A cable machine is a piece of exercise equipment made up of a set of adjustable pulleys allowing the user to perform multiple isolation exercises with different accessories in various angles. Also called a pulley machine, it targets different muscle groups to help improve strength and build muscle throughout your body. If you’re short on space in your home gym, you’ll definitely want to invest in this versatile piece of equipment.
There are many different cable machines to choose from, whether you’re looking to use it for fat burning or hypertrophy training. Some models can fit in compact spaces while others are built large and heavy for serious lifters or athletes. A cable machine offers a lot of options to perform exercises keeping upper and lower body muscles under constant tension from the cables.
Below we’ve listed a variety of cable machines for your home gym, including wall-mounted models, ones that you can attach to your current setup, and some with a whole lot of versatile attachments that can act as a full home gym system. A cable machine is an investment you can benefit from for many years and it’s essential that you choose the right one for your training needs. We’ll talk about the best cable machines we found and the necessary considerations you must make to help you achieve your personal fitness goals.
Best Cable Machines
Valor Fitness BD-62 Wall-Mounted Cable Station
Specs & Dimensions
• Height: 83 inches
• Width: 24.5 inches
• Depth: 25 inches
• Max Load Weight Stack: 200lbs
Cable machines generally take up a lot of space in your home gym, but we’re starting off our list with one of the most compact units you can find on the market today. The Valor Fitness BD-62 cable machine is mounted to the wall, so it can easily fit in any home and occupy the least amount of space. In addition, the wall mount adds to the machine’s stability.
The BD-62 wall-mount cable station features a dual pulley system with each pulley positioned on either side of the machine. It can support up to 200 pounds in resistance with a cable resistance ratio of 1:1. It’s an obvious choice for those who already have some equipment at home and want to try out a pulley system without making such a big investment in one go.
This wall-mounted cable allows for many common cable exercises like cable curls and cable rows without any attachment needed, but movements like the cable crossovers might be difficult due to the length of the frame. This model may be best if you already have some weight plates in your exercise room as this does not come with any weights.
You can easily find a place for this space-saving system in your room. All you need is a free space along the wall at least 24.5 inches wide to set up the system. If you don’t mind drilling a few holes to mount it to the wall, then you will definitely love this machine. If you decide to expand your cable system, you can even add a second cable machine and mount it to the opposite wall.
Of course, what sets apart this model from others is it has to be mounted on the wall, which you’ll need to do yourself with your own tools. Once mounted on the wall, this system offers rock steady support and a stable performance no matter what movements you perform, avoiding risks of wobbling around or tipping over during intense workouts.
Additionally, the dual pulley system allows you to use two separate grip handles simultaneously, giving you more control of the movements. The strap handles included in the purchase can be adjusted to five positions. It’s also incredibly easy to adjust and configure the cables when switching between exercises — with 16 positions that allow the user to perform many variations of bilateral and unilateral exercises. Like any good cable machine, you can train virtually every muscle group and get a full-body workout from just a single purchase.
Although it doesn’t come with a weight stack, it’s suitable for any standard sized and Olympic plates or either one that you already own. So if you already own a bench press or squat rack with a good pile of weight plates, the Valor Fitness BD-62 cable machine would be a perfect option for you. Not only is it affordable, space-saving, and easy to assemble, it also provides a great deal of stability and reliable performance. The frame is guaranteed a three-year warranty, and one year for the cable.
• Easy setup
• Compact and lightweight (62 pounds)
• The carriage can hold up to 200 pounds
• Can use Olympic or standard-sized plates
• Fully adjustable cables to 16 Positions
• Extremely sturdy once mounted
• Affordable enough to buy two for a crossover set up
• You have to drill holes to mount it to the wall
• Not portable at all since it’s fixed to the wall
• The small frame can limit movements
Powerline PCCO90X Cable Crossover Machine
Specs & Dimensions
• Height: 82 inches
• Width: 112 inches
• Depth: 39 inches
• Max Load Weight Stack: 300 lbs
The best plate-loaded cable crossover machine we recommend is the Powerline PCCO90X. Cable crossover machines in general, are a great option for your home gym if you have a large enough space. With this plate-loaded machine, you will need at least 10 feet by 9 feet or around the size of a two-car garage converted into a home gym. Since it’s plate-loaded, it doesn’t include any weight stacks with your purchase, so you need to have your own, either Olympic or standard plates are compatible with this machine.
