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10 Best Cable Back Exercises For A Bigger And More Defined Back

Do you want a big, attention-grabbing upper body that can be seen even underneath a normal T-shirt? You must concentrate on developing a huge back. A bicep curl isn’t going to help your physique, athleticism, or power more than pounding the side of your upper body that you can’t see in the mirror, this is where cable back exercises excel.

Back workouts might be neglected by gym-goers in favor of the more apparent ‘mirror’ muscles. Back exercises, on the other hand, not only add to your overall muscle mass, but also offer a slew of additional advantages.

Back training has been found to guard against and aid in the rehabilitation of low back discomfort. The particular advantages of strength training for women with back pain have been demonstrated in studies.

Free weights are often chosen by resistance trainees since they are the most popular form of resistance training.

Free weights are without a doubt one of the most effective ways to build serious muscle. Because they’re “free” and not on a track (like so many machines), your secondary muscles must work to keep the weights stable and balanced while you lift.

Not all exercise machines, however, are made equal. In fact, one machine may even provide a more efficient workout than free weights.

Yes, we’re talking about the cable machine!

Cable back exercises provide several unique benefits over other types of back training. They’re an excellent method to practice one-handed pulling from various angles, which are frequently seen in many everyday tasks.

Back exercises with cables allow you to work your back without overloading your spine the way many free-weight exercises do. They provide a consistent amount of strain throughout the full range of motion and at various pulling rates.

The exercises outlined in this post target all of your back’s major muscle groups, including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius, levator scapulae, rear deltoids, external rotator cuff muscles, and lower-back spinal erectors.

The 10 Best Cable Back Exercises

The cable machine can be incorporated into your back routine to improve strength and muscle growth, and it will also help you make greater gains when you return to fundamental lifts like the deadlift or military press.

1. Lat Pulldown

man doing cable back workout at gym

Let’s start with the best of the best: the Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown, which is one of the fundamental cable back exercises. The lat pulldown is a fantastic compound vertical pull exercise for your back. This exercise helps create a wide V-taper look from your shoulders down to your hips.

Put your thighs under the pad with your feet flat on the floor and your knees at 90 degrees. Take a wide grip on the bar and place your hands palms-down, your arms shoulder-width apart, or with a somewhat broad grip. Lean back at the hips slightly. Draw the shoulder blades down and back while drawing the bar to your collar bone with your lats engaged. Slowly raise the bar back to the starting position.

2. Seated Cable Row

The seated cable row is a must-do exercise for a powerful, wide back. It works your trapezius muscles, which provide your back the breadth and thickness that signifies strength and power.

Start the movement by compressing your shoulder blades together. With each repetition, row and touch the bar to your chest. Do not lean back to cheat, as you’ll put your lower back under needless strain. A wide grip is used to emphasize your back muscles, but a narrow grip is used to maximize arm function.

3. Full Extension Seated Cable Rows

This is a great version of the Seated Cable Row, one that places extra emphasis on the mid-back, particularly the lower lats and rhomboids.

Instead of isolating your torso with this exercise, you allow your body to tilt forward slightly as you return to “resting” posture, allowing your shoulders to fully extend. This causes your back to engage earlier in the movement, focusing the initial movement on your rhomboids for better targeting.

If you have lower back problems or are recuperating from a shoulder injury, you should avoid this exercise because of the increased range of motion, which increases the risk of injury.

4. Single-Arm Cable Row

Single-arm cable rows address any imbalances in strength, activate your stabilizers to avoid injuries, and build core power by targeting each side of your body independently.

Set a cable handle to chest height. Grab the handle and take a step back, then stand facing the cable. Pull your shoulder blade toward your midline and row without twisting your torso to start the movement. Switch sides at the end of all your reps.

For a different balance challenge, assume a split stance with your left foot about three feet ahead of your right— whichever leg is behind, grasp the handle with that side.

5. Underhand Pulldown

This variant of the lat pull works well because it allows you to stretch your lats further at the top of the movement, putting them through a greater total range of motion. The underhand grip allows you to use your biceps and pull more weight, resulting in greater overload on the back muscles.

The movements of this drill are similar to those described above (lat pulldown), with the exception that your hands should be shoulder-width apart on the bar and your palms should face upward. To avoid this becoming an arm exercise, try to still start from the back.

6. Straight-arm Pulldown

Cable pulldowns work the latissimus dorsi, requiring triceps and core activation as well. The move focuses on extension over adduction at the shoulders, training the lats through the sagittal plane.

Attach a straight bar to the cable machine’s upper pulley handle. Stand with your arms outstretched and your knees soft, feet hip-width apart, and hold the bar at shoulder width. Pull the bar down to your hips, hold, and then slowly control the handle back to the beginning position while keeping your elbows locked. To perfect proper form, begin with a lighter weight for three sets of 10-15 reps.

7. Archer Row

This single-arm cable row is a fantastic way to increase your trunk rotation. To create a solid foundation for rotation, you’ll need coordination of your legs, core, and upper body.

Set up a single side handle on the cable machine at shoulder level. With your working arm and shoulders toward the pulley, stand side-on to the handle with a wide stance. Draw the handle toward your working armpit as you turn your upper body away from the machine, bracing your lower body and core, like if you were drawing back a bowstring.

8. Cable Upright Row

This strength exercise is an excellent illustration of the cable machine outperforming free weights when it comes to working a muscle. When performing this movement, the upright row’s angle of resistance makes it more effective and safer for the shoulder joints.

The technique entails standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, or with a staggered stance for balance, while facing the low cable.

To do this exercise, stand straight and pull the handles toward your armpits while squeezing your upper back – using a rope attachment. Keep your chest high as you lower back to the start position.

To minimize strain on your shoulders, perform this exercise with strict form, so start with three sets of 10-15 reps.

9. Face Pull

The Face Pull is a great standing exercise for minimising lower back pain. It also highlights the upper lats, traps, posterior deltoids, and rhomboids beautifully. It’s even good for strengthening your rotator cuff muscles, but it’s safer than Upright Barbell Rows because it just moves in one plane (forward and backward) without putting strain on the shoulder joint.

The cable machine is positioned to your eye level with the Face Pull, and you use the rope handle to increase your range of motion. Your hands separate and pull to each side of your head as you draw the handle toward you.

10. Split Stance Low Cable Row

A simple cable row workout can be turned into a total-body move by merely changing your stance, which targets the powerful muscles in your glutes and hamstrings.

Set the handle to its lowest position. Bend forward at your hips and assume a split stance, with your torso perpendicular to the cable. With your trailing leg, hold the handle in. Rowing and concentrating on clenching your glutes should be enough for you to get a great workout!

Take Away

These nine fantastic exercises will boost your upper back routine, providing substantial outcomes owing to the constant tension that makes cable machines so efficient. They’re not a replacement for Pull-Ups or free weight exercises (such as Rows, Bent-Over Rows, Dumbbell Rows, and so on), but they can be used o introduce new movements.

You may improve muscular strength through both the concentric and eccentric phases of the exercises by using a cable machine, resulting in faster strength and size improvements. You’ll enjoy the burn when you workout with the excellent exercises we’ve outlined! your routine as needed to maximize results.


Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant. He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves. Rahul has a master's degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.

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