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Nothing is as irritating as a frayed or even broken gym machine cable. The weight doesn’t move smoothly and it just feels like things might fall apart. I decided to find out what you can do to fix it.
The best way to fix a gym machine cable is to remove the old one and install a new replacement/DIY cable. Official replacement cables can be difficult to install and are expensive but work the best. If not available, DIY cables are a viable alternative. Repairing the broken cable is not recommended.
Why fixing the broken cable instead of replacing is not a good idea and how you can DIY a cable if an official replacement is hard to find can be found below. You can also find out how to replace the broken or frayed cable.
How To Replace A Gym Machine Cable?
Here’s how to replace a gym machine cable;
- Take note of the cable route
- Remove the old cable
- Run new cable
- Attach the cable to the machine
- Cut cable to length
- Attach cable to eyelet
The best option is to make your own cable to replace the broken or frayed one. More about why that is below.
It’s not actually that difficult to make your own cables. There are a few parts and tools you need.
What do you need?
Here’s what you need to build your own gym machine cables;
- Correct thickness cable (don’t get cheap stuff, it’s dangerous). Thickness is measured in millimeters. Most cables are 3, 4, 5 or 6 mm. Make sure to measure the diameter inside the coating as well.
- Hardware to mount cable to machine. Check out what this looks like on your specific machine. You can take your old cable apart first to check everything you need. Get the same hardware if you can’t reuse the old stuff.
- Little ball to prevent cable from retracting too far
- Eyelet for attachments
You can find a good cable that’s available in different lengths and with different mountings here on Amazon. There is probably and options that fits your situation.
- Wire cutters for cable
Step 1: Take note of cable route
You don’t want to take off the old cable and not know how to put the new one back. Look carefully how the cable is routed. You can take pictures or notes for later reference
Step 2: Remove the old cable
Loosen the cable end that attaches to the machine. This often requires a wrench or other tool. After you’ve detached the cable from the machine, cut it. The hardware likely won’t fit through the pulleys so cutting is the only option to get it out without removing them.
Step 3: Run the new cable
Run the new cable through the pulleys before you attach anything. This way the pulleys can stay in place. Focus on getting the route correctly first. You can cut it to the correct length after you fit it first.
Step 4: Attach to machine
Once the cable is routed, attach the hardware to mount the cable to the machine on the weights side. Then attach the cable to the top of the weight stack.
Step 5: Cut to length
Now pull most of the slack out of the cable. Not all, you want a couple of millimeters of slack before you start moving weight. Also keep in mind that you need some space to attach hardware on the other end.
Step 6: Attach eyelet
Once it’s the correct length, you can attach it to the part of the machine you move or the eyelet for the cable attachments. Done! Don’t forget to put the little ball on before you attach the eyelet. You can’t get it on later.
Still not sure you can do it? Get a professional to do it for you. This will give you piece of mind.
Best repair solution for home gym cables
Cables are one of the parts that wear the fastest of any gym machine that uses them. They are a wear item like the tires on your car. Sometimes they’re just worn out and have to be replaced.
The part that usually wears out is the nylon insulation around the metal core. This part rubs on the pulleys and degrades with use. Once it wears down, it starts fraying and the metal becomes exposed. This can cause the metal core to corrode and lose its strength. That’s why it’s important to fix your gym cables on time.
There are three solutions for this:
- Fixing the cable yourself
- Buying the official replacement cable
- Making your own replacement cable
Cable machines are pretty useless without attachments. Find the top 5 gym cable attachments here.
Repairing your cable
Fixing the cable with tape or anything like that is not a good solution. The repair will not be as strong and create an uneven surface on the cable. That means the repair won’t last long and the machine won’t feel smooth while using it.
Buying a replacement
The option most people will go for is to buy an official replacement cable from the brand that built your machine. This has to be a specific cable because every machine is different.
That means that gym equipment shops usually don’t have the specific cable you need in stock since there are so many different ones, they don’t sell enough of your specific cable to keep them in stock. They have to be ordered from the manufacturer which takes time and they’re also quite expensive.
Another problem is that replacement cables come completely assembled. They have thick and bulky hardware on both ends to attach to the machine on one side and the attachment on the other. This means that on many machines, you have to take off the pulleys the cable runs through to be able to get the old cable out and the new one in. This is a big job and can take a lot of time.