The Powerline PCCO90X is one of the best deals you can get for a fully equipped crossover machine. In fact, it’s one of the cheapest pulley systems on this list, second only to the wall-mounted BD-62. While it occupies a large space, the machine itself it is very light without any plates on it. This machine can easily be moved around your space unlike most other cable crossover machines of this size.
It has four pulleys, one one each side, top and bottom, all of which are rotatable but they do not move up or down. It includes patented nylon brushings and sealed ball bearings to create smooth movement around a full 180 degrees. Since there is no included weight stack, setting up this machine is relatively simple. It may be easier for two people to put this together, but a single person can do it just fine.
The two sides can be very useful depending on your needs for your exercises. Like any cable machine, it can be used for full-body workouts or to isolate different muscle groups. Due to its large frame size, it will be extremely helpful to use if you usually work out with a partner. Additionally, if you combine this machine with an adjustable bench, you can find even more possibilities and variations to the basic movements you can do with just the machine.
However, the biggest drawback to this cable machine is that it doesn’t come with a lot of attachments to vary your workouts. It only includes two cable handles and one ankle strap for some basic arm and leg workouts. If you want to get more serious with your training, you’ll definitely want to buy additional attachments like the optional chin-up station. So if you like this machine and already have workout regimen you follow, we recommend buying all the attachments you may need together with the machine as this can give you a good discount.
To guarantee its quality, the Powerline PCCO90X has a 10-year warranty on th main frame.
The warranty on this cable crossover machine cannot be beaten. It has an almost unheard of 10-year frame warranty. So for the first decade of ownership, you are all set, no matter how hard you train. If you are looking for the best cable crossover to use at home, look no further.
• Four fixed pulleys
• Pulleys can rotate a full 180 degrees
• Easy assembly
• You can use your own weights
• Affordable for a machine of this size
• Can be extended with a pull-up bar
• Easily combined with adjustable bench
• Limited attachments included
• Needs a lot of space
XMARK Functional Trainer XM-7626
Specs & Dimensions
• Height: 83 inches
• Width: 65 inches
• Depth: 43.5 inches
• Long Bar: 42 inches
• Cable Range: 81 inches
• Max Load Weight Stack: 200 lbs
The XMARK XM-7626 Functional Trainer cable machine is a top-rated machine on Amazon. This functional trainer can be adjusted to meet the training needs of almost any user. It’s made with 11-gauge 2 by 3 inches commercial-grade steel mainframe and pulley system for a solid and durable build that can handle the most intense trainings and last you a long time.
The XM-7626, like most functional trainer cable machines, comes with dual weight stacks of each weighing around 10 pounds and totaling 200 pounds. Its dual pulley system creates incredibly smooth movements without any friction or straining on the cables. Be reminded that this cable machine requires a lot of space with an 83-inch height, 65-inch width, and a 43.5-inch depth. This pulley system also features several different straps, with the longer ones around 17 inches long while the shorter ones around 8 inches.
In addition to the dual weight stacks, this functional trainer machine has a pull-up and chin-up bar to ensure you get a good variety of workouts from a single machine. With a standard 2:1 stack to resistance ratio, it provides true iso lateral movements, providing a wide range of options for isolation and targeting certain areas.
The pulleys can be adjusted to one of 19 levels and locked into place with a pop-pin mechanism. The Xmark XM-7626 also includes two pairs of hand straps, a short bar, long bar, tricep rope, ankle strap and leg extension leg curl strap. This versatile machine is a perfect choice for those who have a large enough gym room shared with multiple people in a household, or for single-person use if you can afford the investment.
The XM-7626 functional trainer is the most expensive on this list, but it’s well worth the price for most customers. The user options are extensive, although the cost and setup time may be a problem for some. Also, the 200-pound weight stack may not be enough for heavy lifters. But for most people, a raw 200 pounds is usually enough to perform isolated workouts to target different muscle groups.
