There are so many different machines for upper body workouts that you can end up with a home gym full of equipment without ever finding that perfect machine.
Either you end up with something that only targets one muscle group, or something that takes up a ton of space and doesn’t really do anything.
A cable crossover machine can be one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in your home gym, as long as you know what to look for.
We’ll take a look at the different types of cable machines, and what you need to be on the lookout for before purchasing one.
We’ll also take a closer look at some of the most popular cable machines on the market right now to see what makes them stand out from the rest.
Cable Crossover Machines to Review:
What is a Cable Crossover Machine?
A cable crossover machine is easily one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in your home gym.
It uses cables and weight stacks to provide you with a total body workout in a single machine.
It is also one of the most common pieces of equipment that you might see at a gym – and the one that is most often misused, in spite of it’s fairly straightforward design.
It’s easy to get confused by a cable machine. It has multiple settings and stations, and high end machines can get even more confusing with all of their extra bells and whistles.
Let’s take a closer look at the different types of benefits that you can get by working with a cable crossover machine.
What are the Benefits of Training with a Cable Crossover Machine?
The versatility of a cable cross machine means that it has a huge number of benefits, including:
- Muscle Group Isolation – The massive number of different exercises you can do with one of these machines means it’s easy to isolate a single muscle group for targeted gains.
- Workout Form- Once you learn the basics, a cable machine is very easy use, making it easier to keep your form correct while you’re lifting. This makes it less likely that you will injure yourself during your workout.
- Safety – Again, once you’ve learned how to use the machine, it’s much safer than using free weights or traditional weight lifting equipment. You can also complete you workout without the need of a spotter.
- Versatility – You can exercise nearly every muscle group in your body with a cable machine in your home, making it perfect if you only want to buy one piece of gym equipment, or you only have the space for one.
- Interval Training – If interval training is part of your regimen, a cable machine can allow you to switch between muscle groups without resting, or having to change anything on your machine. It’s simple to switch between a lat pulldown, a tricep extension, anda bicep curl, all without switching machines, just as an example.
- Time-Saver – If you can work all of your muscles without having to switch machines, it makes it easier to get you workout in without having to spend a whole bunch of time loading and unloading weights or setting up a bunch of different machines.
- Unilateral Exercises – Instead of working both sides of your body at the same time, like a leg press or bicep curl machine might, a cable cross machine allows you to work unilaterally. If one side is weaker than the other, due to injury or other circumstance, it’s easy to change the weight so you can continue to work out – potentially rehabilitating the injured side in the process.
- Core Engagement – Even if you’re not doing core exercises, a cable machine requires you to engage your core while doing your workout, resulting in a stronger core overall.
- Keeps Your Workout Fresh – If you’re having a hard time having fun with your workout, a cable crossover machine can be a great way to make your old exercises new again.
Even with as many benefits as we’ve listed here, this is just scratching the surface.
You can work out nearly every muscle group with this machine, but which exact exercises can you do with this?
What Exercises Can I do with a Cable Crossover Machine?
There are so many exercises that you can do with a cable cross machine that we could fill a book with them – which someone probably should, but that’s not what we’re here for.
Instead, we’re going to take a look at the different muscle groups you can target with a cable machine, and a few of the exercises you can do for each muscle group.
- Chest – A cable machine is probably one of the best machines for a chest exercise – and you can do so many different exercises on just one machine. Cable crossovers, chest flys, and chest presses from different angles allow you to work and strengthen all of the muscles in your chest. Many of these exercises can be done from both sides of the machine at once, ensuring even muscle growth.
- Forearms – Wrist curls are great for strengthening your forearms and you can complete them easily with one of these versatile machines.
- Lats – Lat pulldowns, with one one arm or both, are a great way to strengthen your latissimus dorsi muscles. With a bench, row exercises are also a great way to work those same muscles. Pull downs, where you are beneath the cable machine on the highest setting and pull the bar down behind your neck, are also fantastic lat exercises that you can do with this machine.
- Middle Back – Those same row exercises that we mentioned for the lat exercises will help to exercises and strengthen your middle back as well.
- Quadriceps – Deadlifts are great exercises for improving upper and lower body strength, and you can do the same exercise with a cable machine that you can with a barbell and free weights.
- Triceps – A cable machine is perfect for tricep pushdowns, extensions, and pulldowns. The nice thing about a cable machine is that these exercises can be completed standing, kneeling, inclined or flat, depending on how you prefer to exercise your triceps.
