15 Most Effective Cable Leg Exercises & Workout

If you’re looking for an easy piece of gym equipment to use, cable machines are a great place to start. Cable Machine leg exercises and workout promote smooth, fluid form, there are generally more than enough machines in a given gym, and it’s easy to create a large variety of exercises on one of these machines. 

Cable Leg workout can be performed either cable only leg workout, or can be added in to other leg workouts, but always remember that prioritizing progressive overload is a must for strength gains.

We want to help you utilize the cable machine at your gym more by providing you with a full cable leg workout, and we’ll even give you some tips to help ensure you have an effective and safe workout.

Why Do Athletes Use Cable Machines For Leg Workout?

Using a cable machine for leg exercises can give some fantastic gains in building a stronger, thicker, and wider legs. Performing leg exercises with cable machines can also help to boost your other larger compound lifts such as deadlifts or squats.

By using different attachments, angles, and weights, the cable machine workout can target all the major and smaller muscles of your legs.

But the exercises you choose to spend your efforts on should correspond directly with what you need to work on for your particular goals.

Instead of just picking random exercises to work on, we’ve included exercises that address one or more of the following key points like improving muscle mass, strength, endurance, Power, and speed.

That way, you’re not wasting your efforts, and you’re building the specific attributes you need for your life. Win-win!

Best Cable Leg Workout and Exercises For Building Mass

Benefits of the Cable Leg Workout

The cable leg workout offers an effective way to train the leg, let’s have a look at some other benefits of leg exercises with a cable machine.

  • Cable workouts are more evenly distributed, and you have more of a constant load on your leg muscles throughout the whole range of motion.
  • The cable machine leg workout offers almost unmatched versatility because you can change up the load, angle, grip positioning and body positioning easily.
  • The cable setup gives your muscles almost uninterrupted time under tension, and a massive pump — each of which can help optimize muscle growth.
  • Cable machines exercises are a safe and efficient tool to incorporate into your normal workout program. The smooth flat resistance results in less wear and tear on the joints, especially the wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
  • The cable machine offers a smooth, controlled motion. This smooth motion is great to keep back exercises on the correct path to maximize the time under tension.
  • Varying the position of the pulley and the direction of the cable, you can workout various parts of the leg muscles.

What Muscles Are You Working?

The leg is divided into the upper leg (thigh) and lower leg (calf).

The legs also consist of dozens of muscles that flex, bend, extend, adduct, abduct, and rotate your legs and allow movement.

This ultimate cable leg exercises will focus on four main muscle groups — the quadricepshamstringsglutes, and calves.

Understanding how they all fit together and work with each other will ensure you get the most out of your cable leg workout.

Leg Muscle Anatomy

Quadriceps

The quadriceps femoris, located in front of the thigh, has four separate heads: 1. Vastus medialis 2. Rectus femoris  3. Vastus lateralis 4. Vastus intermedius 

Hamstrings

The hamstrings, located behind the thigh, are a group of three muscles that originate from the ischium bone of the pelvis: Biceps femorisSemimembranosusSemitendinosus 

Gluteals

The gluteus maximus arises from a large area on the rear of the pelvic bone, passes down behind the hip joint, and attaches to the upper femur. This powerful muscle causes hip extension.

Calves

The lower leg contains 10 different muscles, and the calf comprises two muscles: The gastrocnemius and Soleus.

Other thigh muscles include the following: Hip adductors (Inner thigh), hip abductors, hip flexors.

This blog contains detailed descriptions of all major cable leg exercises that focus on the quadriceps, hamstring, glutes, and Calf muscles.

The cable leg exercises are divided into squat exercises, cable deadlift, cables lunge, and calf raise exercises.

Best Cable Leg Exercises and Workout

Here are our top 15 cable leg workouts to help you to build Bigger and Stronger Legs. Must try this workout, so you can experience the power of cable machine leg exercises for yourself!

