There’s more to back training than straight-bar exercises and row variations. Sometimes adding variety to your strength training routine can amplify your workout and help you see results faster.

Cable exercises allow your arms to move through various planes of motion, helping you to activate muscles from different angles. Plus, cable machines put tension on your muscles throughout the exercise, making your workout both effective and challenging.

Try this intense back routine that uses four different cable machines, starting with the most intense exercise to the least intense exercise, and take your back workout to the next level.


100-meter row at your max effort, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat 5 times.

If you’ve haven’t been on a rowing machine (erg), learn how to get the perfect form here.

Chin-ups (3 sets of 10 reps)

  • Grab the pull-up bar with a neutral grip, hands less then shoulder-width apart
  • Lift your legs off the floor and cross your feet behind your body
  • Pull yourself upward until your chin meets the bar, keeping your elbows pointed toward the floor
  • Slowly lower yourself back down to starting position for one rep

Seated cable rows (3 sets of 12 to 15 reps)

  •  Set a cable machine to a lower level and attach a v-bar handle
  • Sit down on the machine and place your feet firmly on the ground with your knees slightly bent but not locked
  • Maintain neutral back alignment as you grab the v-bar handle and pull back until your torso is at a 90-degree angle with your knees
  • Keep the torso still while you pull the handles towards your ribcage until you gently touch your abdominals
  • Squeeze the back muscles between your shoulder blades as you pause briefly at the top of this movement
  • Slowly allow your arms to straighten, bringing the weight back to the starting position for one rep

Close grip lat pull-downs (3 sets of 10 reps)

  • Begin by adjusting the thigh pad on the machine so that it sits snugly on the top of your thighs to minimize movement
  • Grasp the bar with a close grip, hands less than shoulder-width apart
  • Keep your torso upright and eyes looking forward
  • Retract your shoulder blades and pull the bar down until it’s directly in front of your upper chest
  • Squeeze your lats and hold briefly before releasing the bar upward for one rep

Cable face pulls (3 sets of 10 reps)

  • Adjust a cable machine to the highest pulley and attach a rope attachment with dual handles
  • Face the cable machine and grab onto the handles with both hands
  • Pull the weight directly towards your face, separating your hands as you approach your face
  • Be sure to keep your upper arms parallel to the ground the entire time
  • Pause briefly before releasing the weight back down to the starting position for one rep