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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 Cable Machine Overall: Tonal 

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

Best Cable Machine

Tonal Smart Home Gym

GGR Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 3 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


  • 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


  • 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 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 Cable Crossover Machine: REP Fitness FT-5000 V2

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

Best Cable Crossover

REP FT-5000 Functional Trainer

GGR Score: 3.8 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Frame constructed with 11-guage steel
  • Chip-resistant powder coating
  • Dual 220-pound weight stacks
  • Multi-grip pullup/chin-up options
  • Ships partially assembled
  • Lifetime frame warranty

Pros & Cons


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


  • 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.


At its highest point, the handle is only 52 inches off the ground, and several reviewers stated this made it difficult for taller people to take full advantage of the machine. The only other major complaint was that the lowest weight, 13 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


  • 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


  • 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 titan fitness functional trainer with arms in cables lunging forward

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 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
Community Score: 5 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


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


  • 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

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


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


  • 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

Most Versatile Cable Machine: Force USA MyRack

Good for: People who want the functionality of both a power rack and a cable machine 

Most Versatile

Force USA MyRack Modular Power Rack

GGR Score: 4.4 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 3.6 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Extremely versatile
  • Use freestanding or bolted
  • 100% customizable

Pros & Cons


  • Modular and extremely versatile
  • Performs well after yeas or use
  • Easy online buying process
  • Price point on the rack is pretty competitive
  • Westside hole spacing
  • Features a cable crossover attachment.
  • Bar storage built-in
  • Numbered uprights


  • Thinner uprights with 12-gauge steel
  • Attachments use inferior materials
  • Powder coat leaves much to be desired
  • Numbers on uprights may fade

Bottom Line

The Force USA MyRack is a modular power rack that features every attachment you can think of in a compact rack designed for a home gym. After using and reviewing the rack over the past two years, we stand behind our initial assessment that it's a good option for those that want a rack with a lot of attachments for not a lot of money. It's not the best rack on the market by any means, but it is a novel solution at an affordable price.

OK, hear us out: Although the MyRack is not a traditional cable machine—it’s actually a power rack—you’re able to purchase a wide array of attachments to use with it, transforming it into one of the most versatile, unconventional cable machines on the market. To put it bluntly, we love this rack—we think it provides tremendous value for anyone who wants a highly versatile, affordable piece of equipment.

MyRack’s fully customizable setup allows you to add a cable crossover, which offers 28 cable pulley adjustments and a 1,000-pound weight rating, for an additional $430.

Let’s get to the myriad of other attachments: like a chin-up bar, dip handles, and more. None of these are actually included with the purchase; instead, you add them to your cart a la carte. We actually love this option for home gym owners, because sometimes you get attachments you don’t really want that are included in the price of the equipment, and pay even more for the attachments you need. This approach saves most people the most money and gives this machine a 4.75 out of 5 for versatility.

Force USA Modular My Rack

You can use standard or Olympic-sized weight plates on the cable crossover attachment, but beware that it’s only compatible with the MyRack power rack. 

That’s another thing: The uprights are 2.4″x2.4″. That is significant because attachments that work on a 2×3 or 3×3 rig won’t work on this; you have to use only Force USA attachments. If you don’t care about that kind of thing, then great; but it is something you should know before buying.

Read our in-depth review of the ForceUSA MyRack to understand why we recommend it as a great value option.

Standout FeatureHighly customizable rack that can be built to suit your gym
Resistance Plate-loaded crossover (2:1 pulley ratio)
AccessoriesCountless accessories purchased separately

Best Cable Machine for Home Gym on Amazon: Inspire Fitness FTX

Good for: Anyone who wants to buy a cable machine on Amazon  

Available on Amazon

Inspire FTX Functional Trainer

Product Highlights

  • Functional trainer with two 165-lb weight stacks
  • 2:1 resistance ratio
  • Footprint of 54” L x 40” W x 82” H
  • Comes with tricep rope, two D-handles, dual hook curl bar, and chin/dip belt

Pros & Cons


  • Lots of attachments and angles to use this machine
  • Can get a full-body workout
  • Lifetime warranty


  • 82.5 lbs of resistance per pulley may not be heavy enough for some lifters
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a versatile cable machine for your home gym, the FTX provides good value for the price with its weight stacks and attachments.

While we haven’t tested the FTX, we have firsthand experience with the Inspire FT2, the bigger brother of this machine. While the FT2 has a Smith machine included as well, the construction and quality of these two trainers is much the same. 

