How to Use a D-handle

Lifter using D-handles on cable machine

It’s small, inexpensive, lightweight, and can completely blast your upper body. Talk about bang for your buck: The D-handle cable attachment is easily one of the most versatile attachments out there.  

Here’s a closer look at this functional trainer must-have. 

What is a D-handle?  

Lifter using D-handles on cable machine

It looks like its name: A D-handle is a D-shaped handle attachment you hook onto a cable via a carabiner. It adds a ton of exercise options to your functional trainer or cable machine. 

REP’s D-handles are made from high-quality, long-lasting materials. Weighing between 0.5lbs to 3.4lbs (depending on the style), D-handles are lightweight and easy to store, move, or attach wherever you need them. 

What are the Different Kinds of D-handles? 

REP offers three different kinds of D-handles: steel, neoprene, and Pro Series. They have different features, materials, and diameters, so you can pick the perfect one for your needs or get them all to add variety to your workouts.  

Steel D-handle 

Steel D-handles

This D-handle has medium-depth knurling, enough to provide grip assistance during your exercises but not too much to beat your hands up during high-volume training. This option has a 32mm diameter. The steel D-handle has the longest nylon strap, at 10.3” long. You can order these as a pair or individually. These provide the knurled, steel feel but with a little more comfort due to the straps.  

Neoprene D-handle 

Neoprene D-handle

This is the only D-handle option with no knurling. This can be nice to give your palms a break if they’re all knurled out. The neoprene option is the thickest, with a 34mm diameter. This handle is connected to a 9.5” nylon strap for a more comfortable feel. These come in a pair or as a single. Between the no knurling, neoprene material, and nylon strap, these are the comfy option.  

Pro Series D-handle 

Pro Series D-handleThis D-handle also has knurling – not too aggressive, not too light, total Goldilocks. It has the thinnest diameter, at just 25mm, which is a good fit for people with smaller hands. These are made entirely of steel and don’t have nylon straps. The Pro Series handles are sold individually. With no straps, these are a solid, tough option.  

What exercises can you do with a D-handle? 

Single-arm tricep pushdown with a D-handle

Depending on how you attach and use them, D-handles allow you to work your chest, arms, back, shoulders, and more.  

You can use a single D-handle for unilateral upper body exercises. Unilateral work can help correct muscle imbalances and allow you to train both sides of the body equally, without overcompensating with (or overtraining) your dominant side. This can help prevent injuries and also help you rehab after an injury or setback. It’s also useful for bodybuilders looking to build a balanced and symmetrical physique. 

You can also put two D-handles on the same carabiner to use both arms together, similar to a Triangle Row attachment. You see this a lot for close, neutral-grip lat pulldowns and seated rows.  

You can also attach two D-handles – each on its own cable – to work both sides of your body at the same time, yet independently. This is great for exercises like cable chest flies, presses, and rear delt flies.  

Here are just a few of the many exercises to try with a D-handle. 

  • Single-arm tricep pushdowns 
  • Single-arm rows 
  • Single-arm bicep curls 
  • Cable flies 
  • Side raises 
  • Front raises 
  • Single-arm presses 
  • Single arm lat pulldown 
  • Internal/external shoulder rotations 

Bottom line: The D-handle is incredibly useful – definitely one of the most versatile cable attachments out there.