3 Cable Glute Workouts For Mass (Complete Guide)

Cable machines are an essential tool for training glutes, especially if your goal is muscle mass. 

In fact, without using cables, your glute progress will not be as significant compared with only training glutes using dumbbells and barbells.  

This is because when you train glutes for mass, you want constant tension on your muscles throughout the entire range of motion, which cable machines offer, while other pieces of equipment don’t.  

Here are my top 5 cable glute exercises for mass: 

  • Cable Pull Through
  • Cable Zercher Squat
  • Cable Stiff-Legged Deadlift
  • Cable Belt Squat
  • Cable Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

Later in this article, I’ll provide 3 workouts that you can do using these exercises.  

I’ll also cover: 

  • Why glute cable workouts are effective for building mass
  • Details on why these exercises are better for your glutes than others 
  • Tips on making the most out of cable exercises for glutes

Let’s get started!

Are Glute Cable Workouts Effective For Building Mass?

Glute cable exercises are effective for building muscle mass:

  • Cables provide consistent tension throughout the range of motion
  • Cables offer a better stimulus for glutes in common exercises
  • Cables exercises can be safer than free weights
  • Cables exercises can target all three portions of the glute: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus

Cables Provide Consistent Tension Throughout the Range of Motion

Using cable variations for common glute exercises can be better for the glutes because the advantage that cables have is that it gives consistent tension throughout the range of motion. 

The problem with free weights in exercises such as the barbell deadlift is that the demand on the glutes doesn’t exist throughout the entire range of motion.  You’ll feel your glutes at or near lockout in the deadlift, but not in other areas of the range of motion.  

With cables, you can strictly isolate and focus on the glutes in each range of the movement. 

Cables Offer a Better Stimulus for Glutes in Common Exercises

The other quality of using cables for glute exercises is that as you change the direction of the resistance, you can increase the demand on how much the glutes need to work harder in some variations.

For example, during deadlift or hip hinging type movements, there is a horizontal direction of pull from the cables which forces you to lean forward. This is when your glutes have to work harder to thrust your hips through and keep your torso back.

If you perform a deadlift with a dumbbell or barbell, you will not need much effort when you are holding it at the top. Whereas with a cable machine, at the top of the deadlift, the cable is trying to pull you forward. So the glutes have to work harder to keep you upright.

Cables Exercises Can Be Safer than Free Weights

Using cable exercises for glutes means that you can probably push yourself closer to muscular failure safely. If you ever need to suddenly let go of the resistance during cable exercises, you can let go and the weight stack will just return, whereas dropping dumbbells may be more hazardous to drop.

Being able to push harder to muscular failure means that you can train the muscles harder if you are performing the same amount of sets.

Training to muscular fatigue has been shown to be one of the main drivers of hypertrophy (muscle growth).  

Cables Exercises Can Target the Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, and Gluteus Minimus

Cable exercises can be used on double and single leg glute exercises, which is useful as this means it can challenge all of the different glute muscles located around the hips.

Two leg hinge exercises can target the gluteus maximus. Single leg and squatting type exercises can target the gluteus medius and minimus.

This means that on a single piece of equipment, you can target all three areas of the glute, which may or may not be possible with other gym equipment.

5 Best Cable Glute Exercises

Cable Pull Through

The Cable Pull Through exercise is one of the most common cable exercises for the glutes, but also one that is not performed correctly by many in order to maximize the tension on the glutes. It primarily targets the largest glute muscle, which is the gluteus maximus.

If not performed correctly, you may inadvertently feel the tension more in your hamstring or lower back, so it is important to pay attention to posture when performing this one.

How To Do It

  • Set the cable to start from the bottom of the machine or near the bottom of the machine.
  • Stand far away from the machine so that there is always constant tension on the cable throughout the motion.
  • Stand facing away from the cable handle, stand with your feet pointing forward and shoulder widths apart.
  • Use a rope cable handle or a single hand cable handle for holding onto and keep the handle between your legs.
  • If you use the rope cable handle, then hold it in a way where your thumbs point forward and away from you. If you use a single-hand cable handle, then use an overhand grip.
  • Whilst keeping your shins vertical and a soft bend in the knees, bend the hips back towards the cable column.
  • When your back reaches parallel, push your hips through until your hips are fully extended and you are stood upright.

