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Cable machines aren’t most people’s first choice when it comes to picking out equipment for their home gyms, but they are certainly a worthwhile investment for those who have the space and money for them. They’re a versatile piece of equipment, offer great strength training benefits, help you build muscle, and generally last a long time (assuming you take care of your machine).   

The best cable machine for home gym use is the one that fits your training needs, space, and budget. Our group of certified personal trainers, weightlifting coaches, and home gym equipment experts have tested more than a dozen cable machines, from the type you’d find in a commercial gym to portable options. We use a meticulous, multi-point fitness equipment testing methodology to assess and rate factors such as:

  • Smoothness: Do the pulleys operate efficiently without catching?
  • Weight range: Is there a good range for both beginners and veterans?
  • Workout experience: What was our personal experience like using the machine?
  • Value: Is the machine priced appropriately for home gym owners?

We then combine those scores and get an average rating to determine the best cable machines.

8 Best Cable Machines for Home Gyms 

Best Overall Cable Machine: REP Fitness FT-5000 V2

Good for: Trainees who want a durable and stable cable crossover machine. 

Best Overall

REP FT-5000 Functional Trainer

GGR Score: 3.8 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Frame constructed with 11-guage steel
  • Chip-resistant powder coating
  • Dual 224-pound weight stacks
  • Multi-grip pullup/chin-up options
  • Ships partially assembled
  • Lifetime frame warranty

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Multi-grip pullup/chin-up grip options
  • Ships partially assembled
  • Lifetime frame warranty
  • Dual 224-lb weight stacks

Cons

  • There have been some complaints of inconsistent craftsmanship
  • Starting weight may be too heavy for some isolation exercises

Bottom Line

The REP FT-5000 is a great choice for anyone looking for a functional trainer in their home gym.

The REP Fitness FT-5000 is just like the functional trainer at your local commercial gym, just without the line of people hogging it while staring at their smartphone. I have personally used this machine in several settings; First, I went to REP Fitness’s headquarters in Colorado in 2022 where I first got my hands on it. Then, REP sent one to us so I could do more testing and more workouts on it.

The area where the FT-5000 shines is in the smoothness of the cables, which earned a 5 out of 5 for us. It has dual 220-pound weight stacks with a 2:1 ratio, which should still be enough to give experienced lifters a challenge, and three pull-up grip options (neutral, supinated grip, and wide-grip). 

Weighing in at 1,000 pounds, and a frame constructed with 11-gauge steel, this is a heavy-duty functional trainer that doesn’t need to be bolted into the ground for stability. The powder coating is also chip-resistant, so it will perform well and look good for many years. 

Functional trainers aren’t necessarily the easiest things to assemble. In fact, we rated this really low for assembly.

GGR Operations Manager Sam “AsSAMbly” Presley has put together countless functional trainers and power racks. REP claims two people can build this in about two hours, but it took twice that amount of time. We noticed a pattern of this in customer reviews of this as well.

REP FT 5000 V2 TROLLEY

At its highest point, the handle is 72 inches off the ground, which is a marked improvement over the original’s top height of 52 inches. Several reviewers stated the lower height made it difficult for taller people to take full advantage of the machine. The only other major complaint was that the lowest weight, 12.5 pounds, was a bit too heavy for some isolation exercises.

The trainer comes with two D-handle attachments, which is a great start, but you can always buy different cable attachments from REP’s website to get even more out of your machine. 

Learn more in our in-depth REP FT-5000 Functional Trainer review.

Standout FeatureIncredibly smooth pulley system
Resistance Dual 224-lb stacks (2:1 pulley ratio)
Footprint85.5” H x 68” W x 36” D
Accessories2 D-handles, storage pegs for the attachments, 4 2.75-lb incremental weights, mountable diagram demonstrating 12 movements

Best Cable Machine for Small Home Gyms: Titan Fitness Functional Trainer

Good for: People with smaller home gyms who want a commercial-grade cable machine

Best for Small Home Gyms

Titan Fitness Functional Trainer

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Smooth guide rods
  • Dual 200-pound weight stacks
  • 2:1 pulley ratio
  • Multi-grip pull-up bar
  • Free shipping

