>Imagine this scenario: You are a little tired and aggravated after a long and stressful day of work and can’t wait to let it all out at the gym.
You have been so motivated and kept right on track with your workouts and that is keeping you just as pumped up. You made your plan a few weeks back and have been following it to the T and have been keeping track of your progress. Nothing is going to get in your way and you can just feel the iron in your hands as you anticipate your training session while driving to the gym.
You arrive and get all geared up and make your way to the iron den when low-and-behold, every cage and bench is being used. The only dumbbells left are a few 5 pounders and some 100s, and forget about the barbells, they too are taken! So now what do you do? Leave the gym and mess up your meticulous regime? No way! It is time for some alternative training.
There are many derivations of the cable machines (functional trainers) and that is with good reason. These types of machines provide a great alternative to weights for packing on some lean muscle when the weights are all taken and actually provide a multi-planar functional way of doing so.
Using cables will also give your program the nudge it needs to bust through any plateau, as you can easily make the angles of resistance much different. Working with cables provides a quicker way to work out, as you can easily move from one exercise to the next without having to find and change weights.
Training with cables is actually a lot easier on your joints. This is because your joints can freely move in the way they are supposed to. As an example, your glenohumeral joint (where your humerus and shoulder meet) is a ball and socket joint that should move in more ways than just a forward and backward, up and down motion – think bench press, rows, shoulder press. If you are always moving solely in these particular movement patterns, the likelihood of irritation, injury or scar tissue/adhesion formation could occur. If you incorporate cables you can perform the same types of movements, but in a more natural way that will allow for a full range of motion that strengthens that particular joint.
For example, performing a row beginning with your hands in a pronated (thumbs down position) and rotating to a supinated (thumbs up position) as you complete the row will allow the glenohumeral joint to move the way it was meant to. This concept is not only important for preventative reasons, but if you are working the stabilizing muscles like you do with cables and strengthening the joint in its entirety, you will ultimately be able to lift more overall. Can you say greater gains?
Alternative Training with Cables
Perform 2 warm-up sets for each muscle group.
Perform 3 to 4 sets of 8-10 reps with 60 seconds rest between sets.
1a – Wide D-handle Pulldowns
Adjust the cables to the highest point on each side. While kneeling in the middle of the cable station, hold the D-handles in each hand and keep yourself erect with the natural curve in your lower back and your upper body in the set position with your head forward, shoulders down and slightly back, chest up. You should look like a V or W at this point. You hands should be grasping the handles with palms facing outward. Slowly bring your elbows down towards your sides, stopping as your hands reach about shoulder level. Squeeze for 1 count and for 4 counts bring back to starting position. This is one repetition.
1b – Cable Incline Press
Adjust the cables to the lowest point on each side. Place a 45-degree incline bench in the middle of the cable station. Hold the D-handles in each hand with your starting point being approximately in the middle of your sternum. Press upwards bringing the handles just about to a point of touching, hold for 1 count and bring down to starting position for 4 counts. This is one repetition.
2a – Squat to Press
Standing in the middle of the cable station, hold the D-handles in each hand with your starting position resting at shoulder level. Squat down below parallel if possible and on the way back up, press the handles overhead straight up holding for 1 count and bringing back to shoulder level for 4 counts. This is one repetition.
2b – Lunge to Chest Press
Adjust the cables to be in line with your mid-chest. Hold a D-handle in each hand as if you were performing a vertical bench press. This is your starting position. As you lunge forward with one leg, press your arms straight out simultaneously. Hold for 2 counts, then step off your lead heel and come back to starting position. Do the same for the other side. This is one repetition.
3a – Upright Rows
Using a straight bar on one side, keep your posture up and looking forward while holding the bar just above mid-thigh level and shoulder-width apart. Keeping the bar close to the body, bring the bar up to mid-chest level focusing on pulling up with your elbows not your hands. Hold for 1 count and bring back down for 3. This is one repetition.
3b – Pressdowns
Adjust the cables to the highest point. Grasp the straight bar and bring it to where there is about a 90-degree angle in your elbow joint and keep elbows tight to the body, your abs tight and posture up, slightly bend at the hip. This is your starting position. From here press the bar down just before your elbows lock out and squeeze for 1 count and return to starting position for 4 counts. This is one repetition.
4a – Anti-Rotation to Curl
Bring the cable to your mid-point as you are kneeling. Kneeling on the ground about a foot or two away from the cable column, grasp the D-handle with a 90-degree bend in your elbow keeping it close to your body and your thumb facing you. This is the start position. While keeping your posture up and keeping your core engaged as to prevent any bending in your waist, slowly rotate your arm across your body until it is straight. At this point, rotate your arm so your palm is facing upward and keeping your arm in the extended position, slowly perform an arm curl. Squeeze for 1 count, return your arm straight out for 4 counts and carefully rotate back to your starting position. This is one repetition. Perform the allotted reps for each side before proceeding to the next exercise.
4b – Cable Climbers
Bring the cables to the lowest point. This exercise is performed in a push-up position. Place your forefoot in the D-handle, keeping the other on the floor. You should be far enough away from the cable that your hooked foot should be extended. Keeping your toes hooked in the cable, slowly bring your knee towards your chest. Hold for 1 one count and bring back for 3. This is one repetition. Perform the allotted repetitions for each side.
Using cables also allows you to push yourself a little harder, as it is much safer to let go of handles and have them retract then it is to drop weights. Just about every exercise that you have been performing with weights can easily be done using the functional trainers quite probably in a faster and safer way, so there is never a need to miss a workout.