Cable arm exercises are a great way to build your muscle mass and develop your biceps and triceps strength, as it activates more than one muscle group at a time.
In this article, we will discuss how to build arms with a cable machine, the best cable machine arm exercises, which are often undervalued by those who lack a complete understanding of this.
- Why You Should Do Arm Workouts With Cables
- How To Build Arms With Cable Machine
- The Best Cable Arms Exercises
- 1. Triceps Pushdown
- 2. Cable Curl
- 3. Cable Overhead Triceps Extension
- 4. Cable Hammer Curl
- 5. Cable One-Arm Reverse-Grip Triceps Pushdown
- 6. Cable One Arm Curl
- 7. Reverse-Grip Triceps Pushdown
- 8. Cable Reverse Curl
- 9. Cable Triceps Kickback
- 10. One Arm High Cable Curl
- Cable Arms Workout Training Tips
- Training Volume (Sets and Reps)
- Cable Arm Workout Plan
- Beginner Arm Workout With Cable Only
- Arm Cable Superset Workout plan
- Cable Arm Workout Plan 3
- Muscles of The Arm
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Is Cable Good For Arm?
- Are cables better than weights?
- How do you get big arms on cable?
- Cable Workout To Build Bigger Arm
Why You Should Do Arm Workouts With Cables
Arm exercises with dumbbells and barbells aren’t for everyone. You might have an injury that limits your range of motion, or simply find that free weights are cumbersome or want some creative way to train.
You can still get a bigger and stronger arm by working out with the cable machine. Using the cable machine, you’ll be able to hit all the head of biceps and triceps from different angles and through a range of motions.
The cable machine will provide smooth constant tension on your muscles, which leads to more time under tension and in turn more potential for muscle growth.
You can also change body positioning, weight load and attachments used, which can alter your grip thus targeting your muscles differently.
A cable machine can come in various shapes and sizes. You can use various attachments with the cable that can hit pretty much every muscle group one way or another.
How To Build Arms With Cable Machine
The way you approach your arm cable workout in terms of sets, repetitions, and weights is dependent on your fitness level and primary fitness objectives.
For strength enhancement, progressively add weight until you can do 2-6 sets with 3-5 reps each, using at least 85% of your one-rep max (1RM). If you’re doing fewer reps, aim for weights near your full 1RM.
If you’re targeting muscle growth, complete three sets for each exercise with weights ranging from 70% to 85% of your 1RM, aiming for 8 to 12 reps in each set.
The Best Cable Arms Exercises
If you want to build big arms with a cable machine, then you’re going to need to workout your biceps, triceps and forearms, which is why we’ve selected exercises that hit all muscle groups.
You’ll get more benefits if you introduce some cable exercises into your routine that also work your biceps and triceps.
Here are 10 of the best cable exercises to build muscle mass and strength in the arms.
1. Triceps Pushdown
The triceps pushdown is the best cable triceps exercise for adding muscle mass to the upper back side of the arms.
The cable provides a uniform resistance throughout the movement, unlike barbell or dumbbell exercises, where the resistance varies during the lift.
- Using the straight bar, a pronated grip (palms down) emphasizes the outer lateral head of the triceps,
- whereas a supinated grip (palms up) focuses effort on the inner long head.
- An angled V-shaped bar switches the hands into a neutral grip (thumbs up), equally targeting all three triceps heads.
How To Do Triceps Pushdown
- Stand facing a high-pulley cable with a short straight bar attached to it.
- Slight bend your knees and feet should be about shoulder-width apart.
- Grasp the Short bar with a pronated grip (palm down) and hold the bar at chest level with your elbows tight against your sides.
- Keeping your elbows stationary, straighten your arms until they are fully extended.
- Pause at full arm extension, flex your triceps, and slowly return the bar to the starting position.
- You can do this exercise with a rope or EZ bar attachment.
- Standing upright with the spine straight is the standard position.
2. Cable Curl
If you’re looking for straightforward cable machine bicep exercises to add to your routine, cable curls are a great staple exercise to get you started.
Unlike barbell or dumbbell curls, where the resistance varies during the lift, the cable pulley provides a uniform resistance throughout the movement.
The bicep cable curl is one of the best isolation exercises for the of bicep. The pulling action is performed with a cable machine, and is suitable for beginners.
