9 Best Cable Machine Lat Exercises for a Chiseled Back

Cable Machine Lat Exercises

When it comes to building a muscular and broader back, training latissimus dorsi (lats) is crucial.

Lats are thick and v-shape muscles located on the back. They run down from the upper arms to the lower back.

The lats provide stability to the torso and are involved in various activities, from lifting objects from the floor to pulling weight from a height.

They are also responsible for the wider back. That’s why many bodybuilders train these muscles from every angle, using multiple pieces of types of equipment, including the cable pulley station.

The cable pulley machine is versatile and effective strength and muscle-building equipment. It allows you to hit the lats from every angle and add variety to your total gym training.

In this article, I’ve shared various cable machine lat exercises for you to smoke your back gains.

The pulley station lets you adjust the height and weight according to exercise and fitness level, making it suitable for all fitness enthusiasts, from beginners to elite bodybuilders.

The 9 Best Cable Machine Lat Exercises for Defined Back

1. Front Lat Pulldown

The lat pulldown is a popular back exercise that bolsters the latissimus dorsi and builds a firm torso.

It is suitable for people of all fitness levels, from beginners to advanced.

Anyone who wants to develop wider lats should include it in their strength training program.

Steps to perform:

  1. Set the cable to a higher section, plug the pin into the desired weight, and insert the bar into the hook.
  2. Grab the bar firmly with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart and thumbs on the bar.
  3. Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you and brace your core. That’s the start.
  4. Pull the bar toward your chest with your torso leaning slightly back until your lats are engaged.
  5. Pause for a moment, then extend your arms and repeat.

How to include it in your routine:

You can do this movement during pull, back, or total body workouts. You can also do it when you perform superset with chest or shoulder, as it can fit into any routine.

Recommended reps and sets:

  • Hypertrophy sets: 12-15 x 4
  • Drop sets: Start with heavy weights and perform 6 six reps, then 8 with light weights. Repeat three times.

2. Straight-arm Lat Pulldown

Lat exercises with cables

The straight-arm lat pulldown is one of the famous exercises among bodybuilding enthusiasts. It helps widen lats and improve back shape.

Steps to perform:

  1. Set the cable to a higher point, select the appropriate weight, and attach the straight bar to the hook.
  2. Grab the bar firmly with an overhand grip and take a few steps back.
  3. Keep your chest up, core tight, and head in a neutral position. That’s the start.
  4. Keeping your arms straight, pull the bar toward your waistline until you feel the contraction in your lats.
  5. Pause for a moment, then return to the beginning. That’s one rep.

How to include it in your routine:

The straight-arm pulldown can be paired with any back exercises as it targets the lats from a different angle compared to other exercises. So, you can do it on your pull or upper body day.

Recommended reps and sets:

  • Standard sets: 12 x 3
  • Drop sets: Perform 5 reps with heavy weight followed by 7 reps with light weight. Aim for three sets.

3. Seated Cable Row

lat exercises on cable machine

The seated cable row works on entire back muscles, from lats to traps.

Steps to perform:

  1. Anchor the V bar to the hook and set it at a lower point.
  2. Select the desired weight and grab the bar firmly with a neutral grip.
  3. Take a few steps back and sit on the stepper with your legs extended.
  4. Pull the bar toward your stomach until your back muscles are engaged.
  5. Pause for a couple of seconds, then extend your arms. That’s one rep.

How to include it in your routine:

You can pair this exercise with any lat or shoulder exercises.

Recommended reps and sets:

  • Hypertrophy: 10-12 x 3
  • Strength: 4-8 x 3
  • Endurance: 12-20 x 3

4. Unilateral Pulldown

You can perform unilateral pulldown to bolster your back right and left lat muscles individually and even out strength imbalance.

Steps to perform:

  1. Attach a D-handle to the hook and set it at a higher point.
  2. Set the appropriate weight and grab the handle strongly with your right hand.
  3. Sit on your right knee with your left foot flat on the ground.
  4. Pull the handle till you feel the contraction in your back muscles.
  5. Hold for a moment, then straighten your arm. That’s one rep.

How to include it in your routine:

You can pair it with front pulldown, seated row, and cable facepull to develop the aesthetic back.

Recommended reps and sets:

Shoot for three sets of 10-12 reps on each side. You can do more reps on the inferior side to balance out strength.


5. Split Stance Low Cable Row

The split stance cable row is a good alternative to the dumbbell row. They target the same muscle groups and help build a sizable back.

Steps to perform:

  1. Anchor a D-handle to the hook and set it at an appropriate height.
  2. Grab the handle firmly with your left hand, take a few steps back, and stand in the staggered stance with your left foot in the leading position.
  3. Slightly lean forward, maintain a tight core, and flat back. That’s the starting position.
  4. Driving your elbows back, pull the weight until you feel the work in your lats.
  5. Pause for a moment, then extend your arm. That’s one rep.

