There is a wide variety of cable leg exercises you can do to strengthen, tone and isolate the muscles in your leg area.
Using the cable machine to work your leg enables you to target your glutes, hamstrings, calves and quads from different angles without putting unnecessary strain on your spine.
A few examples of some of the most effective cable leg exercises are the cable leg extension, cable split squat, cable lunges, cable kickback, cable pull through and cable hip abduction.
Like with other cable exercises, these exercises begin with you setting your preferred weight on the machine.
Then, if the particular exercise aims at extending your limbs, it will likely also require that you attach your leg or arms to the cable machine with an attachment or harness.
The instructions that involve the execution part of the exercise are specific to each individual exercise.
CABLE LEG EXERCISES MUSCLES WORKED
The quads are the leanest and strongest muscles in your body.
There are four different muscles within the quads: vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius and rectus femoris.
These muscles work together to help extend your leg from your knee.
The hamstrings are made up of three muscles namely the bicep femoris, semitendinosus, biceps femoris, and semimembranosus.
They are located at the back of your thigh and they help move your knee and hips.
Your hamstrings power hip extension alongside your glutes as you perform cable exercises on your legs.
The calf muscles are pivotal to the movement of your feet, toes and ankles.
They are three in number: gastrocnemius muscle, soleus and the plantaris.
The gastrocnemius muscle is responsible for all movements that involve flexion and extension of the foot, knee and ankle.
The soleus muscle extends from the back of your knee to your heel. It stabilizes your legs as you walk and stand.
The plantaris is quite thin compared to the other calf muscles.
Fun fact about this muscle: not everyone has it. In fact, about 10% of the world’s population doesn’t have it.
This is because it is not as essential since its function is superseded by the gastrocnemius.
These three muscles work together to provide strength and stability as you perform leg exercises on the cable machine.
The glutes are the heaviest and largest muscles in your body. They are three in number and are located behind your hip joint.
They primarily help with extending your hips and keeping your body upright when you are sitting or standing.
Exercises like the cable squat require that you generate power from your glutes to drive the entire movement so that as you work your leg muscles, you glute muscles benefit from the exercise too.
CABLE LEG EXERCISES BENEFITS
Cable exercises are quite reliant on good form for their effectiveness.
Performing leg exercises on the cable machine enables you to develop better posture by ensuring your spine is protected and your back muscles are not overworked.
PREVENT SPINAL INJURY
Most of these exercises prevent spinal injury by putting no or very minimal strain on your spine. They enable you to work your lower body effectively without putting your spine at risk of injury.
INCREASE LOWER BODY STRENGTH
Since cable leg exercises work major muscle groups in the lower body, they help increase your overall lower body strength.
REDUCES THE RISK OF JOINT INJURY
The cable machine allows you to perform leg exercises with such fluidity that you are unlikely to get from free weights like dumbbells and kettlebells.
This takes away pressure from your joints, lowering the risk of injuries and allowing you to reach your target muscles comfortably.
INCREASED RANGE OF MOTION
The cable machine increases the range of motion through which you can move your joints while performing exercises.
The term “range of motion” is used to describe how far you are able to move your joints in various directions.
When you perform leg exercises that enable you to move your joints through their full range of motion, you are likely to achieve better results in terms of muscle strength and hypertrophy.
ALTERNATIVES TO CABLE LEG EXERCISES
Also known as the leap frog jump, this exercise helps build leg strength by incorporating explosive movements.
It works your glutes, calves, quads and hamstrings, just like cable leg exercises.
How to do it:
- Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Get into the squat position by bending your knees and slightly pushing your hips back.
- Swing your arms behind you then forward.
- Pushing your feet into the ground, explode forward.
- Land on the ground on both feet.
- Flex your knees, hips and ankles as you land so that your feet absorb the force better.
- Do 8-12 reps per set.
This movement strengthens and stabilizes your core while firing up your glutes, hips, hamstrings and quads.
- Lie on your back on a flat surface.
- Plant your feet on the ground and bend your knees.
- Place your hands at your sides with your palms facing down.
- Tighten your core and squeeze your glutes.
- Raise your hips then pause for a few seconds at the top before lowering them down. That’s a complete rep.
- Do 8-12 reps per set.
CABLE LEG EXERCISES MISTAKES TO AVOID
USING HEAVY WEIGHTS
Most people make the mistake of using weights that are too heavy for them. With cable leg exercises, it is better to use weights that are light enough for you to control.
This will enable you to focus on working the target muscles of the exercises rather than the weight.
Leg exercises performed on the cable machine almost always require that you perform motions slowly, steadily and with control.
Hurrying through them will not put as much tension on your target muscles as required, which could make the exercise ineffective.
There’s no shortage of cable leg exercises for people who are looking to work the muscles on their legs.
Most of these exercises work multiple muscle groups on your lower body while protecting your spine and lower back from injury.
It is important that you master the correct technique for these exercises if you want to maximize on their benefits.
The general mistakes outlined in this article should help you figure out what you should and shouldn’t do as regards practicing the correct form for cable leg exercises.
Lastly, make sure you consult your doctor in case you have pain or a history of injury in any part of your lower body before you engage in these exercises.