Glutes

5 Best Cable Glute Exercises For Booty Workouts

cable glute exercises

Because the gluteus maximus is one of the largest and strongest muscles in the human body it requires a lot of stimulus for growth and strength gains.

This is why exercises like barbell squats, Romanian deadlifts, and the barbell hip thrust are important compound exercises for muscle development.  


Recommended Reading – 6 Best Gym Cable Attachments For Improved Strength Training


However, while using free weights, like weight plates and a barbell, is a great way of building strong glutes, incorporating some cable glute exercises can be an effective way of placing training bias on your entire glute muscle group.  

In fact, some of the best exercises for working your glute muscles can be done using a cable machine.  

What Makes The Cable Machine Effective For Muscle Building

For optimum muscle growth and strength gains, we would always advocate doing a mixture of different exercises which would include free weight and cable machine exercises as part of your strength training regime, but let’s consider some of the key benefits of using the cable machine.  

cable glute kickback

When compared to other gym machines, the cable machine is not fixed by a specific plane of motion.  

This makes it much more versatile when compared to something like a chest press or leg press.  

While the weight stack in a cable machine is fixed and only moves in a vertical direction, the cables do not.  

This means that you’re not restricted by gravity.  

You can move the cables in many different directions and the tension applied to your muscles remains the same no matter what angle you’re pulling the cables at.  

That brings us to our next benefit.

The resistance that you get when performing cable exercises remains consistent throughout the movement which essentially results in no resistance curve.  

What this means is that tension on the muscles during a repetition remains the same whether at the top of the movement, bottom of the movement, or anywhere in between.  

Let’s take a look at how this works.  

When you perform free weight exercises the direction of the resistance is always vertical, this is because you’re working against the effects of gravity.

For example, when you perform a barbell squat, your body supports the weight load with your muscles contracting hard to avoid dropping the loaded bar.  

The same applies to isolation exercises like the dumbbell shoulder press.  

What’s more, the heavier the weight you’re lifting, the harder your muscles have to work.  

Let’s take the dumbbell bicep curl as an example. 

As you curl the dumbbell up towards your shoulder the tension applied to the target muscle (your biceps) is at its greatest around midway through the curl.  

This is when your biceps have to work their hardest against gravity.  

When the dumbbell is at the top or bottom of the movement, the stimulus applied to the muscle is much less because you’re not directly fighting against gravity.  

cable-bicep-curl-exercise

Because of this, cable exercises can be superior for muscle building due to the constant tension throughout the entire range of motion.  

They can also help to encourage a better mind-muscle connection which can help you perform better quality reps with increased engagement of your muscles.  

Using a cable machine can be a great way of addressing muscle imbalances due to its unique resistance profile and versatility.  

As mentioned above, using cables keeps the tension on your muscles the entire time which can help you to target and activate your gluteal muscles more effectively. 

What’s more, as you can perform a wider range of movement patterns by pulling the cables at different angles this allows you to hone in on smaller muscles for better isolation.  

For example, let’s say you’re performing a cable glute kickback.  

Typically, you extend your leg straight out and behind you.  

While this works all of your glute muscles, it puts more emphasis on your gluteus maximus (which is the largest glute muscle)  

But, if you extend your leg out and to the side to around a 30-degree angle, this targets more of your gluteus medius, or side glutes if you prefer.  

This multidirectional resistance can challenge your glute muscles in different ways, helping to not only increase muscle mass and strength but also improve overall muscle balance and coordination. 

We all know the effectiveness of heavy-weight compound exercises for developing your glutes.  

But the one significant drawback is that going hard and heavy fatigues the muscles to such an extent you’ll need to allow for sufficient recovery time so that your glutes can repair and grow.  

This is because when you do an exercise like the conventional deadlift or barbell back squat, you’re working all the major muscle groups across your entire body.  

This requires far more energy and puts much more demand on your central nervous system (CNS).  

However, because cable exercises are better at isolating the glutes, this will allow you to increase the training volume to optimize their development without the need for excessive amounts of downtime.  