1. Cable Deadlift

Cable deadlift exercise is the best variation of the classic barbell deadlift. This is one of the best cable exercises to add mass in legs.

The Deadlift exercise can be performed using a barbell, a pair of dumbbells and cable. One of the biggest benefits of using cable for deadlifts is that it offers a smooth, controlled motion and gives your muscles almost uninterrupted time under tension, and massive pump — each of which can help optimize muscle growth.

Cable Deadlift

Muscles Worked

Primary: Erector spinae, Gluteals, Hamstrings.

Secondary: Trapezius, Latissimus dorsi, Quadriceps, Forearms.

How To Do Cable Deadlift

  1. Attach two pulleys at the lowest setting on a cable machine. Make sure the cable pulley attachments are located close to each other.
  2. Holding on to the cable with each hand, you’ll lower your butt to the ground. Remember to keep your back as straight as possible. Contract your back and hamstrings.
  3. Raise the cable using your hamstrings and glutes. You should keep your legs slightly bent, back straight, and head looking up.
  4. Raise it to the point where your body is erect. Do not hyperextend your body as the weight shifts to the lumbar spine.
  5. Then, lower the cable slowly at a steady, slow pace by bending at the hips and then at the knees.

Tips

  • Do not go through half of the exercise, complete the lift.
  • Avoid jerky movements and keep motion-controlled.

2. Cable Squat

Cable Squats are an excellent alternative to barbell squats to build quality muscle mass in the legs. These leg exercises are done standing with a cable machine.

One benefit the cable squat has over the barbell squat is that, it is more evenly distributed, and you have more of a constant load on your legs muscles throughout the whole range of motion.

Cable Squat.
Cable Squat

Muscles Worked

Primary: Quadriceps, gluteals.

Secondary: Hamstrings, adductors, spinal erectors, abdominals.

How To Do Cable Squat

  1. Grip a cable rope in each hand. Stand away from the cable machine so that the slack tightens. Make sure your back is straight, and your core is tight.
  2. Bend your knees and drive your hips back while you keep your chest up. Stand back up, then pull the handles back, leading with your elbows.
  3. Tighten the back muscles, then return handles to the starting position.
  4. Repeat the desired number of sets and Reps

Tips

  • Keep your torso upright, shoulders back, head up, and feet flat.
  • Warm up well before cable leg workout.

3. Cable Front Lunges

Cable lunges require good balance, so if you have issues keeping your balance, start by doing the lunges exercise without weights as you learn the proper form.

Be careful that the knee of the forward leg does not extend past the toes as you bend the leg. This can aggravate the knee joint if done too much and lead to an injury.

Squeeze your butts at the end of this movement for full benefit. Feet together stance is recommended. Must add cables Lunges in your leg workout regime.

Cable Front Lunges
Cable Front Lunges

Muscles Worked

Primary: Quadriceps.

Secondary: Gluteals, hamstrings, adductors.

How To Do Cable Front Lunges

  1. Attach the rope handle and place the cable in the lowest position.
  2. With your back to the cable machine, grip the rope with both hands. The rope will be against your back and at your shoulders.
  3. Keeping your back straight, take a step forward, bending your knees and getting them as close to the floor as possible.
  4. Push yourself back to the starting position and repeat with the other foot.
  5. Keep alternating the leg with which you lunge.

Tips

  • Bend as far and low as possible without losing form.
  • Keep your torso upright and your head facing forward.

4. Cable Stiff-Leg Deadlift

If you’re looking for a straightforward cable leg workout and exercises to build mass and strength in your legs, then cable stiff leg deadlift, is a great staple exercise to get you started.

The cable stiff-leg deadlift for hamstrings requires a lighter weight than that used during traditional powerlifting for strengthening the lower back.

Cable Stiff-Leg Deadlift

Muscles Worked

Primary: Hamstring, Gluteals.

Secondary: Spinal erectors, Quadriceps.