- Traps – We’re back to the rows again for your trapezius muscles. Position a bench beneath your cable machine and row away.
- Shoulders – Shoulder presses, cable rows, and side pulls are all ideal for toning and strengthening those shoulder muscles.
- Abs – Almost all of the exercises that you’ll do with a cable machine will engage and strengthen your core, but there are plenty of assisted crunches, twists and flips that you can do to actively exercise your abdominal muscles as well.
- Glutes – There aren’t a whole lot of glute-friendly exercises that you can do on a cable cross machine, but one legged kickbacks, where you pull the cable backward with your leg, can target those muscles beautifully.
- Biceps – All sorts of bicep curls with all sorts of bars and handles make this a perfect machine for strengthening your biceps. One arm curls, two arms curls, curls with rope attachments, curls with bars – you’re only limited by the amount of weight you can lift and your imagination.
Again, we’re just scratching the surface here. Once you know your limits and the amount of weight you can lift, the possibilities are nearly endless.
What Should I Look for in a Cable Crossover Machine?
There are so many different cable crossover machines on the market today that it can be hard to know where to start. If you’re looking to purchase your own cable machine, a few things you should be on the lookout for include:
- Budget – We’ll be honest here – a cable crossover machine is not a cheap piece of equipment. You will end up digging deep in your wallet to purchase one of these machines, but think of it as an investment in your future. A good machine might be expensive, but it will last you for years and years of use.
- Available Space – This is a big piece of equipment with a large footprint. It also requires some overhead clearance to enable you to do overhead exercises. Make sure you have enough space to put assemble and use your equipment.
- Available Accessories – How many different accessories come with your machine? Are there other accessories that you can purchase later if you need them? Make sure you know everything that you’re getting when you make your purchase and that you can purchase other accessories should you need them in the future.
- Weight Limit – How much weight does the cable machine offer? Most have a minimum weight of 20 pounds per side, but the maximum weight will vary depending on the model. Make sure you’re purchasing a machine that exceeds the maximum weight that you can lift so you have something to work up to.
- Weight Upgrades – Can you order extra plates to increase your liftable weight? If not, it might be a good idea to order a machine with a higher maximum weight.
- Assembly Requirements – What does it take to assemble your equipment? Will you need an extra pair of hands, or is it something that can be done alone?
- Bells and Whistles – Does your chosen cable machine have any extra bells and whistles? Do you want one that’s got extra tools or toys, such as pull up or dip bars? Do they add anything to your workout, or will they just get in the way?
Your budget, the equipment’s footprint, and the maximum liftable weight are the three most important things to consider. Everything else is just a bonus.
How Much Weight Can I Lift With a Cable Crossover Machine?
The maximum liftable weight will depend on the number of weight plates, and the weight of each individual plate.
Let’s take a look at the maximum weight for the machines that we’ll be reviewing later.
|Body Solid Pro||160 lbs x 2|
|Powerline PCCO90X||Adjustable – Requires Weight Plates (Max Unknown)|
|Freemotion Dual Cable EXT Crossover||210 lbs x 2|
|XMark Functional Trainer||200 lbs x 2|
|Valor Fitness BD-61||Adjustable – Requires Weight Plates (Max Unknown)|
|Body Solid Functional Trainer||190 lbs Single Stack|
|Yukon Fitness||Adjustable – Requires Weight Plates (250 lb max)|
The adjustable weight models might be the best option for individuals who are going to need more weight than the weight stack models can offer.
Some models do have upgradable weight stacks, but you will have to contact the manufacturer to see what opens they have available, since upgrades usually aren’t available on commercial retail sites.
How Much Space Do I Need for a Cable Crossover Machine?
Cable crossover machines are big pieces of equipment. They require a lot of floorspace, and usually a lot of overhead clearance as well. There are three measurements you need to consider – height, length, and width. Let’s see how our different review targets measure up:
|Body Solid Pro||91″||35″||156″|
|Freemotion Dual Cable EXT Crossover||84″||60″||113″|
|XMark Functional Trainer||83″||43.5″||65″|
|Valor Fitness BD-61||80″||52″||57″|
|Body Solid Functional Trainer||83.5″||55″||61″|
Height is a real concern here – the shortest machine on our list comes in at 80 inches, or 6.6 feet, so you need to make sure you have enough vertical clearance to set it up.
