Grow Your UPPER BACK (Best 7 CABLE Exercises)
Grow Your UPPER BACK (Best 7 CABLE Exercises)

When it comes to upper back exercises, cables are mostly neglected, because many think that back training is all about plate-loaded machines, dumbbells, and other free weights.

However, cables are just as beneficial as any free weight and are an incredibly versatile piece of gym tool to build a bigger and stronger back. For beginners, especially, cable machines are an easy and useful place to start their back training.

Upper back exercises with cables offer easy form and also provide a large variety of exercises. However, considering the plethora of cable exercise options available, choosing the right ones can be a challenge. So, to help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of a few amazing upper back exercises that can be done using cables to help you gain muscle and sculpt your back.

Upper Back Exercises Using Cable Machine

Whether you are looking to develop muscle or increase your strength, the following six exercises for men can help you achieve your fitness goal:

1) Seated Cable Row

Seated cable rows are one of the staple upper back exercises for a wide, big, and strong back. They primarily target the trapezius and gives the back the thickness and width you yearn for.

To do this seated cable row:

  • Attach a V-bar or close grip bar to the seated row machine, and set the weight on the weight stack. Hold the bar with a neutral grip, and keep your palms facing in towards your body.
  • Keep your back straight and legs slightly bent as you pull the weight slightly off the stack. Make sure you are sitting upright, with your shoulder blades down and back.
  • Maintaining this position, start to pull the cable towards your stomach.
  • Squeeze, and pull your shoulder blades back; pause for a second, and slowly lower the weight back to the initial position.
  • Repeat.

2) Wide Grip Cable Row

The wide grip row targets the lats more than any other cable row variation. It’s one of the most productive upper back exercises to add strength and size to the lats.

Effective upper-back exercise. (Image via Unsplash / Milan Csizmadia)

To do this wide grip cable row:

  • Start by attaching a wide straight bar attachment to a cable stack. Sit straight in front of the stack, and hold the bar with a pronated grip with your palms facing down. Make sure your arms are at shoulder-width distance.
  • Position your feet on the cable stack to balance yourself. Slightly lean back so that your torso gets at a 90-degree angle to the floor, and keep your arms fully extended in the front.
  • Row the bar towards your ribs by moving your elbows back. Once the bar reaches your upper body, return to the starting position.
  • Repeat.

3) Single Arm Cable Row

The single arm cable row is one of the most effective upper back exercises. It ensures that you work on each side independently without allowing your dominant side to overcompensate for the weaker one. This exercise targets the traps, lats, rhomboids, and rear delts.

targets the traps, lats, rhomboids, and rear delts. (Image via Unsplash / Daniel Apodaca)

To do this single arm cable row:

  • Set a single arm attachment to the cable stack, and sit straight holding the cable with a neutral grip.
  • Lean back your torso at 90 degrees to the floor, and make sure your arm is fully extended in front of you.
  • Start to row your elbow down and back while keeping it near the side of your torso.
  • Once your ram reaches in line with your torso, return it to the starting position.
  • Repeat.

4) Chest-supported Row

Chest-supported rows are ideal upper back exercises for people who use a lot of upper body momentum during standard rows. It targets the traps, rhomboids, lats, and biceps.

To do chest supported row:

  • Set a straight bar to the cable stack. Put a bench at least three feet away from the stack, and set it to a 45-degree incline.
  • Hold the bar using a pronated grip, and sit with your chest supported on the bench.
  • Keeping your arms extended, row the bar, and keep your upper arm at a 30 to 45-degree angle with the upper body.
  • Row the bar till it reaches the underside of the bench, and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat.

5) Cable Shrug

When practicing upper back exercises, the upper traps often get neglected; cable shrugs are a beneficial exercise to prevent that. It forces the upper traps to work harder and is great for muscle and strength building.

Build solid back muscle. (Image via Unsplash / Total Shape)

To do cable shrug:

  • Set a straight bar attachment to the cable stack, and hold the bar using a slightly wider grip.
  • Stand straight, and hold the bar against your leg in front of you. Shrug the bar up by moving your shoulders up and down.
  • Make sure to keep your arms fully extended. Pause at the top of the movement, and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat.

6) Wide Grip Cable Pulldown

The wide grip cable pulldown is among the best upper back exercises that target the lats. This exercise also works on the rhomboids, and to a lesser extent, the biceps.

To do wide grip cable pulldown:

  • Set a wide straight bar to a cable stack, and hold the bar at shoulder-width distance using a pronated grip.
  • Sit straight; position your feet against the cable stack, and lean in line with your torso. Pull the bar till it reaches your chin, and return it to the starting position with control.
  • Repeat.


So, these were some of the best and most effective upper back exercises done using a cable, which can train the muscles of your back.

For each exercise mentioned above, look to do at least three sets of ten reps, and gradually increase your pace. Do not train your muscles too much too quickly, as that can lead to pain and muscle strain.

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