10 Best Cable Back Exercises For Well Defined Back

Published by Roshan S Pillai on

cable exercises for back

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Do you know any cable exercises for the back that can hit every part of the back? Or are you looking for some new and different cable exercises to spice up your workout? Then this article is for you.

There are a lot of cable back exercises out there. But I will share with you some of the best and unique ones which will be most effective.

Incorporating these cable exercises will translate into increasing your strength in those big compound movements like deadlifts, bent-over rows, and other big lifts and will give you that fuller look which everyone wants to have.

Please read the entire blog because, in the end, you will find a cable back workout which you can try right away. So first let’s look at the exercises.

Cable Exercises For Back

Best cable back exercises are dual cable lat pulldown, seated cable rows, cable bent-over rows, straight arm lat pushdowns, and cable one-arm rows. You will learn more about each of these exercises here along with some other amazing exercises. So let’s start!

1. Dual Cable Lat Pulldown


This you can do on a cable machine. The prime muscles targeted are your upper lats, rhomboids, lower traps, and also your rotator cuff if you do it with a neutral grip. This will help in giving that wide look to your back.

Targeted Muscles- lats, rhomboids, teres major

How to do

1. Grab the handles of cables and sit on your knees or a bench. The cable pulley should be attached to the top of a cable machine.

2. Roll your shoulders back and keep your chest up. Don’t bend your neck and back.

3. Now slowly pull the arms down by flexing your elbow. Your shoulder should not raise or go forward during the movement.

4. Pause at the bottom and flex those lats hard. Then slowly return to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

Don’t go heavy on this. Try to create a good mind and muscle connection. You will feel a much better contraction on your last from this exercise than the regular lat pulldown exercise.

2. Seated Cable Rows

Seated cable row is one of the popular cable exercises to strengthen your back. You can find many people doing this exercise in the gym. You should include this in your workout program to build the thickness of your back.

Primary muscles involved with this exercise are the upper lats, rhomboids, lower and mid traps. Biceps and rear delts are the secondary assisting muscles.

Targeted Muscles- lats, rhomboids, teres major

How to do

1. Sit on the bench with both feet on the ground or place a stepper just behind the cable machine to place the leg over it. Attach a pulley at the lower part of the machine.

2. Grab both ends of the V bar and sit straight. Keep your back tight and chest up. Your arm should be straight and this will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by pulling the weights towards the upper abdominal region and squeeze your lats at the end. Breath out as you pull.

4. Slowly bring your arms back to the starting position and then repeat.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

Always start by retracting your shoulders ( shoulders back) and squeezing the lats. This will make your form and posture correct. Fully stretch your back during the eccentric phase of your lift. You should squeeze and feel the pump in the upper and mid lats.

3. Face Pulls

One of the best and most important cable exercises for back out there! It will train your traps, rhomboids and the whole upper back.

This exercise is important for your posture. Nowadays, we sit down on a couch and use smartphones all day. The way we work in the office, everything leads to bad posture which can be corrected with this exercise. So have this in all of your workout programs to maintain a good muscular balance and posture.

Targeted Muscles- traps, rhomboids, and posterior deltoid

How to do

1. Attach a rope at the upper part of the cable machine. Hold each end of the rope and take a few steps back.

2. Stand at a shoulder width stance or a split stance, whichever is comfortable for you. Then, start pulling the ropes towards your nose.

3. Your elbow should go out and always go back. Think as if you want to hit someone standing behind you with your elbows.

4. Pause and then bring your hands forward and stretch your rear delts at the end.

Recommended Reps- 15-20

You can do face pulls either at the beginning of the workout or the end as a finisher. Make sure to use moderate weight on this, otherwise, you can hurt your shoulder joints. Face pulls can be done every day as it targets the upper back which doesn’t require too many rests days as it is a slow-twitch.

Do it either standing or by sitting. You can perform it with ropes attached to a pulley or a band if you are at home. Set up the cables in such a way that you could pull them towards your nose level. Try to externally rotate your arms at the end to target your rotator cuffs more.