The footprint is also a concern, with some of these models stretching the measuring tape at more than 150 inches – 12.5 feet – wide.
How Much Do Cable Crossover Machines Cost?
A cable crossover machine isn’t a cheap piece of equipment. Even the most basic models will set you back more than $500 and the higher end machines can cost upwards of $5,000.
Keep in mind that you get what you pay for. A cheap machine isn’t going to last you as long as a higher quality one, even though that machine will probably be more expensive.
When you’re looking for a cable machine to purchase, keep the cost of shipping in mind.
These are heavy pieces of equipment, so unless your site offers free shipping, it will probably cost quite a bit to ship.
What Does It Take to Assemble a Cable Crossover Machine?
We’ve already talked about how big these machines are – now let’s get to the assembly.
Before you start unboxing everything, take a look at the assembly instructions.
If you need any tools that aren’t included in the hardware kit, such as screwdrivers, rubber mallets, box wrenches or ratchet wrenches, now’s the time to collect them.
The sheer size of these machines means that you will probably need an extra pair of hands. It’s the perfect excuse to call a friend, crack open a cold one and crank up the tunes.
Just make sure you follow the instructions.
Does a Cable Crossover Machine Require Maintenance?
A cable crossover machine is one of the few pieces of equipment that you purchase that may require some regular maintenance – especially if you purchase a new machine.
The cables tend to stretch during the first few months, which can lead to cables that are a little too long to effectively workout.
Thankfully, most crossover machines have set screws that allow you to adjust the tension of the cables to compensate for this initial cable stretch.
If your cables don’t have a protective vinyl coating – which most modern machines do – they will need to be greased regularly to protect the cables and prevent them from rusting.
If you have modern cables, you don’t need to worry about greasing them.
If your moving parts are sticking a little bit, a little bit of WD-40 can help them move smoother. Maintaining your cable cross machine can help it to last for years of regular use.
Cable Crossover Machine Reviews
Now, onto the part we’ve all been waiting for – the reviews!
We’re going to take a look at some of the most popular cable crossover machines on the market today to see what makes them so popular with ameture and professional weightlifters alike.
The first entry on our list is easily one of our favorites. With two 160 lb weight stacks and 12 different pulley positions, you can all easily do all of the different exercises that we mentioned above and more.
Each pulley also has 180 degrees of rotation, making it easier to allow two people to work on the machine at the same time – or handle exercise positions that would otherwise be awkward with fixed pulleys.
It also has the option to add chin-up handles on the center bar to increase the number of different exercises that you can complete with this single machine.
There are also a number of different accessories, such as benches, yoga balls, handles, and bars, that can be purchased for this particular cable cross machine – they do cost extra though, so make sure you keep that in mind during your budget calculations.
This is a freestanding piece of equipment so it doesn’t need to be attached to the floor in order to be stable.
It’s also one of the heavier machines on our list – coming in at a whopping 664 pounds shipped – so if you need to carry it up some stairs to the area where it’s being built, bring some friends.
This is our first adjustable cable crossover machine, and probably one of most affordable options on our list.
It’s also much lighter than the Body Solid Pro because it doesn’t have to be shipped with hundreds of pounds of plates.
That said, it works with the plates that you probably already have, whether you collect standard or Olympic plates.
Each pulley has 180 degrees of rotation but there is no pulley adjustment – they are fixed at the top and bottom of the frame which limits the positioning, but not the number of exercises that you’re able to do.
It can even be equipped with a chin-up bar, but that is optional and would likely require that the frame be fixed to the floor for stability.
You do have 90 inches between each of the pulleys so you’ve got plenty of space to workout. The fact that it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles means that if you don’t have a lot of space in your home gym, you can store other equipment under your cable crossover machine when it’s not in use.
The manufacturer offers a 10 year warranty on the frame, and a 1 year warranty on the rest of the parts, so if it breaks within the first 12 months, you’re covered.
This doesn’t look like a traditional cable machine, but that doesn’t make it any less effective.
The pulleys on each side are attached to movable arms that can be repositioned at 12 inch intervals vertically and 9 inch intervals horizontally, making the machine adjustable for nearly every exercise and for users of every height and arm span.
No more stretching your fingertips to reach the other cable – simply adjust them to where they are within arms reach.
Of the stack-weight machines on our list, this one offers the highest maximum weight with two stacks of 210 pounds each.
Two stacks helps you to double the benefits of your workout, but it can also be set to allow two people to work out at the same time.