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Heavy 200-pound stacks (100-pound working weight) with a 2:1 ratio
  • Aluminum pulleys
  • Low starting weight of 20 pounds (10 lb working weight)
  • Competitive price point

Cons

  • Would’ve preferred a taller option (but the 82-inch height allows it to fit in home gyms with low ceilings)
  • The unit can shake when using the top end of the stack, but not enough to be concerned
  • Only comes with 1-year warranty

Bottom Line

The Titan Fitness Functional Trainer is much like the functional trainer you’d find in a commercial gym, in that it uses commercial-grade materials, but comes in a home gym footprint.

If you’re working with a home gym on the smaller side and still want a traditional cable machine, your best bet is the Titan Fitness Functional Trainer. The 64-inch width is narrower than the industry standard 72 inches for double-stack cable machines, and at 82 inches it can fit in most basements or garages with ease.

The shorter height means taller people won’t be able to do pull-ups on it, which is shame because the trainer comes with a multi-grip pull-up bar that has a nice-feeling powdercoat that provides excellent grip. It comes with a short bar, long bar, ankle strap, dual stirrup handles, rope handles, and single and double D-handles so you can do more than 1,000 strength-based movements.

Coop using the Titan Fitness FUnctional Trainer

Onto the cable pulley system, we had a very pleasant training experience and loved that they swiveled. All that together gives it a 4.5 out of 5 for versatility, and it would’ve been a 5 had Titan offered a taller option.

We found the aluminum guide rods needed to be lubricated, though once they were the smoothness earned a 4 out of 5.

You get two 200-pound weight stacks that have a 2:1 resistance ratio (pulling 100 pounds is actually 50) that starts at 20 pounds (really 10) and goes up to 200 (actually 100). That’s a decent weight range and should be able to give beginners and home gym veterans alike a decent challenge on most movements.

Check out our in-depth review on this machine by reading our full Titan Fitness Functional Trainer.

Standout FeatureCompact footprint that’s perfect for smaller home gyms
Resistance Dual 200-lb stacks (2:1 pulley ratio)
Footprint82” H x 64” W x 44” D
AccessoriesShort bar, long bar, ankle strap, dual stirrup handles, rope handles, and single and double D-handles

Best Smart Cable Machine: Tonal 

Good for: People who need an all-in-one home gym that can deliver a full-body workout 

Best Smart Cable Machine

Tonal Smart Home Gym

GGR Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • AI gets to know you and makes weight adjustments for you
  • Up to 200 pounds in digital resistance
  • All-in-one gym that takes up minimal space
  • Access to on-demand and live classes
  • 30-day trial period

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • AI gets to know you and makes weight adjustments for you
  • Lift up to 200 pounds in digital resistance (much different from free weights)
  • All-in-one gym that takes up minimal space
  • AI assesses your form and gives real-time cuing
  • Access to on-demand and live classes
  • 30-day trial period

Cons

  • High initial price tag
  • Accessories cost extra and are pretty crucial to your workouts
  • 12-month initial subscription required (and an additional cost)
  • 200 pounds in resistance might not be enough for heavy lifters

Bottom Line

A complete smart home gym that offers versatility in a compact piece of equipment, but at a high price.

Tonal isn’t what most people think of when they hear “cable machine,” but if you’re looking for a piece of smart equipment that can do it all, you can’t do much better than this. We have personally used Tonal for years and have enjoyed just about every single aspect of it. We rated it a near-perfect 4.75 out of 5 on factors that include ease of use, programming, and versatility.

The cable arms, attached to a wall-mounted touchscreen, can be adjusted to work out any muscle group, and the digital resistance offers a unique stimulus that causes some lifelong trainees to quiver halfway through their set. 

Don’t stress too much about the weight, though. One of Tonal’s best features is the auto-powered weight suggestions, which are done through a full-body assessment you take when setting up your machine. This is great because it takes a lot of the guesswork out of resistance training, and customizes the experience to each user, though this feature can be disabled if you want to enter your own data. 

