Why we love the cable machine
Because trainers swear by it Ever scoped out a personal training session from the treadmill? Chances are, the pro was coaching her client on a tone-up tool like the FreeMotion Cable Cross, shown in these moves. Your club's model may vary (Cybex, LifeFitness and Nautilus are also popular brands), but the earmarks are the same. "Adjustable pulleys and cables allow you to perform a variety of exercises on the apparatus," says Ken Mahadeo, a trainer at Clay gym in New York City, who created the following speedy shape-up exclusively for SELF. "It's the ultimate one-stop firming."
And because science says it works Exercisers who use cable-based equipment show twice (yes, twice!) the strength gains as those who rely on the standard gym machines that function in a single plane of motion, isolating muscles (think: leg press or hip abductor), The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research reports. Having a full range of movement forces the body to recruit smaller assisting and stabilizing muscle groups as well as the main muscles you're targeting, which translates to faster, more effective sculpting.
The plan Do two sets of the indicated reps of each exercise using a resistance that makes it tough for you to eke out the final two reps with good form. Breeze through this routine two or three times per week on nonconsecutive days. To fast-track fat melting, add 30 minutes of heart-pumping cardio most days.
Adjust levers at twelve o'clock and grip handle in right hand. Stand with right side to machine about 1 foot from base, feet wider than hip-width apart, left foot turned out, left arm at side. Push right hip toward machine as you reach left arm to floor with left knee bent (as shown). Straighten up for one rep. Do 12 reps. Switch sides and levers; repeat.
Set levers at six o'clock. Facing machine, grab handle with left hand; stand 2 feet from base. Extend right arm forward as you draw left handle to rib cage and raise bent right leg to hip-height (as shown) to start. Reach left arm toward floor as you lean forward, extending right arm and leg back. Return to start for one rep. Do 12 reps. Switch sides and levers; repeat.
With levers at six o'clock, grab a handle with left hand and stand with back to machine, right foot staggered in front of left, left elbow bent at side, palm facing forward at shoulder level, right hand on hip. Lower into lunge, reaching left arm to ceiling (as shown). Return to start. Do 12 reps. Switch sides and levers; repeat.
Set levers at three o'clock. Grab handle with right hand; stand with right side 2 feet from base, left leg staggered in front of right. Bend right elbow and bring handle to right shoulder, palm facing you, left hand on hip (to start). Sink into lunge as you push right arm forward at shoulder height (as shown). Return to start. Do 12 reps. Switch sides and levers; repeat.
Set levers at twelve o'clock. Stand with back to machine, about 2 feet from base, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, knees soft, a handle in each hand, arms tucked at sides, palms touching shoulders throughout. Contract abs and crunch forward so torso is parallel to floor (as shown). Return to start. Do 15 reps. Repeat.
Set levers at six o'clock. Stand with right side to machine, right foot 1 foot from base, feet wider than hip-width apart. Grip handle with both hands, arms extended to right on a low diagonal. With elbows soft, twist torso to left, bending left knee, raising arms above left shoulder on a diagonal (as shown). Do 12 reps. Switch sides and levers; repeat.
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