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The cable machine can work your entire lower body.
You can hit several different machines at the gym or work your entire lower body with the low pulley and ankle strap attachment on the cable machine. Most lower-body exercises on the cable machine are done standing or slightly bent at the hips. Maintaining proper form, which means maintaining your head, back and pelvis in alignment, will require a certain amount of core strength. If you find your back arching during these exercises or you feel any back pain after exercise, strengthen your core with exercises such as crunches, crunch twists and planks until you can maintain proper form when using the cable.
Do Some Leg Extensions
To work the quads at the front of your thighs, stand up straight with your feet about hip-width apart and your back to the pulley. Bend your knee so that your foot comes 1 to 2 inches off the floor. Your knee can point straight down or your thigh can be forward to about 45 degrees. It's important to tighten your ab muscles to keep your torso stable. When your knee is back, you should feel little or no tension in the cable. Extend your leg against the resistance until it is fully extended without locking the knee, if you can do so without your back arching. If not, stop the extension at the point where your back begins to arch. You will still get a good workout. If you have difficulty with this exercise, try holding onto the back of a chair for support.
Try Hamstring Curls
You have two options for working your hamstrings - standing straight up or bent over. Both are done facing the cable. The one you use will depend on whether your gym's cable machine has a low or high bar for you to hold onto as this exercise requires support. For the standing curl, step back with one leg to the point where your arms are straight in front of you. Extend your other leg, without locking your knee, so that your heel is just slightly off the floor with your foot in a neutral position. Pull back on the cable by fully flexing your knee. If your cable machine has a low support bar, again, flex forward at your hips and step back on one leg so that your arms are straight. The foot of the other leg should be slightly off the floor when your leg is extended. Bend your knee back against the resistance while simultaneously flexing at your hips to bring your thigh up in front of you.
Tighten Your Glutes
As you're standing facing the pulley, give your glutes a lift. Place your hands on your hips or hold onto the bar for support if the machine has one. Step back with one foot and hold your other foot in a neutral position with your leg straight. Lift your straight leg behind you by squeezing your gluteus against the resistance. Then return to the starting position.
Target the Inner and Outer Thighs
Stand sideways to the pulley, about arms-length from the machine. Put the cuff on the ankle farthest from the pulley and place that foot just in front of the other. Keeping your leg fully extended, lift the cuffed leg directly out to the side as far as you can against the resistance and return to the starting position. To work your inner thigh, turn so that your cuffed leg is facing the pulley. Again, you should be about arms-length from the machine. Begin with your straight leg directly out to your side, then pull against the resistance, stopping when your foot is just slightly in front of the other. Return to the starting position.
Consider Your Weight and Reps
Try to do two sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each each exercise for each leg. Cable machines use stacked weights. Choose a starting weight with which you can do eight repetitions but that makes the last one difficult. Continue using the same weight until you can do 12 repetitions. When 12 reps are easy, move to the next weight. You should plan on working all your major muscles two to three times per week without working the same muscles on consecutive days.