Pro Tip

  • It is important that you keep your back as flat as possible so you do not overarch or round your lower back. Rounding or arching your lower back may take tension away from your glutes.
  • Keep your feet flat on the ground with your center of gravity evenly spread across your foot or slightly on your heels.

Cable Zercher Squat

The cable machine version of the Zercher squat is a much easier exercise to perform compared with the barbell variation. In addition the cable Zercher squat can have a slightly different pull on the glutes compared to the regular barbell Zercher squat.

The cable Zercher squat is particularly good for people who tend to overextend their backs when they perform lower body movements as it makes it easier for them to maintain better posture. This is important to leverage the glutes in lower body movements.

How To Do It

  • Set the cable to start from the bottom of the cable column
  • Use a short and straight bar cable handle as the attachment
  • Stand about a foot away from the bottom of the cable column.
  • Set the bar handle onto the crooks of your elbows and keep your feet shoulder widths apart or wider. You can hold your hands together or keep them a little bit apart.
  • Engage your abs and keep your back flat and perform the squatting movement.

Pro Tip

  • If it becomes a little uncomfortable on the elbows, you can always wear a sweater to soften the contact with the elbows and the bar handle.
  • In order to stay balanced, you may want to constantly lean back slightly to counter against the load.

Cable Stiff-Legged Deadlift

This variation of the stiff-legged deadlift may be slightly more demanding on the posterior muscles including the glutes than doing the barbell version. This is due to the forward direction that the cable is pulling you towards.

With the cable machine version, the cable is pulling you forward and downwards, whereas the dumbbell or barbell version is only pulling you downwards.

This exercise is particularly good for people who struggle to keep their foot balance and pressure onto their heels. It works by making you shift more weight onto the heels as the cable wants to pull you more forward onto your forefoot.

How To Do It

  • Set the cable to start from the bottom of the cable column
  • Use a straight bar cable handle. If you do not have one, you can use a pair of single hand cable handles or a rope handle.
  • Stand with your feet hip widths apart facing the cable column
  • Stand about 1 to 2 feet away from the cable column or far enough so that the cable is always taut throughout the range of motion
  • Keeping a soft bend in your knee and your back flat and horizontal, push your hips through and extend until you stand upright. Then return back down.

Pro Tip

  • Try to cue pushing your hips backwards in space and maintain the pressure more on your heels, but with your feet flat. Avoid bowing forward in a way that rounds your lower back.

Cable Belt Squat

Cable belt squats are a great way to target the glutes in a loaded squatting exercise without loading your shoulders or your mid back. Cable belt squats can be performed on a dedicated belt squat machine or with a cable column.

This exercise variation is great if you want to avoid any upper or mid back loading. This might be the case because the upper or mid back is fatigued from other workouts throughout the week, or you are currently experiencing a back injury.  

How To Do It

  • Set the cable to start from the bottom of the cable column
  • Use a dipping/pull up belt or a belt squat specific belt to attach around your lower back and hip area
  • Stand far enough that you get constant tension throughout the range of motion but not so much that it pulls you horizontally forward

Pro Tip

  • If you are a shorter person, you may find that you cannot get much range of motion on this exercise. The best thing to do is to use a pair of boxes or exercise steps to elevate your height to get full range of motion. 
  • Avoid using too heavy of a load or going too close to failure in case you struggle to get yourself out of position.

The cable belt squat was rated as one of my top belt squat alternative exercises.  

Cable Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

The cable single-leg Romanian deadlift is a great way to target your glute muscles one leg at a time, which is a benefit if you have any imbalances between the right and left side. In addition, performing this exercise will challenge your gluteus medius to a greater extent (upper side portion of the glute) to help stabilize the hip.

Many people may find that the cable single-leg Romanian deadlift engages the glutes better than the free weight version because the cable variation provides tension at the top. The free weight variation provides very little resistance at the top but increases as you go down.