How To Do Cable Stiff-Leg Deadlift

  1. Attach the rope handle to the pulley and position at the lowest position.
  2. Face the pulley with the rope in both hands and about 3 feet of distance between you and the machine.
  3. Keeping your back straight, head up, and hips low, lift the cable into a standing position.
  4. Flex your knees a little and push your hips backward and slowly lower the cable down the front of your legs. Descend until you feel a mild stretch in your hamstrings.
  5. Exhale as you pull the cable back up to the starting position by pushing your hips forward.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

5. Cable Front Squat

The squat and the cable front squat work the same target and synergistic muscles. However, the cable front squat recruits more stabilizer muscles, including various back muscles, your shoulders, and your chest.

The cable front squat is the best option for leg workout, it is more advanced than the standard squat. However, it is not as effective at building mass because it doesn’t permit as much weight to be lifted.

Cable Front Squat

Muscles Worked

Primary: Quadriceps, gluteals.

Secondary: Hamstrings, adductors, spinal erectors, abdominals.

How To Do Front Cable Squat

  1. Stand in front of a low-pulley cable machine with your feet shoulder width apart. Then pull the ropes up to your chest and hold.
  2. Maintain the natural arch in your lower back and keep your head directed forward.
  3. Perform a squat, bending your knees and driving your hips back to lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  4. From this position, push yourself back to the starting point.

Tips

  • Start light and add weight gradually, allowing your legs and lower back time to adapt.
  • Lift your chest first and keep your elbows up to prevent the bar from falling.

5. Cable Chair Squat

Cable Chair Squat is also known as Cable Narrow Chair Stand Up.

This exercise is a great way to build up the strength and size in your quads due to the load and body position. It involves less pressure on your hips and more resistance at your knees. 

Cable Chair Squat

Muscles Worked

Primary: Quadriceps, gluteals.

Secondary: Hamstrings, adductors, spinal erectors, abdominals.

How To Do Front chair Squat

  1. Stand in front of a low-pulley cable machine with narrow stance. Then pull the ropes up to your chest and hold.
  2. Perform a squat, bending your knees and driving your hips back to lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. From this position, push yourself back to the starting point.
  4. Repeat as many reps and sets to reach your goal.

Tips

  • Make sure your back is straight, and your core is tight.
  • Lift your chest first and keep your elbows up to prevent the bar from falling.
  • Keep your knees stiff, your back and arms straight, and your head up.

7. Cable Pull-Through

Cable Pull-Through is a popular exercise which is used to target the glutes and hamstrings for muscle and strength-building purposes.

Now, a lot of people are afraid to perform this movement or just not interested since it requires a little setup, and may even look a little funny.

Cable Pull-Through
Cable Pull-Through

Muscles Worked

Primary: Hamstrings, Gluteus Maximus

Secondary: Quadriceps, Erector Spinae

How To Do Cable Pull-Through

  1. Grasp the attachment of a low cable pulley. Straddle the cable so that your back faces the pulley.
  2. Keeping your legs straight, flex your hips and waist until you feel a mild stretch in your hamstrings.
  3. Step forward until the rope is pulled taut, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  4. Keeping your legs and arms straight, exhale as you stand up and pull the cable attachment through your legs. Hold for a count of two and squeeze your glutes.
  5. Inhale as you reverse the motion and return the cable attachment to the starting position, with your hips and waist flexed.

Tips

  • At the top of the movement, do not hyperextend your back.
  • All the movement should occur in your hips.

8. Cable Step Up

The cable step-up is a great leg workout for building lower-body strength and power.

This exercise targets quadriceps and also involves calves and glutes & hip flexors.

The step-up is a great all-round exercise that is perfect for all, since it can be modified to create a challenging workout for anyone, whether you have just started exercising or have been training for years.

Cable Step Up

Muscles Worked

Primary: Quadriceps.

