The Cable Guide

Ronnie Coleman's opinion on using cables for building mass.



You’re known for using the same basic heavy free-weight exercises as when you began bodybuilding, yet I’ve read that you sometimes include cables in your biceps workouts. Why bother?


I only use exercises that build mass. That should tell you that I include cables in my biceps workouts because they are mass builders — at least the way I do them. Not only that, but they add unique dimensions of width, roundness, fullness and peak.

The misconception that cable exercises are only for detail and refinement is a result of the fact that cable movements, which are more isolated than free weights and machines, aren’t as exhausting as compound movements. You’re not using your entire body for stabilization and leverage, as you do when struggling to curl an iron bar laden with weight plates. Instead, your body remains still as you squeeze only your biceps all the way up to a full contraction at the top, then smoothly extend them all the way to arm’s length at the bottom.

Throughout a set of cable curls, your biceps muscles are under your total control. You feel every twitch of every fiber, you feel the blood being squeezed into both heads, and you feel the pump build and your biceps progressively numbing as they fatigue. Suddenly, they’re on fire, cramping as never before. They’re pumped drum tight. Your biceps are fried, but the rest of your body is fresh. Best of all, your biceps will experience a growth spurt in roundness, hardness, width and peak, along with increased definition.

Since a direct relationship exists between strength and muscle growth, I have always trained to increase my strength, and that objective does not change when I use cables. I stack on enough weight to keep my repetitions in the 10-to-15 range, the same as for my compound free-weight training. With cables, though, I have the additional advantages of a more controlled peak contraction, constant resistance throughout the set, harder negatives, and giant sets and supersets.


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