Some replacement cables can easily be assembled and adjusted in length though. The one shown below is a good option that’s easy to mount.
DIY gym cables
The best option for most people will be to build your own replacement cable. Gym equipment shops often have the hardware in stock to do this. DIY gym machine hardware is screwed onto the cable instead of crimped. This means you can run the cable through the pulleys without having to take them off the machine. This saves a lot of work. DIY cables will be cheaper than an official replacement as well.
You might think that they’re not as strong but, often times, the replacement is just as strong as the original. An added benefit is that if you’ve replaced the cable with a DIY version once, it’ll be even cheaper the next time.
Since the hardware on both ends of the DIY cable is removable, you can just reuse it the next time you have to replace the cable. In the long run it’ll be much cheaper.
Tighten a home gym cable
Maybe your cable isn’t worn or broken but just a little loose. Metal cables can stretch a little bit especially when they’re new. If it’s a lot, check if anything went wrong. Maybe the cable slipped a little in the connector. In that case, don’t use the machine until you fix that because the cable could slip completely and cause the weight to fall down.
In most cases the cable will just be stretched a little bit. In that case you can just adjust it.
How to adjust it differs from cable to cable. So it’s difficult to give exact instructions that work for everyone. There are some general pointers that can get you started though;
- A cable can only be adjusted at the ends and obviously not in the middle
- Therefore, look at both ends of the cable if there are any nuts or bolts that hold the cable in place. Some cables will have those at both ends, some only on one end.
- Make sure all the load is taken off the cable. Take attachments off the cable, etc.
- Loosen up the bolts.
- Shorten the cable. If you can just slide it further through a loop, go as far as you think you have to go. Some setups require you to cut the cable. In that case, go little by little until you’re happy. Once it’s too short there is no going back .
- Leave about half an inch of slack in the cable. In other words, make sure there is a bit of wiggle room between the pulley and little ball. If it’s too tight you wear the little ball quickly and there is a chance you can’t get the selector pin into the plate.
- Once it’s at the correct length, tighten up the bolts.
How can you make your gym machine cables last longer?
There are a few things that most often go wrong on a gym cable:
- The nylon coating starts fraying
- The attachment hardware on the ends comes off
You can make the nylon coating last longer by taking care of a few things.
- Make sure the cable doesn’t touch anything (except the pulleys). A cable in a gym machine is not supposed to rub on anything and if it does, something is wrong.
- Make sure the cable runs through all the pulleys. Having a cable run off a pulley is a surefire way to destroy it very quickly.
- Keep the pulleys spinning smoothly. It’s not necessary to lube the cables but the pulleys should spin freely to reduce friction.
The attachment hardware on original cables is crimped on with a special machine most of the time. That means that once it comes off, it’s not possible to put it back on by yourself. Another reason why DIY cables are better. If this will happen is mostly up to the construction quality of the cable but there are a few things you can do:
- Keep the machine running smoothly. If something is stuck, don’t force it, since that’s likely to damage the cable.
- Check the attachment hardware once in a while. If you see something wrong like the cable moved in the hardware, you can fix it before it breaks while doing exercise.
Which thickness cable does my gym machine use? Different machines use different thickness cables. To find out which one yours uses, you can do a few things.
- Read the owner’s manual
- Contact the manufacturer
- Ask a professional
Don’t use a different cable since it might not be strong enough or too thick for the pulleys.
Can you make the cable on a gym machine tighter? If it’s the original cable, there’s nothing you can do. With DIY cables you could take off a little piece from one end and remount the hardware. If there’s a lot of slack in a gym machine cable it could be a sign of a defect. Check your machine carefully if this is the case.
Is making your own gym machine cables safe? Yes, if you get good quality materials and everything is attached as it should, the DIY cables are just as strong as the original. If you’re not sure about your skills or the materials you got, ask the help of a professional.
Many people often forget a few important pieces of their home gym that isn’t directly gym equipment. Here are my favorite home gym tools.
- Interval timer: To time your intervals and all types of other workouts, the GymNext Flex is easily the best and easiest to use.
- Mirrors: Fab & Glass (Amazon link) makes the best large mirror sheets so you can see your exercise form.
- Flooring: American Floor Mats gym flooring (Amazon) or equipment mats make your gym quieter, easier to clean and keeps your floor and equipment safe.
- Fan: The Rowenta VU5670 (Amazon) is a great way to stay cool while working out.