There are numerous benefits to having a strong back, and these include improved posture, a strong core, and better flexibility. Strong back muscles can also alleviate and prevent back pain which affects many individuals on a daily basis.
Lower back pain is extremely common in adults, and there are numerous causes. Some are linked to specific health conditions, such as degenerative disc disease, while others can be caused by work-related risk factors, such as heavy lifting, or from a general weakness of the back muscles.
A lot of back pain, including lower back pain, can, however, be avoided when you engage in regular exercise that helps to prevent joint and muscle stiffness and weakness.
Lower back exercises using certain gym apparatus such as cable machines help because, when done properly, they can effectively strengthen the lower back with minimal risk of injury.
Here are eight lower back exercises with cables for you to consider!
Top cable exercises for lower back strength and flexibility
1. Cable deadlift
Muscles targeted: lower back, shoulders, glutes, quads, and abdominals
- Stand facing the cable machine with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Grip the cable machine bar with both hands tightly and pull it to waist height; this is the starting position for this exercise.
- Slightly bend the knees and slowly push the bar and cable away from you until your back is bent and the cable is fully retracted in the cable machine.
- Then begin to pull the cable towards you until you are standing upright. Remember to keep your arms and elbows straight. You can pull back until you are slightly leaning backward. Hold the position and then push down once more.
- Perform three to four sets of ten to 12 reps.
2. Cable pull-through
Muscles targeted: lower back, shoulders, triceps, biceps, glutes, and hamstrings
- Position the pulley system on the cable machine at the very bottom.
- Face away from the cable machine.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed out, and slightly bend the knees.
- Grab the cable bar or rope between your legs and pull it upwards until you are standing upright.
- Keeping your back straight and chest up, hinge at the hips, and allow the weight to go back behind your legs.
- Do this until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, and then thrust your hips forward to return to the starting position.
- Perform three sets of 12 to 15 reps.
3. Cable sumo deadlift
Muscles targeted: lower back, shoulders, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and abdominals
- Stand with your feet shoulder length apart and your toes at a 45-degree angle.
- Bend down and grip the cable bar with both hands. Make sure to keep the arms at an almost 90-degree angle at the elbow.
- Instead of using arm strength to pull the cable, let the legs do all the work instead by pushing up through your heels as you come to standing. Remember to keep your chin tucked into your chest.
- Pause at the top for a moment before bending your knees and hinging at your hips to lower the cable bar back down.
- Perform two to three sets of eight to 12 reps.
4. Cable Romanian deadlift
Muscles targeted: lower back, shoulders, glutes, hamstrings, and quads
- Place the cable pulley setting on the bottom level of the cable machine.
- Place your feet hip-width apart and grab the cable bar.
- Start in an upright position with your knees slightly bent.
- Hinge forward at the hips while keeping your back and arms straight.
- Slowly lower the bar until it reaches the middle of your shins. Pause here for a moment before driving through your heels and pulling the cable bar back up to your waist.
- Perform three sets of ten to 12 reps.
5. Standing cable row
Muscles targeted: lower back, upper back, shoulders, triceps, biceps, and abdominals
- Face the cable machine and grip the cable handle firmly with your arms fully stretched out.
- Stand with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent.
- Keep your back straight and chest up as you pull the cable handle toward you until it is positioned just under the chest.
- Hold the position, then allow the cable handle to fall away from you until your arms straighten.
- Perform three sets of ten reps.
6. Straight-arm cable pulldown
Muscles targeted: lower back, upper back, shoulders, triceps, chest, and biceps
- Stand facing the cable machine with the cable bar set to overhead height on the cable pulley.
- Step back a few feet while still gripping the bar, then bend your torso forward 30 degrees at the waist. Make sure to keep your arms stretched out in front of you with only a slight bend in the elbows.
- Breathe out and pull the cable bar downwards. Remember to keep the arms and back straight. Bring the bar down to waist level.
- Breathe in and return to the starting position.
- Perform two to three sets of eight to 12 reps.
