

These curls work your forearms and the short head of your biceps to make your arms look noticeably bigger.

How To

Set the machine to the lowest setting and stand facing it. Grip the rope attachment in both hands with your palms facing each other.

Extend so you have your arms straight, and then curl the rope up to chest level. Pause and lower until you have your arms straight again, and then repeat.

GGP Training Tips

This exercise can be quite challenging because you have to keep the rope stable while managing the weight. Make sure you don't swing your back as your curl, or this could impact your gains.

Focus on form first and keep a tight rep range and a low setting on the weight stack. Only increase the weight and rep range once you’ve got the movement down.

Rope Hammer Curl

9. Straight Bar Tricep Pushdowns

Straight bar tricep pushdowns are a great way to enhance your overall upper body strength and increase the size of your arms.

They'll also help you improve your performance for other lifts, and they're useful for fitness enthusiasts to incorporate into their routine.

Muscles Worked

Tricep pushdowns completely isolate your triceps, and if you perform them properly, you shouldn't be using any other muscles.

How To

Set the straight bar attached to the cable machine to the highest setting. Grip the bar with an overhand grip and stand securely on the ground. Start with your elbows bent and hands at your upper chest level.

Press downwards and straighten your arms until the straight bar attachment goes below your waist. Pause, and return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

Control is the key to this movement. You want to keep the bicep and tricep cable bar attachment moving straight down and keep the cable straight. This will maximize the effort put in by your triceps and give you a better workout.

Straight Bar Tricep Pushdowns

10. One Arm Cable Pushdown

One arm cable chest exercises are often used to grow lean muscle, and this one arm cable pushdown is great for building stronger arms.

These will isolate your triceps on one side, and a personal trainer will often recommend them if you're recovering from injury.

Muscles Worked

One arm cable pushdowns will isolate the triceps on each side of your body and won’t engage any other muscles, which is why they’re one of the most effective exercises for arms.

How To

Set the machine, so the handle is at the highest point. Stand facing the machine and hold the handle in your right or left hand with an overhand grip. Lean forward slightly, and hold the handle with your arm bent and elbow around chest height.

Push downwards to engage your triceps and let your right or left hand drop below your waist. Hold for a second, and then return to the starting point.

GGP Training Tips

This pushdown relies on keeping your arms straight and elbows close to your body. Try to keep your wrist straight throughout the movement to properly engage your triceps and maximize the benefits.

One Arm Cable Pushdown

11. Overhead Cable Curls

Overhead cable curls involve curling your biceps at the highest point above your head. This effectively isolates the bicep from the rest of your body and is an effective exercise even on a low weight. You won't need a bar or rope attachment for this one, just a dual cable machine.

Muscles Worked

These curls primarily work your biceps, but you may use your core muscles to stabilize yourself throughout the movement.

How To

Start with your pulleys set to the highest level. Stand between the towers and grip the handles; your hands should be above shoulder height. Keep your wrists straight and curl the handle towards your shoulder. Pause, and then return to starting position.

This exercise is best using dual pulleys, but you can train one arm at a time if you only have a single cable pulley machine.

GGP Training Tips

This is one of the best exercises for arms because it puts all the tension on your biceps. Make sure your hands are as high as possible and you're keeping your wrists straight, so your bicep does all the work.

Overhead Cable Curls

12. Supine Cable Curls

Supine cable curls are simple but effective. By introducing a bench, you limit the movement across your body and stop any momentum aiding your lifts. This ensures that your arms are doing all the work and can give you significant gains.

Muscles Worked

The supine curl is one of the best cable machine exercises because it completely isolates your biceps.

How To

Position the cable on a medium low setting and grip the bar. Lie back on the bench with your feet on the floor and bend your elbows to curl it up towards your shoulders.

Keep your wrists straight and squeeze your biceps as you lift. Pause at the top, and return back to the start.

GGP Training Tips

It’s important to have the bench about 2 feet in front of the machine so you have the full range of motion to curl. Make sure there’s tension, but also that you can comfortably reach the bar when you lean back.

supine cable curls

13. Bayesian Curl

The positioning of your body during a bayesian curl means that there is a wider range of motion during the lift. This, in turn, means greater gains, so it's a useful exercise for people of all levels to introduce into their routine.

Muscles Worked

Bayesian curls primarily work your biceps but will also engage your core.

How To

Set the machine to the lowest pulley setting and stand facing away with a split stance. Hold the bar with your hands slightly closer than shoulder-width apart, keep your wrists straight, and curl the bar up until it reaches your ear (this will cause your elbow to move). Pause at the top, and then return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

The point of difference with this exercise is extending the curl higher. Try to focus on getting the bar up to your ear and flexing your biceps so you get a better pump.

