There’s a lot of strange equipment in any gym, from the many types of barbells to single-task items like the ab wheel and bicep blaster. But, by far, the biggest treasure trove of “wtf?” is the bucket or rack near the cable machines. There are handles and attachments of all sorts. What are they even for?
The rope with a clip in the middle and rubber nubs on the end
What it’s called: Rope handle, tricep rope
Commonly used for: Tricep pushdowns, where you hold the ends near the nubs and attach the clip to a cable above your head. Here’s a demo:
The little v-shaped bar
What it’s called: V-shaped pushdown handle, tricep pushdown handle
Commonly used for: Tricep pushdowns, same idea as the rope handle.
The two handles parallel to each other
What it’s called: Triangle row attachment, double handle attachment, narrow grip attachment
Commonly used for: Seated rows, where the cable is around the level of your waist and you’re pulling it toward you with feet braced. Here’s a demo:
The medium sized straight bar with a clip in the middle
What it’s called: Straight bar
Commonly used for: Just about anything that the other attachments can do, including tricep pushdowns, tricep extensions, curls, and seated rows.
The medium sized straight bar with a clip on one end
What it’s called: Swivel bar, or straight bar
Commonly used for: Movements where you’re mimicking the motion of something like an axe or a sport-specific motion. Here’s a demo of a few ways to use it:
The long bar with bent ends
What it’s called: Lat pulldown bar
Commonly used for: Lat pulldowns, where you anchor your knees under a pad and pull the bar down to your chest. Usually you grip the angled ends of the bar, but there are also neutral-grip bars with handles at both ends of the bar to allow you to turn your palms to face each other. Here’s a demo:
The long straight bar with clips at both ends
What it’s called: Double swivel bar
Commonly used for: Barbell-like exercises like squats and deadlifts, if you attach both clips to cable machines. These are meant to be used on a machine that has two cable columns parallel to each other.
What it’s called: Ankle cuff, ankle strap
Commonly used for: Attaching the cable to your ankle for moves where you swing or push your leg against resistance. Here’s a demo:
The square handle
What it’s called: D-handle, single handle
Commonly used for: Moves where you’re holding the cable with just one hand, like a one handed bicep curl. You would use two of these to do certain moves that require two cables, like cable crossovers.
The wiggly bar
What it’s called: EZ curl bar
Commonly used for: Bicep curls, where you attach the bar to a cable below waist level. The wiggles allow a more comfortable wrist position than a straight bar.