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July 26, 2022

How to Use a Cable Crossover Machine?

You’ve probably spotted a cable crossover machine at your local gym or fitness centre before and didn’t quite know where to start. Luckily, these machines aren’t quite as complicated as they may appear at first. There are many variations, but they will generally include some sort of cable or pivoting pulley system that can be pulled in different directions to work different parts of the body. These can be either a dual cable crossover machine or a single station. While it’s important to make sure you know what you’re doing before you start, know that using a cable crossover machine is not as advanced as it might seem at first, and many users of different fitness levels can find great value in regular use.  

Cable crossover machines are an excellent functional trainer that allows the user greater access to a variety of muscles not easily accessed by free weights such as dumbbells or weight plates. It can be used for a full body functional workout across multiple planes of motion, meaning they are bound to accelerate your strength training in a way no other piece of equipment quite can. Improving the strength and functionality of any muscle group is best achieved when using multiple angles and a mixture of exercises, which is exactly why cable crossover machines are some of the most efficient and beneficial tools for accelerating your personal fitness. 

On top if this, cable crossover machines are safer and more secure than standard free weights, as there is never any risk of a weight falling on any part of your body. While users aren’t immune to injury, you can be rest assured that all the weight is secured by a sturdy frame that protects you if weights are suddenly dropped or something goes wrong. 

This means that crossover machines actually make a great option for those towards the beginning of their weight training journey, as it removes certain fears around injury or damage to equipment. That being said, if you’re a beginner and you’re tackling the crossover machine for the first time, it’s highly recommended to have the guidance of an expert by your side as you get comfortable with the equipment. 

How you use the cable crossover machine will vary depending on the exercise, as well as your own fitness level and goals. Here we’ll cover some popular exercises and the technique to keep in mind while performing them.  


Cable Crossover 

As indicated by the name, this is the classic crossover machine exercise to know from the start. This one delivers amazing results for the upper body, working the arms and shoulders while also strengthening core stabilisers. For this exercise, you’ll need a dual cable machine, with cable pulley position set over the head. It’s best to use a D handle, or D-Stirrup handle.  

  1. Stand in the centre of the machine with feet shoulder width apart.  
  2. Grab the handles of the pulleys on either side of you, keeping your arms straight and palms facing the floor.  
  3. Step one foot slightly forward while leaning forward with your chest, bracing your core. 
  4. Pull the cable forward and across your body so that your wrists form an ‘X’ in front of your chest.  
  5. In a controlled motion, return the handles to their start position and repeat.  


Pallof Press 

This is an anti-rotation exercises that’s also effective in developing a stable core and working areas that are difficult to reach, such as the obliques. This can also be performed at different angles and planes of motion to target certain muscle groups and work specific movements. While it can also be performed with a resistance band, a crossover machine will make is easier and also allow access to a choice of weight, and therefore the level of resistance. For this exercise, have the pulley at chest height, using a D Handle. 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, side-on to the cable-machine. 
  2. Grab the handle with both hands and hold it close to your chest. 
  3. Engage your core as you straighten your elbows in front of you.  
  4. Hold this position for five to ten seconds, keeping your torso still and steady.  
  5. Bring the handle back to your chest and repeat.  


Cable Squat Row 

Now it’s time to work the legs. Not only will this exercise work your quads and glutes, but like most cable machine exercises, will deliver a burn for the core as well. The upper arms and shoulders will also get in on the action as well for a true full-body workout. For this exercise, have the pulley position at chest height, preferably using a Tricep Rope handle. 

  1. Facing the cable, stand about an arm’s length away from the machine, feet should-width apart.  
  2. Grab the handle with both hands.  
  3. Lean back slightly and lower into a squat.  
  4. Pull at the handle as you straighten your legs.  
  5. Pull the handle into your chest at the top of the movement. 
  6. Straighten your arms out again and return to a squat. 


Abdominal Cable Crunches 

This exercise will deliver some focused work for the core, providing a comprehensive burn across the abdominals including the obliques. For this exercise, have the pulley position set above the head, also preferably using a Tricep Rope handle.  

  1. Kneel down on the floor and face the cable machine.  
  2. Grab the handle with both hands.  
  3. Bring your hands in close to your close to your face, with your thumbs facing you and placed on the forehead or crown.  
  4. Tuck your chin into your chest.  
  5. Bring your head down to your waist until your elbows hit your upper thighs. 
  6. Return and repeat.  


This has been just a sample of exercises to get you going, but there is are many others and also a number of variations to each exercise to suit your needs. The great thing about crossover machines are their innumerable options for customisation and personalisation. CORTEX offers a range of cable crossover machine attachments, including different handles, bars, padding and gyms mats. If you can, consult an expert before attempting to use a cable crossover machine for the first time, and don’t be afraid to make adjustments to suit your goals and fitness level.  

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