Overall, the Xmark functional trainer is a perfect choice for anyone looking for a high-quality and durable construction offering the most versatile training options with many inclusions. So if you prefer isolated training and have the budget and space for such a large machine, then this functional trainer is likely the best choice for you.
• With included 200 lbs dual weight stacks
• Durable build quality
• Multiple grip handles
• Longer cables
• Many inclusions provide more variety
• May be too pricey
• Heavy and bulky
• Can’t increase weight stacks
Bowflex Blaze Home Gym
Specs & Dimensions
• Height: 83 inches
• Width: 38 inches
• Depth: 90 inches
• Power Rod Resistance: 210 lbs (up to 410 lbs)
Bowflex is one of the pioneers in home gym equipment and the Bowflex Blaze Home Gym is proof that the brand is still on top of their game a few decades later. The Bowflex Blaze offers a vast array of features for all types of fitness enthusiasts and even beginners who want to get a good workout at any time without the need for a huge, expensive, complicated machine.
The Bowflex Blaze offers incredibly easy assembly considering its weight of 195 pounds, a height of 83 inches, a width of 38 inches, and a depth of 90 inches. The frame is made from solid metal with its power rods made up of composite nylon. It has a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds whereas the rods have a resistance of up to 210 pounds, which can be upgraded up to 410 pounds at an extra cost.
This home gym machine utilizes its nylon rods and a sliding seat rail allowing users to perform aerobic rowing exercises and leg presses. The pulley can be adjusted in position to enable custom workouts with more than 60 different exercises you can perform on the machine. The rod resistance can also be adjusted to work in cardiovascular training or muscle strengthening.
The Bowflex Blaze includes a triple function hand grip or ankle cuffs as well as a lat bar and squat bar. It also has a folding bench and wheels for easy storage. It comes with a five-year warranty for the frame and a lifetime warranty for the rods. While this home gym cable machine provides a great deal of versatility, it does have a few downsides to it, the biggest one being, it’s not designed for more serious training capacities. It’s perfect for beginners and casual athletes who want to stay fit or lose some fat, but doen’t offer much for those individuals looking to see massive muscle gains.
• Easy to set up and get started
• Versatile options for both cardio and strength training
• Great for beginners and casual athletes
• Good quality and durability from a known brand
• Not great for more serious strength training
• Not fit for larger people (in fat or muscle)
Valor Fitness BD-61 Cable Crossover Station
Specs & Dimensions
• Height: 81 inches
• Width: 56 inches
• Depth: 50 inches
• Max Load Weight Stack: 200 lbs
Another amazingly compact cable machine from Valor Fitness is the BD-61 cable crossover station. that doesn’t need a lot of space and is also very affordable. If you only need a good cable crossover and don’t have a lot of space for a larger machine, then this is a great solution for you. It’s also affordable compared to similar crossover machines without making any sacrifice in quality.
This plate loaded cable crossover machine requires you to have your own plates (either Olympic or standard sized). The two pulleys is adjustable to 16 different height positions, each holding up to 200 pounds of weight. The whole system can hold a total of around 400 pounds. This should be more than enough for almost anyone at any level of fitness and can help achieve massive gains for those looking to get more serious training.
This machine features a very efficient design shaped like a triangle with a sturdy base to provide safety and stability. The padded rubber caps prevent damage to your floor, but you can also attach the feet to the floor with pre-drilled holes and the included mounting hardware. The machine also features a shock-absorbent system to reduce the loud clanking you may notice fom most cable machines. There are two extra pegs at the base you can use to hold any extra weight plates adding even more stability.
This smart design adds to the versatility of this compact crossover machine. You get a high pulley and low pulley each with a single strap handle and five adjustable positions. Also, a full set of attachments is included with this highly versatile machine. It comes with a long bar, a short bar, and two single strap handles. There is also a built-in curved pull-up bar.
Compared to similar machines, the Valor Fitness BD-61 is quite affordable and accessible for almost anyone. You can easily add an adjustable bench and a set of plates so that you can create a good home gym setup even on a budget. You also get a lot of built-in storage for all of the accessories. However, users have noted that the assembly of the whole machine took hours to complete. Also, the strap handles are made of plastic and you would probably want to upgrade them later.