How To Do It

  • Set the cable to start from the bottom of the cable column
  • Use a single hand cable handle to attach to the cable machine
  • Stand about 2 feet away from the cable machine or a distance that allows you to get constant tension on the cable throughout the range of motion
  • Hold the cable handle in the hand that is opposite to the leg that is on the floor
  • Keeping your shin vertical with a bent knee, hinge through that hip and kick the opposite leg back in the air behind you, and allow the cable to pull your arm back to the bottom of the cable column.

Pro Tip

  • It is very important that you do not rotate your hips outwards to the side. Think about keeping the front of the hip on the side of the leg that is in the air, as close to the ground as possible. The foot of the leg that is in the air should point towards the ground.

3 Muscle-Building Glute Cable Workouts

Cable Glute Workout #1 – Beginner 

  • Warm-Up
  • Clamshells – 2 sets 15 reps
  • Glute Bridges – 2 sets 12 reps
  • Cable Pull Through – 2 sets 10 reps
  • Cable Zercher Squat – 2 sets 10 reps

Cable Glute Workout #2 – Intermediate 

  • Warm-Up
  • Cable Stiff-Legged Deadlift – 3 sets 12 reps
  • Cable Zercher Squat – 3 sets 12 reps
  • Cable Pull Through – 3 sets 15 reps

Cable Glute Workout #3 – Advanced 

  • Warm-Up
  • Cable Belt Squat – 3 sets 8 reps
  • Cable Zercher Squat – 2 sets 12 reps
  • Cable Stiff-Legged Deadlift – 3 sets 8 reps
  • Cable Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift – 2 sets 12 reps

4 Tips For Using Cables To Grow Your Glutes

Here are 4 tips to making the most out of cable machine exercises for glute mass:

  • Have a slow eccentric and a fast concentric
  • Increase sets over time
  • Use full range of motion
  • Use shorter rest periods

Have a Slow Eccentric and a Fast Concentric

Using a slow eccentric portion and a fast concentric portion of the repetitions means moving quickly when your muscles contract and having a longer time under tension when the muscles lengthen.

In other words, go slow on the way down, and fast on the way up.  

As a rule of thumb, spend 4 seconds on the eccentric phase and spend 1 second on the concentric phase for most cable exercises. 

Research shows that having a long eccentric and short concentric is superior for muscle mass.  

Interested in learning more about eccentric training, check out our guides: 

Increase Sets over Time

The glutes are a muscle group that can tolerate a lot of work since they are one of the biggest muscle groups in the body. You will need to progressively overload the amount of stress you place on the glutes over time in order to keep the muscle growing. One good way you can do this is to increase the total number of sets over time. 

A good protocol you can use is to increase total weekly sets by 1 for four weeks straight and then deloading back to the original number of sets you did on week 1..

Use Full Range of Motion

Cable exercises allow you to perform glute exercises using a full range of motion compared with some free weight exercises. . For example, the range of motion for a stiff legged deadlift will stop when the weight plates reaches the floor, but performing this same movement with a cable handle will allow you to go deeper.

Using a longer range of motion has been shown to be superior for strength and muscle mass gains in research.

Use Shorter Rest Periods and Higher Reps

Some cable machines may not have a large stack of weights and that means that in order to get a strong stimulus on the muscle fibres, you should use highers reps to activate muscle fibres that are mostly responsible for your strength and size gains (8+ reps).

You may also find that using shorter rest periods to be beneficial as not allowing yourself to fully recover and rest means that you can reach muscle fatigue a lot sooner in subsequent repetitions (90 sec rest or less).

Other Glute Training Resources


About The Author: Norman Cheung ASCC, British Powerlifting Team Coach

Norman Cheung

Norman Cheung is a powerlifting coach and an accredited strength and conditioning coach under the UKSCA. He has been coaching powerlifting since 2012 and has been an IPF Team GB coach since 2016. He has experience with coaching a variety of lifters from novices to international medallists and international university teams. Along side coaching, he takes interest in helping powerlifters take their first step into coaching. He currently runs his coaching services at strongambitionscoaching.com