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8 Best Cable Glute Exercises To Build The Butt

January 23, 2023

Cable glute exercises to build the butt

One of the most universal pieces of equipment in the gym is the cable machine. You’ve likely used the machine to train back, biceps and triceps – but have you ever used it to train the glutes?! If not – then you should.

Barbells, dumbbells, and dedicated machines are all great methods to target the glutes. But the cable machine offers a unique stimulus that is not possible with other methods – think of them as the icing on the cake.

Combining the best cable glute exercises with the best compound glute exercises is the best way to add overall size to the booty and develop the shape you’ve been dreaming of.

Today we’ll be looking at the best exercises to incorporate into your routine, the unique benefits cables offer, tips and workouts.

Table of Contents
Benefits of cable exercises
Best cable glute exercises
Cable glute workouts
Frequently asked questions

 

Benefits of Cable Exercises

Cable glute exercises offer a variety of benefits that don’t come with the traditional barbell and dumbbell exercises:

 

Constant Tension

Arguably the biggest benefit of using the cable machine for training the glutes (or any other muscle for that matter) is the fact that it provides constant tension throughout the range of motion.

What this means is that it provides tension at each stage of the exercise whilst you lift and lower the weight.

With tension being a prime drive for muscle growth, it makes sense that constant tension can be a great muscle building stimulus.

This stimulus is unique for cable exercises and cannot be replicated with barbell or dumbbell exercises. Take a look at the chart below published by “The Glute Guy.

Glute exercises strength curves

The chart shows resistance curves for many popular glute exercises.

Take the barbell lunge for example (The royal blue line). You can see that as you stand up out of the lunge and move towards the 0-degree hip angle (ie moving towards the starting position), the tension on the glutes becomes virtually nothing.

The idea behind using the cables is that we’ll always have tension on the glutes, no matter what position of the movement we’re in.

Sticking with the lunge example, by using the cables we could adjust the resistance profile to look more like the following:

Glute cable exercises strength curve

Thus, we’ll still be benefiting from tension at the top of the movement, unlike with the barbell alternative.

This is one example, but the same principle applies to most cable glute exercises.

 

Safety

Generally, cable exercises are considered safer than barbell or dumbbell alternatives.

This is because the ability to bail with cables is easier than free weight alternatives. Take the barbell squat for example – you’re positioned underneath the barbell so if for whatever reason you get stuck at the bottom of the movement, safely bailing the squat can be a twitchy experience (trust me, I’ve been there!).

On the other hand, if you’re squatting with the cable machine, where you’re not actually under the bar and the weight is in your hands, you can simply let go of the weight.

Yes, it’ll make a smashing sound and may make someone in your gym jump out of their skin; but no one gets hurt.

 

Unique Stimulus

Cables can provide a unique stimulus that can’t be achieved with free weights. This is because you can change the direction of the resistance for each exercise.

Again, using the squat as an example. A free-weight squat has vertical resistance (pulling you towards the floor due to gravity). We have to fight this resistance to push back up to the top position.

But the cable squat is different. Yes, we still have the vertical resistance as we have the resistance in our hands, but we also have a new horizontal resistance which is pulling us in towards the cable machine. The glutes are therefore working hard to resist this pulling force so that we don’t fall forward and so we can maintain our upright position. 

 

Reduce the risk of injury

Opting for the cable machine over the free weight alternatives also reduces the risk of injury. You see, with free weights you have no direct plane of motion, the weights are ‘free’ to move wherever they please – it’s our job to control the direction they travel.

Because they’re free to travel in any direction, this increases the chances of injury. Think about the barbell squat, if we lose balance, the barbell can shift forwards, backwards, and side to side. This may cause one side of our body to overcompensate and overwork a muscle, resulting in an injury. Worse still, if we can’t correct the bar position we may be forced to drop the bar which can quickly turn ugly. 

Cables offer a direct plane of motion, and in one direction. This means that while performing an exercise we have to withstand the resistance from one direction, not from all directions. This helps us to focus on our form and get stronger in the given exercise.

 

Time saving

If you’re strapped for time, then the cable machine is the one for you. Loading plates onto the barbell takes time (and energy!), whereas changing the pin on the machine takes seconds.

Being able to quickly adjust the resistance makes the cables a great machine for drop sets. Simply perform your desired reps, drop the weight and perform more reps until failure.

 

8 Best Cable Glute Exercises

Now we know the benefits that working with cables can bring, let’s jump into the best cable glute exercises you should be adding into your routine to add some size to the behind.

It’s worth noting that although we consider these to be the best cable glute exercises, we wouldn’t suggest doing them all in one session.

We suggest using 2 or 3 of the following exercises and adding them in after your heavy compound glute exercises.

So, start the session with the heavy compounds, you know, the squats, the deadlifts, the hip thrusts, etc, and then jump into 2-3 cable exercises.