• Up to 400-pound weight load
• Built-in pull up and chin up bar
• Extremely affordable for the extensive feature set
• Great set of attachments included
• Fully rotatable pulley with 16 height positions
• Single grip strap handles made of plastic
• Pull-up bar on the side is only usable if you have a large space
Marcy Smith Cage Workout Machine MD-1090G
Specs & Dimensions
• Height: 85 inches
• Width: 79 inches
• Depth: 70 inches
• Max Load Weight Stack: 300 lbs
The Marcy Smith Machine MD-9010G is a highly versatile machine that includes a plate loaded pulley system. This is a great option for anyone looking to get well-rounded workouts with a good variety of many different exercises. The Marcy MD-9010G includes a smith machine, dual arms, and an adjustable bench.
The cable machine comes with three pulleys. Two pulleys are on either side of the machine acting as high pulleys and the other at the lower center to use for rowing exercises. This Marcy smith machine is designed to be an all-in-one home gym solution as it’s not only a cable machine unlike most other models on this list. The cable machine component of this home gym features a dual pulley, cable crossover system (just like the Valor Fitness BD-61), and another low pulley with a foot plate. Additionally, the machine includes a multitude of attachments including a lat pulldown bar, a v-bar, tricep rope, shiver bar, and two cable handles, as well as a bench with adjustable back pad and seat pad.
However, one downside of this machine is that the dual pulley system cannot be adjusted in height so that you can only use them for cable exercises where the starting position of the cables is above the user. Though overall, the Marcy MD-9010G is a suitable option for those who want to invest in a single machine to save on space and costs but want a lot of variety for strength training and muscle building.
• Versatile exercise machine with tons of functionality
• Cable machine includes a variety of attachments
• Great use of space and costs
• Will likely require more assembly time
• Cable machine not as versatile
MAXPRO Fitness Cable Home Gym
Specs & Dimensions
• Weight: 9 lbs
• Weight Resistance: 300 lbs
• Resistance Settings: 50
• Cable Extension Length: 9 feet
• Concentric Resistance Per Side: 300 lbs
The MAXPRO Cable Home Gym is not like any of our picks on this list and it’s certainly one of the best portable cable machine and home gym options you can find on the market today. This lightweight machine allows users access to a full-body workout virtually anywhere at any time you want.
While most fitness equipment often take up a lot of space and thus are better left in one place for most of its life, the MAXPRO Cable Home Gym is a light and portable cable system that you can easily take with you anywhere. It only weighs around nine pounds and acts like a weighted resistance band. Any time you’re ready to get a workout, just unfold it and either stand on it or connect it to a doorway.
The MAXPRO cable system essentially works as a form of resistance training that focuses on improving your strength instead of just building your muscles. With just this small portable machine, you can perform various exercises without any additional attachments, including curls, squats, flys, and even boxing. The system uses concentric resistance of five to 150 pounds on each side (300 pounds total), easily adjustable to 50 settings with a simple turn of a dial.
In addition, you also get several wrist/ankle straps, a door mount kit, a quick connect long bar, and two grip handles. This SmartConnect model is Bluetooth-enabled with on-board sensors. Using the MAXPRO App you can track your workout, monitor your progress, including valuable data and analytics to help achieve your fitness goals.
While its innovative design and features make for an interesting device to try, the MAXPRO is on the higher end of the price range considering its limitations. Compared to a regular sized cable machine that offers much of the same workout options, this lightweight cable system comes at about twice the costs. However, only the MAXPRO provides this unique portability that allows any user to get almost the same intense training you would at the gym. It’s especially useful for those who travel a lot so you can fit in a full-body workout anywhere you go. So if you have very little space to permanently install a cable machine in your home or you often travel away from home, then this lightweight and mobile system is a perfect choice for you.
