A Guide to the 9 Best Cable Back Workouts

In this article, we will tell you about some of the best cable back workouts that you can add to your routine. But before that, let’s check out the benefits of training the back.

The back is part of our body that supports almost everything we do. The vertebral column comprises thirty-three vertebrae1, each contributing towards the body’s free movement, stability, balance, and ability. The vertebral column protects the spinal cord (the most important nerve in the human body) acting as its shield.

All the movements that we perform in our day-to-day life like bending down, rotating our necks, raising our arms and legs, and rotating our hips, are performed using the back muscles. If one has pain in any region of the back, it becomes extremely uncomfortable further restricting movement. Hence, back training becomes important. And to train the back cable back workouts are the best choice.

1. Benefits of Back Exercise

1.1. Improvement in Posture

The Importance of a Strong Back

This is one of the most important benefits derived from a back workout. Working the back muscles builds strength in the upper body.

The better the strength, the stronger the muscles to carry out the workload of the entire day. This helps in stabilizing the back and shoulder joints, giving the back an upright posture.

An erect posture enables a better flow of energy, better breathing, increased confidence, and lesser pain.

1.2. Providing Support to the Entire Body

The Spinal column2 acts as the framework of the entire body enabling twisting and turning anywhere. To support this framework, the muscles that cover them become important.

The back exercise involves numerous muscles and enables a free range of motion. Working the back muscles helps us to perform pull movements with the entire body, which in turn helps in providing support to the whole body.

1.3. Joint Stability and Mobility

Exercise enables a better flow of blood, which further enables a better flow of oxygen throughout the body. The more oxygen, the more the blood is transported to the ligaments and fibres of the muscles.

Stretching the muscles helps in building strength through better blood flow and with time, makes the joints mobile, meaning free to move

1.4. Reduced Inflammation in the Joints

Better blood flow throughout the body helps to get rid of any unnecessary inflammation at any place. A better flow of oxygen helps in getting rid of blood clots, swelling, and pain.

1.5. Improvement in Body Aesthetics

Training your back is the best way to build an attractive physique. As the back consists of a few of the biggest muscles in the human body, these muscles are the most visible.

Therefore, a toned back constitutes an aesthetic physique3.

1.6. Improvement in Flexibility

Stretching the back is the most important thing for getting rid of the stiffness in muscles. Stretching improves the body’s flexibility resulting in a lessening of pain.

1.7. Psychological Benefits

Every exercise comes with both mental and physical health benefits. Anything that benefits the body leaves us feeling good.

The feel-good feeling is directly related to the mind.

2. Cable Back Workouts to Try

Some of the best cable exercises to train the upper back muscles and the steps to perform them are as follows:

1.1. Lateral Pulldown

  • Start by sitting on the seat of the Lat pulldown cable machine4.
  • With arms extended overhead, place both of your arms on the Lateral bar at an equal distance from the middle.
  • Pull the bar down towards your body by squeezing your back muscles and shoulder blades.
  • Keep constant tension and repeat for as many reps as possible with a full range of motion.

Muscles worked- trapezius, posterior deltoid, upper traps, teres minor, rotator cuff muscles5, teres major, infraspinatus, brachioradialis, and latissimus dorsi.

1.2. Single-arm Cable Row

Single Arm Cable Row (Lat Hypertrophy)

The single-arm cable row is one of those back exercises that work the upper back muscles as well as the lower back muscles.

  • The starting position for this one would be on a seat like the lateral pulldown with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Sit at a considerable distance from the cable machine and grip the handle with only one straight arm.
  • Pull the arm towards the side of your rib cage and squeeze one of the shoulder blades.

This back exercise works as an isolation exercise. Muscles worked-trapezius, posterior deltoid6, teres minor, teres major, brachioradialis, and latissimus dorsi.

1.3. Cable Face Pulls

How To: Face Pull

  • Attach the pulling rope to the cable machine.
  • With standing as the starting position, grip either side of the rope with each hand with your palms facing each other.
  • Pull the rope towards your face and squeeze your shoulder blades as much as possible. Hold the position for one to two seconds and release.
  • Repeat the process for as many repetitions as possible.

Muscles worked- Trapezius, trapezius deltoid, posterior deltoid, teres minor, brachiallis, brachioradialis, and latissimus dorsi.

1.4. Alternating Renegade Rows

Cable Renegade Rows

This is a different sort of back exercise, that is performed in a plank position, unlike most other back exercises.

  • By planking as the starting position, place your hands in such a way that they grip one cable each.
  • By taking the support of the cable machine, pull one arm towards the side of your rib cage.
  • Repeat the same process with the other hand.
  • Try to maintain the range of motion in every repetition.
  • Keep alternating the two hands, with one hand at one time while keeping your core engaged at all times.