The customization doesn’t end there, as you can choose from different workout styles from strength training to kickboxing, and even yoga and meditation classes. A personal trainer will guide you through each workout and show you how moves are supposed to be performed. 

man deadlifting with best cable machine Tonal

At close to $3,500, on top of a $49 monthly class membership fee (your first year is free), Tonal isn’t a piece of budget-friendly home gym equipment. That said, the fact that it’s wall-mounted means you’ll save a lot of space compared to other cable machines that don’t have nearly as much versatility. Plus, the cost includes delivery and professional setup (this isn’t a machine you can install on your own). 

Pssst: We have the best Tonal coupon!

Keep in mind you need at least 7 feet of space around your machine, and the resistance only goes up to 200 pounds. That might sound light, but the digital resistance feels much heavier than your standard loaded barbell (trust us). Not only that, but due to it using digital resistance, it can increase the load at various parts of the movement which is simply impossible to do with free weights.

To learn more, read our Tonal Smart Home Gym review

Standout FeatureUses AI programming to adjust workouts
Resistance Up to 200 lbs per arm
Footprint21.50″ W x 50.9″ H x 5.25” D (wall-mounted)
AccessoriesHandles, bar, rope, bench, roller, mat

Best Portable Cable Machine: MAXPRO SmartConnect Cable Machine 

Good for: People who need a cable machine that can be taken anywhere  

Best for Travel

MaxPRO SmartConnect Portable Cable Machine

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • All-in-one machine that works different muscle groups
  • Lightweight at 9 lbs
  • Small footprint at 16" L x 10" W x 4" H
  • Produces resistance up to 300 lbs

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Small footprint
  • Produces resistance up to 300 lbs

Cons

  • Pricey for a small piece of equipment
  • Sub-par accessories
  • Compatible app is not streamlined

Bottom Line

The MaxPRO SmartConnect Portable Cable Machine is a lightweight and portable full body machine, which offers up to 300 pounds of resistance. This makes it an extremely versatile piece of portable equipment with a small footprint.

The MAXPRO Smart Connect Cable Machine is great for people on the go, or even those in apartments who want the benefits of a cable machine. I personally used this machine countless times and gave it a perfect 5 out of 5 for its portability. At 10 inches long, 16 inches in height, 4 inches in width, and weighing only 9 pounds it’s easy to bring it with you wherever you want to workout. 

Although small, this machine is capable of going up to 300 pounds in resistance with just a turn of a dial. Trust us, you’ll be feeling the burn on this one. 

While there’s quite a bit you can do with just the MAXPRO Smart Connect, you’ll need a wall mount or certain accessories that aren’t included in the purchase price but are necessary for lower body and some upper body movements. 

Coop using the MaxPRO Smart Connect Cable Machine to do rows best cable machine

I’m a fan of smart home gym equipment, and though it’s great you can sync the MAXPRO via Bluetooth to an app that tracks your workouts, I found myself not using it too much. The app was too clunky during use, and sometimes it didn’t connect to my machine. Hopefully MAXPRO fixes this issue in the future. I do appreciate that the app comes with a free workout library, but again some of the moves are dependent on purchasing accessories not included with the machine. 

The cables do have a break-in period, but once you’ve used the machine for a while, you’ll see that they’re buttery smooth. 

Read our full MaxPro Smart Connect Cable Machine review to learn more. 

Standout FeatureCompact and great for travel
Resistance Up to 300 lbs
Footprint10″ L x 16″ H x 4″ W
Accessories3-piece long bar, workout handles, ankle/wrist straps, door mount, USB charger

Most Versatile Cable Machine: Beyond Power Voltra I

Good for: People with small home gyms or those who want a cable machine while on the go

Most Versatile

Beyond Power Voltra I

Product Highlights

  • Portable cable trainer
  • Up to 200 pounds of resistance
  • Easy to attach and detach
  • Data tracking

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Portable
  • Up to 200 pounds of resistance
  • Can be brought through airport security
  • Real-time data tracking

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Only has a one-year warranty

Bottom Line

The Beyond Power Voltra I packs all the benefits of a cable machine into a portable design, though it comes with a high price tag.