So, if building your glutes is a priority, you’ll get away with training them more often than if you were to rely solely on heavy compound movements.  

Ultimate Cable Glute Exercises For Strength & Size

If your primary goal is to improve the shape of your glutes by adding some size and toning up the muscles, grab yourself a pair of ankle straps and try out our cable glute workout below.

Glute cable kickbacks are considered as one of the best cable exercises and for good reason, it’s a great exercise for targeting the glutes to strengthen, tone, and shape them making it a popular addition to many lower-body workouts.  

It’s a unilateral exercise that involves pure hip extension which is when you take your hips from a bent position through to a straight position.  

Glute cable machine kickbacks

This is the same biomechanical movement pattern that you perform when doing something like a hip thrust or deadlift where your glutes are responsible for driving the hips forward.

Because this exercise works on one joint, this does limit how much you can progressively overload.  

So, avoid heavy weights but perform sets to a higher rep range, around 12 to 20.   

Here’s How To Do It:

  1. Set the pulley to its lowest setting on the cable machine and attach the ankle strap. 
  2. Hook your ankle into the strap and line your leg up with the cable. 
  3. Step back and lean your torso forward slightly. Hold onto the machine for support. This is the starting position. 
  4. With the knee of your working slightly bent, initiate the movement by swinging your leg back and up. 
  5. Hold for a second at the top before using control to lower your leg back to the start. Complete 3 sets on each leg for 12 to 20 reps.  

Pro Tip: Even though the name implies kicking back the leg, proper form involves moving your leg back in an arc plane of motion for better glute activation

Variation: If you want to target more of your upper glutes, the best way is to swing your leg out in a more lateral direction.  

Cable pull-throughs are a great way of working not just your glutes but also your hamstrings making it an effective posterior chain exercise.  

The movement pattern of this cable variation closely mimics that of the stiff-legged deadlift or the good morning exercise but with less risk of injury and better isolation of the glutes.  

How To Do It:

  1. Set the cable pulley so it’s just below the inline of your glutes and clip on the rope attachment
  2. Standing facing away from the machine and position your feet at a shoulder-width distance. 
  3. Lean back and grab the attachment with both hands so you can pull it in between your legs. 
  4. Start in an upright position. This is when you’ll feel the most resistance in your glutes. 
  5. From here, hinge forward at the hips pushing your glutes back. 
  6. Lower your torso towards the floor but be sure to keep your back flat and legs straight throughout. Stop when your upper body is roughly parallel to the ground. Engage your glutes to drive your hips forward to return to a standing position. Complete 3 to 4 sets of 12 to 15 reps. 

Pro Tip: Point your toes out a little as this helps to open up your hips for improved glute contraction. 

Variation: For even more glute activation try performing the kneeling cable pull through.  This will minimize recruitment of your hamstrings which can lead to better glute hypertrophy.  

Cable squats are ideal for working your glute muscles and by altering your foot placement you can significantly increase activation of certain muscles.  

For example, by adopting a sumo stance, which is to stand with your feet as wide apart as possible with your toes pointing outwards, you can increase glute activation and also significantly work your adductors, which are your inner thigh muscles.  

The pulse element incorporated into this exercise makes it more of an oscillatory movement.  

That means you’ll need to perform fast reps with a very short range of motion, in effect a pulsing action.  

How To Do It:

  1. Set the pulley to its lowest setting and use either a v-bar attachment or rope. 
  2.  Grab the attachment with both hands and step back from the machine to create some resistance in the cables. 
  3. Adopt a sumo stance and point your toes out. 
  4. Push your glutes back, bend your knees, and descend into a squat. 
  5. From here, push through your heels ascending just a couple of inches. 
  6. Quickly descend back to the full squat position and continue with this pulsing action for around 30 to 60 seconds and repeat 3 times. 

Pro Tip: Try alternating the pulse action with a full squat movement in between each rep for maximum glute activation. 

Variation: It’s a good idea to try other squat variations by positioning your feet closer together to work the glute and leg muscles in different ways. 