• Very compact, light, and mobile
• 50 resistance settings from 5 to 150 lbs
• Great value for the price
• Very easy to use once you understand the process
• Bluetooth compatibility
• Still a bit pricey for its features
• Can be difficult to use without a door
• Startup process may take a while
Types of Cable Machines
Cable machines are typically used for weight training. While they may have varying appearances, they mainly consist of a rectangular steel frame and weights attached to a handle via a cable or a single- or double-pulley system. With cable resistance, you could do almost any exercise you could with free weights like dumbbells or barbells.
Cable Machines with Included Weights
These cable machines come preloaded with a weight stack, either single- or double-weighted stack. This is the type that you might see at a commercial gym and is typically on the higher end in price. With weights included, they are harder to set up. If you’re going to use this at home, you may need at least two people to set up your machine. However, they are much simpler to use. You won’t have to fiddle around to add or remove plates in between sets.
These cable machines require a lot of space but they usually come with everything you need for a well-rounded workout. For those who are just starting to build a home gym and have enough space, this is a perfect option as you won’t have to buy extra weight plates.
This is a variation of the weighted stack cable machine that consists of a dual pulley system. The pulleys can be adjusted at various heights and angles allowing users to train virtually all muscle groups. Functional trainers are versatile enough to work as a complete home gym system or complement your existing setup.
Cable Machines without Included Weights
Plate-loaded cable machines require standard-sized weight plates. They do not come included so you need to purchase the plates separately. But if you already own a bench press or squat rack, you should already have these weight plates.
The good thing is that you can set up the machine all on your own. It’s usually more compact and can fit better in small spaces. The downside is you will need to switch plates every time you need to change the weight resistance during your workouts. In a lot cases you can simply think of that as a part of your training. However, it can be difficult to perform power sets with a machine like this if you’re working out on your own.
Cable Crossover Machine
Cable crossover machines like the Powerline PCCO90X and Valor Fitness BD-61 are a form of plate-loaded cable machines. Cable crossovers feature a dual pulley system and requires a stack of plates of the same weight. Plate-loaded machines, in general, are a good option if you’re short on space or planning to use free weights in combination with cable exercises.
Benefits of Cable Machines
A cable machine can be an expensive piece of equipment, but it offers versatility that makes it a beneficial investment for any home gym. If you’re only starting with your setup, you can get a good cable machine and build around it as you continue to train. Compared to free weights and other home exercise equipment, cable or pulley machines offer a lot of benefits for the whole body.
Create Constant Tension
The best thing about a cable machine in contrast to using free weights, is that with a cable it is easier to keep your muscles under constant tension while you lift and lower the weight. More tension in your muscles translates into faster gains. So if you want to increase your muscle mass and strength more effectively and see results faster, cable machine exercises are a great way to do so.
Better Motion and Form
You will also get more efficiency in your range of motion. Cables are not affected by gravity, unlike free weights, so your muscles will work without rest and stay under load throughout your exercise. More time under load increases the efficiency of your workouts, giving you better results in less time.
Cable machines also help you maintain proper form throughout the motion. With free weights it is much harder to keep up good form, taking up a significant amount of your focus during your workout. On the other hand, the cable machine keeps most of the form for you so you can focus on your exercise with more control.
Full Body Training
Most cable machines can be used to train your entire body, targeting different muscle groups at a time. As we have frequently mentioned, cable machines are extremely versatile equipment. You can get a good full body workout from one machine. Larger models include more attachments so you can get a lot of training capacity in a single purchase. Functional trainers can even serve as your whole home gym system.
While cable machines are great for a full body workout, they are particularly useful if you want to isolate different muscle groups. If you have a certain area you want to target, a good cable machine allows you to work at different angles to focus on your goals. Some of the most common moves performed with cables are cable curls, seated cable rows, lateral pulldowns, and chest presses, each of them requiring you to move your arms in different directions to build upper body strength. Of course, cables can also be used to add resistance when performing lower body exercises like squats, lunges, and deadlifts.
Saves Space and Time
And again, because cable machines are so versatile, they can save space that otherwise might be taken up by other exercise equipment. After all, not everyone has a lot of extra room in their homes for multiple machines or even a good part of a garage to repurpose into a home gym. If you’re only starting to design your home gym, space may be a huge concern for you. Well, a cable machine may just solve your problem. For reference, you need a space about a four-feet radius from the center of a functional trainer or crossover machine.