The Beyond Power Voltra I’s standout feature is that it’s portable and can attach to just about any squat rack, but we love it because of its versatility. I’ve been using it every day for more than a month and have performed deadlifts, lateral raises, Nordic curls, lat pulldown, and just about every other move included in my regular personal training sessions.

In fact, I’m considering on simplifying my home gym setup and using the Voltra to replace a few machines. It creates up to 200 pounds of resistance, and the motor allows for smooth movement every time. It gets a 5 out of 5 for workout experience.

Another thing that makes it versatile are the three modes that can be accessed on the screen—weight training, resistance band, and dampering. I mostly stuck with weight training, which allows you to change the eccentric and concentric weight and adapts based on your range of motion. It also has a “chain” feature to simulate heavier weight during lockout, similar to using a chain on a barbell.

You might be tempted to buy two of these machines for even further versatility, though I advise against that because one, it’s more than $2,000 and two, I’ve found that it’s hard to synchronize more than one unit for smooth pulls.

You also need to purchase a rack mount for each unit, which varies based on the type of squat rack you have at home.

Standout FeaturePortable cable machine that can be attached to just about any rack
Resistance Up to 200 lbs.
Footprint12.71″ L x 5.49″ W x 3.94″ H
AccessoriesRack mounts, carrying cases, and bars

Best Cable Machine Power Rack Attachment: Bells of Steel Cable Crossover Power Rack Attachment

Good for: People who are trying to save space and have a Bells of Steel rack

Best Power Rack Attachment

Bells of Steel Cable Crossover Power Rack Attachment

Product Highlights

  • Plate-loaded cable machine
  • Works with 1-inch and 2-inch plates
  • 320-lb weight capacity (160 per side)
  • Only works with Bells of Steel racks
  • Free shipping
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Plate-loaded
  • Works with 1" and 2" plates
  • 320-lb total weight capacity (160 lbs per side)
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Doesn't work with other companies' racks
  • Can only be used in top and bottom positions

Bottom Line

A cable attachment that adds more versatility to your existing Bells of Steel squat rack.

Editor’s note: This cable crossover attachment only works with Bells of Steel racks, which are high-quality racks that we’ve recommended in other roundups. If you don’t have a BOS rack, this crossover attachment will probably not work.

Want a cable machine in your home gym but already have a Bells of Steel power rack taking up a lot of space? That’s exactly what the Bells of Steel Cable Crossover Power Rack Attachment was created for.

You simply attach it to the front of your rack and get to pulling, though we should let you know the pulleys only work on the top and bottom positions. That’s fine, as there are countless exercises you can do from these positions that can’t be done with a squat rack.

We’re big fans of the fact that this is a plate-loaded cable machine, meaning the resistance comes from weight plates you most likely have around your home gym (especially if you’re attaching this to a power rack). Customer reviewers have noted, however, that the weight needs to be evenly distributed or the pulleys aren’t as smooth.

Speaking of pulleys, Bells of Steel uses aluminum to create smooth movements every time. Also, this attachment ships free, which is a huge bonus when ordering heavy equipment.

Standout FeatureCan fit 1- or 2-inch weight plates
Resistance Plate-loaded machine (2:1 pulley ratio)
Footprint26″ L x 40″ W x 84.5″ H
Accessoriesn/a

Best Functional Trainer Cable Machine: NordicTrack Fusion CST

Good for: Anyone looking to utilize iFIT programming with their functional trainer

Best Functional Trainer

NordicTrack Fusion CST

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Fusion CST base
  • Device stand
  • Two ankle straps
  • Two squat pulleys
  • Six cable ends
  • Bluetooth chest strap
  • 10-inch tablet display
  • Attached flywheel

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Compatible with iFIT programming
  • 10-Year Frame Warranty
  • Quiet magnetic resistance
  • Device holder

Cons

  • Heavy at 378 lbs
  • Customer service could be better
  • 100 lbs of max resistance might not be enough for everyone

Bottom Line

If you're looking for a functional trainer with interactive programming, the NordicTrack Fusion CST might be a good option for you.

