The Complete Guide to Cable Crossover Machines

If you're at the beginning of your home gym journey, have limited space or  budget, or are big on your weight training equipment, a cable crossover machine could be a great addition to your home.

With a range of attachments and features, home cable crossovers allow you to comprehensively work multiple muscle groups using just one machine.

So what is a cable crossover and how do you choose the best machine for you?

This guide aims to help answer these questions, whilst also exploring what muscles you can exercise and how much you can expect to fork out.

What is a Cable Crossover Machine?

Despite the flashy appearance of modern day weight machines, cable crossovers have been around since before the 1950s.

Cable crossovers allow you to benefit from both functional and weight training within one comprehensive machine. Formed of a strong, sturdy frame, typically made from steel, with weight stacks on both sides, cable crossovers utilise cables that can be pulled in multiple directions. This enables users to perform a wide range of exercises designed to work various muscle groups.

The frame of a cable crossover machine is generally around three metres wide and two metres high with one cable on each side, allowing you to perform both one and two arm exercises. Cables can also be adjusted to multiple heights, further expanding the array of exercises you can perform.

Types of cable crossover machine

There are several types of cable crossover machine available, from more basic frames and smith machines with cables to complete units featuring power racks, leg press, core trainer and more.

Related: Leg Press vs Squat - Which is Best?

A number of the machines come with built in power racks and smith machines.

If you’re unsure about the type of crossover machine that would best suit your needs, just get in touch and a member of our knowledgeable team will be happy to help.

How much does a cable crossover machine cost?

As with anything, this ultimately varies depending on what you’re looking for and how much is included. Typically, mid-range models vary from £1,500-£4,000, with our most expensive cable machine currently priced at £6,500. Our most basic cable crossover machine costs £469 for the frame, with the option to tailor features and accessories - and therefore price - to suit your needs. 

What muscles do cable crossovers work?

Crossover machines are sometimes referred to as cable crossover multi gyms,  as they allow users to exercise a variety of different muscle groups - something which has helped to drive their popularity. The number of muscles you are able to work will depend on the features included with your particular model, which will affect the type and range of exercise that you are able to perform. With that said, muscles worked by cable crossovers typically include:

  • Pectorals 
  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Abdominals
  • Deltoids

Cable crossovers often include adjustable cables that you can set at your desired height, allowing you to perform a range of exercises.

The muscle group you are working will depend on the positioning/height of your crossover cables and the type of attachment you are using, with certain attachments/handles used for certain types of exercises. Many of these exercises, for example any bicep and tricep exercises, will only require using a singular cable. 

How to Use Your Cable Crossover Machine

There are a loads of different ways to use your cable crossover, mostly depending on what muscle group you would like to perform

How to Adjust Your Cable Crossover Machine

It’s super easy to adjust your cable crossover machine without risk of injury thanks to a variety of safety features including built-in safety catches. 

Adjusting the Weight

To adjust the amount of weight you’re lifting, make sure that the weight stack(s) is completely together (i.e no force is being applied to the cable). Then remove the pin from its selected weight and reinsert this into your desired weight. Each individual weight normally includes a sticker showing the total stacked weight to make this process simpler.

Adjusting the Cable Positioning (Height)

Again, this can be done quickly and safely. Each cable will need to be adjusted separately. To do this, pull the lever out from the device and raise or lower to the desired height on the rail. Once you’ve done this, the level/pin should then automatically ‘lock’ in without the need for you to reinsert this.

Changing your Handle / Grip

Cable crossovers are compatible with a range of grips including straight and curl bars, stirrups, multi-grip pull bars, tricep ropes and more. Attachments are secured using a carabiner clip, so can be switched really easily by pressing the lever on the clip and removing the current grip, then adding the one you want to use.

High Cable Crossover vs Low Cable Crossover 

For the most part there is little difference between high and low cable crossovers; all that ultimately changes is direction (so whether the cables are pulled upwards or downwards during reps), which in turn affects the area of the chest that is being exercised.

The high cable crossover refers to exercises performed when the cables are positioned above the head, so exercises involve pulling the cables down and bringing them together in front of the body, exercising the lower part of the chest. The most common high cable crossover exercises are the Standing Cable Crossover and the High Cable Fly.

The low cable crossover involves positioning the cable at the lowest point, with cables then raised from low to high in a pulling motion, exercising the upper part of the chest. The most common of these exercises again involves the use of stirrup handles, raising arms out in front of the body up to chest height, then returning to starting position and repeating.

Reverse Cable Crossover

A useful shoulder exercise that will add some variation to your routine, as the name suggests, the reverse cable crossover involves taking each handle in the opposite hand (right cable/left hand, left cable/right hand) and crossing them in front of you, then slowly moving your arms back out to the side and returning to the start position. Repeat this motion, making sure to keep your arms straight.

Standing Cable Crossover

Perhaps the most popular exercise performed with both cables, the standing cable crossover uses the stirrup handles. Take one handle in each hand, then take a step forward so that one foot is placed in front of the other, with your arms stretched out behind you. Bring your arms round in front of you and squeeze in front of your chest, before returning to the start position and repeating in a smooth, controlled motion.

Single Arm Crossover

It’s also possible to perform a single arm crossover using just one cable and the stirrup handle. This can either be done from the raised or position, standing straight and bringing the cable down and in front of your body before returning to the start position, or from the lower position, again standing straight and bringing the cable up across the front of your body. For both of these exercises your feet should be approximately shoulder width apart.

Alternatively, you can set the cables at chest height and bring the cable across in front of your chest in a chest press motion, with your body positioned sideways on, feet apart.