Cable machine routine for novice strength training
January 30, 2014 11:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm 5'4", 145#, 35 years old, and I have access to limited free weights and a cable machine. I don't have access to barbell equipment more than once a week. I'm familiar with Starting Strength, Stumptuous, etc, but a little overwhelmed by the options, and I'm wondering if anyone can point me toward an appropriate routine or routine building app. I want this to be doable and I want to make progress and have a sense of accomplishment.

Background: Due to seemingly intractable tendinitis, I won't be running for the immediate future, and I'd like to take the opportunity to start building muscle in order to

a) rip phone books in half
b) increase my metabolism
c) have a successful return to running when my STUPID FUCKING ANKLE heals up
d) look slightly less flabby in a bathing suit this summer (it's winter here.)

(These may not be in priority order.)
posted by chesty_a_arthur to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Alternatively, if I should be focusing on bodyweight exercises rather than the cable machine, I'd be up for recommendations there as well.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:17 PM on January 30, 2014

Start with pushups, pull-ups (palms out), and planks. You could add in one legged squats, handstands (pushups?), and dips.

That should be a great total body workout, no equipment required.
posted by axismundi at 1:03 PM on January 30, 2014

If you want an app to track and for ideas, I really like Gymrat. It was $5 or something like that and it took me a while to figure out setting up routines but once it clicked, I just fell in love. They have some built in routines but I rarely use them; I just create ones based on what I can do and cycle through different parts of the body on different days.

My PT has me doing tons of hip exercises with bands/on cable machines to keep runner's knee at bay. (Stand on a yoga block with one leg; attach cable to other. Face the machine. Balance on yoga block and push other leg back back from hip. Turn to the right 90 degrees. Push leg out to the side while balancing. Turn again and kick leg out. Turn again... then switch legs.) Also, lots of squats side to side with bands.
posted by adorap0621 at 2:01 PM on January 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Dumbbells might be a better bet than a cable machine. Cable machines are very useful for specialized exercises (I use the one at my gym for pull-downs and push-downs), but dumbbells can yield great results:

1) They're cheap. A full set is less than two month's membership, including inclining weight bench. Cheaper on Craigslist.
2) They're compact - you can hide 'em in even the smallest apartment.
3) They offer some of the advantages of barbells - range of motion, complex lifts targeting multiple muscles and muscle groups with the same exercise, balance.
4) Here's a Stumpalicious routine designed for 'em! She gets that not everyone has access to a power rack three days a week.

Once you're well on your way with dumbbells 3xWeek, you can supplement with cable exercises for specific needs (and you'll get enough experience to figure out what those are after a few months.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:07 PM on January 30, 2014

There's good advice on for planning a basic routine; lets you choose individual exercises.

Re lower-body exercises with an ankle injury: these just worked for me, get a PT's ok for yourself, or let him/her plan your program, we're all different. I couldn't do even bodyweight squats, deadlifts, lunges, any of the usual suspects, and the cable machine helped a lot.

I did leg/thigh raises -- to the front, side, back -- with the band above the knee. When the bad foot hurt too much to use it as a standing leg, kneeling worked well enough.

For glutes/hams, bridges and hip thrusts are great, even unweighted. If you can't put pressure through your bad foot, you can rest your calves on a bench or ball (stop with pain). Can also try glute-ham raises and reverse hyper-extensions.

Good luck :)
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:18 PM on January 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

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