Get Started on the Cable Rope with These 3 Exercises

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The cable rope attachment is extremely versatile, and great for adding resistance to strengthen your arms. So much so, dedicated cable rope users will sometimes carry one in their gym bag, just in case! Cable exercises can make for a really effective workout, and a cable rope handle attachment in particular allows you to perform arm exercises like cable face pulls. As long as your gym has a cable pulley, you can attach your cable rope! Cable rope face pulls are probably the best-known cable rope exercise, but there are plenty of ways to utilize the cable rope besides face pulls and arm exercises. Beyond the pushdown, curl, and pull, you can use it for variations in leg exercises, core movements, and upper body training.

Now that you know what a great tool the cable rope is, you probably want to dive in and learn how to use it, right? Well, let’s start with mastering these three basic arm moves, and you’ll be a cable rope user in no time! Watch and read on for instruction.

Cable Rope 101

The cable rope, also known as the tricep rope, is a cable pulley attachment made from a piece of thick rope with dual handles. These handles are typically shaped like large knobs, but you can also find cable or tricep ropes with stirrup handles. Made from rope rather than a metal bar, the cable or tricep rope’s flexibility is what makes it so effective for your arms, particularly for face pull exercises.

Cable ropes are sometimes confused for battle ropes, however, the two are used very differently. Battle ropes are low to the ground, attached to a wall, and much longer than a cable rope! While both battle ropes and cable ropes strengthen your arms, they’re very different, and you’ll know which one you’re supposed to be using for your arm workout right when you see them! The cable rope is also different from a rope trainer, which is a machine to help strengthen your rope climbing ability. The cable rope is an attachment for a cable pulley machine, while the rope trainer is its own separate machine. Rope trainers are great if you want to get better at rope climbing, while cable ropes are better for overall upper body strength, rather than specifically focusing on rope climbing.

We also think it’s worth noting that this cable rope is far different from what you’ll see in rock climbing. However, cable rope exercises can definitely improve your rock climbing ability if you’re a regular climber! Rock climbing requires a lot of arm and core strength, and as you’ll read below, cable rope exercises are perfect for building just that.

Cable rope exercises offer lots of benefits, and are great for building muscle in your rear deltoids, shoulders, upper arms and forearms. They can also help strengthen your external shoulder rotators if you’ve experienced shoulder injuries. There are a few pieces of key information to remember before you get started with cable rope exercises, to get the most effective workout with the best form, whether its arm or leg day. 

  • Make sure you have a firm, even grip with both hands. 
  • Keep the left and right hand in the same spot on the cable rope. 
  • Plant your feet firmly on the floor. 
  • Your knees should be slightly bent – locked knees are never a good idea – and your hips can be neutral. 

Note that while some cable rope exercises can be done in a seated position, it’s best to do the three exercises below while standing, rather than in a seat.

If you’re at the gym without a cable rope, you can substitute a resistance band for some of the exercises below! Pick the resistance band that’s best for your strength and body weight, and tie it to something sturdy, like the top of a squat rack. Then perform the moves below as best you can with the added resistance. Now, let’s get to all the information on these great moves!

3 Great Beginner Cable Rope Exercises

Triceps Pushdown

Here’s some helpful information on triceps: Our triceps muscles consist of three heads, or points of origin: the medial, lateral, and long head. The most efficient way to train all three is using a full range of motion—just as you would with any other muscle group. And the trick to getting all three heads involved in the Triceps Pushdown is for the user to tilt your torso forward at a 30- to 40-degree angle, instead of standing straight up.

  1. Start off standing in front of a cable machine, attaching a rope to the high pulley and grabbing the attachment with an overhand grip.
  2. Keeping your abs drawn in, back straight, and elbows in at your sides, push the rope down toward your thighs.
  3. As you push down, split the rope apart at the bottom and isolate the tricep muscle.
  4. Hold this position for a count and return back up to the starting position. Repeat for as many reps as necessary.

Hammer Curl

Similar to the information we shared above about triceps, our biceps consist of two heads, and hammer curls help build both the brachialis and brachioradialis in a way other curl variations simply do not. 

  1. Attach the rope toward the bottom of the cable machine so it gives you room to move, but assists your controlled motion.
  2. Start by holding the cable rope with both hands at the height of your hips.
  3. Curl the rope up so that your hands are at shoulder height.
  4. Uncurl and return the rope to the height of your hips.
  5. Curl up again from your hips, and repeat for as many reps as necessary.

Working the brachialis is particularly important if you’re looking to beef up your guns. This exercise is great for your forearms, too, and will also build upper body and core strength for doing daily activities like picking up children, doing household chores, and lifting grocery bags!

Face Pull

Cable rope face pulls might be the most underutilized exercise out there. This face pull exercise serves as both an awesome muscle-building exercise and a highly effective movement for improving shoulder health and posture. Cable face pulls are great for building rear deltoids, traps, rhomboids, and rotator cuff muscles. Rear deltoids can be a tricky muscle to strengthen, so we love how great the cable rope face pull is for strengthening our rear deltoids. And! They are one of the very best exercises for treating and preventing internal rotation of the shoulder joint—a.k.a. rounded shoulders. Cable rope face pulls will help to rotate your shoulders back into the proper position for better posture and decreased injury risk.

One quick note: while the cable rope attachment is perfect for cable face pulls, you don’t want to use it for a lat pull. You’ll want to perform lat pulls with a lat bar, of course, so you can maintain proper form!

To perform cable rope face pulls properly:

  1. Grab the rope attachment and set it at the height of your upper chest.
  2. Rather than gripping the rope from the top with your palms facing down like most people do, instead, grip it from underneath with a neutral hammer-style grip.
  3. Keep your chest up, shoulders back and retract your shoulder blades.
  4. Pull the rope back towards your face while at the same time imagining that you’re trying to pull the rope apart. Make sure you aren’t crunching your neck in!
  5. Pause in the fully contracted position and focus on squeezing your rear delts and upper back before returning to the starting position. Repeat cable face pulls, following the same steps, for as many reps as necessary.

Ready? Get out there and give the cable rope a try. Your muscles won’t be disappointed!

 

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