How To Do Cable Curl
- Set up for the cable curl by attaching a straight bar to the low pulley cable.
- Grasp the bar with an underhand grip (palms facing up), and your hands about shoulder-width apart.
- Curl the bar up toward your shoulders by bending at the elbows.
- Lower the weight down to the arms extended position.
- Stand upright with the spine straight.
- Keep the rep timing slow and control the weight as you lower it.
- Fixing the elbows against your sides prevents movement at the shoulder and is an excellent way to isolate the biceps.
3. Cable Overhead Triceps Extension
Cable tricep extensions are another great exercise for your cable arm workout. It is also a versatile exercise that can be modified to target different areas of the triceps. Also, the overhead cable extension is a low-impact exercise, so it’s a good choice for people with joint pain.
Overhead extension variations are especially good at targeting the long head of the triceps. The denser your long head muscle is, the overall larger the triceps appear.
How To Do Cable Overhead Triceps Extension
- Attach a rope to the bottom pulley of the cable machine and face away from the pulley.
- Hold the rope with both hands with palms facing each other (neutral grip)
- Your elbows should be in close to your head and the arms should be perpendicular to the floor.
- Slowly lower the rope behind your head as you hold the upper arms stationary.
- Do the desired number of sets and reps.
- Never load up to where you cannot maintain a stable body position.
- Perform the exercise using a slow and controlled movement from start to finish.
4. Cable Hammer Curl
The cable rope hammer curl is a variation of the hammer curl exercise, that is utilized to build the anterior muscles of the arm.
It uses a neutral (palms facing one another) grip, which targets the forearms and brachialis muscles in addition to the biceps.
How To Do Cable Hammer Curl
- Attach a rope attachment to a low pulley and stand facing the machine.
- Grasp the rope with a neutral (palms-in) grip.
- Put your elbows by your side and keep them there all the time.
- Pull your arms until your biceps touch your forearms. Hold for a second.
- Slowly start to bring the weight back to the original position.
- Repeat for the recommended number of repetitions.
- Stand straight up, keeping the natural arch of the back and your torso stationary.
- Remember to keep the elbows in and your upper arms stationary.
5. Cable One-Arm Reverse-Grip Triceps Pushdown
The cable one-arm reverse-grip pushdown is an isolation exercise that builds muscle and strength in all three tricep heads.
Now, push-downs are excellent regardless of the variation used, but the reverse grip may allow you to emphasize more of the outer tricep head.
How To Do Cable One-Arm Reverse-Grip Triceps Push-down
- Stand near the cable apparatus and grasp the single-grip attachment, with an underhand grip.
- You should keep your elbows at your sides and press the weight downwards.
- Let the weight rise slowly until your forearms are parallel to the ground. Inhale as you do this.
- Repeat steps 3-4 for as many sets as are desired.
- Your elbow must remain fixed during the set. Keep your upper arm as still as possible, only allowing your forearm to move.
- Squeeze the tri hard at the top of the exercise to get that extra pump!
6. Cable One Arm Curl
When doing a bicep workout with a cable machine, there are plenty of single-arm exercises you can add to correct potential imbalances.
This exercise on a cable machine is another good option to work on your biceps and make your arms bigger.
This version of the bicep curl that only uses one arm works the bicep muscle better by connecting the mind muscle.
How To Do Cable One Arm Curl
- Attach a stirrup bar to a low cable pulley. Stand on the side of the weight stack with your knees slightly bent and your legs shoulder width apart.
- Grasp the stirrup in one hand with an underhand grip (palms facing up).
- Keeping your elbows still, curl the stirrup up towards your chest, squeezing and isolating the bicep muscle.
- Slowly lower the stirrup to the starting position.
- Repeat for as much reps as desired. Switch arms while performing this exercise.
- Your non lifting arm should be grabbing your waist. This allows you to keep your balance.
- Perform this exercise in a slow, controlled manner for best results.
7. Reverse-Grip Triceps Pushdown
The reverse-grip pushdown is a variation of the straight bar tricep pushdown. A reverse underhand grip focuses effort on the inner long head of the triceps.
Taking an underhand grip can minimize the involvement of the forearms and help to place less stress on the elbows.
How To Do Reverse-Grip Triceps Pushdown
- Stand facing a high-pulley cable with a short straight bar attached to it.
