Normally we wouldn’t sanction the idea of playing one side against the other, but when it comes to this unique workout that tackles each side of the body separately, that’s exactly what we want you to do. With the help of one versatile piece of equipment, this routine will guide you to that upper-body makeover you’ve been looking for, in as little as four to six weeks.
“It’s important to incorporate cable exercises into your regular workouts because they vary angles and direction, reaching muscles and improving movement in ways that other machines and free weights can’t,” notes Jennifer Ettinger, fitness and lifestyle expert, and ambassador for New Balance Canada and Vitamix. “From pushing and pulling, to lifting things over our heads, the muscles are activated in a functional motion.” Focusing on one side of the body at a time gives you an in-depth, focused routine, which ultimately leads to a total body transformation. “Left-to-right asymmetries seem to be the most common problem associated with the risk of injury,” Ettinger notes. “This workout will aid in balancing the muscles by working each side independently.” Aim for three sets of 12 reps for each exercise using a weight that will get you to the end of each set with no issues. Finally, to up the ante, you’ll burn out with a set of dips to set your upper body on fire.
One-Armed Cable Curl
Stand next to the cable machine, holding a low-set handle in your right hand. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and ensure that you are far enough from the machine to bring tension into the cord, even with your arm extended. Slowly curl the handle up toward your shoulder, until your forearm meets your biceps. Squeeze your arm before returning the handle to the start. Finish your set, then switch sides.
Tip: Keep your elbow steady or you will lessen the effectiveness and shift the focus from your arm to your chest.
One-Armed Cable Lateral Raise
Stand beside the station, pulley set low, with the weight stack closest to your right side. Hold the handle in your left hand and, keeping a small bend in your elbow, raise your arm straight out to the side, moving only from the shoulder. Pause at the top, then slowly reverse to the starting position. When your set is done, repeat on the right side.
Tip: Be sure to prevent your hand from travelling higher than your shoulder.
One-Armed High Cable Curl
Continue standing next to the machine with the handle set to a high pulley. Using an underhand grip, keep your biceps parallel to the ground and your feet shoulder-width apart. Exhale and slowly squeeze your biceps, flexing your elbow until your forearm makes contact with your biceps. Inhale and return your arm and the cable to their starting positions. Complete your reps, then turn around and repeat.
Tip: Keeping your resting hand on your hip during this exercise will make it easier for you to maintain your balance.
One-Armed External Rotation
Set the pulley just below chest level and stand so it is closest to your right side. Hold the handle in your left hand and bend your right arm to 90 degrees, forearm parallel to the ground, elbow touching your side, and hand in front of your body. Pull the handle with your left hand, bringing the cable across your body. Return with control to the start; when your set is complete, switch sides.
Tip: For maximum impact from this move, keep your elbow stable and tight to your side.
One-Armed Cable Pressdown
Stand about an arm’s length away from the cable machine, pulley set high, and hold the handle at chest height with an overhanded grip, arm tucked close to your side. Extend from your elbow, lowering the handle until your arm is almost straight. Exhale and squeeze your triceps as you press, then inhale as you return to the start. Complete all reps, then work your other arm.
Tip: If your shoulders rise during this exercise as you lower the weight, reduce the resistance.
Place both hands on a bench behind you, and bend your knees with your heels planted on the ground. Bend your arms to dip your body until your shoulders are in line with your elbows. Push yourself back up slowly, extending your arms and squeezing your triceps as you move.
Tip: Be wary of dipping too low, as this can cause extra unnecessary strain on your shoulder joints.