Legs

8 Simple Cable Leg Exercises With Ankle Strap For Targeted Leg Growth

Simple-Cable-Leg-Exercises-Using-An-Ankle-Strap

One of the best ways to tone your lower body muscles with minimal equipment is by making use of a pair of ankle straps and a cable machine. When it comes to lower body exercises, implementing cable leg exercises into your routine is a great way of targeting the leg muscles allowing you to increase strength and muscle mass.

A cable machine can be found in most gyms along with their cable machine attachments and there are many exercises you can perform allowing you to work the entire body. This article will focus on lower-body exercises.

What Is a Cable Ankle Strap?

A cable ankle strap is a cuff that wraps around the ankle and is then attached to a cable pulley machine allowing the user to perform a variety of resistance based leg exercises. Typically made from thick nylon webbing, it is a gym accessory that should not be confused with an ankle brace which a medical device designed to provide support to the ankle joint.

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When you make use of a cable ankle strap and pulley machine, you can perform strength training exercises that can target the entire lower body. When compared to seated selectorised machines, cable machine exercises allow for activation of the abdominal muscles which can have carry over to building lower back strength.

A lot of people confuse an ankle strap attachment with ankle weights. An ankle weight may look slightly similar in that it wraps around but the ankle, but they cannot be attached to a cable machine and are simply used for body weight exercises by adding a small amount of weight for increased resistance.

Best Cable Exercises With An Ankle Strap

If you have access to a cable machine and a pair of ankle straps, read on to find out more about some of the most effective exercises you can incorporate for good strength gains.

Cable Hip Abduction

The hip abductor muscles are located on the outer thigh and are made up of the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and tensor fascia latae (often abbreviated to TFL). Collectively, these muscles are responsible for moving the leg sideways from the centre of the body, for example, stepping out of your car would activate this movement. Isolation of the hip abductors is not particularly easy but performing a cable hip abduction with proper form will not only build the glutes but also aid with flexibility to the hips.

How to perform a cable hip abduction

  1. Set the pulley to the very bottom of the machine and attach the ankle strap. Select the desired weight on the weight stack.
  2. Stand side on to the machine and attach the strap to the ankle of the outer leg (the leg furthest away from the machine).
  3. Take a small step to the side and away from the machine to create tension in the attachment.
  4. For support, grab hold of the machine with the hand closest to it.
  5. Start by raising the leg outwards, you should feel this along the outer thigh and glutes.
  6. Pause at the top before slowly lowering the leg back to the original position. Repeat desired number of reps.
  7. Once complete, switch legs and repeat.

Be sure to maintain control throughout the exercise to prevent injury and for best muscle engagement.

Standing Cable Hamstring Curl

Cable hamstring curls help you achieve stronger glute muscles and hamstrings and is a great addition to your cable leg exercises. Remember, stronger hamstrings not only help to improve leg strength but can also aid with flexibility and can help to alleviate lower back pain.

How to perform a standing cable hamstring curl

  1. Position the pulley to the bottom of the cable machine and attach the ankle strap.
  2. Stand in front of the pulley, facing the machine and fasten the strap to your ankle.
  3. Step back slightly from the machine to create tension to the attachment.
  4. Take hold of the machine to provide stability and brace your core.
  5. Slowly bend the knee and bring your foot back up towards your glutes.
  6. Hold for a few seconds, squeezing the hamstrings before slowly lowering the foot back to the starting position.
  7. Once you’ve completed your sets and reps, repeat with the other leg.

Remember to lower the leg slowly on this exercise to create time under tension. This is a great exercise for hamstring isolation and as it trains each leg individually, strong, more dominant muscles, can’t take over allowing you to build equal muscle strength and symmetry.

Cable Kickbacks

Cable-glute kickbacks may help strengthen your buttocks and lower body muscles and help you achieve firmer glutes. This one is very similar to the hamstring curl with some slight variations on body stance and movement allowing you to isolate different muscles.