Although they’re known more for their cardio machines, NordicTrack has their fair share of strength training equipment, too, including NordicTrack dumbbells and the NordicTrack Vault. Another is our pick for the best functional trainer cable machine: The NordicTrack Fusion CST. While we haven’t tried the Fusion CST out ourselves yet, we have a lot of experience with NordicTrack, and they make some of our favorite treadmills.

RELATED: NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Review

The NordicTrack Fusion CST has 20 levels of magnetic resistance, providing between 10 and 100 pounds of resistance. The bulk of the machine is a 70-inch-tall mirror, which allows you to keep your eyes on your form during your workout. The cables boast 95 inches of independent travel, allowing you to get plenty of movement in each exercise.

Most notably, the NordicTrack Fusion CST is compatible with iFIT programming, which can connect via Bluetooth to a 10-inch tablet. With iFIT, you get access to tons of workouts, and your iFIT trainer is actually able to adjust the resistance on your machine during the workout to accommodate the exercises and your fitness levels. You get a free 30-day trial of the workout app with the machine, but you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription to continue using it.

At $1,799, this is one of the more budget-friendly options for cable machines, although it’s still an investment. Also, with a max height of 73.5 inches, some movements may have a limited range of motion for taller athletes.

Standout FeatureiFIT compatibility
ResistanceUp to 100 lbs per arm
Footprint73.5” H x 60.5” W x 41.5” D
AccessoriesSquat pulleys, ankle straps, portable HD tablet, spotter arms

Best Home Cable Crossover Machine: REP Fitness Ares

Good for: Home gym users wanting a cable system added onto a compatible power rack

Best Home Cable Crossover

REP Fitness Ares Cable Attachment

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Can be built and customized
  • 4- and 6- post series options
  • Trolleys
  • 30 aluminum pulleys and cables
  • Two weight stacks with 260 pounds each
  • Lat pulldown bar
  • D handles
  • Footplate
  • Connector banana
  • Micro-adjustment plates of 2.5 pounds each

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Available for 4- or 6-post
  • Fits REP PR-4000 or REP PR-5000
  • 2 height and 4 depth options to customize to your rack
  • Dual weight stacks each at 260 lbs
  • Comes with four micro-adjustment plates
  • 180-degree swivel
  • 6 attachment points for handles and bars

Cons

  • Expensive, but a high-quality functional trainer option
  • Likely only works with REP racks

Bottom Line

The Ares Cable Attachment from REP Fitness is a high-quality functional trainer from a brand we know and trust.

Editor’s note: This cable crossover attachment only works with REP Fitness PR-4000 and PR-5000 series racks, which are high-quality racks that we’ve recommended in other roundups. If you don’t have a REP Fitness rack, this crossover attachment will probably not work.

Most home gym owners have some sort of squat rack, as these can be a versatile piece of equipment with the addition of power rack attachments. If you have a power rack, particularly REP Fitness, and you want a cable machine that won’t take up too much of your gym space, the REP Ares Cable Attachment is a perfect choice for your home.

The REP Ares attaches around your PR-4000 or PR-5000 rack, only adding a few inches in height, width, and depth to your power rack. That keeps this cable attachment fairly compact for your gym space. One thing to note, however, is that the dual 260-pound weight stacks will take up a bit of the inside of the rack space, so you may be a little cramped inside of a four-post power rack. With a six-post rack, you’ll still have plenty of room inside the cage.

Boasting six terminals for cable attachments, the REP Ares allows tons of versatility, earning a 4.5 out of 5. Because the rack is a bit narrower than a standard functional trainer, you don’t get quite as good of a stretch while doing a chest fly. Outside of that though, the cable attachment shines, with the lat pulldown really being the shining achievement of this rack. You can use a banana hook to attach the lat pulldown bar to a single point, allowing for heavy weights on pulldowns and low rows.

Man doing lat pulldowns on REP Ares

While it’s a well-engineered piece of gym equipment, building out the Ares around your rack can be pricey. The cable attachment starts at $2,799, and can increase due to the size and build of your power rack. If you don’t have a power rack, you’ll have to buy one with it, which will get expensive, fast.

For more information on this cable machine, check out our in-depth REP Ares Cable Attachment review.