Secondary: Gluteals, hamstrings, Soleus, Gastrocnemius

How To Do Cable Step Up

  1. Place a knee-high box in front of you and grasp the stirrups at each side of the platform in each hand.
  2. Stand with your feet in a comfortable hip-width stance. Step forward with one leg onto the step and drive through that thigh to bring your body upward.
  3. Bring the trailing leg to the top of the step and stand on the box, then step back with the opposite leg to the floor and lower yourself.
  4. Alternate legs with each rep. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Tips

  • Control the movement, using your muscles to slowly lift and lower yourself.
  • Be sure to keep your low back in its natural arch and your upper body upright throughout the whole movement.

9. Cable Standing Leg Curl

The cable standing leg curl is useful when you don’t have access to a leg curl machine.

It is one of the best isolation exercises to build mass and strength in the hamstring muscles. It is usually performed for moderate to high reps, at least 8-12 reps per set, as part of lower-body training.

Cable Standing Leg Curl
Cable Standing Leg Curl

Muscles Worked

Primary: Hamstrings.

Secondary: Gluteals, Calf muscles.

How To Do Cable Standing Leg Curl

  1. Stand next to a machine that has a floor-level pulley. Attach foot harness to low pulley. With foot harness on one ankle, grasp the support bar with both hands and step back with the other foot.
  2. The attached foot is slightly off the floor. Pull cable attachment back by flexing knee until knee is fully flexed.
  3. Return by straightening knee to original position and repeat.
  4. Continue with opposite leg.

Tips

  • Be careful not to sway at the hips. Maintain proper posture throughout the exercise.
  • Focus on moving the weight with your hamstrings, utilizing a full range of motion. 
  • Use a light dumbbell to get the form down before attempting heavier dumbbell leg curls.

10. Cable Kickback

Cable kickback target your gluteus maximus and improve both stability and toning to give you the shaped, toned look you desire. 

 It is an excellent isolation movement for targeting the glute and hamstring muscles.

Cable Kick Back

Muscles Worked

Primary: Gluteus Maximus

Secondary: Hamstrings

How To Do Cable Kickback

  1. Begin by strapping the ankle strap to your foot. With your feet together, grab onto the cable machine with both hands and lean forward with your back straight.
  2. Then move your leg back until your glutes contract, and there should be a slight bend in your leg.
  3. Hold for one second, then slowly return to the starting position without placing your leg on the ground. This is one rep.
  4. Repeat for desired sets and reps. Repeat with opposite leg.

Tips

  • Keep an upright posture and make sure your leg stays straight at all times.
  • Hold onto the cable machine to keep your body stable.

11. Kneeling Cable Hip Extension

The kneeling cable hip extension is an isolation exercise which builds muscle and strength in the glutes and hamstrings.

It’s an unconventional movement, but it’s very effective for building the lower posterior chain muscles.

Kneeling Cable Hip Extension

Muscles Worked

Primary: Gluteus Maximus

Secondary: Hamstrings

How To Do Kneeling Cable Hip Extension

  1. Place a bench on the left side of the cable pulley, so your head is closest to the pulley.
  2. Attach an ankle cuff to the lowest notch on the cable pulley system. Then, attach the cuff to your right ankle.
  3. Kneel down so that your left knee is on the bench and hold onto the bench.
  4. Now, lift your right leg up and back as high as you can while squeezing your glutes. Keep your knee slightly bent.
  5. Then, lower your leg back down and inhale. Complete the desired reps. Repeat the exercise with your opposite leg.

Tips

  • Keep your back straight, your core tight, and your body still. Only your leg should move.
  • Move slowly without any jerky motions while performing this exercise.

12. Cable Standing One Leg Calf Raise

Cable standing Single leg calf raises are one of the best ways of building your calf muscles.

It is a very effective isolation exercise which targets the Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles.

You can do the standing cable one-leg calf raise on the floor if you don’t have a platform to perform the exercise from.