How to perform cable kickbacks

  1. Drop the pulley to its lowest setting and attach the ankle strap. Choose your desired weight load on the stack and attach the strap to your ankle.
  2. Facing the machine, keep a slight bend at the knees and the hips. You want to be slightly leaning in to the machine.
  3. Take hold of the machine with both hands to give you some stability.
  4. Keeping a slight bend of the knee (to the leg being worked) take the foot up and back maintaining the bend at the knees.
  5. Don’t lock out at the knees as this can result in unnecessary stress to the joints.
  6. Once you’ve taken your leg back as far as possible, squeeze the glutes and slowly return back to the starting position.
  7. Repeat your chosen number of reps and then repeat with the other leg.

A good idea with this exercise allowing for more more glute activation is to slightly point the toes outwards as you take your foot back.

Cable Standing Leg Extension

Cable leg extensions are perfect for isolating and activating the quadriceps. The quadriceps are a group of four muscles, hence it’s name, that combined form the largest muscle group in the body. By focusing on strengthening the quads may help to better support the knee joint reducing any likelihood of knee injuries and also make daily activities, such as walking and climbing the stairs much easier.

How to perform the cable standing leg extension:

  1. Set the pulley to its lowest position on the machine and attach the ankle strap to the machine.
  2. Stand with your back to the machine and then attach the ankle strap to your ankle
  3. Take a small step forward to add tension to the strap.
  4. For stability, place your hands on your hips and brace your core.
  5. Bend the knee with the ankle attachment until the top of your leg is parallel to the floor. This is your starting position.
  6. Slowly extend this foot out in front of you until your leg is now straight, but do not lock out at the knees as this could cause injury.
  7. You should feel a burn in the quads. Hold for a second or two and then slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
  8. Once you’ve completed the number of repetitions, swap legs and repeat.

Cable Lunges

Cable lunges, sometimes referred to as cable lateral lunges or side lunge, is a great compound exercise that will help to work the adductor muscles (the inner thigh), glutes, quads and calf muscles and should absolutely form part of your lower body workout.

How to do the cable lateral lunge:

  1. Position the pulley to its lowest setting on the cable machine and attach the ankle strap.
  2. Stand side on to the machine and fasten the ankle strap to the foot positioned furthest away from the machine.
  3. Start with your feet positioned around hip width apart with hands on your hips for stability.
  4. Brace your core and take a wide side step.
  5. Descend as low as possible whilst making sure your knee doesn’t go over your toes and keep your back straight and chest up.
  6. The leg closest to the machine should remain straight throughout the movement.
  7. Once you’ve reached the bottom of the exercise, push back up to the starting position and complete your chosen number of sets and reps.
  8. Swap legs and repeat the repetitions.

Inner Thigh Pulls

Inner thigh pulls are a great movement to target the hip adductors building strength and helping to improve hip mobility. As previously mentioned, improving strength to the hip adductors may help with overall mobility.

How to perform an inner thigh pull:

  1. Drop the pulley down to the lowest position on the cable machine and attach the ankle strap.
  2. Stand side on to the machine and attach the strap to the ankle of the leg that is closest to the machine.
  3. Hold the machine for support and stand around hip width apart.
  4. Slightly raise the foot with the ankle strap so it is off the floor and just in front of the opposing leg.
  5. Draw the leg across the body whilst keeping the other leg straight throughout.
  6. Keep your back straight, chest up and core braced and do not twist your body.
  7. You should feel a stretch to the inner thigh.
  8. Once you’ve reach as far as possible, slowly lower the leg back to the starting position before repeating.
  9. Repeat on the other leg.

Cable Reverse Lunge

The cable reverse lunge exercise will help you to target the glutes, quads and calves.

How to perform the cable reverse lunge:

  1. Set the pulley to the bottom of the cable machine and attach the ankle strap.
  2. Facing the machine, attach the strap to the leg being worked first.
  3. Take a small step away from the machine and place your hands on your hips for stability.
  4. With feet close together, take a large step back using the foot with the ankle strap.
  5. Lower yourself down into a lunge position until both legs are at a 90 degree angle.
  6. Once at the bottom of the exercise, push back up to your start position before repeating.
  7. Swap legs and complete the same numbers of sets and reps.

Conclusion

As demonstrated above, with a simple addition of ankle straps to your gym bag and by making proper use of the pulley machine at the gym you can perform a number of truly effective lower body exercises on leg day helping you to build stronger muscles and tone and define your legs.

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