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The best cable back exercises for a defined back

To build a strong, defined and athletic body you need to dedicate as much training time to your back as you do to your “mirror muscles” of the chest, arms and shoulders. And the best place to start is by mastering these muscle-building cable back exercises, says New Body Plan’s Joe Warner

Cable straight-arm pulldown

Why do cable straight-arm pulldowns?

It’s one of only very few moves to work your lats (back), chest and front of your shoulders with each rep. So this is one of the very best cable back exercises to give your lats a fantastic stretch in the top position and a very strong contraction in the bottom position. That works the muscle harder and through a greater range of motion. It’s a better option that the bench dumbbell pullover if you have shoulder aches or pains, or want to lift as heavy as possible without sacrificing control and good form.

Build a broader back and chest by mastering the cable straight-arm pulldown!

Cable lat pulldown

Why do cable lat pulldowns?

If your gym doesn’t have a dedicated lat pulldown machine you can use a straight bar attached to the top pulley. Sit or kneel on the floor then, with a shoulder-width grip to pull the bar down to your chin, then slowly return to the top to work your lats, biceps and forearms.

Use our expert guide to the lat pulldown to sculpt a strong and athletic torso!

The best cable chest exercises for a big and defined chest

Cable seated row

Why do cable seated rows?

You can replicate the seated row machine with a cable, using a straight bar or double D-handle attachment. Sit upright on the floor with your back and legs straight, then row your hands in towards your torso, and slowly back to the start, to hit your middle back muscles as well as your biceps and forearms.

Use our ultimate guide to the seated row to build a strong and defined back!

Cable reverse flye

Why do cable reverse flyes?

This rarely-seen move, where you cross your hands in front of your body to hold the opposite-side cable handle from the the high pulley then move your arms back to stand in a cross-like position, is incredibly effective and building a stronger and wider upper back, and works your rear shoulders as well as your small stabilising rotator cuff muscles.

How to do the seated Arnold press for bigger shoulders

Low cable rear delt flye

Why do low cable rer delt flyes?

This is a quality variation of the standing cable reverse flye, except you hold handles attached to the low pulley and hinge forwards from the hips to do the move with your chest facing the floor. It works all the major muscles of your upper, middle and lower back, as well as your rear shoulders.

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