Cable Standing One Leg Calf Raise
Cable Standing One Leg Calf Raise

Muscles Worked

Primary: Gastrocnemius.

Secondary: Soleus.

How To Do Cable Standing One Leg Calf Raise

  1. Place cable belt or dip belt around the waist. Kneel before low pulley and attach belt to cable.
  2. Stand on calf block and grasp support bar for balance. Position toes and balls of feet on calf block with arches and heels extending off.
  3. Raise heels by extending ankles as high as possible. Lower heels by bending ankles until calves are stretched.
  4. Repeat the desired number of repetitions. Repeat with your opposite leg.

Tips

  • Keep the movement slow and under control.
  • Do not lock out your knee.

13. Cable Standing Calf Raise

If you want to train the calf muscles, the Standing cable calf raise is one of the most suitable exercises for this. 

Cable Standing Calf Raise

Muscles Worked

Primary: Gastrocnemius.

Secondary: Soleus.

How To Do Cable Standing Leg Calf Raise

  1. Start by setting up either a dip belt, rope, or straight bar on a low pulley cable machine and placing a bench in front of the machine.
  2. Step onto the bench with the balls of your feet on the edge and letting your heels drop as far as possible.
  3. Then slowly raise your heels up as far as possible, squeezing your calves and hold for a count.
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.

Tips

  • Pause and squeeze for a count of 1-2 at the top of the movement for added intensity.
  • Keep the balls of your feet on the edge of the block/step. If you allow the balls of your feet to come in more, the exercise becomes easier.

14. Cable Hip Adduction

If the cable, hip adduction is a brilliant auxiliary exercise for toning your inner thighs.

It not only do you target the hip adductors of your strapped leg, but you also significantly activate the hip adductors of your supporting leg, as they have to work hard to keep your body stable as you pull your strapped leg in.

Cable Hip Adduction

Muscles Worked

Primary: Adductor Magnus, Adductor Longus, Adductor Brevis

Secondary: Pectineus, Gracilis, Gluteus Maximus (lower fibers)

How To Do Cable Hip Adduction

  1. Stand with one side next to a low cable pulley. Using an ankle strap, attach the cable to the leg nearest to the pulley. Place the ankle strap around your ankle.
  2. Grab the opposite handle on the cable machine for stability.
  3. Chest up and shoulders back, you want a full range of motion. Swing your leg up and through until it’s in front of the strapped leg.  
  4. Then go back to the starting positions. Repeat for the desired repetitions and sets.
  5. Repeat the exercise with your opposite leg.

Tips

  • Pause and squeeze for a count of 1-2 at the top of the movement for added intensity.
  • Be sure to keep your body and legs straight.

15. Cable Hip Abduction

The cable hip abduction to activate and build your hip abductors, thus adding shape to your hips and producing more of an hourglass figure.

Cable Hip Abduction

Muscles Worked

Primary: Hip abductors

Secondary: Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus, Tensor Fasciae Latae

How To Do Cable Hip Abduction

  1. Start by standing next to the low cable pulley and attaching the ankle strap to the leg the farthest away from the pulley.
  2. Step away from the pulley so that the cable is pulled taut and your strapped leg is pulled across your unstrapped leg.
  3. Grab hold of the cable machine for stability.
  4. Keeping your body and legs straight, pull the strapped ankle, away from the pulley until it is fully abducted and hold for two counts.
  5. Then slowly return your strapped leg to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired repetitions and sets. Repeat with your opposite ankle.

Tips

  • Keep the rest of your body still. Only your hip should move.
  • Exhale as you slowly raise your left leg out to the side.

How To Incorporate Cable Leg Exercises Into Your Workouts 

Incorporating cable leg and glute exercises into your routine is not different from incorporating any other equipment into your current routine. Ensure that your workouts are well-rounded, with both compound and isolation exercises that together target all of your leg muscles. 