Standout Feature6 terminals for cable attachments
ResistanceDual 260-lb weight stacks (option to upgrade to 310-lb stacks)
FootprintAdds 1.2 inches in height; adds 1.6 inches in width to PR-4000 and 5 inches in width to PR-5000; adds 6 inches to front of rack with footplate
AccessoriesStrap style D handles, lat pulldown bar, banana to connect weight stacks, low row bar, footplate, 2.5-lb weights for micro-adjustments

Best Cable Machine Attachments

Some cable machines may only come with a standard handle, while others may come with every attachment you can think of. 

Here are some cable attachment packages we recommend:. 

REP Fitness Pro Series Cable Attachments: We love this series because it comes with five high-quality attachments capable of targeting most of your muscle groups, and it’s a great value for the price of about $250. 

BalanceFrom Cable Attachments: You can’t do much better, in terms of value, than this set of five cable attachments for about $130 (excluding shipping). These pieces, though, aren’t the most durable but they’ll serve most home gym owners well. 

Spud Inc. Pulley System: The Spud Inc pulley system has a weight capacity of 550 pounds, and is also lightweight and compatible with most cable machines. 

Looking to buy a la carte? These are some attachments we heavily recommend you purchase along with, or shortly after your cable machine. 

  • Triceps Rope: Despite its name, a triceps rope can be used for more than just your triceps. It’s also capable of performing biceps, shoulder, back, and abs exercises. 
  • Lat Pulldown Bar: Not all cable machines can be used to do lat pulldowns but for those that can, a lat pulldown is a necessary investment.  
  • Ankle Strap: This is simply a strap you attach to your ankle so you can perform moves like leg extensions with your cable machine.   
  • Double D-row Handle: Great for seated rows, and can also be used with barbells and dumbbells to target different areas of the biceps and back. 
  • Multi-grip Curl Bar: A multi-grip curl bar allows you to target different areas of your chest, triceps, and biceps all with one handle. 

Other Cable Machines We Researched

We’ve only been able to try out some of these home gym cable machines, but they just didn’t beat out our top picks. 

Bodysolid Powerline Cable Crossover Machine PCCO90X: This cable crossover station is highly recommended by many, but nobody on our team has been able to try it out yet. 

Valor Fitness BD-62: Similarly, this isn’t a machine we have any familiarity with. 

Titan Plate Loaded Lat Pulldown: This is a great machine that uses standard Olympic plates to provide the resistance, and it comes with a low row handle and lat pulldown bar. But other than that, you can’t do much with this machine, though it is great for heavy lifters looking for a challenge. 

Inspire Fitness FTX: The FTX is a smaller version of the Inspire Fitness FT2 Functional Trainer, but it’s still built with the same construction and quality. With that said, the max pulley height may not allow for taller users to geta full range of motion on some movements.

Vitruvian Trainer +: This smart cable machine is compact and great for small spaces—basically a 44-inch-long-by-20-inch-wide-by-5-inch-high platform that weighs only 65 pounds. Despite its small stature, it can also add magnetic resistance of up to 440 pounds. Still, the Vitruvian Trainer + is one of the pricier options out there, at nearly $3,000.

Fray Fitness Functional Trainer: I used to be a fan of this functional trainer, but feel as though its performance has declined in recent months. 

OYO NOVA Gym: This is a tiny functional trainer that can provide up to 40 pounds of resistance, and perform 200 exercises. The technology behind it is inspired by the way NASA astronauts train in space, but our reviewer Amanda Capritto says it lacks durability and is more geared toward beginners due to its low level of resistance. 

RELATED: Force USA MyRack In-Depth Review

woman-doing-standing-cable-crunch

How We Picked and Tested the Best Cable Machines for Home Gyms

Besides workout experience and price, we looked at a variety of factors when constructing our best cable machine list. 

Smoothness

Perhaps the most important facet of any cable machine is its pulley system and how smoothly it operates. We loaded machines as heavy as they can get to assess how they operate under tension.

Weight Stacks 

We wanted to make sure the cable machines we recommended were light enough for isolation exercises, but challenging enough for any compound movements you wish to do with them. Similarly, we looked at whether the weight capacity could work for people of all fitness levels.  

