Are Cable Pulley Machines Making You Weak (UH-OH!!)

Trade in machines for athletic weight training here

If you rely on cable machines in your workouts, you might just be preventing how strong you can really get. Doesn’t matter if you’re doing cable crossovers, cable rows, or cable triceps pushdowns. The problem lies in the physics behind the cable pulley and what it isn’t allowing your muscles to do as you pursue a bigger chest, back or arms!

In this video, I show you how cable pulley machines change the mechanics of an exercise and therefore the amount of overload that you can achieve. We all know that overload is key to seeing progressive strength and size gains. If the machine providing the overload is making our job much easier than it should be however, we could be seriously holding back the results you can be seeing from your hard work.

I show you an example of a triceps pushdown (performed with a rope pulley) as just one way that this works. But even here, there are many different pulley setups for this exercise. Some have a single pulley (and make the exercise much more reflective of your own strength) and others have multiple pulleys (and make your strength much more exaggerated).

The same reasoning can be applied to any exercise that you use cables and pulley machines to perform. As I said earlier, the cable crossover and cable row are two more classic examples of this. Sometimes you will perform one of these exercises on one machine and feel like it is easier than when you do it on a different machine. This is determined by the number of pulleys.

I know it sounds like a bit of micromanaging, but if you truly want to see the most muscle gains in your chest, back or arms you have to start counting your pulleys. Aim to complete your workouts with exercises that are performed with either free weights or machines that only have a single pulley. You will get a much more accurate representation of your true strength and therefore a good gauge on your potential.

If you would like to use a complete workout program that does not rely on machines to help you get your gains, and instead trains you with functional workouts like an athlete, then head to and get the ATHLEAN-X Training System.

For more videos on how to perform cable chest workouts the right way and how to get the most out of the cable crossover by changing how you do them, be sure to subscribe to our youtube channel at

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