Centr strength trainers Luke Zocchi and Jess Kilts use an Inspire SF3 Functional Trainer.
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Centr Team

Cable Builder: your 9-week cable machine strength program

Centr Team

From the garage to the gym, max your muscles the efficient way with Cable Builder – the 9-week cable machine workout program.

Cable Builder is available now in the Programs section for Centr members.

Over 3 progressive phases, Chris Hemsworth’s personal trainer Luke Zocchi and competitive powerlifter Jess Kilts will show you how to build strength with no barbells or dumbbells in sight.

“Cable machines are highly effective at building strength, muscle mass and improving overall fitness,” says Jess. “We designed this program using the Centr 3 functional trainer (formerly known as the Inspire SF3), but you can use any cable machine with a Smith bar and the right attachments.”

With this dynamic duo behind you, you’ll learn how to get the most out of your machine and your muscles.

Ready? Let’s build…

Jess Kilts, Centr's strength trainer, performs a front raise with a Centr 3 functional trainer.
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Jess will show you how to get the most out of your cable machine.

How does the Cable Builder program work?

Get set to make the ultimate mind-muscle-machine connection and layer up real results in 9 weeks.

  • Train at home or the gym using only your Centr 3 (formerly known as the Inspire SF3) or similar cable machine with Smith Bar – no free weights required.
  • Three progressive 3-week phases, with exercises that get tougher as you get stronger.
  • 5 self-guided workouts a week, repeating within each phase to nail the form and layer up results.
  • Efficient 35-minute workouts.
  • Body-part splits to work your chest, back, legs, shoulders and arms.
  • Exercise tutorials to perfect your form.
  • Warm-up and cool-down included in each workout.
  • Suitable for Intermediate and Advanced level. If you’re a cable training beginner, start with Luke and Jess’s Cable Strength workouts (which can also be done on a Centr 3).

“You’ll notice these workouts are shorter than the usual muscle-building session, with sharp 30-second rest breaks,” says Jess.

“We’ve created a program focused on compound exercises – with some complementary isolation exercises – that will allow you to get a full-body workout, keep your heart rate up and burn fat… all in less time and on one machine. What’s not to like?”

What equipment do I need?

Whether you’re training at home or in the gym, you will need access to a cable machine with specific attachments to complete Cable Builder. Suitable machines include:

Alternatively, you can use any cable machine that includes a Smith bar (or access to a separate Smith bar) and has access to the following attachments:

  • EZ curl bar

  • Multi-function belt

  • Straight bar

Chris Hemsworth's personal trainer Luke Zocchi uses a bar attachment for his Centr 3 functional trainer.
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Important: You must have access to these attachments to complete the program.

What results will I get from these cable machine workouts?

“If you work out consistently, you can definitely build similar muscle mass using a cable machine as you would using free weights,” says Jess.

“Cable machines provide a constant resistance through the full range of motion. This allows for a greater variety of exercises and angles, making machines perfect for targeting specific muscle groups more effectively.”

Over 9 weeks of Cable Builder you will:

  • Build muscle mass and strength.
  • Improve overall fitness.
  • Streamline your strength training for convenience and efficiency.
  • Learn how to get the most out of your Centr 3 or similar functional trainer.

What do I need to know about weights and tempo?

Training volume, workout intensity and progressive overload are all key principles of building muscle, so you’ll need to pay special attention to your weight selection, exercise tempo and increasing resistance throughout the program.

“Doing a bicep curl with a 20lb dumbbell in your hand will feel very different to curling the same weight on a cable machine,” Jess explains. “So if you’re more experienced with free weights, it’s best to go by how hard the exercises ‘feel’ when you’re selecting weight.”

Choosing your weight
Starting weight will be different for every individual. We recommend opting for a weight that is 70-80 percent of your maximum capacity – making sure the last few reps are a challenge.

If you’re not sure what your capacity is, use the tutorials as a practice run. For instance, set a weight then do a chest press for 8 reps: if you make it through the reps easily with good form, you should increase the weight. If it’s a struggle, drop the weight back.