Bayesian Curl

14. Supine Tricep Extensions

Supine tricep extensions help to build your underarm muscles and give you a thicker, more shapely arm.

The motion is similar to a dumbbell skull crusher, but by using the bar, you eliminate the risk of dropping the bar, so it's a useful alternative tricep exercise for beginners.

Muscles Worked

These extensions work your triceps, shoulder muscles, and wrists.

How To

Set the cables low and move your bench to the middle of the towers. Lie back facing away from the machine and reach over your head to grip the bar or rope attachment.

Hold it behind your head with your elbows bent, and extend your elbows to engage your triceps. Pause at full extension, and then return to starting position.

GGP Training Tips

There’s no risk of injury with this exercise, but the form can be challenging. Ask a friend (or a personal trainer) to watch your form and help make sure you’re staying controlled throughout the movement.

Supine Tricep Extensions

15. Cable Wrist Curls

Strong forearms are key to having strong arms. Cable wrist curls help to engage your forearms more than any other cable curl, and it’s a useful workout for people of all abilities.

Muscles Worked

Cable wrist curls isolate your forearm, but focus on keeping your biceps out of the equation.

How To

Set your machine to the lowest pulley setting and stand facing it. Grip the handle in your fingertips and hold it around waist height.

Extend your wrists to lower the cable, and then curl them back up to a full contraction. Repeat slowly until you start to feel the burn in your forearm.

GGP Training Tips

There isn't a lot of movement in this exercise, so it's important that you focus on getting to full extension with every contraction. This will maximize the benefit and help you get stronger forearms.

Also Check Out - Best Dumbbell Forearm Exercises

Cable Wrist Curls

Benefits Of Training Your Arms With A Cable Machine

Cable machines are often considered too big and expensive for most home gyms. However, they are really effective, and there are a lot of very good reasons to use them:

Constant Tension

Cable pulley machines operate very differently to free weights. They provide constant tension from the cable throughout the movement, giving you a much more consistent level of resistance when you work out.

This increased tension generally makes exercises more difficult, but it also forces your muscles to work harder. It’s especially useful when you’re training your arms because the constant tension activates the smaller muscle groups for a more impressive pump.

Impressive Muscle Development

Cable machines give a very wide range of movement. This helps you build your functional strength and can improve your overall flexibility.

Cable pulley machines allow you to target muscles from a range of angles to speed up the muscle development process.

Wide Variety Of Exercises

Cable machines can be used for a wide variety of exercises, with various attachments and grips so you can perform different movements. This lets you mix up your routine and switch between exercises quickly, shortening your workout and making it more efficient. [2]

Full Body Benefits

Cable machines are generally performed standing up (with a few exceptions), so you'll get a wide variety of benefits across your body. Most exercises will engage your core, giving you benefits across your entire body.

Safe

Cable machines are perfect for beginners because they're really safe. There's no risk of dropping a weight on your head, and you can comfortably lift your max without a spotter nearby. This is why cable machines are often preferred by those who work out alone.


Common Cable Arm Exercises Questions

Which is better for training arms: cables or free weights?

Many people prefer the feel of weights in their hands and appreciate the iron. However, bicep workouts with cable machines are generally more efficient at helping you build lean muscle because they provide consistent tension throughout the movement. This will help you develop your arms more effectively than using other weights.

Why do cable machines feel lighter?

The feel of a cable machine is generally impacted by the number of pulleys used and the angle of the device. If you have several pulleys, it could mean that the load is being spread across several points, so it feels lighter.

Are weights on cable machines accurate?

Cable machines are generally regarded as fairly accurate, though it will depend on the quality of the manufacturer. Most weight stacks tend to be correct within a 0.25% tolerance, so any variances aren’t significant enough to worry about.

What is a sample cable arm workout to try?

One of my favorite cable arm workouts usually involves 2-3 exercises for biceps and 2-3 exercises for triceps. Start with cable rope curls (3 sets x 10-12 reps). Then, move right into cable rope tricep extensions (3 sets x 10-12 reps).

Next, move back to rope hammer curls (3 sets x 10-12 reps). I prefer to finish off with tricep kickbacks (3 sets x 10-12 reps).


Conclusion

A cable only arm workout can be more effective than using dumbbells and barbells. The constant tension involved in a cable pull and the variety of exercises for arms mean that you can get a great pump and become noticeably stronger in a short period of time.

Hopefully, this guide has helped to introduce some interesting new cable workouts to try in your next gym session.

References:

1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28129277/

2. https://www.menshealth.com/uk/workouts/g754952/the-only-gym-machine-you-need-cables/

Last Updated on August 30, 2022