7. Kneeling cable crunch
Muscles targeted: lower back, biceps, and abdominals
- Kneel in front of a high pulley cable machine.
- Pull the cable bar rope attachment down with both hands until your elbows are bent, and your hands are below your ears.
- Lean forward a little and slightly arch your back. This is the starting position for a kneeling cable crunch.
- Keep your hips still and exhale while you pull the cable bar downward by bringing your elbows and chest toward the ground. Your elbows should end up at the middle of your thighs.
- Hold this position, then inhale and return to the starting position.
- Perform three sets of eight to 12 reps.
8. Lat pulldown
Muscles targeted: lower back, upper back, biceps, and abdominals
- Sit down facing the cable machine with the cable bar overhead.
- Keep your elbows slightly in front of you with your arms fully stretched upwards. Grip the cable bar with both hands.
- As you pull the cable handle down, keep your elbows in line with your hips and pull the bar down to chest level. Then return to the starting position.
- Perform three sets of eight to ten reps.
Advantages of using cables for lower back exercises
Cables Provide Constant Tension
Cable machines used for lower back exercises provide even and constant tension for muscles while executing each exercise.
This helps to keep them working continuously and evenly without one set of muscles overcompensating for another due to uneven weight distribution that can occur with non-cable gym apparatus such as free weights.
Because of this, cable exercises allow for proper even muscle development on both the lower and upper back which has a positive effect on core strength as well.
Cables Workout Multiple Muscle Groups
Another advantage of using cables for lower back exercises is that multiple muscle groups also get worked and not just those of the lower back.
Many of the exercises mentioned work the muscles in the arms, shoulders, legs, and chest without us even being aware.
This is mostly down to the range of movements that cable machines allow the body to make while exercising and the fact that weight is often distributed evenly across the body.
Although the exercises discussed here are lower back exercises, the setup of cable machines offers individuals a large variety of different exercises that can be done with ease. These can be integrated within a back exercise program without the need for any extra gym apparatus.
Integration of cable exercises into a workout routine
If you are concentrating on lower back muscle development, then cable exercises are ideal, and there is enough variety of exercises to choose from. This is especially useful for those who may find some exercises easier than others to execute.
If lower back pain is an issue, then some lower back cable exercises are gentler than others and provide the opportunity for plenty of control over the weight and movement. Even this can help prevent painful back conditions from getting worse due to inactivity and stiffness.
Such lower back exercises can be completed one to two times a week. However, they can also be done more regularly as long as enough recovery time is allowed between each workout.
Cable exercise machines also allow individuals to add lower back exercises into general workout sessions. Many of the exercises mentioned do not only target the lower back, as multiple muscle groups are also involved. Therefore, they can sit perfectly in any gym session involving an entire body workout.
As with any quality exercise programs, lower back exercises involving cable machines allow for varying intensity, which suits both beginners and advanced gym goers. Speed and resistance settings can be altered depending on the fitness of the individual.
Precautions and modifications for lower back pain or injury
The last thing any exercise program should do is cause or aggravate lower back pain or back injuries. If you suffer from any of these, then it is best to focus on the exercises that gently stretch lower back muscles rather than vigorously work them out.
Weights can be altered, and this can decrease the resistance on the cable making for a lighter workout.
The most practical and safest way of approaching exercise cautiously is by starting with light weights and increasing resistance gradually. This will ensure that cable exercises have a positive effect on lower back pain and injuries and do not become the cause of them both.
Cable-based lower back exercises are some of the safest exercises for both professionals and beginners. This is because they offer a balanced workout that avoids overworking some muscles and underworking others.
Cable-based apparatus helps those who want to build their lower back strength do so by offering a variety of exercises that can be integrated into a general fitness program.
Whether you are recovering from a lower back injury or are a chronic back pain sufferer, cable exercises can offer gentle resistance training or muscle stretching to aid on the road to recovery. Better still, a strong back can prevent both of these problems from occurring altogether.
Thus preventing further health problems from developing due to lack of mobility or the need to use strong painkillers that can cause side effects and complications within the body, such as digestive upsets, dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea, to name but a few.