The cable machine you see at gyms, with its pins, pulleys, and attachments, can seem a bit intimidating. But, in reality, swapping the handles and adjusting the settings is actually Easier than changing plates on a barbell or carrying multiple sets of dumbbells around a weight room.

Plus, you can do a lot with a cable machine that you can’t do with other forms of resistance. This is why Noam Tamir, CSCS, CEO and owner of TS-Fitness in New York recommends runners add this full-body cable machine workout to their routine.

The benefits of a cable machine workout

“The cable machine is great equipment for runners because there are so many unilateral exercises that can be done to avoid compensation,” says Tamir. Runner’s world. Exercises like the reverse downward lunge, for example, can help address glute and core weaknesses. If you don’t address these weaknesses, over time they can create imbalances that hinder running efficiency and lead to injury.

The cable machine can also inject some variety into your current strength training routine. “There are lots of different angles you can set up to help you build strength,” says Tamir. “It also provides a more controlled resistance movement and can be used to isolate a certain area [of the body] to help with performance. These benefits mean you work your muscles in new and challenging ways with a cable machine and get a workout you can’t get with other equipment.

How to use this list: Perform each exercise below for the indicated number of repetitions. Complete the full circuit 3 times, resting for 45 seconds between sets. Each move is demonstrated by Tamir in the video above so you can learn proper form. You will need a rope machine, a single handle attachment, and a rope attachment.


1. Reverse Lunge to Lat Pull-Down

Noam Tamer

Why it works: “The pull-down reverse lunge is a full-body exercise that focuses on strengthening the glutes,” says Tamir. “The movement flexes the balls of the feet, which is very important during the ball of the foot of the running cycle. It’s also a stability exercise, so it works your abdominal muscles. The lats, which contribute to running economy when propelling the arms, are also involved in the pulling exercise.

How to do: With the cable anchored overhead, stand facing the cable machine holding the single-handle attachment in your right hand, palm facing inward. Take a big step back with the right foot, landing on the ball of the right foot. Bend both knees until the left thigh is parallel to the floor and the right knee is hovering just above the floor with the legs forming 90 degree angles. Use your back and shoulder muscles to pull the handle toward your chest. Pause, then extend your arm. Push through the left heel to get back up. Repeat. Do 10 reps. Then switch sides.


2. Cut wood

cable machine training, wood cutting

Noam Tamer

Why it works: This exercise works muscles, such as internal and external obliques, adductors, glutes and lats, as well as fascial tissue and ligaments. “These structures help stabilize the core and keep the hips neutral during a run,” he says.

How to do: With the cable anchored overhead, stand with your left side facing the cable machine, feet wider than hip-width apart. Holding the single-handle attachment with both hands, rotate the torso to face the machine, pivoting on the right foot and bringing the arms straight above the head as you extend the hand diagonally. This is your starting position. Keeping your arms straight, pull your torso away from the machine while pivoting on the ball of your left foot and bringing both hands to your right hip. Pivot towards the machine to return to the starting position. Repeat. Do 12 reps. Then switch sides.


3. Cut reverse wood

cable machine drive, reverse woodcut

Noam Tamer

Why it works: Like the standard woodcut, the reverse woodcut exercise strengthens the back, glutes, and deep core muscles. “The deep trunk muscles are among the most important muscles for a runner. They are crucial for improving performance and reducing the risk of injury,” says Tamir.

How to do: With the cable anchored at its lowest point, stand with your left side facing the cable machine, feet wider than hip-width apart. Holding the single handle attachment with both hands, rotate the torso to face the machine, bringing the arms to the left hip, pivoting onto the right foot. This is your starting position. Keeping your arms straight, rotate your torso away from the machine as you pivot on the ball of your left foot and bring both hands over your right shoulder. Pivot towards the machine to return to the starting position. Repeat. Do 12 reps. Then switch sides.


4. Hinge from hip to face

cable machine training, hip hinge to face pull

Noam Tamer

Why it works: “The hip hinge to face pull is a great exercise for runners because it works the core through the forward flexing of the core. This helps strengthen the hamstrings, which are extremely important for a runner’s push phase,” says Tamir. “The face pulling motion is good for strengthening your upper back and rear deltoids, which helps maintain good, upright posture for efficient running.”

How to do: With the cable anchored overhead, stand facing the cable machine with your feet hip-width apart, holding the rope attachment with both hands, palms down and arms outstretched. With a slight bend in the knees, hinge the hips pushing the buttocks back and lower the torso toward the floor until you feel a slight pull in the hamstrings. Cross the feet to stand up and, at the top, squeeze the upper back and shoulder muscles to pull the hands towards the face. Repeat. Do 10 reps.


5. Isometric Split Squat with One-Arm Chest Press

cable machine workout, isometric split squat with one arm chest press

Noam Tamer

Why it works: “The upper body is important in creating the powerhouse part of a race,” says Tamir. “This exercise works the core, which needs to stabilize and resist rotation during the press. The shoulder, chest, and triceps are also worked during the press motion.

How to do: With the cable anchored at the hips, stand facing the cable machine. Hold single-handle attachment in left hand, palm facing inward, elbow bent at 90 degrees. Take a big step back on the ball of your left foot, keeping your heel above the ground. Bend both knees until the right thigh is parallel to the floor and the left knee is hovering just above the floor with the legs forming 90 degree angles. This is the starting position. Push the handle away from the chest to extend the arm. Pause, then bend your elbow to return to the starting position. Repeat. Do 10 reps. Then switch sides.

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