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How and Where to Use Cable for Gym Equipment

Cable machines, or pulley machines, are a staple of professional gyms and home fitness setups. Using cable for gym equipment allows users to incorporate different ranges of motion, exercises, and approaches into their routine, engaging different muscles. Cable machines generally engage the upper body, like your lats and traps, but they can also strengthen the core and lower back muscles, improve stability, and increase muscle mass.

This blog will look at the machines that use cable, what cables and accessories go into making cable machines work, and what the best components are for different situations. 

Cable for Gym Equipment: Applications

Virtually all uses of cable for gym equipment work around a pulley system, though you may also find cable used for jump ropes and in physio and massage table assemblies. Pulley systems in cable machines work the same as other resistance training -- gravity wants the chosen weight to come down to earth, and you try to pull or hold it up, using a cable to pull the weight over a rotating pulley. Several machine assemblies use cables, including:

Single Pulley

A single pulley means there’s no extra help when lifting the weight, meaning whatever you have on the stack is exactly what you’ll be lifting. This can make them more difficult to use, but they have their uses for exercises such as upright cable rows and cable shrugs. The single pulley cable for gym equipment is usually on the outside of the cable machine stations.

Double Pulley

Double or compound pulley machines enable users to lift a greater weight over a shorter distance. The weight lifted is only half the weight on the stack, and the double pulley setup is good for targeting specific muscles, such as with reverse cable flies.

Cable Crossover Machine

A crossover machine is one of the best machines for working the pectoral muscles and building core strength. This uses cable for gym equipment to leverage your pulling power on an out-to-in motion with your arms at your sides. The direction you are pulling would eventually see you “cross over” your hands, but you should be increasing the weight if this is easily happening.

Functional Trainer Machine

A functional trainer machine is a combination of several other machines. It contains various components, including handles, cables, bars, and weight plates. The idea is to allow you to perform various exercises that correlate to real-life situations, hence the “functional” name.

Lat Pulldown Machine

This machine sees the user seated with a bar or cable slightly above their head. The user pulls down, similar to a pull-up motion, then allows the weight to reset (though not fully), repeating the action to work the biceps and middle back.

Rowing Machine

A rowing machine works by pulling and pushing against your own weight (along with other weights and dampers to increase resistance). As it works your upper body on one stroke and your lower body on the next it is great for a balanced workout.

Fitness Cable for Gym Equipment: Common Components

Cable machines are mostly straightforward in their operation, but their variations and the different exercises people want to do mean that a variety of components are required. These will include:

  • Cable: The cable used in machines can come in several different assemblies, with flexibility and durability being the important attributes. This means the most popular cable array is 7x19, with diameters being 1/8” coated to 3/16”OD, and 3/16” coated to 1/4”OD with a nylon coating (most popularly black). Coiled cables are sometimes used to tether a weight stack pin, and here’s a guide designed to help you find your ideal coiled lanyard even faster. 
  • Thimble Loops: These wire rope fittings are used to attach elements at either end, such as handles, bars, or weights. 
  • Eye Ends: Eyer ends are fitted to cable for gym equipment to allow it to form a loop with itself and hold the wire in position to stop it from bowing when slack.
  • Threaded Plugs: These can be used to thread a cable for gym equipment into a corresponding socket, anchoring it or attaching it to another piece of equipment.
  • Ball Stopper: A ball stopper is common to protect the sheave from impact from the cable termination.
  • Single Shank Balls: Shank balls, used in conjunction with cable for gym equipment, are used to anchor the cable in the machine. These will commonly be seen holding handles or the weight stacks in place.
  • Carabiners (Snap Hooks): Snap hooks allow the cable to be attached to something, like a bar, foot stirrup, or weight, without it being able to slip back out while in use.

Lexo Cable: Your Partner in Cable for Gym Equipment

Multiple applications use cable for gym equipment, with cable machines able to give users a range of motions and a great variety of exercises. In addition, the fitness and healthcare industries require reliable and durable cable and fittings as user health can be at risk, even from the slight underperformance of components.  

At Lexco, we’re proud to supply a wide range of cable machines and fittings solutions, including those for gym equipment manufacturers, health clubs, aftermarket manufacturers, repair and maintenance providers, and fitness entrepreneurs. To find out more about how Lexco Cable can deliver the reliability and certainty that you need for your gym equipment, learn about our services for gym equipment here or talk to our team.


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