3 Beginner Cable Tower Exercises to Try

Woman flexing muscles on a cable tower
The cable tower is a standard strength-building machine fit for beginner and advanced gym-goers alike!

by Lindsay Tigar

When you're new to the gym and developing an exercise routine, seeing all the different machine options in the gym might feel a bit overwhelming. We get it! Between hip abductors, leg presses, and a slew of other options, it can be hard to know where to start — but don't let your newbie status stop you from experimenting!

Why not start with the cable tower machine? While it might look complicated, the cable tower is a standard strength-building machine. It features two handles that are attached to a pulley system and a weight stack. Simply select your desired weight, stand in the space between the machine, and test your ability by performing the following three exercises.

1. Cable Tower Squat

Looking to provide a little lift for your back end while engaging your abs and legs at the same time? A squat is one of the most effective fitness moves to master, but getting into a deep squat requires practice. One way to get closer to the ground is by using cables.

To execute this movement, hold one cable with both hands and keep the handle at mid-chest height. With your feet positioned hip-width apart, bend at the knees and lower your butt down while keeping your core engaged (as if you were sitting down) until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Since you're holding on to the handle, you can lean back a bit further, as your arms support the additional weight while keeping your legs engaged. Once you raise yourself back up to the starting position, you've completed one rep!

2. Cable Chest Fly

It's a myth that you can't tone your arms without lifting heavy weights. In fact, plenty of movements require little weight to build muscular endurance and strengthen your arms. That's where a cable tower chest fly comes in.

To perform this superstar move effectively, make sure the cables are positioned above your head on each side of the machine. Grip the right handle in your right hand and the left handle in your left hand. Step between both pulleys and with your feet in a staggered stance, pull your arms together in front of you. Breathe in and extend your arms out to both sides, remembering to keep your core muscles tight. Using controlled motion, allow the cables to return to the starting position and repeat.

3. Single-Arm Single-Leg Row

Depending on if you're left-handed or right-handed (or have injured an ankle or shoulder), you might lean more heavily on the muscles on one side of your body than the other. Although this is normal, if you overwork half of your body, you could put yourself at risk for further damage.

One way to ensure better balance is by doing workouts that focus on one side at a time. There are plenty of ways to do this — especially with the help of a cable tower machine. Simply hold onto one cable with your right hand while keeping your arm extended and the handle at chest level. Now stand up straight, lift your right leg off the ground, and engage your core muscles. Keeping your leg lifted, pull your right hand in toward your chest. Then extend your arm and repeat. Complete your desired rep count before switching sides.

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.