When doing a cable reverse lunge you’ll want to stick with light weights so you don’t use too much energy just trying to maintain an upright posture.  

This will allow you to focus on that all-important mind-to-muscle connection and really fire up those glutes.  

Here’s How It’s Done:

  1. The pulley should be just above ankle height, usually 3 or 4 notches from the bottom. 
  2. Clip on an ez bar or straight bar attachment. Face the machine and grab the handle with both hands. 
  3. Step back from the machine so the weight stack moves from the bottom. 
  4. With your arms extended and a slight bend to your knees, step back with one leg.
  5. Bending both knees at the same time, descend downward until your back knee is almost touching the floor. 
  6. Push through the heel of your front foot to return to the start and repeat with the other leg.  
  7. Perform 3 sets on each leg for 15 to 20 reps. 

Pro Tip: Maintain the correct distance from the cable machine to ensure you keep tension on the main muscles of your glutes throughout the exercise.

Variation: To engage more muscles, try adding in a knee drive.  Do this by bringing the knee of the working leg to your chest before initiating your next rep. 

Cable hip abductions are a great way of targeting not only your glute medius and minimus, but also recruiting your outer thigh and hip muscles.  

This makes it one of the most effective exercises for contributing to better pelvic stability.  

As your pelvis supports your back, this can also help improve things like lower back pain.  You’ll need a pair of ankle cuffs for this exercise.  

How To Do It:

  1. Position the pulley to its lowest setting and attach your ankle cuff. 
  2. Stand side on to the machine and take hold of it with your closest hand for support. 
  3. The ankle cuff should be attached to the ankle furthest away from the machine. 
  4. Raise your leg laterally as high as you find comfortable. 
  5. Pause at the top, squeezing the glutes before lower back down. 
  6. Performing 12 to 15 reps for 3 sets on both legs. 

Pro Tip: For good form, keep the foot of your working leg off the ground throughout as this will help to keep tension on your glutes.  

Variation: Try moving your leg behind you at a 45-degree angle, this will increase engagement of your glute max giving this muscle a great workout.  

Can You Isolate The Glute Muscles

As with any muscle in your body, it’s not possible to truly isolate your glutes at the expense of all other muscles.  

However, you can increase the tension applied to your glutes by modifying and making adjustments to an exercise.  

The glutes are interconnected with several other muscles and tendons, including the hamstrings, quads, and lower back muscles, which often work synergistically during lower body movements.

However, by focusing on exercises that emphasize hip extension, such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, and hip thrusts, you can effectively target and activate the glute muscles.

Can You Just Do Cable Exercises

We wouldn’t advise just performing exercises on a cable machine unless you have a specific reason for doing so, such as an injury.  

It’s important to stimulate your muscles by applying resistance using different methods for the best results.  

This prevents any muscle imbalances from developing as well as strength plateaus.  

While there are many different exercises you can perform on a cable machine, they won’t offer the same benefits as if you were to incorporate compound movements into your workout routine as well.  

Generally, it’s considered a good idea to perform compound exercises first and then exhaust the muscles by finishing with cable exercises.  

If you want to address any weakness to a particular muscle, cables can be perfect for this but don’t rely on cable exercises alone.  

Is The Cable Machine As Good As Resistance Bands

We wouldn’t say that the cable machine is better than resistance bands, they are simply different. 

Using a resistance band can be less damaging to the body due to the varying resistance applied.  

As mentioned, the weight on a cable machine remains the same throughout an exercise.  

However, using bands you’ll notice that muscle contraction is at its peak when you’re at the top of the movement.  

What’s more, they can be better if you’re looking to improve explosive power which is not as easy when performing cable exercises.  

This is because the load has to transfer between the weight stack and your muscles by going through the cables which creates a delay.  

Although this is very slight, it’s still enough to prevent any explosive movements from being as effective.  

Resistance bands can be a great addition to your training and you can perform many great glute exercises with them.  

They’re small, portable and cost effective making them ideal for home gyms.  

But always remember to include a variety of exercises to keep taxing those glute muscles, including those all important cable glute exercises!

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