Muscles worked- Trapezius, posterior deltoid, teres minor, teres major, brachioradialis, triceps brachii (long head), biceps brachii, lower pectoralis major, and latissimus dorsi.

Now, some of the important middle-back cable machine exercises are as follows:

1.5. Straight Arm Pulldowns

Straight Arm Pulldown - Back Exercise - Bodybuilding.com

  • To perform this exercise, the starting position will be just to stand neutrally with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • While keeping your arms straight above your head with your upper arms parallel to each other, overhead grip the small straight bar attached to any of the cable machines.
  • Slightly bend forward with your knees bent in such a way that your face is facing towards the ground with your arms straight and slightly behind your head.
  • Pull the bar downwards in a way that your hands move in a curve.
  • Perform as many reps as possible while maintaining a proper form.

Muscles worked- Posterior deltoids, levator scapulae7, triceps brachii(long head), lower pectoralis muscle, latissimus dorsi, and teres minor.

1.6. Seated Cable Row:

How To Properly Do The Seated Cable Row (IT MATTERS!)

  • The starting position for the seated cable row is sitting on the ground.
  • While sitting, extend your legs in front of you.
  • Now with your arms shoulder width apart and fully extended, grip the V handle attached to the cable machine.
  • Pull the handle towards you and squeeze your shoulder blades.
  • Repeat for as many repetitions as possible to train your mid back.

Muscles worked- Bicep brachii, trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, teres minor, forearms, and posterior deltoids.

1.7. One Arm Cable Twisting Standing Row

Standing Single Arm Cable Row - The Proper Lift - BPI Sports

  • Grip the rope attachment handle with your one arm with an overhand grip above your head. This will be your starting position.
  • Now pull the handle towards the side of your rib cage and rotate your upper body towards that side.
  • Release and return to the original position and repeat for as many reps as possible on the same side.
  • After finishing one side, repeat the same on the other side.

Muscles worked- Bicep brachii, trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, teres minor, traps, and rear deltoids.

Some bodyweight exercises also benefit our back muscles and help build muscle mass. A few of the mid-back bodyweight exercises are as given:

1.8. Cable Deadlifts

Cable Deadlifts (Exercises.com.au)

A variation of the normal deadlift exercise, anyone can perform deadlifts using lighter weights and cables for added resistance.

  • To perform this exercise start by attaching a bigger rod to both sides of the cable machine.
  • Stand in a neutral position and slightly bend your hips.
  • Grip the rod as comfortable to you and pull it upwards, towards your body.
  • Keep the constant tension on your lower back and repeat for as many reps as possible.

Muscles worked- erector spinae, gluteus maximus, quadriceps, hamstrings, adductor magnus, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and forearm flexors.

1.9. Cable Glute Kickbacks

Glute Kickbacks with a Cable Machine (Less is More)

  • Although this exercise is performed as a part of the leg day regime, it highly benefits the lower back as well.
  • The starting position of this back exercise is to attach one of the cable wires to the ankle of one of your feet with a wail crow.
  • Bend at your hips and take the support of the cable machine in front of you, by resting your arm straight in front of you.
  • Now, with one leg on the ground, push the other leg backwards so that it is parallel to the floor.
  • Maintain the constant tension in your glutes as well as lower back and repeat for as many reps as possible.

Muscles worked- gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, gluteus, lower back, and maximus obliques externus abdominis.

2. Non- Cable Back Workouts

Here are a few back workouts that you can try without the cable machine.

2.1. Cat-Cow Pose

How to Do a Cat Cow Pose for Energy | Yoga

  • Start on both your hands and feet in a dog-like position.
  • With your core engaged, pull your upper back muscles up towards the sky.
  • With a deep inhale, curve your back in a concave position while lifting your head towards the sky.
  • Alternate between these two poses adds feel your back strengthen and stretch.

Muscles worked- hips, abdominals, back muscles, and chest.

2.2. Seated Twist Pose

Yoga: How To Do Seated Spinal Twist

  • The starting position of this exercise is sitting neutrally on the floor with both your legs crossed.
  • Now, take a deep breath in and twist your entire upper body towards one side while keeping your legs crossed.
  • Repeat the same on the other side and hold this position for about 30 seconds to one minute.

Muscles worked- middle back, abdominals, rib cage.

2.3. Supported Middle Back Stretch

  • Start by resting your hands on some surface like a table.
  • Make sure that the table is at least the height of your lower back.
  • With your arms fully extended in front of you, bend from your hips without bending your knees.
  • Stay in that position for as long as possible and feel the stretch in your entire back.