How to include it in your routine:

Perform this exercise with other pull exercises to improve your torso definition.

You can do it anytime after the lat pulldown and seated cable row while training your lats specifically.

Recommended reps and sets:

Aim for three sets of 10-12 reps on each side. You can do more reps on the weaker side to fix the strength imbalance.


6. Reverse Narrow-Grip Lat Pulldown

The reverse grip pulldown simultaneously hits the lats and biceps and builds up the muscular torso. It also provides stress on the forearms and improves wrist mobility.

Steps to perform:

  1. Attach the small EZ bar to the hook and adjust it at an appropriate height.
  2. Set the weight and grab the bar firmly with an underhand grip. Your hands would be shorter than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. This is your starting position.
  4. Driving your elbows down, pull the bar until it reaches close to your pecs.
  5. Squeeze your lats and pause for a moment before you extend your arms. That’s one rep.

How to include it in your routine:

You can do this movement after the front or straight-arm pulldown and before any rowing exercises.

Recommended reps and sets:

  • Hypertrophy sets: 10 x 3
  • Drop sets: Start 5 reps with heavy weight followed by 7 reps with light weight. Repeat thrice.

7. Behind The Neck Pulldown

It targets the back muscle from a different angle and adds strength and size to your back.

Steps to perform:

  1. Insert the bar into the hook, position the hook to a higher section, and plug the pin into the desired weight.
  2. Grasp the bar firmly with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart and palms on the bar.
  3. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and your face facing away from the machine. That’s the start.
  4. Pull the bar down behind your neck until you feel the work in your latissimus dorsi.
  5. Contracting your muscles, hold there for a moment, then return your arms to the start.

How to include it in your routine:

You can perform rear pulldown once in three to four sessions.

You can do it with any back exercises but make sure you perform a variety of exercises, such as pulldown, seated row, split stance row, and facepull.

Recommended reps and sets:

  • Standard sets: 12-15 x 3
  • Drop sets: 5 reps with 60% of your 1RM load, followed by 7 reps with 40%. Go for three sets with 2-3 minutes of rest in between.

8. V-Bar Pulldown

The V grip pulldown is another excellent way to engage the latissimus dorsi and other back muscles. Plus, it allows you to pull more weight and increase strength.

Steps to perform:

  1. Anchor the V bar to the machine and adjust it at a higher point.
  2. Select the desired weight and grab the bar firmly with your palms facing each other.
  3. Sit on the stepper with your legs straight in front of you. This is your starting position.
  4. Pull the bar until it reaches close to your chest.
  5. Pause for a couple of seconds, then extend your arms. That’s one rep.

How to include it in your routine:

You can substitute this movement with rear, single-arm, or straight-arm pulldown. For example, you can start your back training with front pulldown followed by V-grip pulldown and cable lat exercises.

Recommended reps and sets:

  • Hypertrophy: 10-12 x 3
  • Strength: 4-8 x 3
  • Endurance: 12-20 x 3

9. Seated Straight-arm Overhead Pull

The overhead pull works on many muscles simultaneously, from lats and traps to posterior delt and rhomboid, and builds a solid back.

Steps to perform:

  1. Attach the rope to the machine and position it at a lower height.
  2. Sit on your knees with your legs bent and heels facing away from the machine.
  3. Grab the rope firmly with your hands and sit upright. That’s the start.
  4. Keeping your arms straight, pull the bar overhead until your hands are pointing up and your body forms a Y shape.
  5. Hold there for a moment, then return to the initial position. That’s one rep.

How to include it in your routine:

It can pair with any lat exercise. You can also perform this exercise with shoulder exercise to develop sculpted rear delts.

Recommended reps and sets:

Shoot for three sets of 10-12 reps with 2-3 minutes of rest between them.

The Bottom Line

The cable pulley machine is versatile and effective equipment for strength and muscle building.

It allows you to perform myriad exercises for every muscle group, from the upper to the lower body.

I’ve shared the best cable machine exercises to bolster your lats in this article.

Muscular and sizable lats help improve your torso definition, provide a broader shape to your back, and enhance overall strength.

You can integrate cable machine lat exercises into your gym workout program to train your back efficiently and gain muscle.

Other ways to train latissimus dorsi:

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Picture of Murshid Akram

Murshid Akram

I’m a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. I help people achieve their best shape through my science-based and practical workout programs.
Picture of Murshid Akram

Murshid Akram

I’m a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. I help people achieve their best shape through my science-based and practical workout programs.

About Me

I’m Murshid Akram, a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. I primarily design workout plans and share science-based and practical information that can help you become stronger, functional, and healthier.

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