- Slight bend your knees and feet should be about shoulder-width apart.
- To perform the exercise, grasp the short bar with a supinated grip (Palm up).
- Keep your elbows still and straighten your arms until they are fully extended.
- Then slowly return the bar to the starting position.
- If you want to keep more tension in the triceps, don’t lock the elbows entirely.
- Prevent your elbows from flaring out to maintain proper form.
8. Cable Reverse Curl
Why are cable reverse curls so vital? The Reverse cable curl is a classic biceps curl exercise that has been used for decades by bodybuilders and strength athletes. They are a highly effective way to target the forearm and bicep muscles.
The only reverse cable curl equipment that you really need is a cable machine. There are, however, many reverse cable curl variations that you can try out that may require different types of reverse cable curl equipment.
How To Do Cable Reverse Curl
- Stand up with your torso upright.
- Hold a bar attachment that is attached to a low pulley using a pronated (palms down) and shoulder width grip
- Keep your elbows in and bring the bar up to your chest.
- Contract the muscle and hold for a moment.
- Slowly lower the bar back down to the arms’ extended position.
- Repeat for desired reps.
- Your body should remain fixed. Only your biceps should be used to move the weight.
- Pause at the top of the movement and squeeze your biceps.
- Ensure that your elbows are kept close to your sides with your knees slightly bent, and your hands gripped tightly to the bar
9. Cable Triceps Kickback
When doing an arm workout with a cable machine, there are plenty of single-arm exercises you can add to correct potential imbalances.
The cable tricep kickback is a versatile and effective exercise that targets the triceps muscles. It is an isolation exercise that builds strength and muscle in all three heads which make up the tricep muscle.
Using cables aims to maintain constant tension on target muscles important for muscle hypertrophy.
How To Do Cable Triceps Kickback
- Attach a single grip rope handle to the lowest notch on the cable pulley system.
- Then, bend your knees, keep your back straight and grab the rope with your left hand.
- Now, with your upper arm parallel to the floor, extend at the elbow until your arm is straight back and fully extended.
- Flex the triceps hard for a second, then return to the starting position.
- Complete all reps on the left arm and then repeat on the right arm.
- Make sure to warm up with lightweight before training heavy to protect your elbows from excessive stress.
- Keep your body as still as possible, move only your forearms.
10. One Arm High Cable Curl
Another good single-arm cable exercise is the high cable curl exercise that will help you to target the biceps and build width and thickness in the muscle.
There are two main versions of the high cable curl: one-arm and two-arm. Both variations are effective, but the one-arm version allows you to use more relative weight for potentially greater gains in biceps size and strength.
How To Do One Arm High Cable Curl
- Stand sideways next to a high pulley machine, arm extended out at about shoulder height. The handle should be gripped with one hand.
- Slowly curl the cable towards your head, isolating the bicep until you feel tension, and hold for a count.
- Return to the starting position and repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.
- Repeat the exercise with your opposite arm.
- Hold for a count of two and squeeze your biceps brachii.
- Inhale as you extend your elbow, exhale while squeeze.
Cable Arms Workout Training Tips
When training your arms, it is important to remember that, exercises should target both your upper and lower portions of your arms. This will help give your arms the shape and definition you’re looking for— in addition to providing you with strength for tasks of daily living like opening a jar or holding a heavy object.
The exercises listed will be performed with moderate loads and repetitions to emphasize both muscular hypertrophy (muscle growth) and muscular endurance.
Load and volume (sets, reps) can be increased as your fitness and strength improve
Training Volume (Sets and Reps)
Of course, the number of sets and reps will be determined based on your fitness journey, but here is a great starting point:
When a certain amount of volume stops being effective and your progress stalls, you can add sets to increase volume and use that as a driver of renewed progress.
Generally, for muscle growth, it’s recommended to do 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps for each exercise. Strength, Power, Hypertrophy and Endurance by Mell Siff’s Supertraining
Here is a general breakdown of the number of sets and reps for different fitness goals:
- Endurance: 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps
- Strength: 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps
- Muscle hypertrophy (size): 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps
Cable Arm Workout Plan
It will be important to perform each set to muscular fatigue. In other words, the last few repetitions should be difficult to perform, but you should be able to keep ideal form, posture, and technique throughout the entire set.
