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Cable AttachmentsFrequently Asked Questions
Are Cable Machines better than Free Weights?
This will all depending on your training goals. If you want to build overall strength and pack on some muscle, most people will get better results from free weights. Cable machines are not designed with heavy compound movements in mind.
However, you can perform compound movements like squats, deadlifts and presses on a cable machine. For people with slight builds this might be enough. Cable machines are primarily designed for isolation and functional movements. Most of these can be performed with dumbbells. Some experts would argue that the resistance profile of cable machines can be better in some cases.
Are Cable Machines in LBS or KGS?
This really does depend on the brand, location, and the market they are sold into. I know that all our weight stack machines have both KGS and LBS on them. And having a look around, a lot of the other models do too.
It is quite easy to make a conversion chart of your own as well. You can either stick it on the wall or maybe on the machine itself. Or don’t even worry about weight. Just measure your progress by how many plates on the stack you are lifting.
Can you Build Muscle with Cable Machines?
Building muscle requires the gradual increase of load, which can be done on cable machines. Now I would not recommend a cable machine as your only piece of gym equipment if your aim was to build muscle. While you can do quality compound movements for all body parts, most lifters will require more stimuli as they get stronger.
Cable machines are often limited in the amount of weight you can lift – either by the weight stack, load rating or cable ratio. You can lift quite a bit of weight on presses, rows, and leg work. That is why I would recommend a power rack, smith machine or multi gym if muscle building was your goal.
A cable machine combined with one of the three options above is heaven for packing on some size. Do your heavier lifts on your power rack or smith, then work the muscle group with isolation exercises on the cable machine.
For a lifter who has strength limitations, a cable machine will suffice for muscle building. If you found yourself in a situation where you only had access to a cable machine you will still be able to stimulate muscle growth. You will just have to get creative with your training.
Why do some Cable Machines feel Heavier?
Some cable machines feel heavier than others due to their cable ratios. Depending on the cable machine design, they could have the following cable ratios:
- 1:1 – If you have 60kg on the machine you are lifting 60kg.
- 2:1 – 60kg on this machine will be lifting 30kg.
- 4:1 – Lifting 60kgs will feel like 15kg.
Other factors include the quality of components and if the machine is in optimal working order.
How much does each Plate weight on a Cable Machine?
There are many different weight plate configurations on cable machines. On lat machines the plates tend to be 5kg. As these machines are designed for heavier lifts like seated rows, they need to have heavier weight.
On smaller cable units like the ATX-FTX-2000 they are 2.5kgs. These machines are designed for lighter isolation work or rehab exercises in a physiotherapy practice.
To make it even more confusing, some machines will 5lb or 10lb plates. For us Aussies that can be a real curveball as we try and calculate our weights. Whenever I train in pounds, instead of busting out my abacus, I just simply count the number of plates I am lifting.
How to add more Weight to a Cable Machine?
If you need to add a couple more kilos to a cable machine there are a few tricks:
ATX-AD-W-125: This a 1.25kg plate that can fit on top of your weight stack. You can stack 2 on most machines adding another 2.5kgs. It might not sound like much, but for an isolation exercise this might be all the additional resistance that you need.
Magnetic Weight Plates – You can get these in 0.5 & 1kg. They simply stack to the weight stack.
Gympin – provided your machine is well designed, you can insert a Gympin into the weight stack. This will allow you to add some Olympic plates. If you are doing this in a gym, make sure you get the ok first from management.