4. One Arm Seated Row

This is a great variation to the regular seated cable row. Here you can focus specifically on each side of your back. You can do this exercise on a cable machine by placing a bench in front of the cables.

Targeted Muscles- lats, rhomboids, teres major

How to do

1. Attach a handle at a lower part of the pulley and sit on the bench while holding the handle from one arm. Your leg should be on the floor.

2. Now sit straight while keeping your chest up and shoulders retracted. Place the other hand on the thigh. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by pulling with your arm and stop at the end where your lats are completely squeezed. Your elbows should be in as you pull.

4. Slowly bring your arms back to the starting position and then repeat the same with the other arm.

Recommended Reps- 15-16

Always move your shoulders back and down before pulling. Squeeze your lats at the very end and then stretch your lats at the eccentric part of the movement. Don’t rush! go steadily while maintaining the proper posture.

You can rotate your wrist at the end phase of the movement for some extra contraction.

5. Bent Over Cable Rows

It’s a variation of the basic bent over row exercise usually done with a barbell. Doing it with cables will create less tension on your lower back and you can focus on your whole upper, mid, and lower lats.

Targeted muscles – latissimus dorsi, teres major, traps

How to do

1. Attach a bar at the bottom of a cable machine. Hold the bar and stand at 2 feet away from the cable machine.

2. Bend your knees slightly and lean forward without rounding your back. The neck and spine should stay neutral.

3. Pull the bar towards your upper abdominal region and squeeze your lats harder at the very end.

4. Return back to the starting position and repeat the movement.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

You don’t have to go too heavy on this, otherwise, the weight will take you forward and you will lose form. This exercise should be done with the proper mind and muscle connection to get the most out of it.

6. V-bar Pulldown

This exercise is for your thickness and is one of the popular old-school exercises. It’s a very effective cable exercise for the back. You can do this by placing a bench in front of the cable machine.

Targeted Muscles- lats, rhomboids and teres major

How to do

1. Place a bench in front of the cable machine and attach a pulley to the upper part of the cable machine. Sit down on the bench while holding a v-bar.

2. Slowly bring your shoulder blades down and back while keeping your chest up. This will be your starting position

3. Start the exercise by pulling the v-bar bring it just above your chest. Keep your elbows in and down.

4. Slowly bring your arms back to the starting position.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

Pull your shoulders back and down before starting the exercise. Touch your chest and then go back slow. Don’t lift your butt off the seat!

Your spine should be neutral and don’t bend your lower back while pulling. You can go heavy on this but make sure that your form doesn’t break.

7. Standing Lat Pushdown

This is another important type of corrective exercise that will improve your stability and performance. You can do it at the beginning or end of the workout. This is best suitable to perform on cable machines!

Targeted Muscles- lats and teres major

How to do

1. Attach a pulley at the upper end of the cable machine and hold the straight bar with a shoulder-width grip.

2. Start the exercise by pulling the bar while keeping your elbows extended and bring the weight down to the bottom.

3. Squeeze your lats at the bottom and then slowly return to the starting position.

Recommended Reps – 12-15

Don’t bend your neck and stay upright. Shoulders always back as obvious. Go slow on this and make sure you are fully focused while performing this exercise.

Many times people use their triceps rather than their back. This happens because of a poor mind and muscle connection. That’s why do it slowly and feel the contraction on the right muscle.

Try to add it in the beginning or at the end of the workout.

8. Reverse Grip Cable Rows

This is good to build the thickness of your back. With the reverse grip, you will get a much better contraction. So try this one out.

With the reverse grip, your shoulder will be in a much safer position and you can feel more on your mid-back. Make sure that you are not rounding your lower back when you go forward. The neck and back should be straight.

Targeted Muscles- lats, rhomboids, teres major

How to do

1. Sit on the bench with both feet on the ground or place a stepper just behind the cable machine to place the leg over it. Attach a pulley at the lower part of the machine.

2. Grab both ends of the straight bar with an underhand grip and sit straight. Keep your back tight and chest up. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by pulling the weights towards the upper abdominal region and squeeze your lats at the end. Breath out as you pull.