Muscles worked- entire back, rib cage, hips, and hamstrings.

3. Bottom Line

Through this write-up, you get to learn a lot of cable back workouts that you can perform in order to get a strong back and build muscle. Along with the primary and major muscles, many secondary muscles are worked in the process as well.

All these exercises can be performed in different ways which are, with free weights, body weight and also with a cable machine. While all of these exercises are useful and beneficial, back workouts with cables add extra resistance to your back training program.

Some of the important benefits of cable workouts are as given:

  1. The weight does not put a direct load on our body, so the chances of injuries are low. Because these exercises are low impact, they do not put extra stress on our joints.
  2. The time under tension increases due to constant resistance, which helps in building strength, muscle mass, and muscle endurance.
  3. Due to a pulling wire, the entire body is engaged in performing any exercise.
  4. The engagement of secondary muscles is more in cable exercises.
  5. It challenges the muscles to develop a better range of motion.
  6. Cable exercises help in building muscle power as well.

After any sort of exercise routine, the most important thing is to stretch your entire body properly to enable better blood flow throughout the muscles. stretching helps us to feel better, increase flexibility, get rid of any unnecessary pain in the body, improve mobility and stability, and enhance our body’s balance.

Some of the best stretching exercises for back muscles are as follows:

cable back workouts
By: Milan Markovic on Unlimphotos
  1. Knee-to-chest stretch
  2. Cat-cow
  3. Pelvic tilt
  4. Seated hamstring stretch
  5. Supine twist
  6. Child’s pose
  7. Thoracic rotation
  8. Child’s pose
  9. Cobra pose
  10. Sphinx pose
  11. Locust pose
  12. Downward facing dog
  13. Bridge pose
  14. Butterfly pose
  15. Triangle pose

A lack of proper stretching can hamper the desired results that can be derived from the cable exercises. If a proper cool-down routine is not performed consistently, it can lead to negative effects of exercise. Some disadvantages caused by a lack of stretching are:

  1. Stiffness and tightness of muscles.
  2. Prone to more injuries.
  3. Decrease in strength.
  4. More cramps and muscle strains.
  5. Shortening of muscles.

4. Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Are Cables Good for Back?

The seated cable row is a great exercise for a strong, broad back. It pulls on your trapezius, which gives your back strength and the width and thickness that characterize it. Start the movement by squeezing the blades in your hands.

Q2. What Are Cable Pull Backs?

Standing pull-up is another cable back exercise that involves pulling your arms straight across your body. But this exercise uses a different range of motion than an exercise that uses your lats and upper back muscles. Set on the knee of the bike and attach a single handle.

Q3. Do Cables Make You Stronger?

Cable machines are great if you’re working out alone or if you’re new to strength training. This is because they help you work your muscles in a very controlled manner. They effectively help you with your form and technique because the machine requires you to move precisely.

  1. Nottestad, Sheri Y., et al. “The proportion of trabecular bone in human vertebrae.” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 2.3 (2020): 221-229. ↩︎
  2. Prost, Solène, et al. “Treatment of osteoporotic vertebral fractures.” Orthopaedics & Traumatology: Surgery & Research 107.1 (2021): 102779. ↩︎
  3. Rambhia, Pooja H., et al. “Muscle Stimulation for Aesthetic Body Shaping: A Comprehensive and Critical Review.” Dermatologic Surgery 48.10 (2022): 1076-1082. ↩︎
  4. Lei, Xiaoming, et al. “Interpretable machine learning methods for clarification of load-displacement effects on cable-stayed bridge.” Measurement 220 (2023): 113390. ↩︎
  5. Medina, Giovanna, et al. “Deep learning method for segmentation of rotator cuff muscles on MR images.” Skeletal Radiology 50 (2021): 683-692. ↩︎
  6. Veen, Egbert JD, et al. “Compensatory movement patterns are based on abnormal activity of the biceps brachii and posterior deltoid muscles in patients with symptomatic rotator cuff tears.” Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research 479.2 (2021): 378. ↩︎
  7. Henry, James P., and Sunil Munakomi. “Anatomy, head and neck, levator scapulae muscles.” StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing, 2022. ↩︎

Last Updated on by Suchi


  1. Reading this article is like having a backstage pass to the secret world of cable back workouts! From strong backs to flexible spines, it’s the ultimate guide to becoming a cable workout guru. Who knew fitness could be this fun?

  2. I liked the article about cable back workouts. It taught me about good exercises. Now, my workouts are better. The article helps me work on my back muscles, making them strong and defined. It’s a really good guide

  3. Good article, back is also a very important muscles of the body is widens the frame and give a man a v shape. the exercises here shown are great because i personally try them on my self. great article again.

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