The great thing about training with cable machines is that you can adjust your weights on the fly.

Tip: “If reps are on the lower side, go heavier on the weight – it should feel hard!” Jess says. “If the reps are higher, go a little lighter so you can last the duration of the exercise and generate a true sense of fatigue.”

Luke Zocchi and Jess Kilts, Centr's muscle-building experts, stand side by side.
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Double the trainers, double the strength-building, right?

Increasing your weight
To continue adding muscle mass, you will need to progressively increase resistance throughout the program.

Each week, try adding an extra weight plate on top of the weight you used the week prior. If you find you can only get through a few reps at this extra weight, do them, then drop your weight back down to last week’s range to complete the set.

Tracking your weight
Keep an eye on your progress by tracking your weights using the Weights Tracker function on your workout screen.

  • Click the notepad icon at the bottom of your screen.

  • Tap ‘Add Log’ to enter your weights and reps.

  • Numbers will default to the last weight you logged and the amount of reps (if any) specified in the workout.

Finding your tempo
Fine-tuning the intensity of your training and the time your muscles spend under tension can make a big difference to your results.

Luke recommends a 3-0-1-0 tempo:

  • 3 seconds for the eccentric (downward) movement

  • No pause

  • 1 second for concentric (upward) movement

  • Restart without pause

For example, during a bicep curl, drive your fist up to your shoulder in 1 second, then lower it back down to your hips at a count of 3, 2, 1.

Should I do this program or Centr Power?

Cable Builder is specifically designed to build muscle using only your Centr 3 (Inspire SF3) functional trainer or a similar cable machine – no free weights required. Luke and Jess will help you get the most out of your machine and your muscles.

Centr Power is the definitive muscle-building program designed to maximize muscle, strength and size. You can select the In Gym program using a mix of free weights and machines, or the At Home program using free weights and resistance bands.

What should I do on my rest days?

You’ll be doing 5 workouts a week with Cable Builder, with two days for rest. “Don’t think of them as rest days,” Jess says. “Think of them as growth days.

“Strenuous strength workouts cause muscle breakdown, while rest allows our bodies to build it back up again,” she says.

Jess suggests you make the most of your growth days with the following tips:

  1. Keep moving with active recovery. “I love to incorporate foam rolling or taking a long walk. You can also select a stretching session from Explore."
  2. Nurture sore muscles. “Take a hot bath or – my favorite – get a massage.”
  3. Get plenty of good-quality sleep. If you’re struggling, here are 10 science-backed fixes for common sleep problems.
  4. Fuel your recovery. “Stay hydrated, replenish yourself and keep up your protein intake.” You’ll find more nutrition advice below.

Do I need to adjust my nutrition to get results?

“Your nutrition approach to building muscle is the same whether you're lifting free weights or hitting the cable machine,” says Luke.

Centr trainer Luke Zocchi eats a salad from the Build Muscle Nutrition Guide.
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The Build Muscle nutrition guide has everything you need to maximize your gains.

You’ll need to ensure you’re getting adequate calories and protein and timing your nutrition intake to maximize your results during the program.

  • Ensure your Goal is set to Build Muscle in Settings, then follow meal plan in your Planner – this has been personalized for your goal and sex.
  • Find expert advice and tips on timing in the Build Muscle nutrition guide.

What should I do after completing Cable Builder?

Cable Builder does not include a dedicated deload week. If you want to keep building muscle, Luke recommends taking at least one week off from heavy lifting.

“Take some time to rest and give your body a break. Go into your Planner and pick a circuit or functional workout to get mobile and sweaty,” he says. “If you really want to continue strength training during your break, do it at a reduced load.”

After completing Cable Builder and taking a deload week, you can maintain your muscle mass or keep building by:

  • Repeating Cable Builder using heavier resistance.

  • Doing Luke and Jess’s Cable Force workouts (also designed using the Centr 3 and similar Smith bar machines).

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