Versatility  

A cable machine should perform a variety of exercises, allowing you to target upper body and lower body muscles. There are some, though, that only target one specific muscle group until you buy additional equipment, like a low pulley for lower body movements. 

Adjustments

Adjustment here not only refers to changing the weight between moves, but how many height positions the machine has and if it can work for multiple users. 

Coop using REP Fitness Athena review

Benefits of Cable Machines

Because cable machines come in all shapes and sizes, we’re instead going to concentrate on the benefits of using cables. And unlike your television habits, there’s a lot of reasons why you should never cut the cord. 

Faster Muscle Fatigue 

Unlike free weights or even resistance bands, cables work your muscles at all times during the lift. This means your muscles will get fatigued quicker, which results in muscle growth. 

Safer

Dexter Jackson, one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, has credited cable machines as part of the reason why he was able to compete past 50. Cables don’t put as much stress on your joints and stabilizer muscles, and while nothing in life is risk-free it’s much harder to hurt yourself with them than a barbell or dumbbell. 

Versatile 

We’ve talked about the fact that cable machines can hit all muscle groups, but you can also hit those areas from angles that are more difficult to reach using free weights. “Free weight resistance provides a force vector straight down towards the ground,” personal trainer and strength and sports doctor Mike Masi says. “If you want a different angle to hit a different body part, you’ll have to manipulate your body around that force vector. But with a cable machine you can just slide the handle higher or lower to get the desired effect.”

He adds, “All in all, cable machines are not necessary but provide more flexibility and variety that can keep your gym routine from getting stale.”

All in all, cable machines are not necessary but provide more flexibility and variety that can keep your gym routine from getting stale.

Mike Masi, strength and sports doctor

What to Look for in a Cable Machine 

Ready to find the best cable machine for your home gym? Here are a few things to keep in mind. 

Space 

A cable machine is probably going to be one of the largest purchases you make for your home gym in terms of space, next to a power rack. You can certainly get a good cable machine that won’t take up much space, but if you’re looking for the best of the best you’ll want to make sure you have a good amount of space to dedicate to it. 

A good guide would be to have at least 7 feet of vertical space, and 6 feet of horizontal space dedicated to your cable machine. This will ensure you can get enough range of motion during each exercise. There are some space-saving ones that are mountable, or come with just one weight stack. 

Adjustments 

One of the benefits of cable machines is the multiple pulley positions that allow you to get a full-body workout with just one piece of equipment. But some machines have more adjustment positions than others, either due to their size or construction. 

Although not technically an adjustment, you’ll want to try to get a pulley machine that can swivel so you can engage more muscle groups in different lifts. 

Cable Handle Attachments 

Most cable machines will come with single handles, which you can do flys and other moves with but if you’re looking to increase the versatility you might want to invest in a curl bar or triceps rope at the very least. 

You’ll also want to check to see if your cable machine comes with pegs for you to hang your attachments on, or figure out another way to keep them secure when they’re not in use. 

RELATED: Best Curl Bars

Price Point 

This one’s pretty self explanatory, but we’ll also add that it might be worth spending a little more for a high quality machine rather than saving by buying a cheap (I mean that in terms of price and craftsmanship) one. 

Some basic cable machines, like cable towers, may cost just a few hundred dollars, while huge commercial systems will be upward of thousands of dollars.

profile view of coop using cables on titan fitness functional trainer

Best Cable Machines FAQs

Can you build muscle with cable machines? 

Due to the fact that cable machines put constant tension on the muscle tissue, they’re a great way to build muscle mass. 

Are cable machines as good as free weights?  

It depends on what you’re training for. Free weights are the better choice for those looking to focus on strength training, but cable machines are just as good for those looking to focus on hypertrophy (building muscle) or conditioning. 

Are cable machine weights accurate? 

Yes, and no. Cable machine weights are accurate but you’re not always pulling 20 pounds due to something called the pulley ratio, which is how much force it takes to lift a certain amount of weight. So a cable machine with a 2:1 ratio only takes 10 pounds of force to move 20, and only 5 pounds of force to move the same weight on a machine with a 4:1 pulley ratio. 

Further reading

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