Put The Dumbbells Down And Build Bigger Arms With This 20-Minute Cable Machine Session

Man using cable machine to perform triceps pull-down arms exercise
(Image credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus)

The cable machine is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in the gym, especially for hitting your upper body. With a variety of handles and pulley positions, it’s a great way to level up your arm workouts.

This workout from JP Gallardo, better known online as @jpgcoaching, puts the cable machine to good use. It features four moves that will hit your biceps, triceps and forearms, providing an all-over arm session in just 20 minutes.

The machine is great for beginners, because it’s easier to perfect your form than it is with dumbbell or barbell exercises. Plus, it can change the resistance profile, or in other words which portion of the lift is easier and harder – something we discovered when investigating the benefits of using weights machines. So, unlike dumbbell curls where the top of the movement is easier as the weight is supported by your forearm, a cable machine will continue to challenge your biceps throughout.  

Watch Gallardo’s Instagram reel, with the sound on, to see how to perform the moves in his 20-minute arm session.

Gallardo recommends working until failure for two sets of each exercise, which means you should pick a weight that lets you hit your limit within the rep range. For this workout, that’s either six to eight or eight to 10 reps. 

Keep your torso still while performing these exercises and don’t shrug or bend at the knee, so you avoid using any momentum to perform the lifts. Instead, focus on engaging the targeted arm muscles. Squeezing the muscle when you pause after the first part of the lift is a tried-and-tested way of achieving this.

Make sure you’re properly warmed up before attempting a taxing workout like this one. Start with this gym warm-up routine, then run through a light set of each movement to prime the muscles you’re about to use.

And if you take a liking to this piece of gym equipment, try this beginner-friendly cable machine workout.

Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.