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Kick-ass Circuit Training with Cables!

August 19, 2014

Don’t you hate when people take up multiple areas of the gym for circuit training? We do too! Today you can enjoy two circuits that are entirely self-contained on a single cable machine!

Circuit A

Punch x6-8 (heavier) or 15-20 (lighter): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFta9z19lyg The ‘punch’ on the cable machine is really just another way to say shoulder press. In fact, it’s very similar to landmine-style presses that can be done with a barbell pressed into the wall. To perform the punch, attach a D-handle to one cable at about chest height and grip it with your right hand. Step forward and split your feet – left foot forward, right foot back. Explosively punch forward and upward, allowing your torso to twist with the motion. Repeat the same motion for the opposite side. Reverse Woodchopper x8/side: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQESNQLuyCk As this is one of the more popular cable core exercises, I expect you’re already somewhat familiar with it. If not, it’s a great day to learn. The cable machine really shines with exercises based on rotation or anti-rotation. To perform the reverse woodchopper, attach a D-handle to one cable at about knee height. Grip the handle with both hands and adjust your stance so you’re perpendicular to the machine. Allow your body to twist down towards the attachment – this is the start. Explosively twist out and up – you should be able to draw a diagonal line from the start to the finish. Slowly return to the start and repeat the same motion for the opposite side by flipping your body around. Low Row x10-12: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri-6Yip90tM The low row is probably the safest rowing option on the cable machine when it comes to technique. You’ll be sitting on the floor and you’re fairly locked into the position so there’s minimal opportunity for cheating. Attach a short bar to the cable and set it to your chest height when sitting on the floor. Now, sit down and extend your legs out to the machine. It helps to position a weight plate against the machine to act as a pseudo pad for your feet. Grab the bar with both hands – you can use either an underhand or overhand grip – and lean back. Tuck your shoulder blades down and pull them in, make sure you’re in a tight L-position, and extend your arms without compromising it. This is the start. From here, slowly pull your elbows to your body, pause for a brief moment, then return to the start and repeat. Pull Through x8-10: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A32WSOB-6Gw This is technically a lower body exercise, but just pretend it’s not so the title still works. More than your lower body, however, the pull through hammers your lower back. To perform the pull through, attach a rope to the cable and set it to the lowest setting. Facing away from the machine, grab the rope with two hands and hold it between your legs. Take a few steps away from the machine to create some tension. Now, with arms straight, squat down and let your hands move through your legs towards the machine. Using a strict hip hinge, explode back to the starting position. Make sure you keep your elbows locked to avoid using your upper body. Single Leg Swim Stroke x10/side (heavier) or 20/side (lighter): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64THVEusfHM#t=34 If you’ve ever used a TRX suspension trainer you may be familiar with this exercise. On the TRX, it’s called a Swimmer’s Pull. This movement similarly mimics the pull or ‘crawl’ of a swim stroke while introducing additional balance requirements. Attach a D-handle to one cable, position it at the very top of the machine, and grip it. Pull one foot off the floor so you’re standing on a single slightly bent leg. Now, similar to a swim stroke, pull your arm down to your hip. As you allow it to return to the starting position, pull the other arm down. Continue this alternating motion, making sure to use your shoulders and upper back to complete the motion.

Circuit B

Overhead Triceps Press x10-12: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hS82Wlo67O0 This is an oldie, but a goodie. You can use a number of other machines or free weights to perform this one, but today we’ll use the cable machine. Attach a rope to the cable and position it to a high setting, above your head. Facing away from the machine, grab the rope with both hands. Take a few steps out and settle into a strong split stance – you should be angled slightly forward. Now, keeping your elbows tight and close to your body, press your arms forward until they’re fully extended. Return to the start and repeat. Backhand x8/side: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApfGS7xNnD4 The cable backhand is similar to the woodchop in that it places a major emphasis on rotation, but it’s different enough to warrant using both movements. The backhand is as it sounds, but here’s the walkthrough. Attach a D-handle to the cable and position it to hip height. Face perpendicular to the machine and grip the handle with your outside hand. Allow your torso to twist towards the machine – that’s the start. From here, explode up and out, just like you’re backhanding someone. You should finish in the same position as the woodchop. To create a bigger gap between the two movements, make sure to lock your stance in – don’t pivot with one foot, let your upper body do more of the work. External Rotation x10/side: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqkErY_Z2Dg Since this movement is part of a circuit, you’re already going to be somewhat fatigued. The external cable rotation trains the delicate muscles of your rotator cuff, so be sure to use an even lighter weight than normal. Attach a D-handle to the cable and set it to about chest height. Face perpendicular to the machine and grab the handle with your outside hand. Lock your elbow in at a 90-degree angle to your body, as seen in the video. Carefully perform the external rotation by raising your hand up and out to about head height. If you’re confused, the video presents a nice explanation. If you only pay attention to one aspect of this movement, make sure it’s your elbow position. Curl with Bar Attachment x10-12: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW73Nkodv0E As with the overhead triceps press, you’re probably familiar with this type of movement. Attach a short bar to the cable, set it to the lowest position, grab it with an underhand grip, and stand directly in front of the machine. Pull your elbows tight to your side and stand as straight as possible. Now, as with any other curl, squeeze your biceps and forearms to raise the bar to your chest. Slowly return to the start and repeat. Half-Kneeling Twist x8/side: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ew8vKHH8Ok I know we’ve already covered two rotational exercises, but I had to include this last one, too. The half-kneeling twist not only trains rotation, but also stresses your entire core. The difference between the half-kneeling version and the standing version is a distinct decrease in balance. Attach a D-handle to the cable and position it to chest height when you’re in a lunge position. Drop into this position then grip the handle with both hands. You should be facing perpendicular to the machine. Now, twist your torso to bring the handle from one side of your body to the other. Make sure to keep your entire body, especially your hips, stable during this movement. Slowly return to the start and repeat.

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