See how much cable machines have to offer to your leg days? Cable leg workouts target all the right muscle groups while allowing for more isolated movements and attention to form. And don’t forget to cool down! Cool downs will help improve your recovery,

Cable Leg Exercises Training Tips

Training Volume (Sets and Reps)

Of course, the number of sets and reps will be determined based on your fitness journey, but here is a great starting point:

Sets

  • Beginners: ~10 sets per week.
  • Intermediate: ~15 sets per week.
  • Advanced: ~20 sets per week.

When a certain amount of volume stops being effective and your progress stalls, you can add sets to increase volume and use that as a driver of renewed progress. 

Reps

If you want to gain size, you’ll find that many suggest using a rep range of 8-12, but when it comes to cable leg exercises, you’ll get better results with squats, lunges, deadlifts, and other exercises with higher reps, such as 15-20. However, this depends on the weight load. If it feels very challenging for you, the 6-12 rep range can be very effective for strength and hypertrophy when using a cable machine.

Overall, it’s recommended that you work through a wide spectrum of reps.

  • 6-8 reps with heavy load
  • 8-15 reps with moderate load
  • 15-20+ with light load

The load should bring your to or near failure within the given rep ranges to be effective. 

Leg Exercises & Workout Samples

Cable Leg Workout Sample #1

  1. Cable Squat: 4 sets of 8-10 reps.
  2. Stiff-Leg Cable Deadlift: 4 sets of 8-12 reps.
  3. Cable Pull-Through: 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
  4. Cable Standing Cable Calf Raise: 3 sets of 15-20 reps.

Cable Leg Workout Sample #2

  1. Cable Deadlift: 4 sets of 8-10 reps.
  2. Cable Front Squat : 3 sets of 6-8 reps.
  3. Standing Cable Leg Curl: 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
  4. Cable Standing One Leg Calf Raise: 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

Leg Cable Workout Sample #3

  1. Cable Squat: 4 sets of 8-10 reps.
  2. Cable Lunges: 4 sets of 12-15 reps.
  3. The Cable Kick Back: 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
  4. Cable Standing Calf Raise: 3 sets of 15-20 reps.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Cable Leg Exercises Effective? 

Yes, cable leg exercises are a great addition to any fitness routine. Cable leg workouts are perfect if you are really focused on building muscle, are a beginner looking to perfect form safely.

The cable machine will allow you to maintain good form and reduce the stress on the joints, allowing you to really hone in on the muscles you are targeting with quality reps. 

Are cable machines effective for leg strength?

The cable machine is great for working your legs. They allow you to hit your legs from a variety of unique angles that better engage your lower body muscles than barbells and dumbbells. 

Are you able to perform squats with a cable machine?

Yes, you are able to do squats with a cable machine. Indeed, squats on a cable pulley machine are more effective for building quads than any other version. That’s because you are able to involve the quads more directly while also removing stress from the lower back.

Are leg extensions possible with cables?

Yes, you can perform leg extensions with cables. To perform this exercise, you will need to place in front of the cable machine and put ankle straps on the end of the cable. You will then be able to work each leg independently.

How do you use leg cables at the gym?

When you’re looking to train the four major muscle groups in the legs, you should include squats, deadlifts, lunges, calf raises, and hip extensions. These four main exercises will target your quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. Choose 4-5 exercises from the above listed and train each and every muscle group of the lower body.

Takeaways

The cable machine is the most versatile piece of exercise equipment. This machine allows you to get a great workout for every muscle group in your body.

The cable machine gets a lot of love for working the upper body, but it can do a lot more than sculpt your shoulders, arms, back, and chest. Many people, like you, also love the cable machine for targeting all the lower-body muscle groups.

Cable exercises for the legs hit the quadriceps, glutes, hamstring, and calf muscles from a range of angles without putting any compressive force on the spine.

Know More about Leg Training

7 MOST EFFECTIVE Leg Workout Using SMITH MACHINE

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