4. Slowly bring your arms back to the starting position and then repeat.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

Try to bring the bar towards the mid stomach and squeeze the muscles harder at the end. Always perform the exercise with full concentration as there is no reason to perform any exercise if you cannot use the right muscles.

9. Standing Single Arm Cable Row

This is a great unilateral exercise to train each side of your lats. Here you can focus on each side separately. So if one side is weaker than the other, then this exercise is for you.

Targeted Muscles- lats, rhomboids, teres major

How to do

1. Attach a cable down at the bottom and hold it with one arm.

2. Bend your back slightly forward. Pull the weights from one hand and place the other hand on your thighs for balance.

3. Make sure that your elbows are in line with your lower back while you pull towards your waist.

4. Pause for a second and then return back slowly.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

The positioning of a body and movement makes it more athletic. Your core will involve a lot to stabilize the body which makes it more functional. So all you athletes should try this!

Make sure that your elbows are in line with your lower back while you pull towards your body. Don’t pull it upward as it will make it more like a bicep curl.

10. Wide Grip Incline Cable Rows

If there is a rush in the gym you can find cable machine is free, then instead of waiting for your turn for the seated cable row, do this exercise instead. This is a great variation which you must try.

Targeted muscles- latissimus dorsi, teres major, rhomboids ( mostly upper back)

How to do

1. Place an incline bench in front of a cable machine and attach a wide bar at the cable machine.

2. Lie prone on an incline bench. Bar placement should be down so that you can pull it up toward your abdomen.

3. Hold the bar with a grip than shoulder and bring the bar towards the abdomen.

4. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat the movement.

Recommended Reps- 14-15

You don’t have to go heavy on this. It’s very important to have a good mind and muscle connection during these kinds of exercises. Otherwise, you will not get the best results.

You should do the exercise slowly because the positioning of this exercise makes it difficult to generate more power. So it’s basically to build and create a new stimulus to your lat muscles for growth

It’s a little advanced exercise so do it properly with the right form and technique.

Cable Workout for Back

As we have discussed some amazing cable back exercises, now it is time to combine some of the best exercises to make a perfect back workout. As a personal trainer, I had recommended this workout program to those who had only a cable machine at home and followed this program and also got amazing results from it. So now it’s time for you to get results.

In this workout, you will find exercises that we have already discussed above. So whenever you have any doubts or confusion about any exercise, you can scroll up to get more information. So let’s start!

ExerciseRepsSetsRest
1Seated cable row15460 seconds
2Double cable lat pulldown15360 seconds
3Standing single arm cable rows 20 360 seconds
4*V bar pulldown + Face pulls15 each345 seconds
Cable Back Workout

4*- The last exercise is a superset where you perform two exercises together without any rest. This will be a good finisher to pump up your whole back.

After 10-12 weeks, you can add or replace these exercises to get continuous results and to avoid a plateau. Make sure that you perform each exercise with the proper form and technique.

Note- It is always recommended to consult with the physician or other health care professionals before starting the exercise.

Final Words

So by this, we can say that there are lots of effective exercises we can do for the back even with just a cable machine. All these different exercises will give you more options to choose from when you design your workout program.

Make sure that you also do some bodyweight or free weight exercises as those are the foundational exercises that you will need to build the perfect back.

Cables will use both primary and secondary muscles which will improve your strength and stability in those big lifts like deadlifts and squats. So you should include these exercises with other major free weight exercises. Also, if you have dumbbells and barbells with you, then use should definitely use them.

I hope you found this blog informative. If you have any questions or suggestions then do mention them in the comment section below.

Also Read-

  1. Top 8 chest exercises with cables + cable chest workout
  2. 12 Best Back Exercises with Dumbbells + Back workout
  3. 12 Best Back Exercises At Home with perfect back workout


Roshan S Pillai

Roshan Pillai is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with more than 6 years of experience in lifting weights and guiding people to get fit. He is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com, and has worked as a fitness coach in gyms and is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.

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