Beginner Arm Workout With Cable Only
|Exercise||Sets||Reps||Rest (between sets)|
|Triceps Pushdown||4||8-10||60-90 sec|
|Cable Curl||4||8-10||60-90 sec|
|Tricep kickback||3||10-12||60-90 sec|
|Hammer Curls||3||10-12||60-90 sec|
|Cable One Arm Curl||3||10-12||60-90 sec|
|One-Arm Pushdown||3||10-12||60-90 sec|
Arm Cable Superset Workout plan
- Triceps Pushdown: 4 sets of 8-12 reps.
- Superset with Cable Curl: : 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
- Cable Overhead Triceps Extension: 4 sets of 10-12 reps.
- Superset with Cable Hammer Curl: 4 sets of 10-12 reps.
- Reverse-Grip Triceps Pushdown: 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
- Superset with Reverse Cable Curl: 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
Cable Arm Workout Plan 3
- Cable Overhead Triceps Extension: 4 sets of 8-10 reps.
- One Arm Curl: 4 sets of 6-8 reps.
- Reverse-Grip Triceps Pushdown: 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
- Cable Reverse Curl: 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
*On your last set, (Plan 3) do 2 drop sets after reaching failure with the starting weight.
Note: The Cable arm exercises provided are examples. Please don’t hesitate to substitute with your favorite moves and modalities such as machines, dumbbells, kettlebell, elastic tubing, or body weight suspension trainers.
Hit this routine two times a week if possible, with at least 48 hours between workouts, switching out exercises for the ones listed as desired.
Muscles of The Arm
Bicep and triceps are small muscles, to grow them takes time, knowledge, and intellect. So to build the bigger and impressive arm first, we needed to understand the anatomy of the arm muscle, which help to perform the cable arm exercises at the best level.
There are four muscles on the arm that are parallel to the long axis of the humerus, the biceps brachii, the brachialis, brachioradialis and the triceps brachii.
Don’t think just biceps that make for bigger and more defined arms. When it comes to arms, the greatest portion of the upper arm is the triceps.
You might not be able to see them from the front, but the triceps actually make up around two-thirds of your upper arm.
So, if you’re looking to fill out those sleeves, with well-developed arms, it’s important to activate all three tricep heads and all the head of the biceps, brachialis and brachioradialis.
- The biceps brachii muscle (biceps) is a large, thick muscle of the upper arm.
- The brachialis muscle is one of the primary muscles in the upper arm. It is responsible for flexing the arm at the elbow joint.
- The brachioradialis is the primary muscle involved in forearm rotation and wrist control while bending or extending the elbow joint.
- Triceps brachii, or simply Triceps, is a three-headed muscle opposite of the biceps. It consists of 3 parts: the medial, the lateral, and the long head.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Cable Good For Arm?
Yes, doing arms workouts with a cable is a good option for training the biceps brachii and tricep brachii muscle as well as the brachialis and brachioradialis. With regular practice, cable arm exercises can help you achieve greater development of the arm.
The cable machine will provide smooth, constant tension on your muscles, which will lead to longer periods of time under tension and, in turn, greater potential for muscle growth.
Are cables better than weights?
Cable machines provide constant tension while you lift and lower the weight. Because muscle growth and strength increases are directly based on how much tension is placed on the muscle during the exercise, cable machines fatigue muscles faster and result in greater strength gains.
How do you get big arms on cable?
Above, we have mentioned some of the best cable arm workout plans and exercises that can help you build bigger and stronger arms. But for greater gain, It is crucial to progressively increase the stress placed on the muscles and train a wide variety of muscle fibers with different exercises.
For anyone, who is interested in building arm muscles and gaining strength, these cable bicep and tricep (arm) exercises are highly recommended.
It not only allows bicep and tricep muscle development, but also provides overall arm development. It is easy to do and requires no more scientific details. If done consistently, the results will speak by themselves.
Cable Workout To Build Bigger Arm
Manish brings over 10 years of hands-on experience in weight lifting and fat loss to fitness coaching. He specializes in gym-based training and has a lot of knowledge about exercise, lifting technique, biomechanics, and more.
Through “Fit Life Regime,” he generously shares the insights he’s gained over a decade in the field. His goal is to equip others with the knowledge to start their own fitness journey.