How to Use the Cable Machine

Sep 20, 2022

Have you ever looked at the cable machine and thought, "How the heck do I use that?"

Or skipped an exercise entirely because you've never used the cable machine before?

Although it looks intimidating, the cables are pretty simple to use once you know their three main parts. 

The cables are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in the club. You can use it to work out every single muscle group one way or another.

Keep reading to learn how to use the cable machines at O2 Fitness Clubs!

The Adjuster

The first part of the cable machine that you need to know is the actual adjuster.

This piece slides up and down to adjust the height of the cable. Depending on your cable machine, you will need to pull or press the knob on the side to unlock it and slide the cable up and down.

At O2 Fitness, the majority of our cable machines, you will pull the knob to release the lock!

The Clip and Attachments

The clip is where you add the attachment (or handles) you need to perform your exercise on the cables.

The clip opens and closes like a standard clip, so just push the gate piece in to add the appropriate attachment. Each attachment has a hole on the end that fits onto the clip so that you can switch them out easily!

Click here to see our beginner's guide to the cable machine attachments and exercises to do with them!

The Weight Stack

Now that you have adjusted the height and added the right attachment, it's time to add the weight!

The cable machine at O2 Fitness Clubs has holes where you will place a peg in the appropriate weight plate. Cable machines at other gyms may have weights where you need to flip the knobs to lock in the weight you want.

If you're unsure what weight to use, remember to start light (or even with no weight!)

It's important that the exercise feels comfortable and that you can correctly perform the exercise before you focus on adding weight.

Cables vs. Dumbbells

So, which is better to use: dumbbells or cables?

The cables use a pulley system. This means you're not directly pushing or pulling against the force of gravity, which puts less stress on your joints for safer sets and reps.

Dumbbells and other free weights are great to utilize in your strength training workouts. They offer a lot of variety but less stability than the cable machine does.

Overall, both are very effective to use if you have a goal to create muscle and improve strength.


The cable machine is versatile and a great tool to add to your strength-building workouts. After you use the cables a few times, it will be easy for you to use them in your strength training journey.

Still have questions about the cable machines?

Comment below or schedule a session with a personal trainer to discuss concerns and learn how to use the cable machine correctly.

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