Don’t worry, we’ve created some workouts at the end of the article for you to follow.

 

1.      Cable Pull Through

The cable pull through is very similar to the hugely popular barbell hip thrust. The difference is, instead of performing the movement of the floor, you’re performing it stood up – but the resistance is still from underneath/behind you. It’s therefore a great exercise to target the gluteus maximas, the largest of the 3 glute muscles.

Cable pull through exercise

How to:

  • Set the cables to the lowest position and attached the rope attachment
  • Facing away from the machine, pass the rope between the legs and hold the attachment with a neutral grip
  • Stand up straight and take a few steps forward until you feel tension on the rope
  • Adjust your stance so that your feet are shoulder width apart with your feet pointing slightly outwards. Adopt a slightly bent knee position
  • Keeping your back straight, hinge at the hips so that your torso leans forward while keeping your legs upright. Let the cable pass between your legs
  • Keep going until you feel a stretch on the glutes/hamstrings
  • Once you feel the stretch, contract the glutes to shift the hips forward to return you to the starting position.

 

2.      Cable Squats

Squats are a key exercise to build strength and size in the lower body. Known by many as the ‘King of exercises’ the squat has solidified its place in many workout routines.

There are 3 squat variations we can perform on the cable machine. The standard cable squat involves us holding the cable attachment in our hands. The second variation is a Zercher squat where we use a bar attachment and hold it in the crease between our forearm and upper arm. And thirdly we have the cable belt squat, which is where we place a belt around our hips and attach the cable onto the belt; the main benefit being that we don’t load the upper back.

To further target the glutes during the cable squat, opt for a wide stance and point your toes slightly outwards.

How to :

  • Set the cables to the lowest position and attached the straight bar attachment
  • Facing the machine, squat down and grab the bar with an overhand grip
  • Still in the squatting position, move backwards to take up the slack in the cable
  • Bracing the core, keeping the back straight, and while looking forward; push through the heels and stand up whilst holding the bar

 

3.      Cable Kickback

You’ve probably seen people at your gym performing cable kickbacks, and there’s a good reason for this. The primary role of the gluteus maximas is hip extension (ie increasing the angle between the thigh and hip), and that’s exactly what this exercise does. The cable kickback is a great exercise for isolating the glutes and can help develop the mind muscle connection.

Cable kick back exercise

How to:

  • Set up the cable machine at the lowest position and attach an ankle cuff
  • Facing the machine, place the ankle cuff on your left leg
  • Take a step backwards until you feel a resistance on the cable
  • Lean forward and take hold of the machine with your left hand for support. Adopt a slightly bent knee position.
  • Keeping your right foot on the floor, lift your left foot off the floor and contract the glutes to kick the left leg backwards
  • The top of the movement will be when the hamstrings and back align, from here, slowly lower your leg to the starting position
  • Repeat with the desired number of reps and then swap legs.

 

4.      Cable Straight-leg Deadlift

Performing the straight-leg deadlift on the cable machine is arguably more effective than the barbell or dumbbell alternatives. This is because not only do we have to resist the vertical force, but we have to resist the horizontal force of the cable pulling you forwards, this will mean the glutes will be working hard to maintain the upright position to prevent falling forward.

How to:

  • Set the cable machine to the lowest position and attach a rope handle (or two handles)
  • Facing the cable machine, grab the rope with both hands, stand up and take a couple of steps backwards so that you can feel resistance on the rope
  • Bracing the core, with a slight bend in the knees, shift the hips back so that your torso starts to lean forwards
  • Keep going until you feel a stretch in the glutes/hamstrings
  • Once you’ve reached the bottom of the position, contract the glutes to push the hips forward and return to the starting position

 

5.      Cable Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

The single-leg Romanian deadlift is a great exercise that can effectively target the glutes and the hamstrings, targeting the glute-ham tie-in region and developing the underbutt. Being a unilateral exercise (working one leg at a time), you can iron out any muscle imbalances; plus benefit from the gluteus medius (upper glute) being recruited to provide stability to the hip.  

How to:

  • Set up the cable machine at the lowest position and attach a handle
  • Facing the machine, grab the handle with your left hand, stand up and take a small step backwards until you feel a resistance on the cable
  • Lift the left foot off the floor and adopt a slightly bent right knee stance
  • Hinge at the hips and lean the torso forwards, letting the left leg go back behind your body
  • Keep leaning forwards until you feel a stretch on the glutes and hamstrings
  • Once you’ve reached the bottom of the position, contract the glutes to pull your torso upright to return to the starting position
  • Repeat with the desired number of reps and then swap legs.

 

6.      Cable Reverse Lunge

Not only does the reverse lunge target the glutes, but you’ll be hitting the quads, hamstrings, calfs, and core, making it a great overall lower-body exercise.

We can perform the movement in such a way that prioritises the glutes over the other muscles, these include: taking a further step back so that the front leg remains perpendicular to the floor, this will place the majority of the load on the glutes rather than the quads.

