Core Corner – Overhead Cable/Tubing Elbow Extension

By Elizabeth Towe


Objective: Core stabilization. This is an excellent example of how a common exercise can be adjusted to focus on stabilizing the body and thereby become a “core” exercise to support the spine and enable more drive from the hips.

  1. Stand with your back to a cable column machine (or tubing anchored high in a door) with the pulley six to eight inches overhead and a light weight selected. Feet are shoulder-width apart.
  2. Holding the handles in your hands overhead, maintain a straight vertical line with your body and lean backward from the ankles until just before you reach the point where you will fall backward if you do not step back.
  3. At this point, strongly engage the muscles of the core (draw the belly button toward the spine), the inside of the thighs and the front of the hips to prevent you from falling backward. There will be a strong tendency to lean or bend forward. Avoid doing so and instead use the above muscles to stay erect. It takes a little practice to find this position, but this is the key to the exercise.  
  4. Holding this body position, perform 12 to 15 reps of an elbow extension (triceps extension). Be sure to anchor the shoulder blades and relax the upper traps to perform this movement. Complete two to three sets in combination with your regular strength workout. 

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Elizabeth Towe is a runner and a cyclist and the owner of Balanced Movement Studio in Carrboro. She graduated from East Carolina with a degree in exercise and sports science and has been personal training for more than 20 years. Her ultimate goal for all of her clients is to help them realize and achieve the optimal quality in their life – and to remember to have fun doing it.