Man performing cable pulldowns behind his head as part of a back workout with cables only. 3 cable back exercises are demonstrated by men in graphics on the right of the images.

3 Easy Exercises For A Complete Back Workout With Cables Only

What do you do when you get to the gym, and it is crowded. You can save a lot of time doing a back workout with cables over free weights and still get a killer workout. It is much easier to jump in with anyone on a machine and just move the pin to your desired weight than to load and unload a bunch of plates.

Why Use Cable Machines vs. Free Weights

Even if the gym is not overcrowded you may want to use machines instead of free weights. Although lifting with free weights is one of the best ways for you to build muscle, it’s not the safest equipment you can use. If you’re older or just starting out in weight training, you should use cables and machines to help prevent injuries. This equipment provides you with stability and will help keep you safe while you work out. You can still use some free weights. Just remember, when you’re at the gym working out, you can build muscle no matter what equipment you are training on. Building muscle is more about how you train and not what you train on.

Lifting for Strength, Mass or Power

The difference in lifting for strength, mass or power is not in the lifts that you do, but in how you do the lifts. How you lift is as or more important than what equipment you use to perform your resistance training. If you lift with the following techniques you will have a better back workout with cables than most of the free weight lifters at your gym.

Your Killer Back Workout With Cables For Strength

If you are trying to build strength you can do this back workout just once a week. When lifting for strength you should do all sets to failure. Failure is the point at which you can’t lift any more weight after completing the last rep. It is much easier and safer to lift to failure on cable machines. Additionally, when lifting for strength you should go slow to maximize the time under tension for each rep. Your goal is to fatigue the muscles by making them work hard the entire time. A good strength-building strategy is five by five by five. Choose a weight that you can lift five times, going slow enough you count to five on the contraction and the extension. If you have good form, go slow and to failure, then you only need to do one set in your workout. Remember to rest for a few days between your back routines.

Your Solid Back Workout With Cables For Mass

If you are trying to build the size of your muscles you want to increase the amount of store Adenosine triphosphate (ATP). In order to gain mass, you will want to do 10-15 reps per set and do 3-5 sets. You still want to be near failure at the end of your set. Remember, you don’t have to do the reps as slowly as if you were training for strength. You can also use some of these advanced techniques.

Your Simple Back Workout With Cables For Power

For you athletes who want to have explosive power in your muscles, then you want to lift with explosive power. Although the biggest mistake athletes make in the weight room is they sacrifice form when lifting for power. When you lift for power, you are also lifting for strength. Likewise, you want to lift a weight that you can only do about five times before failure, but you want to pull fast in these exercises and you can go slow in the negative to fatigue the muscles to make them grow as well.

Start With a Warm-Up

First, do a warm-up set with lighter weight. You should do 15 to 20 reps in the first set. After this set, if you don’t feel warm the do an additional set of 12 to 15 with a slightly heavier weight. Remember that your warm-up sets are not too near failure, they are just a warm-up.

The 3 Exercise Back Workout With Cables Only

The three exercises are pulldowns, rows, and shrugs. You can do these exercises with many different kinds of equipment. Fortunately, almost all gyms will have a cable system where you can perform them quickly.

Cable Pull Downs

If you are doing multiple sets, first, try it with a wide grip. Then switch to a narrower grip on your next set to your entire back. You can also reverse your grip, but remember to work your back and not your biceps.

Cable Rows

For proper form and muscle-engagement pull the weight towards your lower chest and don’t lean back. Similarly to cable pulldowns if you are using a bar you can adjust your grip to work different parts of your chest.

When you’ve completed your sets, you can lean back and repeat the same exercise. When you lean back you’re now focusing more on your rear deltoids (delts). You’ve been working your rear delts with all of your back exercises, so this will isolate them and finish them off.

Cable Shrugs

Lift with only your traps. Use the lifting reps to set ratio based on your desired strategy for strength, mass, or power.

Your Strategy

You can use this back workout with cables only indefinitely and change it up as you need for strength, mass, or power. Additionally, you can vary the amount of weight or the order of the sets. This can be a goto back workout when you don’t have a lot of time. If you primarily use free weights, adding cables can really help you overcome some plateaus.

Another way you can vary your workout is to start with seated rows then do your cable pulldowns. Be smart about it and remember to warm-up. Keep your muscles guessing and your mind active by thinking of different variations for your routine.

Stay Focused

Don’t worry about how much weight the person next to you is using. Instead, concentrate on your goals and gains. It’s not about the weight you use — it’s about your form and consistency. Your goals should be to improve and you won’t see the improvement without consistency.

Don’t let televisions, music, people, or your cell phone distract you from your workout. Remember why you’re at the gym.

You might find it helpful to bring your own music and headphones. Try playing some upbeat music loud enough to drown out the other sounds and distractions around you.

You’ll be the final judge when you see your progress! Once your ready to move on to more challenging lifts check out 7 of the Best Back Exercises for Bodybuilding and Strength Training.

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