This machine is smaller than some of the other ones that we’re reviewing but the smaller size doesn’t mean that it it doesn’t work beautifully.
For storage purposes, the cable arms can be adjusted up and out of the way so you’re not knocking your head on them when you’re not exercising.
This machine might not have all the bells and whistles – or anywhere to put a chin-up bar – and it is one of the more expensive options out there, but it works well without all the extra craziness.
This machine doesn’t have a whole lot of space between the pulleys, but what it sacrifices in size, it makes up for in customization.
The pulleys have 19 different height settings at 3.5 inches apart makes it perfect for users of any height. It also makes it perfect for lower body exercises, squats, and rows.
It is equipped with dual 200 pound weight stacks and comes with a plethora of accessories, from hand straps and tricep ropes to bars, leg straps and even a workout poster in case you run out of new exercises that you want to try.
The cross bar at the top of the frame doubles as a split-grip pull up bar as well.
This little trainer is a beast, so be prepared with help if you need to move it up some stairs before it can assembled.
Shipped, it weighs 827 pounds so if your retail site charges shipping be prepared to pay some hefty freight.
The 11 gauge steel frame will stand up to even the most intense workout, so you’ll be good to go for your strength training workouts for years to come.
This fantastic little budget-friendly unit will fit perfectly in a corner and has 17 height positions which are adjustable.
This model does use bumper plates rather than a stack so it’s easy to add or remove weight as needed.
If you use Olympic plates rather than standard ones, you’re in luck – it comes with adaptor sleeves included that are attached to the frame with small hex bolts to keep them from sliding off.
The cross bar on the top also doubles as a multi-grip pull up station, and the lower part of the frame has plate storage pegs which double as added stability for upper body workouts.
This is useful, because compared to the other machines on this list, this particular model doesn’t weigh a whole lot. Without any plates to ship, this one only weighs 165 pounds.
It takes up very little space, when compared to the other adjustable pulley models on our list, but that doesn’t make it any less versatile.
It will fit perfectly in any home gym, or in any home that has a spare corner that doesn’t have anything stored in it yet.
This is the only cable crossover machine on our list that uses a single stack of weights instead of a dual stack.
With 190 pounds of weight, it works well for individuals who are trying to increase their maximum lift limit, but it might not be the best option for hardcore lifters or people who can easily lift more than 190 pounds.
It has a smaller footprint than some of the other machines on our list, but it’s a sturdy piece of equipment nonetheless.
It weighs 270 pounds shipped, and features two adjustable pulleys with 19 adjustment positions so it can easily be customized for any workout.
It doesn’t come with any extra accessories though – it comes with two nylon cable handles, but if you need any bars or other accessories, they will have to be purchased separately.
There is an integrated chin-up/pull-up bar located above the pulleys, which is good for upper-body exercise.
You don’t need any extra weight to keep the machine stable – it’s heavy enough to stand on its own without being weighed down or being secured to the floor.
Finally, we have the Yukon Fitness Cable Crossover machine, a full sized machine that has the largest footprint of all the equipment that we’ve reviewed.
It may be the biggest cable machine on this list, but it’s not the most expensive – for what you’re getting for the money, it’s probably one of the best values on our list.
With 14 adjustable height settings for the pulleys and weight pegs that can hold up to 250 pounds per side, this machine has the highest weight capacity of any of the ones that we’ve reviewed so far.
It is one of the larger machines, so you will need plenty of room to set it up, but there’s plenty of space beneath it so you can store other equipment under it when it isn’t in use.
You will need to pick up some extra accessories for this beauty – it only comes with 2 chrome cable handles, but it does have a chin-up bar integrated into the upper cross bar so you don’t need to worry about adding that to your cart when you’re shopping.
If you’re looking for a bargain on a full sized cable crossover machine, this is the best choice for you.
Wrapping it Up
If you’re looking for a single piece of equipment to handle a momentous number of different exercises, a cable crossover machine is one of the best investments that you can make.
This one machine will handle exercises that target the majority of your major muscle groups without needing an entire gym worth of equipment.
Now you know what to look for when it comes to purchasing a cable machine, but remember the old adage – you get what you pay for.
Don’t jump for the cheapest machine that crosses your path. A cheap piece of exercise equipment might work in a pinch, but it’s not going to last as long as a good solid machine.
Think of your new cable crossover machine as an investment – in the equipment and in your future health.