Secondly, when stepping back and down to the floor, slightly lean the torso forward. This will increase the range of the motion the glutes have to go through to get back to the starting position – it’s a handy little tip for that extra burn!

 

How to:

  • Set the cable machine to the lowest position and attach a handle
  • Facing the cable machine, grab the handle with your left hand, stand up and take a small step backwards until you feel a resistance on the cable.
  • Lunge backwards with your left leg so that your left knee nearly touches the floor
  • Pushing through your right heel, return to the starting position
  • Repeat with the desired number of reps and then swap legs.

 

7.      Cable abduction

The previous exercises have been geared towards targeting primarily the gluteus maximas, which is sensible as it’s the largest muscle in the glutes and makes up the majority of the shape and appearance of the butt.  

But, we mustn’t forget about the gluteus medius. The medius, located at the top sides of the hip is primarily responsible for abduction, ie. Moving the leg away from the centre line of the body. So one of the best exercises to target the medius is to do that very movement, with resistance.

The cable abduction machine is the perfect way to build strength and size in the glutes, which can help develop the upper glute region.  

How to:

  • Set the cable machine to the lowest position and attach the ankle cuff
  • Stand side on to the cable machine and attach the cuff to the ankle furthest away from the machine
  • Take a small step sidewards away from the machine until you feel a slight resistance in the cable
  • Grab the machine with the hand closest for support
  • Take a deep breath and lift your leg out to the side. Lift as far as you’re comfortable with and hold for 1-2 seconds at the top of the movement
  • Lower the weight back to the starting position
  • Repeat with the desired number of reps and then swap legs

 

 

8.      Cable Side Lunge

Finishing off with an exercise that targets both the gluteus maximas and medius, the cable side lunge.  The first portion of the movement involves abduction of the leg as you step out to the side – here we’ll see the medius taking the brunt of the load. Then as we lunge down, it will be the maximas working hard to get out of the lunge back to the starting position.

Again, this is a unilateral exercise that can help fix any muscle imbalances, and the strength that you build through adding this exercise to your workout can help carry over to exercises such as the squat and deadlift.

How to:

  • Set the cable machine to the lowest position and attach the ankle strap
  • Stand side on to the machine and attach the ankle strap to the ankle furthest away from the machine
  • With the same leg, take a large step to the side and lunge towards the floor while bracing your core. Your other leg should remain straight throughout the movement.
  • Push through your heels to return to the standing position.
  • Repeat with the desired number of reps and then swap legs.

 

Cable Glute Workouts

As we mentioned before, when training the glutes we going to want to perform our heavy compound lifts first, when we’re fresh and have the most energy. Leaving the cable glute exercises for the second half of the session where we can focus on some higher rep work, getting some blood to the muscles, and feeling the pump!

With that in mind, here are 2 sessions we have created.

 

Glute Workout No.1

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Barbell Squats

4

6-8

Romanian Deadlift

4

6-8

Cable Pull Through

3

8-10

Cable Stiff Leg Deadlift

3

10-12

Cable Kick Back

3

10-12 Each Leg

 

Glute Workout No.2

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Barbell Hip Thrusts

4

6-8

Bulgarian Split Squat

4

8-10 Each Leg

Cable Squats

3

8-10

Cable Reverse Lunge

3

10-12

Cable Abduction

3

10-15 Each Leg

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

Can you grow your glutes with cable exercises?

Of course, you can grow the glutes with cable exercises. No matter whether you’re using barbells, dumbbells, or machines, the muscle building principles stay the same. Make sure you’re applying progressive overload in your training, and eat enough to support muscle growth and you’ll be rewarded with results.

 

What is the best Gluteus Medius cable exercise?

The gluteus medius is primarily responsible for abduction (Moving the leg sidewards away from the body). It therefore makes sense that a gluteus medius exercise targets this movement. That exercise is the Cable abduction. It targets the exact movement that the gluteus medius is responsible for. 3 sets of 10-15 reps on each leg will get the medius firing!

 

How often should I train the glutes?

When it comes to how often you should train your glutes we need to consider several factors such as training intensity, training age, exercise selection, volume, load, etc.

Saying this, it’s generally considered that training a muscle group twice a week is more advantageous than training once per week.  

The important thing here is to listen to your body. If you don’t feel like the glutes have fully recovered from the previous session then it’s not worth training them again. Train a different muscle group to give the glutes an additional day or two to recover.

 

Final Thoughts

Just like barbells and dumbbells, the cable machine deserves its place in any glute workout. They offer a unique stimulus that differs from the free weight alternatives, provide constant tension which is ideal for muscle hypertrophy, and are generally safer to use.

If you’re yet to incorporate cable exercises into your glute regime then it's time to give them a try. Not only are they great for building strength, but they can help to add some serious size to the glute region, and bring some real shape to the butt.

 


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