Functional Trainer Exercise List: Cable Movements

A functional trainer is a big and expensive piece of equipment. But which exercises can you actually use it for? Can you do full-body exercises or just isolate muscles on a functional trainer? Let’s find out.

A functional trainer can be used to work out almost all muscles in the body. The amount of functional trainer exercises is almost limitless since you can vary; pulley height, body position, and cable attachment. Functional trainer exercises use the whole body if performed standing on your feet.

Below you can find a list of some of the best exercises on a functional trainer for each body part.

Functional Trainer Exercise List

Below you can find a list of the best exercises on a functional trainer that focus on a specific body part. Performing these exercises on your feet will involve your whole body but the main driver of the exercise will still be targeted the most.

Suggested: Which muscles can a functional trainer work?

This is by no means an exhaustive list. A functional trainer allows you to change so many variables that it would be impossible to list all variations. The biggest variables you can change are; pulley height, body position, and cable attachment. However, in the list below, you can find all the popular exercises that are commonly performed on cable machines and some less popular ones.

Click the link on the name of the exercise to find a YouTube video showing exactly how to do it.

Biceps Cable Exercises

A woman doing cable curls on a cable machine.

Here are all the cable exercises you need for a grueling bicep cable workout.

Exercise# of PulleysBest Attachment
Standing curls1 or 2EZ bar, straight bar, D handles
Cable preacher curl1Ez bar, straight bar, D handles
Cable hammer curl1Tricep rope, Single grip tricep rope
Incline bench cable curl2D handles
Overhead cable curl2D handles
Reverse EZ bar curl2EZ bar

Triceps Movements

A woman doing cable triceps extensions on a cable machine.

The back of the arms often don’t get as much love as the biceps. Here are the best cable movements to take care of your triceps and give them as much attention as they deserve.

Exercise# of PulleysBest Attachment
Triceps pushdown1Triceps rope, straight bar
Cable overhead extension1Triceps rope, straight bar
Horizontal tricep extension1D handle
High pulley overhead extensions1Triceps rope
Triceps kickback1Single grip triceps rope, D handles
Reverse tricep pushdown1Straight bar

Core Exercises

A man doing hanging leg raises on a functional trainer.

Looking for core stability, strength, athleticism and maybe even 6-pack abs? These cable core movements will you on your way.

Exercise# of PulleysBest AttachmentMain Target
Kneeling Cable Crunch1Triceps ropeRectus Abdominis (upper part focus)
Hanging leg raise0Pull up barRectus Abdominis (lower part focus)
Standing Cable Pallof Press1D handleObliques
Standing cable crunch1Triceps ropeRectus Abdominis (upper focus)
Kneeling Oblique Cable Twists1Triceps ropeObliques
Reverse cable crunch1StrapRectus Abdominis (lower part focus)
Plank cable row1D handleTransversus Abdominus
Wood chop1D handleTransverse abdominis, obliques

Legs Building Cable Movements

A woman doing the cable kickback on a cable machine.

Leg day is painful but necessary if you don’t want chicken legs. These cable leg exercises won’t make leg day any easier but they are effective.

Exercise# of PulleysBest AttachmentMain Target
Cable squat2Cable barbell, D handlesQuads, Glutes, Hams
Cable lunges1D handlesQuads, Glutes, Hams
Ankle strap front/back/side lunge1Ankle strapQuads, Glutes, Hams, Adductors, Abductors
Single leg squat2D handlesQuads, Glutes, Hams
Hamstring Cable Curl1Ankle strapHamstrings
Calf raise2Cable barbell, D handlesCalves
Donkey kickback1 or 2Cable barbell, D handles, ankle strapGlutes
Pull Through1Triceps ropeGlutes, Hamstrings

Functional Trainer Back Exercises

A man doing biceps curls on a functional trainer.

These are all the movements you need for a stronger, bigger back. A strong back is great for looks as well as spine health and overall strength.

Exercise# of PulleysBest AttachmentMain Target
Lat pulldown1 or 2Straight/bent barLatissimus dorsi
Standing row1 or 2Straight bar/ D handlesLats, rhomboids, trapezius, biceps
Seated row1 or 2Straight bar/ D handlesLats, rhomboids, trapezius, biceps
Single arm row2D handleLats, rhomboids, trapezius, biceps
Straight arm pushdown1 or 2Straight barLats, Upper back, Rear deltoid, Triceps, Chest, Core
Reverse cable fly2D handleRear deltoid, Trapezius, Rotator cuff
Face pull1Triceps ropeRear deltoids, trapezius, rotator cuff, traps

Cable Crossover Chest Movements

a muscular man doing the cable crossover on a functional trainer.

The pecs can be hit from a lot of different angles. The list below gives you plenty of options and variations.

Exercise# of PulleysBest Attachment
Cable crossover2D handles
Cable fly2D handles
Low cable fly2D handles
Unilateral cable press1D handles
Bench cable press2Cable barbell, D handles
Incline cable press2Cable barbell, D handles
Cable iron cross2D handles

Shoulder Cable Exercises

A man doing the lateral raise with cables.

To get that coveted V-taper, you have to build wide shoulders. The movements below are all the cable movements you’re going to need.

Exercise# of PulleysBest Attachment
Lateral raise2D handles
Front Delt Raise2D handles
Rear delt fly2D handles
Leaning Single-Arm Lateral Raises1D handles
Shoulder press2D handles
Upright row1Straight bar
Rear delt crossover2D handles
Cable shrug2D handles

Click here to find the 5 cable attachments you need for a full-body workout

Can a Functional Trainer Provide a Full Body Workout?

The cool thing about a functional trainer being called ‘functional’ is that it makes you work out while you’re standing up. So, when your arms are doing something, your whole body has to join in to make the movement possible because the only way to stay steady is by using all your muscles.

This way of exercising means you integrate the increased strength of the targeted muscle into your whole body, not just making one muscle stronger. So in that way, working out on a functional trainer is always full-body to some degree.

But aside from that, it’s possible to work out every muscle in the body by using a cable crossover machine. The height-adjustable pulleys and all the different attachments mean you can do a ton of different exercises for pretty much every muscle in your body, you can see the evidence in the list above.

Suggested: How much does a functional trainer cost?

Man working out on a functional trainer
Man using a functional trainer

Best Cable Machine Accessories

Make your cable trainer experience even better with these accessories.

  • PlateMate: One or two platemates (Amazon link) can help you increase the weight more gradually on your weight stack. Just stick them onto your weight stack.

Find the most complete functional trainer that includes most of these accessories by clicking here.


Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to After working out in many different gyms for almost 20 years and helping people build their own home gyms, i've learned a few things i'd like to share with you.

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