Using a cable machine can also save you a lot of time during workouts. The best cable machines allow users to easily reconfigure the system for different exercises. This can save you a lot of time between different sets.
What to Consider Before Buying a Cable Machine
Choosing a pulley system for home gym can be a difficult task if you don’t what you need to look for. Cable machines are a great investment and you must make sure to do your homework before you make any purchase. It’s important to get a machine that fits your space and you’ll be able to use it to its full potential for a long time.
Functionality and Usability
While cable machines allow for a wide variety of movements, not all of them come with the same range of features and functions. Depending on its structure and attachments, the cable machine may have particular exercises it cannot perform. You must know this beforehand so as to avoid any surprises while doing your workouts.
You’ll also want to make sure you choose a cable machine that is easy to use and can be set up in different configurations for various exercises. Switching plates or adjusting the pulley angles in between exercises should be simple. It can be frustrating to use a machine that is difficult to configure. You can get a good idea about the machine’s functionality and usability by reading customer reviews before you make any buying decision.
Again, cable machines can be quite costly from initial purchase, but getting replacement parts or making constant repairs may cost you even more. While buying cheap machines can save you a few hundred bucks at first, you might just end up wasting your money on low-quality materials. To make your investment truly worth the price, choose a cable system and accessories made with durable materials and in turn, higher weight capacity. Your equipment can offer even more functionality if you invest in higher quality. Look for cable machines with heavy-duty steel frames and make sure to check the warranty for the frame, cable, and attachments.
Like any other exercise equipment in your home gym, you should consider how much weight your cable machine can safely accomodate. For many weighted stack type machines, the maximum weight capacity usually falls around 150 to 200 pounds. For plate-loaded cable machines, it’s important to know the maximum weight you can load up, usually ranging from 150 to 400 pounds. Make sure to find a machine that supports the amount of weight you need, especially for heavy lifters.
As mentioned, cable machines take up a lot of space in your home gym. Most of them aren’t portable or designed to be moved around as you like. You must have a clear space designated to the machine and any accessories you may want to use. More functional equipment usually take up a lot more space, so you should really consider what functions you need most from the machine and how it can fit safely into your space. Measure not only the length and width of the space but also the ceiling height as this could be a necessary factor for a machine that includes a pull-up bar for example.
Finally, it’s also a lot useful to have a variety of attachments included with your cable machine. Most of these machines look and operate the same way and it will definitely help to have a few extras to make your investment fell more worth the price. Most cable machines should come with standard grip attachments or strap handles. Other attachments like the lat pulldown bar, tricep rope, straight bar, row bar, or ankle cuffs may not be included. If you know what your workout routines require, make sure that the machine you get includes everything that you need.
A single cable machine can complete your home gym. It provides the versatility to work your different muscle groups in a more efficient way than free weights due to the constant tension created by the cables. You can either choose a cable machine to supplement your existing exercise equipment or opt for an all-in-one functional trainer that can act as a full home gym system. Different types of cable machines offer various functions to support your workout regimen.
Whichever you decide, our list will help you find the best option to suit your personal needs. Of course, it’s most important to consider your budget and measure your space, and then we’ll do the rest of the heavy lifting for you.
What kind of exercises can you perform using a cable machine?
Cable machines offer a lot of versatility, allowing users to target different muscle groups to supplement your training. For the chest, cables can be used to perform chest flyes at different angles. For the arms and back, you can supplement your free weights with many variations of cable curls, rows, pulldowns, and extensions. You can also focus on your lower body with thighs, hips, and leg exercises like kickbacks and lateral movements.
Are cable machines worth the money for a beginner?
Yes, cable machines are well worth the investment for almost anyone at any level of fitness. It may seem intimidating for a total beginner if you don’t know how to use it, especially at the gym. But for your own exercise room, a cable machine is a good option to start out your training. You can perform a great variety of exercises no matter your fitness level and personal goals. Compared to free weights, using cables also minimizes the risk of injury since you can drop the weights without any worry of hurting yourself. However, of course you must carefully consider your options and what meets your needs the best before making an investment.