The FTX has dual weight stacks of 165 pounds each, and with a 2:1 resistance ratio, that means you’ll expect to feel 82.5 pounds of resistance on each pulley. It has a space-saving design and a smaller footprint, plus it comes partly assembled, which is a huge plus. 

With a 4.7-out-of-5 star rating on Amazon, reviewers have a lot of good things to say about this functional trainer, citing that it feels durable, smooth, and versatile. One downside is that a few taller users said that even with the cable at the highest setting, it was still too short for them to achieve a full range of motion, so be aware of this if you’re vertically gifted.

Standout FeatureComes partially assembled
Resistance 2 165-lb weight stacks (2:1 pulley ratio)
Footprint40″ L x 54″ W x 85″ H
AccessoriesTricep rope, 2 D handles, dual hook curl bar, and chin/dip belt

Best Compact Cable Machine: Vitruvian Trainer+

Good for: People who live in a small space and want a cable machine  

Best Compact

Vitruvian Form Trainer+

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Adaptive weight system that produces weight from 0 to 440 pounds
  • Advertised as working similarly to a rack without having to change plates or store any of the weight
  • The technology will do it all for you
  • However, different from a squat rack, you are able to do over 200 different exercises that target all parts of your body
  • All Access Membership costs $39 per month.
  • Without the Trainer All Access Membership, you are still able to work exercises and create your own workouts.

Pros & Cons


  • Full functionality of the machine is available without a subscription (i.e. access to all workout modes)
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 1-year all-access app membership for in-depth data tracking included with purchase (at the time of publish)
  • Free shipping
  • Provides up to 440 pounds of resistance
  • Small and compact
  • Relatively easy to move and store
  • Workouts led by certified instructors
  • Adaptive weight changes as you work out 
  • Community challenges and leaderboard
  • Tracks several workout metrics 
  • Can easily view progress
  • Safe and controlled way to exercise
  • Provides exercise technique tutorials
  • 1 membership allows unlimited profiles
  • Lifetime membership available
  • Financing available via Affirm 
  • Can create your own workouts or follow classes


  • Expensive, as all smart gyms are, with prices starting around $2,900
  • Subscription required for in-depth data tracking after trial period ($39/month)
  • Accessory kits sold separately
  • No hour-long workout classes yet (sessions go up to 43 minutes)
  • Can be overwhelming to create your own workouts in the app at first, according to our product tester 
  • Buyers are responsible for return shipping if sending the item back

Bottom Line

The Vitruvian Trainer+ is a smart home gym with a fantastic value proposition. For most people, it can replace an entire traditional home gym set up while taking up minimal space and providing and opportunity for in-depth data tracking and coaching.

The Virtruvian Trainer + is one of the latest in the line of smart gym equipment taking the industry by storm. This unassuming machine—which is basically just a 44-inch-long-by-20-inch-wide-by-5-inch-high platform—is actually packed with technology, using computer algorithms to adjust and adapt the resistance as you work out.

After using this multiple times, we gave it a 5 out of 5 on portability, and a 4 with our workout experience. We love the simplicity of clipping in accessories and how easy this cable machine is to use. Weighing only 65 pounds itself and equipped with transport wheels, the Vitruvian Trainer+ is easily movable to allow you plenty of options.  

To use the machine, you’ll attach one of the handles—which are sold separately, by the way, and add a minimum of $300 to the cost of the machine—to the platform, stand on it, and perform a variety of movements, from deadlifts to upright rows to even bench press (utilizing a bench, of course).

The technology senses your form, and will adjust the resistance as you follow along to the workout at hand. The monthly subscription is also an additional fee, but it’s really needed to get the most out of the Vitruvian Trainer +.

pulling handles Vitruvian Trainer+

We assume that the resistance—which is a whopping 200 kilograms—is magnetic. In our own testing, we felt like the resistance on the Vitruvian felt almost identical to Tonal. And if you think that 440 pounds isn’t heavy enough, note that 440 pounds of magnetic resistance feels much heavier than 440 pounds on a barbell.

Read our full Vitruvian Trainer + review to learn more about this unique machine. 

Standout FeatureGrounded cable machine with auto-adjusted resistance
Resistance 200 kg (440 lbs)
Footprint44” L x 20” W x 5” H
AccessoriesBench, long bar, triceps rope, single handles, workout mat, short bar, weight belt

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. 

NordicTrack Fusion CST: We love the iFIT programming available with this machine and have used it on other products, but we haven’t used this specific one before. 

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. 


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. 


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.  


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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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